The 10 best self-help books to improve your life

These books provide valuable insights that can help you improve your life

best self-help books

Sometimes you know you need to change your life or certain aspects of it, but doesn’t know how. Others, you have a restless feeling that tells you something if off, but you don’t know what or why. In this list of the 10 best self-help books, renown authors tackle several issues that are likely to be conditioning your life, success and happiness, to provide you with the right tools to overcome them. From being an introvert to having a messy house, any subject is valid as long as it is restraining you from your full potential.

The 10 best self-help books to take over the reins of your life

Self-help used to have a bad reputation due to the many gurus and charlatans promising amazing solutions while talking a lot about nothing or saying what someone looking for help wants to read.

This tendency has changed greatly and more and more renown personalities, scholars and experts are now putting their discoveries and advice into paper to spread their message.

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle

The Power of Now best self-help books

In The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle takes the reader into an inspiring journey. His message is clear: living in the now is the only way to happiness and enlightenment. This is not a new concept but the key is in the way Tolles delivers it.

Instead of trying to convince the reader of his theory, the writer sets on a journey to enlighten the brain. Almost in a teacher-like manner, he explains with simple words complex concepts, using powerful arguments to show why leaving in the moment is so meaningful. With it, he provides the readers with the tools to make their own critical judgment and choose the right path for each personal case.

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How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living best self-help books

Stress and anxiety plague the world nowadays. Everyone is constantly worrying about everything to the point of stressing about an event even before it takes place. Dale Carnegie used to be one of these people but he found a way out.

In this book, Carnegie tells his personal story, from the moment he realized how stress and anxious he was, through the discovery of the sources triggering these feelings, to the strategies the author used to overcome them.

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” is simultaneously an autobiography and an inspiring example to anyone struggling with depression or anxiety that it is possible to turn your life around.

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The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz

The Magic of Thinking Big best self-help books

Published in 1959, the message of this book remains timeless. In it, Schwartz takes over the main excuses that prevent people from succeeding both in their personal lives as in their careers. Excuses such as age, not being smart enough, health and luck.

The author then turns them around and proves they are worthless or at least not as important as you might think. To succeed all you need is to think and have ambition. You don’t need to be smart or clever, just to think and to desire something enough that you are prepared to connect any dots needed to be connected to reach your goal.

According to Schwartz, that’s how you turn defeat into victory and start building the confidence that will make you a true leader.

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Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely

Predictably Irrational best self-help books

Rationality and logic are highly appreciated. Everyone likes to imagine themselves as clever and very rational, to the point of finding comfort in justifying every decision in a logical manner. But if that’s so, then why did we feel outraged when paying more than a dollar for a coffee and are now willing to pay over 4$ for a cup? And why do we lose any sense of self-control in a buffet and find ways to justify eating until becoming sick?

These are the sort of questions Dan Ariely poses. In a thought-provoking book, the author lays bare the many of the inconsistencies of rational humans to prove we are not as in control of our decisions as we believe. Becoming aware of these rational flaws is the first step to perceive the world and everyday habits in a different way.

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Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Thinking, Fast and Slow best self-help books

Daniel Kahneman, a renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics is the author behind this international bestseller. The premise is the same as that of many best self-help books: you need to understand how your thinking process works and be aware of it if you want to reshape it and turn it to your advantage.

To do this, Kahneman draws on his many researchers and studies to explain that there are two systems at play when we make a decision or evaluate our chances of happiness and personal satisfaction.

The first system is fast, emotional and unconscious. It’s the one that lets you answer right way questions like 2+2 without doing the math consciously. The second system is slow, logical and conscious. It’s the system you use when you brace yourself before engaging in a difficult activity or to determine which object to buy based on their prices and quality.

Kahneman shows several examples of how the two systems work together and gives insights over when to trust your instincts and when it is more beneficial to use each system.

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There Is Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self-Hate by Cheri Huber

There Is Nothing Wrong with You best self-help books

The central focus of this book is self-hate. Huber details from the beginning what self-hate entails, from taking the blame but not the credit to exhausting oneself in an attempt to be perfect while never believing such state can be achieved. The author then goes to explain how this negative perception of oneself can impact on every life aspect and undermine happiness and success.

Although being aware is the first step to change, Huber doesn’t stop at enlightening and goes further to provide strategies to begin fostering a feeling of love towards oneself. In one of the best self-help books to tackle self-esteem issues, the author teaches how it is possible to embrace flaws, in oneself and in others, and use them to pursue a higher goal and achieve one’s full potential.

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The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business best self-help books

Habits are hard to change as they provide a sense of familiarity and comfort. To break them implies disrupting a set routine and having to readjust and rethink several other habits too. The reason why this book has been on the on various list of the New York Time of best self-help books is precisely because Duhigg tackles the issue of habits, how they affect us and how we can change them.

According to the author, a habit is the result of a cue/trigger, action/routine and reward/result. Changing habits is difficult because most rewards come overtime, when the routine is settled. Since we cannot perceive any tangible results by simply doing something different one day, we don’t have the incentive to change our regular action/routine.

To Duhigg, understanding the principles at play is essential to effectively change one’s habits and pursue more profitable, healthier or happier ones. And the author is ready to provide you with tools that can help you shape your life.

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Quiet The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking best self-help books

Introverts are undervalued in favor of the extrovert ideal frequently associated with more successful and happier people. Susan Cain demystifies this perception in this book to put “the quiet” in evidence for their contributions to society.

From Rosa Parks to Dr. Seuss, Cain uses several famous and less known examples of introverts that took advantage of their quietness and preference for solitude to think, be creative and to find clever solutions to succeed.

If you are an introvert, this is likely one of the best self-help books to boost your self-esteem as it gives credit and pays respect to those who prefer to think more and talk less. 

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How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

How To Win Friends and Influence best self-help books

With his recognized rock-solid advice, Carnegie became an unavoidable name when talking about the best self-help books. “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is the second entry of this author in this list and it has already been raised to the status of a classic.

Since its publishing in the 30s, this book has gathered a cult of followers that includes thousands of famous people who learned how to go up the ladder to reach success in their business, careers and personal lives through it.

According to Carnegie, the key is to understand cause-effect, that is, how your own behavior and actions influence others. Once you recognize the importance of that effect you can adapt your own actions accordingly to draw more profits from a situation and influence others to do what you would like them to.

This is, however, a skill you need to practice to make it look natural and fluid, to avoid resentment. But Carnegie provides the needed tools to do it in this book.

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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up best self-help books

The premise of this Japanese consultant is quite easy to understand: an untidy or cluttered home is bound to affect your emotional well-being and leave you stressed. However, her method became popular due to two distinctive features.

First, you don’t analyze each object thinking of its utility or if you have used it for the past years. Instead, you are supposed to ask yourself if it still sparks joy in you. The goal is not to be a minimalist, but rather to surround yourself only with things that feel pleasant to you and, coincidently, you are likely to find out not many things do.

The second distinctive feature is that Kondo sorts by type and not by room. To justify this choice, the consultant even tells an anecdote of a client who had several very similar scarves, but never realized because she kept them in different places and some she didn’t even remember she had.

The KonMari method might not change your habits altogether, but it is one of the best self-help books to put into perspective what a motivated mindset and a clean and calm home can bring to you.

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The prejudice against self-help books

Aside from books telling you how to get rich and reach professional success, self-help books are still generally laughed upon by those who find themselves intellectuals. Emotional education is also frowned upon by many juries who find these books unworthy of literary distinctions.

And yet, in this list of best self-help books, there are several examples of books by prestigious authors that won several awards with their works. Maybe the paradigm is changing, or maybe the topics of these best self-help books were more appealing than normal. The point is, you shouldn’t let anyone define what you read or not. Don’t take anyone’s word for grant it. Read and make your own conclusions.