November 12, 2020

11 Invaluable Personal Development Books that made 2020 a Good Year After All.

Coronavirus made a lot of people want to “skip this sh*tty year.”

Well, I have to admit, for a little while, I was no exception. I used to say things like that, too, but I’m over it. And everyone who isn’t yet—I hope to pick you up right now. We can complain all we want; we can keep blaming all the causes that make us feel restricted in our personal freedom, but it’s definitely the opposite of “helpful.”

Everything beyond our control is just there for us to accept. Our focus should always be on the things that we have control over. Because in the end, there is one big truth, as all of us should know by now, and that is: life is what you make it. And so is 2020. It’s only sh*tty if your perspective is.

So, how about we change that?

By the end of December, I will have read more than 20 books this year. Which is a great feeling already, and, yeah, I’m proud as a peacock. What’s even better is that I learned a lot from the geniuses who wrote them—a big thanks from all my heart on that note. And now, I’d love to share my top 11 must-reads (yeah, you bet it was a hard choice).

Let me just say one more important thing: the following books are life-changing. Honestly. It’s not like you read them and go on with your normal life. No way. You don’t just read them; you work with them. You highlight things in the text; you take notes; you adopt the ideas into your world.

These books have the power to change you. They’ll change your life for the better. Anyhow, you get the idea. So, go ahead, break up with Netflix, read, learn, grow, work on yourself, get better, and become the person you desire to be—live your best life!

You know what they say: “The best time to start was yesterday. The next best time is now.” No excuses.

1. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

With almost 14,000 incredibly positive reviews for this book online, I didn’t have to think twice before buying; it’s obviously a good choice, as I love this book.

James Clear created something amazing and unbelievable helpful. A revolutionary and mind-blowing approach to the seemingly simple topic of habits. With scientific explanations, as well as a lot of practical examples, and encouraging, inspirational stories, you’ll never get bored with this book—the motivation boost you’ll get is for free.

2. A Manual for Living (A Little Book of Wisdom) by Epictetus, A New Interpretation by Sharon Lebell

It keeps the promise made by its name because the book really is little, but the treasury of eternal wisdom that you’ll find in it is huge. The insights originate from none other than the former Roman slave and stoic philosopher Epictetus. Are you seeking a truly happy and fulfilling life? If you go down the road of his good advice, there is no need for searching. You’ll know after reading it; I don’t want to spoil too much.

I am sure that this is not only a book that you can carry in your pocket but one that you will read over and over again. Let the words sink into your veins. Do not only read it—use it as a manual for living.

3. Nothing you don’t already know: Remarkable reminders about meaning, purpose, and self-realization by Alexander den Heijer

Just wow. Alexander den Heijer started out sharing his writings on Instagram and impacted a lot of people with his teachings in a profound and positive way; mine as well. The first quote I read from him was the following:

“You often feel tired, not because you’ve done too much, but because you’ve done too little of what sparks a light in you.”

Makes you think, huh? So, in the book, each quote is commented on by the author; it challenges you to find your true purpose, a life full of meaning and self-realization.

4. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”

Yep, Greg is right. After finishing this book, it’s like I’m looking at my life through a different lens. I learned to apply a more selective criteria for what is essential. You’ll find some questions on the back of the book:

“Do you ever feel busy, but not productive?

Do you ever feel like you’re constantly in motion, but never getting anywhere?”

This book is for you if you’d like to regain control of your own choices. It will help you to channel your time, energy, and effort into making the highest possible contribution toward the goals and activities that really matter. The author Greg McKeown, CEO of a Leadership and Strategy agency in Silicon Valley, will teach you that being an Essentialist is about a disciplined way of thinking; it means replacing the core assumption of “I have to do everything” with the pursuit of “the right thing, in the right way, at the right time.”

5. Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It by Kamal Ravikant

What a great title. I bet you would never expect that this book is written by a CEO who had fallen apart after experiencing a huge failure with his company. Well, failure is always the best opportunity for growth. The author’s aim is that by the time you finish this book, you will be absolutely committed to loving yourself. He describes simple and practical ways of how to do it and—most importantly—how to make it last.

Kamal Ravikant is someone who is speaking from experience; someone who decided to share his truth and his heart with the world; someone who has dedicated his work to the people who are aware of their lack of self-love but desperately want to change that. And even if you’re already on the right track of loving yourself, you’ll never regret reading these valuable insights.

6. The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

One of the classic must-reads, no discussion about it—high value. I’m certain that everyone will take away important things from these powerful lessons. So, don’t wait, start reading.

7. Buddhism for Busy People: Finding Happiness in an Uncertain World by David Michie

I got this book from my Australian flatmate when we lived together in Sydney last year. I read it during the lockdown earlier this year. David Michie is a down-to-earth person who makes Buddhism teachings more accessible for everyone: remarkable stories and useful lectures that will inspire you to bring a little more Buddhist wisdom into your world.

8. The Why Café and Return To The Why Café  by John Strelecky

Yeah, I kind of cheated, but if you read The Why Café, you’ll have no other choice but to read the second one in the series. Both books are worth every penny and every second spent reading. Be aware: You’ll be confronted with important, meaningful, and profound questions about life (and death), and you have absolutely no choice but to find an answer for yourself. It makes you dig deeper in order to find your true purpose in your journey of life. This story wakes you up—I mean it!

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

This is a book that you have to read more than once, simply because it’s quite hard for those of us who are still far from reaching an enlightened stage to fully grasp all of the teachings. But as our consciousness rises, new thoughts and insights will appear. That is why we will definitely understand even more the second time around. The Power of Now has the power to transform your life. Eckhart Tolle has a great way of writing: He will make you understand things on a deeper level, beyond the intellectual. It’s hard to explain. You can only experience it by reading. Give it a shot.

10. Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success by John C. Maxwell

A sentence from the book states, “The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure.” Yes! Why didn’t we read books like this in school? Inspiring stories, valuable perspectives, and clear steps put together by the author help you use setbacks for overcoming stalled thinking and turning mistakes into stepping stones for success.

11. You Can Heal Your Heart: Finding Peace after a Breakup, Divorce, or Death by Louise L. Hay, David Kessler

Dealing with losses of every kind has become an even bigger topic in the face of COVID-19, I’d say. What can I say about this book? Well, Louise and David are absolutely right. You can heal your heart. I was astonished by a lot of their thoughts, thoughts that I could have never expressed in such a straight-forward way. It felt like, deep down, I have known these truths all along, but I needed something to unlock them. By reading this book, I could immediately start processing some things and start the healing work. This is truly a masterpiece.


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