Thousands upon thousands of personal development and spirituality books fill the shelves of your local book store. While they all offer wonderful food for thought, here are 10 in particular that you shouldn't miss out on.
The world of literature is a magical one. Despite being equipped with only words, books have the incredible ability to make us think, feel, and imagine new worlds.
As an avid reader, I can think of a number of books that changed my life for the better. While many of these were works of fiction, I'd like to instead focus upon 10 largely nonfictional works devoted to personal development.
While most that I will be listing have topped several best-seller lists at one point or another, an astonishing number of us have still never taken the time to read them.
Here are 10 books that I believe have life changing potential:
Way of the Peaceful Warrior is an autobiographical novel written by Dan Millman that blends fact with fiction. The book tells the story of a world-champion gymnast (Dan) who forms an unexpected relationship with a service station mechanic (Socrates) who ultimately becomes his mentor.
How it impacted me: The book effectively taught me the power of being truly present and attentive to every moment in life. For me, the character of Socrates represents what I've come to know as my intuition, and reminded me of how my thoughts and belief systems (rather than external factors) are my greatest limitation.
Awaken the Giant Within is a direct self help book that boldly challenges your values, goals, and overall approach to life. Written by world-renowned life and business coach Tony Robbins, it combines storytelling with exercises to encourage the reader to take action on changing their life as they read the book.
How it impacted me: Choosing to actively complete each of the suggested exercises as I came across them meant that the book had an immediate impact on virtually every facet of my life. It helped me to identify conflicting values, better lay out my goals, and appreciate everything that has made me into who I am today. As an extrovert myself, Tony's style of writing and motivational speaking has always resonated with me, but I feel that this book in particular can be just as effective on even the most introverted among us.
The Power of Now is the first book ever written by the infamous spiritual teacher and public speaker Eckhart Tolle. It is intended to be a guide to help the reader recognize the importance of staying in the present moment rather than be consumed by past or future thoughts.
How it impacted me: I first absorbed the teachings of this book as an audio book while renovating my mother's house several years ago. I wasn't particularly happy to be doing the renovations at the time, but I was soon amazed by how the book shifted my perspective toward the work (and ultimately so much of what I do). It helped me realize just how many of my thoughts are charged by things that truly need to have no bearing on my current experience.
How to Win Friends & Influence People is one of the most-read books of all time, with over 30 million copies sold since its publication in 1936. Despite being very dated in many of its references, the core subject matter remains remarkably applicable to modern life. Proof of this lies in its 2011 ranking by Time Magazine as #19 of the most influential 100 books of all time.
How it impacted me: As the name suggests, this book significantly improved my communication and relationship skills. It showed me unhealthy speaking habits I had made a part of my regular life and gave me effective ways to replace them (that don't involve manipulation).
Conversations with God is a three-part book series comprised of a back and forth conversation between the author of the book and a voice he refers to as God. Despite sounding like a religious text, the book does not connect to any particular faith and instead is better classified as spiritual.
How it impacted me: What particularly impressed me about this book is just how many things that I had often wondered about were reflected in the conversation. Nearly all of the answers resonated with me, and gave me such a profound new perspective on life that I actually read it several times in a row, taking notes on my second and third pass.
Written by Dr. M. Scott Peck in 1978, The Road Less Traveled is a powerful book that offers a number of profound perspectives on life, many of which are uniquely substantiated by real examples from Dr. Peck's work in psychiatry. It challenges many commonly held belief systems and offers a number of refreshing perspectives to them.
How it impacted me: When I first read this book in 2013, it had such an emphatic influence on me that I wrote an entire article on my 12 key takeaways from it. Among those memorable nuggets were the importance in accepting responsibility, the need to be open to change, and the power in genuine self-love.
Think and Grow Rich is undoubtedly one of the most widely recognizable personal and business development books ever published, with over 100 million copies sold. Just like How to Win Friends & Influence People, it was originally published in the 1930s. Written by Napoleon Hill, much of what it shares focuses on financial success, but nearly every core teaching holds a deeper meaning.
How it impacted me: Despite its financial and business focus, the book had a surprisingly profound impact on other areas of my life. It changed the way I looked at my aspirations as well as my approach to dealing with many of them, all while reminding me of the incredible power in my thoughts.
A New Earth is the second most recognizable book written by the aforementioned spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle. I've purposely listed it immediately following Think and Grow Rich since I believe their seemingly opposing focuses compliment each other well. A New Earth focuses on the pursuit of happiness and how material wealth and other traditional aspirations may not be the keys to attaining it.
How it impacted me: The book literally picked apart much of what my mind loves to preoccupy itself with and place importance upon. It showed me the vicious cycle these thoughts create and how much simpler life can be when we instead choose to focus on this moment. It inspired me so deeply that it played an integral role in me tattooing the phrase "This Moment" on one of my shoulder blades.
In my opinion, The Four Agreements is by far the most outwardly spiritual book on this list. While its core teachings are very practical and applicable, the language used makes it far more susceptible to being classified as "new age" than a traditional self-help book. If you can look beyond that, it is a powerful tool filled with ancient teachings to help inspire personal growth.
How it impacted me: While all four of the core agreements presented within the book are powerful, the one that stood out to me the most is to not take anything personally. It's remarkable how much time we waste preoccupied in taking offence to even the most unrelated of circumstances.
Living in the Light is a short and easily digestible book filled with meditations and exercises in addition to thought-provoking text. It is written by Shakti Gawain and has drawn the praise of many renowned conscious speakers including Deepak Chopra and the late Wayne Dyer. It is largely focused on strengthening our connection to our intuition and better merging its co-existence with our conscious mind.
How it impacted me: Having just completed the book, I was pleasantly surprised by how effectively it strengthened my awareness of and connection to my intuition. Each of the exercises offered up a unique tool that I will forever use to shed light on my inner knowing.