What do you think of self-help or self-improvement books? I used to think they were balderdash, but I’ve read a few good self-improvement / behavioral psychology books in the past few years. I thought it might be helpful to share some of the better ones, especially as the new year approaches with the inevitable new year’s resolutions.
These books have helped me understand and know myself better, and they offer practical advice for making a change. I believe that once we know ourselves better, we are able to identify areas that we are ready to improve and then make the appropriate steps to take action and implement the changes.
Take a look, and see if there’s a book or two you’d like to try.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
by Susan Cain
If you are an introvert or if you know an introvert (you do), this book is extremely helpful in understanding that introversion is not a personality flaw; however, our society treats it as one. My eyes were opened after reading this book — America has an extroverted ideal, and it can be hard for an introvert to find her place and feel like she’s a success. Our schools, our churches, and our workplaces are extroverted, and they expect extroversion from those who participate.
Susan Cain’s research helped me understand that my introversion is a valuable trait. She affirms that I should listen to my gut and trust that my preferred ways to learn and connect with others are right for me.
Introverts, unite! (Separately and in our own homes, of course.)
The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You
by Elaine Aron
Super cheesy title, but this book is helpful if you are or if someone you love is an HSP, or highly sensitive person, one who is sensitive to stimuli (i.e., large crowds, loud noises, bad language, violent images, etc.). I like to call it the big box parking lot test: how bothered are you in the parking lot of a big box store? All the cars; the carts; the people milling about; the INSANITY.
Important side note: HSPs aren’t limited to introverts; in fact, 30% of those classified as highly sensitive are extroverts. And here is a version of the quiz if you’re interested.
Aron walks you through determining if you might be an HSP and gives practical advice for thriving even in overwhelming situations. Again, similarly to Quiet, this book helped me understand that my sensitivities are an attribute, not a detriment, and are part of who I am.
by Henry Cloud & John Townsend
I read Boundaries twice in 2017. It was a necessary read for several reasons, but ultimately I realized that I wasn’t making decisions that were best for me.
Cloud and Townsend define “boundaries” as the property lines of your life. You get to decide who and what is allowed on your property. I had allowed several detrimental relationships into my life over the past few years. These relationships were not life-giving; rather, I gave others permission to treat me in a way that was not beneficial.
I’m still learning to prayerfully consider what boundaries look like in my relationships, but I am so glad I’ve started down this path.
Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges
by Amy Cuddy
Amy Cuddy is best-known for her TED talk on power-posing. Presence is an extension of her original talk with expanded anecdotes and research.
What’s most fascinating is that Cuddy’s research suggests that, when faced with a situation about which we feel anxious or nervous, we can trick our brains into feeling confident by power posing.
It sounds crazy, I know. But she has the research to back it up.
I’ve started power posing with my students before tests and presentations. They think I’m a little wackadoo, but then they perform better.
Try it! Hold either a victory pose or the Wonder Woman pose for two minutes leading up to a situation you’re nervous about. Trick your brain and give yourself a boost of confidence.
Have you read any of these titles? Which self-improvement books do you recommend?