Want to feel more satisfied with life this year? Spend more time on yourself by reading these life-changing books.
Whether you are currently living your life on purpose, know what you want in life, or are still discovering your life’s work, this list will help you find clarity and build your ideal future.
These are some of the books I truly believe can help improve and change your future. Each, in its own way, brings across a powerful message that has the potential to change how you re-design your life.
Through insightful anecdotes, practical exercises, and her signature blend of humour and wisdom, Beck explores how individuals often lose sight of their genuine desires and aspirations due to societal conditioning and the pursuit of external success. She advocates for a return to one’s innate integrity — the state of being in harmony with oneself — and offers guidance on how to recognise and overcome the obstacles that hinder this process.
The book encourages readers to listen to their inner voice, embrace vulnerability, and make choices that are aligned with their true values, passions, and interests. Beck also introduces the concept of “the Wordless Language of Integrity,” which involves tuning into one’s bodily sensations and emotions to gain insight into one’s authentic path.
Throughout the book, Weiner combines his personal experiences and observations with scientific research and philosophical ideas about happiness. He delves into the cultural, social, economic, and environmental factors that shape people’s happiness in different parts of the world. From the bustling streets of India to the serene landscapes of Bhutan, and from the open-mindedness of the Netherlands to the resilient attitudes of Icelanders, Weiner paints a vivid picture of each place’s unique approach to happiness.
“The Geography of Bliss” doesn’t just provide a superficial look at happiness but also raises thought-provoking questions about how we perceive and pursue happiness in our own lives. Weiner’s witty and reflective writing style adds a layer of humour to the exploration of these deeper themes.
3. “Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter” by Dan Ariely and Jeff Kreisler
The authors delve into the psychology behind our financial decisions, shedding light on the biases and irrational behaviours that can influence how we manage our money. They discuss concepts like the “pain of paying,” which highlights how different payment methods can affect our perception of spending, and the “relativity trap,” where our spending decisions are influenced by the context in which they’re presented.
Ariely and Kreisler also examine the impact of advertising, social norms, and peer pressure on our spending habits. They emphasise the importance of understanding our personal values and long-term goals to make more meaningful and financially responsible choices. By recognising our cognitive biases and learning to navigate them, readers can gain greater control over their financial lives.
The book encourages readers to think beyond traditional exercise routines and consider how they move throughout the day. It discusses how our bodies are designed for a wide range of movements and how incorporating activities like walking, squatting, hanging, and crawling can have significant benefits for our musculoskeletal system, circulation, and overall health.
Katy Bowman also discusses the concept of “nutritious movement,” which is about providing the body with the movement it needs in the same way that we provide it with a balanced diet. The book provides practical tips, exercises, and strategies to integrate more natural movement into daily life, both at home and in various environments.
The book delves into each agreement in depth, exploring how they can be applied to different aspects of life, relationships, and personal growth. Ruiz draws on Toltec wisdom and philosophy to provide insights into how adopting these agreements can lead to personal transformation, inner peace, and a sense of freedom from self-limiting beliefs.
“The Four Agreements” has resonated with many readers due to its simple yet profound teachings that can be applied to various life situations. It has been praised for its practical advice and spiritual insights, and it continues to be recommended by individuals seeking personal development and a deeper understanding of themselves and their interactions with others.
6. “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are” by Brené Brown
The book’s central message revolves around embracing imperfections, letting go of the unrealistic standards set by society, and finding joy in being oneself. Brown emphasises that embracing vulnerability and owning our imperfections can lead to deeper connections with others and a more genuine sense of self-worth.
The title itself encapsulates the core message: it encourages readers to release the pressure of living up to external expectations and to instead cultivate self-compassion and self-love. The book also introduces concepts such as courage, compassion, and connection as essential components of a wholehearted life.
7. “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants” by Robin Wall Kimmerer
The book delves into the intersection of traditional ecological knowledge held by indigenous cultures and Western scientific understanding of the natural world. It weaves together stories, personal experiences, and scientific insights to explore the relationships between humans, nature, and the environment.
Kimmerer draws on her indigenous heritage and scientific background to emphasise the importance of recognising the wisdom inherent in the natural world. She advocates for a more reciprocal and sustainable relationship with the land, highlighting the need to treat nature with respect and care rather than as a resource to be exploited.
8. “The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance: What Women Should Know” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman
Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, both journalists, draw upon their own experiences and extensive research to examine the psychological and societal elements that influence how women perceive themselves and their capabilities. The book discusses the confidence gap between men and women, addressing the question of why women often struggle with self-confidence in various aspects of their lives, including the workplace, personal relationships, and decision-making.
Through their research, the authors identify biological, psychological, and social factors that contribute to differences in confidence between genders. They also emphasise the importance of embracing risk-taking and failure as part of the journey towards building confidence and achieving success.
9. “Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning” by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III and Mark A. McDaniel
The book delves into the science behind effective learning techniques and strategies, aiming to help readers enhance their learning and retention capabilities. The authors present research-based insights into how the human brain learns and retains information most effectively. They challenge many commonly held beliefs about learning and offer practical suggestions for learners, educators, and anyone interested in optimising their learning process.
Overall, “Make It Stick” is a valuable resource for anyone seeking to improve their learning strategies. The book encourages readers to move away from passive and ineffective methods of learning and embrace evidence-based techniques that promote durable learning and understanding.
The book focuses on the concept of simple living and slowing down in a world that often feels overwhelming and fast-paced. It offers practical advice, personal stories, and insights into how to embrace a slower, more intentional lifestyle.
Brooke McAlary is known for her work in the field of slow living and minimalism. She also hosts a podcast called “The Slow Home Podcast” where she discusses various aspects of simple living, mindfulness, and intentional living. The book “Slow” is likely to delve into these topics and provide readers with strategies to create a more meaningful and balanced life.
11. “Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success” by Shawn Stevenson
This book provides practical strategies and insights for improving sleep quality, which in turn can have positive impacts on physical health, overall well-being, and even professional success. The author presents 21 essential strategies that readers can implement to enhance their sleep patterns and achieve various benefits. These strategies encompass a wide range of factors that influence sleep, such as sleep environment, bedtime routines, and lifestyle choices.
Throughout the book, Shawn Stevenson draws on scientific research and practical experience to provide readers with actionable steps they can take to enhance their sleep habits. The ultimate goal is to help readers understand the significance of sleep and make positive changes to their routines to achieve better sleep, leading to a healthier body, improved mental well-being, and greater success in various areas of life.
The book covers a range of topics, including job search strategies, communication skills, workplace etiquette, managing sensory sensitivities, dealing with stress, handling conflicts, and more. It also addresses the needs of employers, educators, and advocates who want to better understand and support individuals with Asperger’s or autism in their work environment.
Rudy Simone’s book is considered a valuable resource for both individuals on the autism spectrum and those who interact with them in a professional context. It aims to empower individuals with Asperger’s to leverage their strengths and talents while effectively addressing the challenges they might encounter in the workplace.
The book focuses on the role of the vagus nerve in promoting overall health and well-being. The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve in the body and plays a crucial role in regulating various bodily functions, including heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, and more. It’s often referred to as the “wandering nerve” due to its extensive reach and influence throughout the body.
Dr. Navaz Habib likely explores how stimulating and activating the vagus nerve can have a positive impact on various aspects of health, including reducing stress, improving digestion, enhancing immune function, and supporting mental well-being. The book might delve into techniques and practices that can help individuals stimulate their vagus nerve naturally, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, cold exposure, and more.
The central metaphor of the book revolves around the idea of finding your “North Star,” which represents your authentic self and the direction you want to move in life. Beck suggests that societal pressures, expectations, and external influences often lead people away from their true desires and passions. She encourages readers to reconnect with their inner compass and align their lives with their authentic values and goals.
Throughout the book, Beck introduces various exercises, anecdotes, and insights to help readers explore their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. She discusses the concept of the “Square Peg Syndrome,” which refers to the feeling of not fitting into societal norms and the discomfort that arises from trying to conform to those norms. She also addresses the fear of change and the resistance that often accompanies personal growth.
Published in 2015, “Big Magic” explores the world of creativity, inspiration, and the challenges that individuals face when trying to live a creative life. Throughout the book, Gilbert shares personal anecdotes, stories from other artists and creators, and insights from her own creative journey. Her writing is often inspirational and encourages readers to embrace their creativity and pursue their passions with enthusiasm.
“Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” has gained popularity for its insightful and motivational approach to creativity. It has resonated with aspiring artists, writers, musicians, and anyone looking to infuse their life with more creativity and self-expression.
Martha Beck, a well-known life coach, author, and speaker, offers a fresh perspective on weight loss and personal transformation in this book. She emphasises the importance of shifting the focus from short-term weight loss goals to sustainable lifestyle changes that lead to a healthier and happier life.
The “Four Day Win” refers to a four-day cycle of making positive choices that align with your wellness goals. Instead of imposing rigid rules and restrictions, Beck encourages readers to implement small, manageable changes that can be sustained over time. This approach is aimed at cultivating a positive relationship with food, exercise, and self-care rather than viewing them as sources of stress or deprivation.
17. “From What Is to What If: Unleashing the Power of Imagination to Create the Future We Want” by Rob Hopkins
The central premise of the book is that our society often gets trapped in a cycle of accepting the status quo, which can hinder progress and innovative thinking. Hopkins argues that by tapping into our collective imagination, we can generate creative solutions to the challenges we face, whether they’re environmental, social, or economic.
Throughout the book, Hopkins presents various case studies, anecdotes, and real-world examples that highlight the transformative power of imagination. He emphasises the importance of asking “What if?” questions and envisioning alternative futures that challenge existing norms. By doing so, he suggests that we can break free from limiting beliefs and explore new possibilities that might otherwise remain untapped.
18. “Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock Potential in Yourself and Your Organization” by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey
Kegan and Lahey introduce the concept of “immunity to change,” which refers to the unconscious psychological defences and resistance that people and organisations develop to protect themselves from making significant changes. These defences can manifest as habits, beliefs, assumptions, and fears that hinder personal growth and prevent organisations from adapting and evolving.
Throughout the book, Kegan and Lahey provide real-life examples and case studies to illustrate their concepts and approaches. They emphasise the importance of creating a safe and supportive environment for individuals and teams to explore their immunity to change and work through the process.
19. “Whole Brain Living: The Anatomy of Choice and the Four Characters That Drive Our Life” by Jill Bolte Taylor
This book is about our shared journey into the challenges of our lives and what our choices are in how we can live our best lives while taking our brain anatomy into account. In this book, the author talks about four predictable and easy to identify characters that we all have, based on the anatomy of our brains. Every ability we have is completely dependent on the underlying brain cells that manufacture those abilities, and these four different groups of cells manufacture four different skill sets, ultimately resulting in the expression of each of our Four Characters.
Jill Bolte Taylor is a neuroscientist who is known for her work on brain research, particularly her personal experience of having a stroke and her subsequent insights into brain functions and how they influence our lives.
The book draws on a wide range of research from various fields, including psychology, sports, business, and education, to make its case for the value of a broad-based education and skill set. Epstein contrasts the stories of individuals who followed a narrow path from an early age with those who explored multiple interests and fields before finding their true calling. He suggests that having diverse experiences and skills can help individuals become better problem-solvers, more innovative thinkers, and more capable of navigating uncertainty.
Epstein also discusses the concept of “wicked” versus “kind” learning environments. Wicked learning environments are characterised by complex, unpredictable challenges, while kind learning environments involve relatively stable and consistent patterns. Generalists tend to perform better in wicked learning environments due to their ability to draw from a wider range of knowledge and experiences.
21. “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World” by John Mark Comer
Comer emphasises the negative impacts of constant busyness and hurry on our mental, emotional, and spiritual health. He discusses how the modern culture of busyness leads to burnout, stress, and a disconnection from our deeper selves and spiritual values. Comer believes that this hurry-filled lifestyle often prevents individuals from fully experiencing a sense of purpose, connection, and peace.
Throughout the book, Comer offers practical insights and strategies to counteract the harmful effects of hurry. He encourages readers to slow down, practice mindfulness, and cultivate a rhythm of life that allows for intentional rest, reflection, and spiritual growth. He emphasises the importance of setting priorities, embracing simplicity, and nurturing authentic relationships.
Gladwell explores various real-world cases and psychological concepts to illustrate how people often misinterpret and misjudge the intentions and emotions of those they don’t know well. He discusses high-profile events, such as the arrest of Sandra Bland and the case of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, to shed light on the challenges of accurately assessing people’s intentions and truthfulness.
Throughout the book, Gladwell introduces the concept of “defaulting to truth,” suggesting that humans tend to believe others without concrete evidence of deception. He also discusses the “illusion of transparency,” which refers to the misconception that our emotions and thoughts are easily decipherable by others.