These Books Will Help You Answer The Most Important Questions About Yourself

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

There are more questions than answers in life. Everyone seeks progress, love, happiness, fulfillment, and money. We all hope for a better future.

What is the purpose of my life? How can I be better at what I do? How can I make impact in the next year or two? What do I need to spend more or less time doing going forward? How can I improve my life and career?

Chances are you’ve asked yourself these questions at least once in the past two months. To understand how your mind works, how you can improve your choices in life, and make the most of your strenghts, explore these life-changing books.

1. Based on one of the largest surveys ever conducted on high performers, Brendon reveals the most effective habits for reaching long-term success.

High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way, by Brendon Burchard

“Often, the journey to greatness begins the moment our preferences for comfort and certainty are overruled by a greater purpose that requires challenge and contribution.”
If you could describe yourself in just three aspirational words — words that would sum up who you are at your best in the future — what would those words be? Why are those words meaningful to you? Once you find your words, put them in your phone as an alarm label that goes off several times per day.”

2. These are unconventional principles that Ray (one of the world’s most successful investors) has developed, refined, and used over the past forty years to create results in both life and business

Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio

“Every time you confront something painful, you are at a potentially important juncture in your life — you have the opportunity to choose healthy and painful truth or unhealthy but comfortable delusion.”
“Time is like a river that carries us forward into encounters with reality that require us to make decisions. We can’t stop our movement down this river and we can’t avoid those encounters. We can only approach them in the best possible way.”
“Over the course of our lives, we make millions and millions of decisions that are essentially bets, some large and some small. It pays to think about how we make them because they are what ultimately determine the quality of our lives.”

3. A powerful invitation to live a life that is not only happy but filled with purpose, belonging, and transcendence

The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters by Emily Esfahani Smith

“A riveting read on the quest for the one thing that matters more than happiness. Emily Esfahani Smith reveals why we lose meaning in our lives and how to find it. Beautifully written, evidence-based, and inspiring, this is a book I’ve been awaiting for a very long time.” — ADAM GRANT, author of Originals and Give and Take; professor at the Wharton School

4. Based on a massive study of 2 million people, this book shows you how to cultivate your own career strengths

Now, Discover Your Strengths, by Marcus Buckingham

“There is one sure way to identify your greatest potential for strength: Step back and watch yourself for a while. Try an activity and see how quickly you pick it up, how quickly you skip steps in the learning and add twists and kinks you haven’t been taught yet. See whether you become absorbed in the activity to such an extent that you lose track of time. If none of these has happened after a couple of months, try another activity and watch-and another. Over time your dominant talents will reveal themselves, and you can start to refine them into a powerful strength.”
“The ‘big five’ factors of personality are neuroticism (which reflects emotional stability), extroversion (seeking the company of others), openness (interest in new experiences, ideas, and so forth), agreeableness (likability, harmoniousness), and conscientiousness (rule abidance, discipline, integrity).”

5. The cognitive and neurochemical factors that drive performance in all domains

Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness

“Brad Stulberg is one of the most gifted science writers of our times, a master at translating fascinating findings into concrete strategies. Peak Performance provides actionable insights from the cutting-edge research on how people excel. This book will be a must-read for anyone who wants to up their game, transcend boundaries and get out of their comfort zone.” — Kelly McGonigal, Stanford psychology instructor and author of The Willpower Instinct and The Upside of Stress

6. A guide to applying the latest research in brain science to leadership — to sharpen performance

The Leading Brain: Powerful Science-Based Strategies for Achieving Peak Performance by Friederike Fabritius and Hans W Hagemann

“Combines neuroscience and leadership in a way that is both highly informative and fun. The Leading Brain covers a vast array of fascinating topics, such as habit formation, emotional regulation, intuition, and optimal decision making. There are tons of useful strategies in this book that you can apply to your life and your work right away!” — Scott Barry Kaufman, co-author, Wired to Create: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind

7. The author of Contagious explores the subtle, secret influences that affect the decisions we make

Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior by Jonah Berger

“As he did with Contagious, Jonah Berger takes us deep beneath the surface of things, with mesmerizing results. Invisible Influence is a book with the power to transform the way we see ourselves and our place in the world.” — Arianna Huffington, author of Thrive
“Whether you want to influence others, make smarter decisions, or just better understand the mystery that is human behavior, this book will show you how. A terrific, insightful read.” — Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos

8. The secrets to living a happier and less anxious, stressful and exhausting life

Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams, and Danny Penman

“Mindfulness cultivates our ability to do things knowing that we’re doing them.”
“Meditation is a simple practice that gains its power from repetition. It’s only through this that we can become aware of the repeating patterns in our own minds.”
“Pure awareness transcends thinking. It allows you to step outside the chattering negative self-talk and your reactive impulses and emotions. It allows you to look at the world once again with open eyes. And when you do so, a sense of wonder and quiet contentment begins to reappear in your life.”

9. An unconventional book of inspiration and wisdom for achieving a fulfilling life

How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen

“In your life, there are going to be constant demands for your time and attention. How are you going to decide which of those demands gets resources? The trap many people fall into is to allocate their time to whoever screamsloudest, and their talent to whatever offers them the fastest reward. That’s a dangerous way to build a strategy.”
“In order to really find happiness, you need to continue looking for opportunities that you believe are meaningful, in which you will be able to learn new things, to succeed, and be given more and more responsibility to shoulder.”

10. Gretchen tackles the critical question: How do we change?

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, by Gretchen Rubin

“There’s a great satisfaction in knowing that we’ve made good use of our days, that we’ve lived up to our expectations of ourselves.”
“The desire to start something at the “right” time is usually just a justification for delay. In almost every case, the best time to start is now.”
“The most important step is the first step. All those old sayings are really true. Well begun is half done. Don’t get it perfect, get it going. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Nothing is more exhausting than the task that’s never started, and strangely, starting is often far harder than continuing.”

11. Kaizen is the art of making great and lasting change through small, steady increments

One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way, by Robert Maurer

“Once you’ve experienced the joy of taking the first step, you can decide whether it’s appropriate to take another. You’ll know you’re ready when your current step becomes automatic, effortless, and even pleasurable. But don’t let anyone pressure you… If you ever feel yourself dreading the activity or making excuses for not performing it, it’s time to cut back on the size of the step.”
“Instead of aggressively forcing yourself into a boot-camp mentality about change, give your mind permission to make the leaps on its own schedule, in its own time.”

12. In this book, psychologist Jonathan Haidt exposes traditional wisdom to the scrutiny of modern science, delivering startling insights.

The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, by Jonathan Haidt

“Happiness is not something that you can find, acquire, or achieve directly. You have to get the conditions right and then wait. Some of those conditions are within you, such as coherence among the parts and levels of your personality. Other conditions require relationships to things beyond you: Just as plants need sun, water, and good soil to thrive, people need love, work, and a connection to something larger. It is worth striving to get the right relationships between yourself and others, between yourself and your work, and between yourself and something larger than yourself. If you get these relationships right, a sense of purpose and meaning will emerge.”

13. MIT behavioral economist Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways

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

“Standard economics assumes that we are rational… But, as the results presented in this book (and others) show, we are far less rational in our decision making… Our irrational behaviors are neither random nor senseless- they are systematic and predictable. We all make the same types of mistakes over and over, because of he basic wiring of our brains”
“People are willing to work free, and they are willing to work for a reasonable wage; but offer them just a small payment and they will walk away.”
“Resisting temptation and instilling self-control are general human goals, and repeatedly failing to achieve them is a source of much of our misery.”

Before you go…

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