In a society that rewards conformity, change can be frightening and risky. Man, like all animals, is a creature of habit. He finds comfort in routine. But over time, those habits can create an invisible boundary around his life. For many, this boundary becomes a cage, a construct of limitations and fears.
We all need inspiration and encouragement to take leaps forward in life. The books below were chosen for their messages of courage, perseverance and optimism. Different things motivate different people, thus the assortment of approaches, styles and genres. Yet, there is a common theme in all the books – every road to change and success starts with self-reflection. A book can inspire you to plunge into new experiences but that inspiration won’t last if you aren’t ready to plunge within yourself. Hopefully one of these books can be a catalyst for that inward journey.
1. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to Fulfillment of Your Dreams By Deepak Chopra
A great, small handbook that you can refer to throughout your career and life, Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success breaks down the spiritual principles and practices in life that are not just key to success in business but prosperity and satisfaction in life. The path to success doesn’t have to be difficult. In each of us is the ability to infinitely create whatever we desire if we are in harmony with the laws of nature. Deepak Chopra outlines the Seven Laws and how to practically incorporate them into your everyday life.
2. The Millionaire Mind By Thomas J. Stanley Ph.D.
Thomas Stanley has studied the wealthy in America for over 30 years and authored the best-selling books The Millionaire Mind and Marketing to the Affluent. Continuing his extensive research, Dr. Stanley further probes the habits of America’s financial elite. He specifically targets individuals who have built significant wealth and have minimal to zero consumer debt. Many of the statistics and data he reports will surprise you. For example, in his study, the average undergraduate GPA was 2.92 and mean SAT score was 1190.
In fact, many of the indicators of success we are taught to value at a young age, like getting good grades and attending a top university, do not apply to a majority of this affluent demographic group. Thomas Stanley identifies key success factors that all of his subjects have in common. His empirically based observations underscore his point that courage and determination — not intellect — are most important to attaining and sustaining wealth.
3. How Full Is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life By Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D.
Authored by a grandfather and grandson team, this book asserts the effects of positive versus negative energy in your career, relationships, and life. At the core of the book is the “Bucket and Dipper” Theory: each of us have a ‘bucket’ and a ‘dipper.’ When our ‘bucket’ is full, we are on top of the world. In contrast, when the ‘bucket’ is low, so is our self-image and emotional state. We can elect to fill the ‘buckets’ of others through encouraging words and actions, and thus adding more to our own ‘buckets,’ or we can chose to use our ‘dippers’ to sap the confidence of others with destructive energy. Similar to the glass-half-empty-half-full adage, your situation in life is a matter of perspective, and according to authors Rath and Clifton, a positive mindset begets positive results. In this quick and easy read, you will find statistics, stories and examples supporting the effects of Positive Psychology.
Les Brown is one of USA’s leading motivational speakers. In his book, Live Your Dreams, he uses his life journey as a backdrop for lessons in self empowerment. Among the qualities that he attributes to success are focus, willpower, and persistence. Labeled “dumb and retarded” and raised in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Miami, Brown is living proof that you don’t have to play the hand that life dealt you, “There comes a time when you have to drop your burdens to fight for yourself and your dreams.” Sheer hunger and desire can help one overcome his greatest fears and obstacles. Through positive thinking and goal setting, Les Brown says you can achieve your goals and inspire others to do the same.
Learning to Float, Treading Water, Swimming Alone – sounds like the chapters of a swimming manual. Who would have thought they could be a metaphor for navigating through life? Author, Penelope Niven makes the connection seem so obvious and simple. In the pool, as in life, we can encounter uncertainty and adversity; we have to learn skills of survival and renewal. This book is a perfect read if you are looking for a short but sweet jolt of inspiration. At the end of each chapter are exercises to aid reflection and application of the concepts.
6. The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal By Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz
How often have you heard the excuse, “I wish I could but I don’t have the time?” Well, according to Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, it’s not time that we lack but energy. In The Power of Full Engagement, they share revolutionary techniques that can help you maximize your energy. The Corporate AthleteR Training System was developed through years of working with high performance athletes. This training system centers around four sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. One cannot perform at an optimal level without balancing and replenishing these four energy sources. Among the authors’ former clients are professional tennis players Jim Courier and Monica Seles, Gold Medalist Dan Jensen, FBI SWAT teams, and many Fortune 500 companies. The book offers a strict set of guidelines to help you incorporate the training program into your daily ritual.
Don Miguel Ruiz believes that there are Four Agreements, pacts one can make with himself that can bring about a self-transformation. You can change harmful habits, re-invent your dreams, and achieve your goals by breaking the old agreements in your life that stifle your growth and progress. “Be Impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best.” The Four Agreements is about changing your belief system, and transforming your life from the inside out.
8. Journey Through Heartsongs By Mattie J. T. Stepanek
Journey Through Heartsongs is one of five books of poems published by 13 year old Matthew (Mattie) J. T. Stepanek. Mattie started writing poetry at the age of three. His poems contemplate life, death and God with the piercing clarity and vibrancy that can only be expressed through a child. He was born with mitochondrial myopathy, a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy that claimed the life of his three siblings. Yet inside this child’s broken body (he was confined to a wheelchair and attached to a ventilator and other life sustaining equipment most of his life) is a remarkable and indomitable spirit. Mattie has appeared on national television shows such as Larry King Live, Oprah, The Today Show, and Good Morning America. He is a conduit of hope for people across the globe. Although he passed away this summer, his messages of peace, hope and faith live through his series of Heartsongs. Written and illustrated by Mattie, this poetry book will make you smile, cry and delight in the simple gifts of life.