Say what you want to say about self help books, but I learn something from every book that I read. Sure, some of these books make me roll my eyes the whole time as I read, because they sound so obvious and forced. However, from every self help book, (or any other book), I take a lesson that I find myself applying in my life.
I don’t want to be overly dramatic by saying these 5 books have changed my life; but sure enough there is a lesson or two that I have learned from them that have created some form of impact in my life. Here is my list of impactful books and the lesson I borrowed from them.
Quiet- The Power Of Introverts in a World That Cannot Stop Talking – Susan Cain
Most times, when I tell people that I am an introvert, they don’t believe me. This is because I am very opinionated, vocal, have no problem at all addressing groups of people (I lecture in colleges and conduct training sessions). What those people don’t know is that when I am not standing in front of groups, I am curled up in my house reading, cooking, sleeping, watching something interesting or being inside my head over-thinking stuff. For the longest time, I didn’t know I was an introvert too. I tried keeping up with social events, which bore me within the first half hour then wondering what’s wrong with me and why I couldn’t enjoy hanging out with people for much longer. Often time, I was branded as snobbish, anti social or cold.
When I read Susan Cain’s book, I was enjoying a year of self discovery in solitude. This book has a very well researched stance on introversion. It explains so much about characteristics of introverts, why they behave the way they do, and most importantly, emphasizes that it is alright to be an introvert. Struggling with our personality is something many of us go through, especially in our younger years (late teens and early twenties). After reading this book, I accepted my introversion and I am no longer apologetic for being the way I am. I will comfortably excuse myself from a social event and go home when I feel that my energy is drained and I need some time alone to recharge.
I highly recommend this book for both introverts and extroverts. For introverts, it will help you understand your personality better and be at peace with it. For extroverts, it will help you understand the introverts around you. You could be dating an introvert, married to one, have an introverted child, or friends and coworkers. If you ask me if I have a favourite nonfiction book, I will pick this one without hesitation (and this is a very difficult choice for a book lover, we love all our babies equally J).
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People- Stephen Covey
I know, I know how cliché this sounds, but have you tried reading this book? First, this is one of those books that are very difficult to read, I must admit; it took me more than a year to complete. After that, I still refer to this book from time to time. Of the many lessons I have learned from it, the one that stuck is about prioritizing what you do, and knowing the difference between what is urgent and what is important. Living this lesson every day is a challenge, but it has helped me overcome some issues such as procrastination, time management, personal management and focusing on the important things in my life. I highly recommend this book for everyone who feels that they need to have a firmer grip on their lives.
Today Matters- John Maxwell
Sadly, this is among the least known books by John Maxwell, yet it was the most impactful to me. Here, he discusses about how what you do today impacts your life. He emphasizes about making priorities and committing to them. The lesson that stuck with me is about attitude. Have you ever heard of the phrase, “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?” – by Captain Jack Sparrow? (Yes, I quote Pirates of the Caribbean, have you watched the latest movie in the series?) Jack Sparrow has a point which John Maxwell emphasizes in this book that if you change your attitude, and your thinking, everything around you changes. Here is my favourite quote from this book on this topic, “Possessing a great attitude is like having a secret weapon”- John Maxwell, Today Matters.
4. How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
This book is a classic. Its advice is so old, yet applies today as the day it was written. Don’t be misled by the title, this book is not about winning you friends. it is about improving your people skills. If you are in a managerial/ leadership position, I highly recommend reading this book. Unfortunately, most people in managerial positions think that in order to be respected by their subordinates, they have to be tough, mean, unapproachable, and without defects. I agree with Dale Carnegie when he says, “If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive”. This means that if you want good relations with others you should appreciate them, don’t condemn them all the time. You can earn respect without tramping on others and this will help you earn long lasting relationships. You can learn really good tips on leadership from this book.
The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck – Mark Mason
As I write this blog post, I am still reading this book, and here I am recommending it. When I told a good friend the title of my current read, he laughed and said; “Sarah, this is you, you think you can actually stop caring about stuff?” This book is not about saying ‘screw the world’, but the title sure does catch your attention (takes note for future book title). It is close to Richard Carlson’s book; Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.
This book is about choosing what to care about and what not to care about. (Notice how I avoid using the phrase ‘giving a f*ck’ because I am a decent young ladyJ). So far, the lesson I have carried in this book has to do with how most of us feel inadequate in life because we have not achieved our purpose. This is mostly because everything you read and listen to tells you how you have a special purpose in life, and you won’t have lived until you achieve that. So if you have not figured it out you are stressing yourself out and feeling inadequate.
Here is some news flash, no one has completely figured it out, and we are all struggling with one thing or another. Bill Gates is struggling, Oprah still believes she could have done more with her life (don’t always listen to what she says) and many others. We are all on a journey and no one has got there. Don’t get me wrong, this does not mean you stop being ambitious and watch Netflix all week, it means don’t be so hard on yourself. Choose what to care about, don’t sweat the small stuff.
At the top of my head, these are the 5 books that have changed my life. I may come up with a second list since I am still reading. For now, I highly recommend that you read these books. I would like to know which book, if any, has changed your life. Feel free to share in the comment section below.