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The Best Self-Improvement Books

Why are self-improvement books worth reading?

Have you ever tried to build furniture without instructions? It's like trying to solve a puzzle without all the pieces – frustrating and futile. Well, believe it or not, navigating life without reading books can feel just as baffling. Books are like our guides, helping us figure out the crazy maze that is life allowing you to learn from other’s wrong turns.

Think about it: since the dawn of writing, stories have been our secret weapons for learning, growing, and becoming better versions of ourselves. Take for example the oldest surviving book, The Diamond Sūtra, which still has some seriously relevant lessons for us today.

Now, let's not get intimidated by the name. The Diamond Sūtra isn't a spell from a fantasy novel, whatever you do though, do not say it three times in the mirror! It's actually an ancient text that's been around since the first century. And guess what? It's like a wise old friend who knows a thing or two about wisdom, compassion, and reality. The kind of stuff we could all use a little more of, especially in our modern rollercoaster lives.

So, what's this ancient book got to say that still matters? Well, a lot. One of its top takeaways is all about riding the waves of change instead of trying to stop the ocean. Learning to dance in the rain rather than waiting for the storm to pass. And let's be honest, life loves throwing curveballs at us, so being adaptable and rolling with the punches is basically our superpower for personal growth. It shows how powerful books can be that we are still here today referencing its lessons.

As a natural pessimist I would say that books have been fundamental as a tool to coach myself into a more positive and resilient mindset. Without this, I think I would be much further behind with my personal goals and the relationships I have wouldn’t be as strong. 

Below are 5 books that have changed my life and why. 

When you purchase an Evolve Journal here you will receive our full reading list of 24 books.

Books to better yourself

The Obstacle is the Way - Ryan Holiday

If you haven’t heard of Stoicism before, we implore you to check it out!

This book is a good starting point. If you struggle with negativity and everyday challenges and setbacks this book will arm you with all the mental tools to thrive in adversity. Packed full of great stories and ancient wisdom since recommending this to people, we have noticed the positive changes in their perspective and enjoyment in life. 

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph:  Amazon.co.uk: Holiday, Ryan: 8601411257797: Books

Actionable advice - Stoics believe that no matter what happens to us we remain in control of who we are. With this mentality the only danger comes from within. You may not be able to change situations, but you can always control your reaction.

Happy - Derren Brown

Next, once you are sufficiently convinced that ‘The Obstacle is the Way’, it’s time for a deeper dive into the history of happiness and how we can obtain it. Derren Brown’s book ‘Happy’; delves into the intricacies of human happiness and provides insights on how to cultivate a happier and more fulfilling life. Drawing from a blend of human history, psychology, stoic philosophy, and personal anecdotes, Brown explores what it truly means to be happy and how to attain lasting happiness.

We really love the storytelling and examples used by Brown to illustrate his points.  He emphasises the importance of self-reflection and inner growth as key factors in achieving genuine happiness.

Happy: Why More or Less Everything is Absolutely Fine eBook : Brown, Derren:  Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

Actionable advice - if you can do one thing to start your journey into improved happiness, it is to focus only on what you can control. Getting angry and upset about what you cannot control doesn’t serve you.

Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds - David Goggins

We’ve focused our first two books on the mind, now here’s a great book to show you how much you are capable of. This book will have you feeling like any new challenge is possible whilst the previous two will help you enjoy the journey. David Goggins truly is a machine. Give him a quick Google and check out some of his achievements. We listened to the audiobook version and we couldn’t help but go for a run every day. These runs were typically much longer and faster than usual too. So again, with this one, we recommend the audiobook, it even has podcast sections where Goggins discusses bonus content.

Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds: Amazon.co.uk: David  Goggins: 9781544512280: Books

Actionable advice - Goggins argues that a part of ourselves wants to protect ourselves from suffering, so we give up too quickly. Typically this is when we have expended 40% of our potential effort. Most of us, therefore, have 60% left in the tank, ignore the voice in your head and push through so you can give your best every time.

The Laws of Human Nature - Robert Greene

This book will help you understand yourself and others in a deeper way. It will give you insight and advice based on interesting stories and characters throughout history. It will help you to thrive in the chaos and make you show up better in your relationships. The research and the depth of Robert Greene’s insights in his books are second to none. In Laws of Human Nature, you will learn from stories from a range of notable characters, from Coco Chanel to Stalin.

This book provides valuable insights into human behaviour and psychology that will help you navigate social situations and improve your communication skills.

The Laws of Human Nature: Robert Greene: Amazon.co.uk: Greene, Robert:  9781781259191: Books

Actionable advice – think deeply about the trends of human behaviour. With your understanding, you can protect against false leaders. In addition, you can learn from millions of others' struggles so your life can be easier. Don’t ignore their lessons. This book will help you discover your authentic aspirations, prompting you to articulate your life’s purpose and ideally illuminate your path. The depth of wisdom in this book is invaluable, making it a must-read.

Meditations - Marcus Aurelius

There are many different versions translated over time and people tend to have different favourites. We like Gregory Hays as he writes in modern plain English making it one of the more accessible translations. Meditations is a timeless classic and one of the most widely read books in the world. Written by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, it is a collection of personal reflections and philosophical musings on life, death, and everything in between. In this book, Aurelius offers practical advice and wisdom that is still relevant today, thousands of years after it was first written.

Actionable advice - Reflect on your life and focus on what you can control rather than what is beyond your control. Practice mindfulness and self-reflection to understand your thoughts and emotions better. Take responsibility for your actions and decisions and strive to live a virtuous life based on reason, wisdom, and compassion.

We truly believe that if everyone read these 5 books, the world would be a better place. We believe so much in the power of books we have created a reading list with 24 of the most impactful books we have read which every Evolve Journal customer receives upon purchase. 

Get in touch if you think we have missed any game-changers!

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