What is your initial reaction when you hear the words “self development”? Did you just roll your eyes? Most of us know that we need to take better care of ourselves, but doesn’t it sound like a lot of extra work? We have heard the typical “better you” lineup: eat healthy, exercise, take some “me” time, read more, keep a journal, meditate, let go of negativity, drink daily. Okay fine, I added the last one for fun. Beer yoga, anyone? Seriously, if you know of research that says drinking daily will improve myself, you need to drop that info in the comments!
Maybe you do these to some extent. I have attempted all of these, though I’m better at some than others. And maybe, like me, you feel there is a step missing to find that special spark in your life. After my son was born a little over two years ago, I started to feel like something was lacking. My family was complete, and I was happy in my career, yet an unknown absence loomed.
Around the same time, my MLM team was focused on self development. In fact, we were challenged to watch the movie The Secret and discuss our takeaway points. I rarely back down from a challenge, so of course I watched. By the way, it turns out MLMs are not really my thing, but I do still love the company, their products, and the people I met in my journey.
That small challenge sparked a drive to find my purpose and become a better version of myself. I began searching for guidance on Google and Pinterest. I watched videos recommended by teammates. In the end though, good old-fashioned books were the most beneficial for me. Well, that’s half true. As I was still trying to figure out how to be a mom of two and get back to work full time, I didn’t have much time or energy to pick up a book. What I did have were short bursts of time while getting ready in the morning or before bed, nursing, and pumping. I used those moments to listen to books through my phone.
So I signed up with Audible (affiliate link) and immediately downloaded any self development book that sounded remotely interesting. I stopped listening to some 10-30 minutes in because there was no connection at all. Others resonated so deeply, it was as if they were written specifically for me. I don’t read/listen as much these days, but I do still find it an important part of my growth.
My 5 favorite self development books
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
Overview: Based on the film by the same name, The Secret addresses the law of attraction theory, which states what you think about, you bring about. It highlights a number of people throughout history that have followed this approach and gives a variety of examples from people today.
Why I like it: Yes, technically I watched the film rather than reading the book, but the content in each is the same. I love the idea of the law of attraction and was able to put into action immediately. I also love the focus on gratitude. Being thankful for what we have today can drastically change our current mood, as well as what comes to us in the future.
Favorite quote: “This is your life, and it’s been waiting for you to discover it. Up until now you may have been thinking that life is hard and a struggle, so by the law of attraction you will have experienced life as hard and a struggle. Begin right now to shout to the Universe, ’Life is so easy! Life is so good! All good things come to me!’”
The Power of I Am: Two Words That Will Change Your Life Today by Joel Osteen
Overview: This book puts a twist on the law of attraction, stating that whatever follows the words “I am” is what you manifest for yourself. It helps you hone in on the gifts God has given you and love what you have today in preparation to receive greater gifts in the future.
Why I like it: Not only did this book propel my desire to live more positively, it inspired me to strengthen my relationship with God. It provides a whole list of wonderful affirmations to arm yourself with. Joel encourages you to focus on the positive rather than the negative and to remember that any obstacles in your path are temporary.
Favorite quote: “Beauty is not in how thin or tall you are, how perfect you look. Beauty is in being who God made you to be with confidence. If you’re a size 4, great. If you’re a size 24, great. Take what you have and make the most of it.”
How to Be Here: A Guide to Creating a Life Worth Living by Rob Bell
Overview: Drawing from his own experiences, the author provides guidance and insight on how to appreciate the gifts you have been given and use them to pursue your dreams. We all have a blank page and a blinking line waiting for us to start they story of our life. This book helps you break down that story into chapters and even paragraphs so it doesn’t become paralyzing.
Why I like it: With each new concept, I could easily identify areas in my life to apply them. Not only does the author discuss pursuing your purpose, he provides help for overcoming negativity from others (or yourself). He makes it clear that it’s not about having all of the answers. Instead focus on having the courage to start and the faith to figure out the rest as it comes.
Favorite quote: “Better to have a stomach full of butterflies than to feel like your life is passing you by.”
Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
Overview: After her sister commented “You never say yes to anything,” Shonda resolved to begin saying yes at every given opportunity. This book details her journey, and illustrates the profound impact this decision has had on her life.
Why I like it: It’s TV genius Shonda Rhimes. It’s funny. It makes you want to start saying yes and fight that silly fear monster that has kept all of us from say yes at one point. Plus in the audio version, she plays the audio of her 2014 Dartmouth commencement speech, which is awe-inspiring in itself. Google it!
Favorite quote: “Stand up in front of people. Let them see you. Speak. Be heard. Go ahead and have the dry mouth. Let your heart beat so, so fast. Watch everything move in slow motion.”
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
Overview: This book tackles topics including self sabotage, fear, the law of attraction, working toward your goals, and learning to love yourself. The author takes concepts others in the life coach and personal development arena have addressed, provides her personal experience, and makes it relatable through some tough love.
Why I like it: I love this unapologetic, direct kick in the pants. It’s like getting life advice from your best friend, assuming your best friend is funny and enjoys occasional profanity. Through this book, you are encouraged to own up to the B.S. that keeps you from achieving your goals and loving yourself.
Favorite quote: ““You are a badass. You were one when you came screaming onto this planet and you are one now. The Universe wouldn’t have bothered with you otherwise. You can’t screw up so majorly that your badassery disappears. It is who you are. It’s who you always will be. It’s not up for negotiation.” And because I love this book so much, here’s another: “Deciding means jumping in all the way, doing whatever it takes, and going after your dreams with the tenacity of a dateless cheerleader a week before prom night.”