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The 6 best self improvement books of all-time (they’re different)

best self improvement books of all-time - man reading book

Self-improvement is a throw all term for anything feel-good, inspirational or motivational that makes you excited to “better” yourself.

But what does that really mean?

Hop onto your Facebook feed and you’ll be bombarded by life coaches (what is that?), hustle gurus and blog after blog touting the next best way to improve or better yourself.

While I am often skeptical of the whole self help genre in general, who am I to judge or say what works or what doesn’t? I’m not in a position to do that.

What I can say, however, is that the truest route to self improvement (of any kind) is perspective… and books offer that perspective with no strings attached.

Self-improvement books provide perspective unlike anything you’ll read online or in social media.

Perspective doesn’t tell you to do this or that. It doesn’t tell you how to live your life or provide you with a checklist of how improve certain elements of your life. What it does offer is a catalyst for change.

Perspective is the truest motivator for change as it exemplifies what has worked in other person’s life. It doesn’t offer conjecture on what might work. It doesn’t try to sell you an online course for self betterment or require that you radically alter x,y  and z. What it does offer is a window into the life or mind of an individual – take it or leave it.

So, instead of seeking out generic guru-like advice from the hottest new online expert, seek out stories that inspire. Seek out stories that offer perspective  – plain and simple.

In the pursuit of this, I have found reading (ya know.. the good old fashioned kind – books!) to be the best way to find this perspective. You won’t find this kind of perspective in your newsfeed or being retweeted. You’ll find it in the written word – from someone who bothered to take the time to share it.

Here are my 6 favorite self improvement books to help kickstart change in your life.

best self improvement books of all-time - woman in bookstore

1. Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World

Adam Grant approaches success and self improvement from the perspective of being original and examines the subject with a variety of real-world cases across all industries.

Grant covers ideas, creativity, building an ideas and covers people like Steve Jobs and creative wonders like Seinfeld.

Takeaway: Learn how to reject conformity and be original in a world of the same status quo.

Get It: Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World

2. The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life’s Perfection

Michael A. Singer writes this book from the heart because it is a true story. It is a reflection on what happens when one let’s go and let’s life happen.

Reading this book is a true look into amazing life events from a life of solitude in the woods to a billion dollar company and a major FBI raid – all stemming from one man’s decision to embrace what life throws his way.

Takeaway: Look at your own life in a radically different way.

Get It: The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life’s Perfection

3. Outliers: The Story of Success

Malcolm Gladwell’s book is very well-known but I included it because it examines real-life examples of true to form outliers – high achievers.

In the book, Gladwell differentiates between what successful people are like (their habits, patterns, etc.) and where they are from/their upbringing. It is a fascinating look into how experiences and perspective shape life and your ability to have massive impact.

Takeaway: Perspective can radically alter your life.

Get It: Outliers: The Story of Success

4. Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes

Tom Rath offers a unique perspective on what it takes to forever improve your health and happiness. It is derivative of his own experience, having battled health issue for over 20 years when he wrote the book. He did an incredible amount of due diligence and research to cover proven and logical ideas for prolonged health in every aspect of life.

Takeaway: Little things can have a massive impact on your life.

Get It: Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes

5. The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study

Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin cover the most extensive study of life ever conducted and the result is an incredible look at what truly impacts health and happiness. The study reflects on the practices that actually impact health and happiness.

Takeaway: What it really takes to live a long, healthy and happy life.

Get It: The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life 

6. Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy

Mo Gawdat’s thesis on what it takes to truly be happy is a reflection of his own journey – having surfaced from a time of being incredibly unhappy to the quite the opposite. This book is great as Mo approaches happiness from the only angle he knows – engineering precision. He built his thesis on what creates permanent happiness by creating an algorithm around it and step by step how to achieve it.

Takeaway: We can all be content with our present situation and optimistic about the future.

Get It: Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy

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No fluff or "pie in the sky inspiration." Just real stories.

Written by Case Kenny

Case is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of PRSUIT.com; Reach him at case@prsuit.com

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