Do you have to do self-improvement? Absolutely not! The notion that everyone needs to self-improve can be toxic, leading to low self-esteem and low self-confidence. However, being a person that for 15 years ago was a depressed wreck, I certainly believe that for some people (like me), self-improvement is an absolute necessity. For me, changing myself, improving myself, was a matter of life or death. I exist now, simply due to years of self-improvement.
I’ve read a vast amount of self-improvement and self-help books. Here are five of my own favorites.
You should also check out my list of the best self-help books against depression.
Do you have another favorite? Add it as a comment below.
1. Change Your Thinking: Overcome Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, and Improve Your Life with CBT – Sarah Edelman
This book made the top of my list of books that will help against depression as well. The reason I will list this as a top self-improvement book is that if you follow the exercises in this book: you will learn to completely rewire your thinking!
There are many books on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy out there, but to me, this is the best one. What separates it from the crowd is the huge amount of examples found in the book. Dr. Edelman really shows you what the different thought fallacies are, by a long list of every day examples. To, me this understanding of what thought fallacies are in general, led me to understand which ones I was a victim of. This was maybe the most important part of the work that allowed me to be free of depression.
2. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones – James Clear
Self-improvement is mainly about changing habits. Because we all have good and bad habits, and you won’t succeed changing yourself without changing your habits.
With this book, James Clear gives a clear blueprint for how you can change your own habits.
This is simply the best book I’ve read on the topic, and it should be read by anyone interested in lasting change.
3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change – Stephen R. Covey
This is an absolute classic, and something everyone interested in habit change, productivity and self-improvement should read.
In the book, Stephen Covey gives us seven important habits that most effective people hold. The seven habits are as follows:
Habit 1: Be Proactive
Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Habit 4: Think Win-Win
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
Habit 6: Synergize
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
4. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance – Angela Duckworth
Angela Duckworth is one of the students of the Positive Psychology pioneer Martin Seligman. In Grit, she presents the research that she herself did, as well as others, on a key factor for succeeding in life: hard work and perseverence.
I guess, deep down, we all know this. Hard work trumps talent. But the key question is: how can we develop habits to persevere? Duckworth provides concrete steps you can make to become more persistent.
5. How to Win Friends & Influence People – Dale Carnegie
Published in 1936, this is an absolute classic. I find it amazing that a book nearly a hundred years old can still teach us massive amounts of wisdom about how we should treat the people around us.
In the book, Dale Carnegie gives a lot of good advice about how to handle people. As the title says: How to win friends and influence people.
Importantly, there is no negative manipulation methods or that sort of thing in the book, it all boils down to being a good person yourself, and the rest will follow.