I believe the content we consume plays a role in shaping, or at the very least, influencing our perspective of the world. In turn, these external factors affect how we interact with the world. Books have always been a never-ending source of joy and learning for me. Today our lives are so busy that we often find little time to devote to reading but if you truly are on a quest for personal development, and are serious about instilling a growth mindset in yourself, than its critical that you make time to learn from those who came before us or who are willing to share their experiences. I don’t believe it’s only important to read non-fiction. On the contrary, I believe fiction is equally as important. Throughout human history human beings have communicated lessons by telling stories. These stories have helped to shape civilizations. So devote some time to read both fiction and non-fiction. Lately I have found audio books to be a great supplement to physically sitting down and actively reading a book. I often use this as a method of screening a book before I read it. Once I get complete the audio version I find that I will read the printed version much quicker and retain more information. If I end up not enjoying the audio version, or abandoning it all together, than at least I gave it a chance. A great quote that I often repeat to myself whenever I pick up a new book, “life is too short to read a book you don’t like”. I agree with this on many levels. Life is short. If you’re going to spend time reading then it’s worth reading something that will bring you joy. The following books have helped me at different points in my life and I often find myself turning back to them. Each time brings new insight and perspective regardless of what’s going on in my life at that present moment.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
To some people this choice might be somewhat cliché but this story made such an impact on my life that I could not help but post it first. There’s a reason why this book has been translated into many languages and published all over the world. It’s a beautiful story that all of us can relate to. Ultimately this book inspired me to get out of my comfort zone and leave home to study engineering. I was at a point in my life where I felt stagnant. I would come home each night and feel a growing anxiety. I would find myself overwhelmed with dread. I can only equate this feeling to the sensation of drowning. This story inspired me to seek out my treasure. No matter what you’re searching for in life it will never some easy. You will always encounter obstacles along the way. You will meet some good people, who will help you on your journey, and also some bad ones. That’s normal. The important thing is to never lose sight of your dream. The universe wants us to succeed but we have to be willing to walk across a desert. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, “how bad do I really want this?”
Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
This is an amazing book and one that everyone should read at least once in their life. Frankl’s analysis on the psyche of a concentration camp prisoner is powerful and thought provoking. It’s an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish and leaves the reader in awe. It showed me how powerful the human spirit is and that there is nothing I can’t endure. Endure may not be the right word. Life is more than just surviving. Life is about thriving, it’s about finding meaning. You can find meaning no matter the circumstances. I read this at a time in my life when I was working a dead end job that gave me no joy. I was inspired to change my perspective on my situation. Things are only bad if we lose hope. Once a person loses hope than the body ceases to function. Hope and meaning are the most important things in life. Take some time to reflect on the things that bring meaning to your life. Are you giving them attention? Are you growing in the ways that are important to you? The human spirit is infinitely resilient yet many of us tend to forget that. We allow the minutia of the day to take away from us living our best lives. We can accomplish anything we put our minds on. The human spirit can find meaning in the darkest hour despite the circumstances. I love this book and its one that I find myself turning to again and again.
Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins
I first heard of Tony from watching the movie Shallow Hal. Initially, I pegged him for a sort of telemarketer guru but nothing could be further from the truth. Tony brings a relentless energy and passion to anything he does. His content is inspiring, relatable and full of wisdom. This book forces you to reflect on yourself. The techniques require you analyze how you interact and perceive the world. I believe that no matter what point we are in our lives we can make any changes we want. The key is to want it bad enough and associate massive amount of pain to behaviors that disempower us. Ultimately change only happens if we’re willing to put in massive amounts of work to make it happen. If you purchase this book I highly recommend completing the exercises. This wont be a quick read, it’ll be a slow painstaking process. You will realize things about yourself that you never knew. Some of it might be painful to think about but afterwards you will feel rejuvenated and so much more aware of who you are as a person.