“Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become.” ~Jim Rohn
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a minimalist at heart. Come into my home and clutter is not something you’ll see. I haven’t always been this way, in fact, I used to be somewhat of a pack rat. But I’ve grown and evolved and discovered the feeling of liberty and freedom that comes when I have less ‘stuff’.
At the end of a long day, when I come home and want to unwind with a cup of mint tea and a good book (or a latte and do some writing), it’s hard to do that with a giant pile of laundry sitting beside me, or a big old pile of books and papers I’ve been meaning to weed through.
Paring down our belongings didn’t happen overnight though. It was a gradual process, and it’s still ongoing. One of the harder things to get rid of was books. Isn’t it great to have a huge book collection! But when we embarked on our Big Costa Rica Adventure and put all of our possessions into a storage locker we had some big decisions to make. We kept ONLY what really mattered to us. So if you see it on my bookshelf today, that means it made the cut and got to stay!
There are certainly more than 5 books on my bookshelf right now, but I’m going to keep it simple and share some oldies with you. These are books that gave me at least a couple of ‘aha moments’ and continue to be a source of inspiration. Wherever you are on your journey, just remember: a good personal development book will only be ‘good’ when you are ready for it. Not every book is good for every person, but when you are ready to hear the words in the book you will know it.
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MY TOP 5 PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT BOOKS
(these books are in no particular order)
Happiness Is a Choice, by Barry Neil Kaufman
Co-founder of the Option Institute and Fellowship, Barry “Bears” is the best-selling author of 12 books and co-creator of the Option Process (personal development) and the Son-Rise Program (autism treatment). It’s now been almost 20 years since the first time I read this book and it still holds a spot on the bookshelf! It’s a simple yet profound blueprint to happiness: easy to read and very empowering.
It was hard to choose which Kaufman book to put on this list, seeing as I have almost all of them! But this was the first one I read and it was enough to get me wanting more. The next one I turned to was his tiny little book called, ‘To Love Is to Be Happy With‘, and within these 2 books you will find the core of his teachings: 1. Happiness (and any other emotion/state of mind) is very much a CHOICE; 2. You are your own best expert (meaning you hold your own answers and don’t have to look to others for them); and 3. Everything we do, think and feel is the result of our BELIEFS (stimulus>belief>response) and we have the power to change our beliefs. Aha! (sounds a lot like the Growth Vs. Fixed Mindset I recently talked about😊)
These are bold statements but are so beautifully and simply explained in the books. By the ends of these books I was left with feelings of hope, strength, empowerment and love. Seriously.
I had to experience it for myself, so I signed up for one of their courses, “The Happiness Option Weekend” and it was amazing! Meeting Bears and his wife in person and experiencing the beautiful campus they have in the Berkshires (MA) was so much fun that I went back again as a volunteer and now have lifelong friends with whom I am still in touch with.
Look it up for more info. If you would love a fully-immersed, hands-on workshop that could possibly change the trajectory of your life, a weekend at the Option Institute might be perfect for you. Or of course, just read the books! 😊
Kids Are Worth It! : Giving Your Child The Gift Of Inner Discipline, by Barbara Colorosso
Once I figured out how to get my baby to sleep, this was one of the first parenting books I read (ok, I’ve only read 2 parenting books, and she’s the author of both!). I love the main message of this book, which stems from this question: “Is my goal in parenting to influence and empower my children or to control them and make them mind?” She divides parents into 3 main types, giving stories, scenarios, and challenges to the reader along the way.
For me, the most important takeaway from this book, and the reason it still sits on my bookshelf, was learning the difference between punishment and discipline. Punishment is an external force holding children accountable for their actions. Discipline, on the other hand, “is a process that gives life to learning; it is restorative; it invites reconciliation.”
Discipline involves real world consequences. Coloroso says, “If the natural consequences are not life-threatening, morally threatening, or unhealthy, it is good to let the child experience them, without warnings or reminders.”
So if your child happened to go to elementary school with my child, this will explain to you why I didn’t make my child put his jacket back on at the playground, when the other moms were looking at me in horror, and telling their own children not to copy mine or they will catch a cold. Sorry moms!
Growing Into Soul, by Gwen Randall Young
I first discovered Gwen Randall Young in an independent health, wellness and ecology magazine in Vancouver called Common Ground and quickly became a regular reader of her column ‘The Universe Within”. I read every single article until the day we left Vancouver. Then, no longer getting my monthly ‘fix’ of her soulful words, I decided it was time to read her book, Growing Into Soul.
When the student is ready, the teacher will come. I’m sure just a few years earlier I may not have been ready for this book, but by the time I sat down to read the first chapter I couldn’t stop. A great introduction to Soul versus Ego and the evolution of human consciousness, this book “emphasizes the human capacity to choose how one perceives life experiences”.
Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown
Researcher and best selling author Dr. Brené Brown offers a powerful new vision that encourages us to dare greatly: to embrace vulnerability and imperfection, and to live wholeheartedly.
She explains how vulnerability is both the core of difficult emotions such as grief and fear, and the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, empathy, and creativity. She writes: “When we shut ourselves off from vulnerability, we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.”
You can get a taste of her perspective on vulnerability by watching her amazing Ted Talk, which quickly became one of the most viewed Ted Talks and put her name on the map as a vulnerability expert.
The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff
They say not to judge a book by its cover and this is exactly why! This book is small and unassuming, and features Winnie the Pooh on the cover. But hidden in its pages you’ll find the age old wisdom of Taoism, taught through the life and simplicity of A. A. Milne’s classic little bear.
“Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully.
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.”
“And he has Brain.”
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit has Brain.”
There was a long silence.
“I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.”
― Benjamin Hoff,
Who would have thought our favorite little childhood bear could be so wise after all? This book is a great introduction to Taoism for those looking for a light yet thought-provoking read.
So, what are YOUR favourite books? Please share in the comments below, because we could all use more recommendations. And if you’d like even more inspiration, head on over to our GET INSPIRED resource library, where you’ll find some of my other favourite mentors, a few good videos, and some free printables.
Till Next Time,
Keep Going 4Ward!
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“Now, scholars can be very useful and necessary, in their own dull and unamusing way. They provide a lot of information. It’s just that there is Something More, and that Something More is what life is really all about.”
― Benjamin Hoff,