The written word has immense power. Inspired writers have the ability to move and motivate the reader with insightful information and moments of clarity that just “click” with your internal senses. Often, I think how lucky we are as a culture to have the opportunity to capture the wisdom of men and women who dedicate their lives to sharing their knowledge. The ability to learn from some of the greatest minds in history is as easy as picking up a book. The secrets of love, war, power, spiritual advancement, happiness, and freedom to live on your own terms are as close as your nearest bookstore or e-reader.
Narrowing down this list to just 10 of the most insightful books was not an easy feat. The idea of self-improvement is subjective.
We all place an importance on different areas to improve in our lives. One person might prefer spiritual advancement, and another might prefer learning how to strengthen relationships. It’s your personal preference and perception of what is important that matters. Self-development is your own personal journey to decode.
The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran, 1923
“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”
How to Win Friends & Influence People, Dale Carnegie, 1936
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle, 1997
“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.”
The Art of Happiness, Dalai Lama, 1998
“Self-satisfaction alone cannot determine if a desire or action is positive or negative. The demarcation between a positive and a negative desire or action is not whether it gives you an immediate feeling of satisfaction, but whether it ultimately results in positive or negative consequences.”
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey, 1989
“But until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise.”
The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell, 1991
“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
Awaken the Giant Within, Tony Robbins, 1992
“I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustrations were actually laying
the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I
The 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene, 2000
“When you show yourself to the world and display your talents, you naturally stir all kinds of resentment, envy, and other manifestations of insecurity… you cannot spend your life worrying about the petty feelings of others”
The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz, 2001
“1. Be Impeccable with Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.”
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho, 2006
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”
The Secret, Rhonda Byrne, 2006
“When you want to attract something into your life, make sure your actions don’t contradict your desires. Think about what you have asked for, and make sure that your actions are mirroring what you expect to receive, and that they’re not contradicting what you‘ve asked for. Act as if you are receiving it. Do exactly what you would do if you were receiving it today, and take actions in your life to reflect that powerful expectation. Make room to receive your desires, and as you do, you are sending out that powerful signal of expectation. “
The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferris, 2007
“For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks. Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it and correct course along the way.”