Routine is a funny thing – when life is too volatile and every day we sleep, eat, and move differently, the body craves consistency. But then again, when you finally find and fall into a routine, and start living the same life day after day, you become bored and want something new to re-energize your bones.
Just like the body, the brain craves a routine. Our brains, being ancient survival machines that helped our ancestors stay alive as they navigated the dangerous wilderness they lived in, instantly distrust and fear too much novelty. Therefore, in setting up a routine of any kind, the brain is naturally resistant to all the new and crazy ideas that come in. As the brain craves consistency, this can have the effect of putting your mind in a rut and blocking all growth potential that's necessary for a fulfilling life.
The key to finding that sweet spot of consistency with personal and professional growth is to change your mindset. Sounds simple, but it isn't – especially if you are floundering in the middle of that rut.
Thankfully, help is at hand. Let's take a look at 20 new books on mindset that provide a nudge for personal transformation and self-development.
The 20 best books on mindset to check out for personal and professional success
1. The Power of Habit
The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg, offers practical strategies to show how behavioral change works for personal development. Duhigg says that the habits you form account for 40% of your daily activity. He has also conducted studies that show that breaking bad habits can change brain activity and that behavioral change cascades – make one change, and it will lead to others.
2. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
Our mindset does not just determine our behavior, but how we view the entire world, says Carol Dweck. In Mindset, she says that how we think makes us optimistic or pessimistic, influences life goals, determines our approach to work and relationships, and even how we raise our children. She also says people can have either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset – and this is what determines whether you stay in place and stagnate, or stay open to growth.
3. Thinking, Fast and Slow
In this book, Daniel Kahneman explains the two ways in which people think – either in a quick, impulsive manner or slowly and with deliberation. Neither way is wrong per se, but both need to be applied to the right situation. Thinking, Fast and Slow explains why people choose the wrong approach at the wrong time and how to fix that.
4. Awaken The Giant Within
Every person has a deep emotional side that sometimes takes over the entire mind and body. But if you can gain control of your emotional self, you'll open yourself to endless possibilities, says Tony Robbins in Awaken the Giant Within, a book that forces you to change how you perceive yourself.
5. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Flow – that sometimes elusive state we all chase. It's when you're completely absorbed in something, your mind focused on the current activity you're doing. The way your legs are pumping, if you're running. The shape of a problem, if you're thinking. When you're completely immersed in the activity, you barely notice how time is moving. If you're tired, you don't even realize it. And best of all - you feel greater enjoyment, energy, and happiness.
In Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explores the relationship between joy, creativity, and the process of total involvement with life.
6. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
Positivity can be overrated, suggests Mark Manson in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k. The world is full of challenges and human beings have flaws and limitations that make it difficult to get through them. Once we accept this, we can start to see life differently and focus on what is important -- our physical and mental well-being. The book is a no-nonsense style primer on how to embrace failures and move forward to things that are worth caring about.
7. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living
A book centered around self-awareness, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie does as it promises. From one of the doyens of the self-improvement world who wrote classics such as How to Win Friends and Influence People, it teaches you to stop focusing on the what-ifs or negative outcomes and start enjoying the journey you are on, to have some fun when you're getting through your goals, and to appreciate everything around you.
8. Atomic Habits
Everybody has a few bad or unhealthy habits, and it's hard to get rid of them. But by making incremental behavioral changes, you can make a real transformation for self-improvement. In Atomic Habits, James Clear provides advice on how to break bad habits and embark on a more productive path.
The best part of Atomic Habits is how practical it is, and how you can immediately put it into action. There's no fluff, no padding – only real advice on how to create a strong system of habits, and more importantly, sustain them. With the New Year coming up, we highly recommend this one!
9. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
If inspiration is what you seek, this book by Stephen R Covey lists the things that some of the most successful leaders from around the world do every day to help you find your own way to a productive mindset. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People provides new insights on productivity, time management and proper planning.
10. Prisons We Choose To Live Inside
This book is a bit of a blast from the past. Written by Doris Lessing (yes, Doris Lessing of The Grass Is Singing fame also wrote non-fiction!) in the 1980s, it's still very much relevant today. It's a compilation of essays on how societal norms influence the way we live and the rules we set for ourselves, and how these can make embracing change or unconventional beliefs a difficult ordeal. The book challenges us to break these barriers of our subconscious mind and try to look at life in a more nuanced manner.
11. Think and Grow Rich
Your reading list of the best books on mindset is incomplete without titles on financial empowerment, and Think and Grow Rich is a mandatory addition. When it was first published in 1937 by Napolean Hill, the book spoke about achieving financial abundance using Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford as examples. The updated version by Arthur R Pell draws on similar principles but provides newer stories of Bill Gates, Dave Thomas, and Mary Kay Ash to inspire a newer generation of leaders looking to make positive changes.
12. Search Inside Yourself
Written by former Google engineer and now personal growth coach Chade-Meng Tan, the book focuses on finding emotional intelligence and mastering the art of self-improvement by making positive changes in your mindset.
13. Don't Sweat The Small Stuff
The title of this book by Richard Carlson pretty much sums up its philosophy. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff is a practical guide on how accepting shortcomings and failures helps in building resilience and not letting small frustrations build up and take over the big picture.
14. Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds
This book is in a way a journey of self-discovery for David Goggins. Despite having a rough childhood, Goggins went on to build a successful career in the US military forces and athletics. As a distinguished endurance athlete, Goggins boasts an impressive track record of completing more than 60 ultra-marathons, triathlons, and ultra-triathlons, frequently establishing new course records and consistently finishing among the top five. Notably, he once set a Guinness World Record by accomplishing 4,030 pull-ups in a span of 17 hours. His struggles taught him how to cultivate resilience, which he shares with us in Can't Hurt Me.
15. How to Win Friends & Influence People
Yes, we have two books by Dale Carnegie on this list, because that's just how much he has changed the world of personal growth. No list of the best books on mindset would be complete without a mention of How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Changing your mindset is intrinsically linked with changing the company you keep, and if you're looking to make more fruitful connections, read this book by Dale Carnegie. Using simple, practical advice, Carnegie teaches us three things -- how to make people like you, how to win them over with your way of thinking and help them bring about positive changes without them resenting you for it. Use it for good, though, not evil!
16. The War of Art
If you're a creative you're only all too familiar with the struggles of creation. The barriers are internal, and there are so many foes to fight with -- fear, resistance, inertia, procrastination. The ability to transform your mindset is imperative to be able to do your best work. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield helps identify the resistance that blocks creative thinking. Originally written for writers, it's equally applicable and offers valuable insights to artists, entrepreneurs, painters, photographers, and anybody who wrestles with creative work.
17. Start with Why
The greatest leaders always know to ask "why" before undertaking any work. This question not just helps you forge a better path forward, but also determines how you get to where you need to go and makes sure you never lose sight of the objective. So says Simon Sinek in Start with Why, a book inspired by the most watch TED Talk of all time!
18. The Happiness Project
In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin provides personal research-backed insights on achieving true joy and contentment. By breaking her definition of happiness into 12 subcategories and focusing on one each month for a year, she finds a unique balance in her approach to life. Read the book to understand the lessons she's learned.
19. The Alter Ego Effect
This is one of our personal favorites, one that we've read and reread. In the Alter Ego Effect, Todd Herman provides a unique way of dealing with obstacles -- becoming a superhero.
One of the most remarkable stories Herman shares is that of Beyonce's alter ego -- Sasha Fierce. Beyonce has revealed in interviews that she taps into the energy of the alter ego she created, Sasha Fierce, while she performs. This helps her shed inhibitions, stepping completely into the persona of Sasha, who is uninhibited, creative, and well, fierce, on stage.
Todd Herman tells the stories of several other artists, sportspeople and entrepreneurs who have successfully used the concept of alter egos to channel their true selves, become a superhero, and leave behind the doubts, hesitations and resistance that stops us from performing at our best. The book also provides practical strategies on how you can create your own alter ego.
20. The Happiness Trap
What if true happiness and a fulfilling life are myths? That’s the question Russ Harris asks in The Happiness Trap. This book is all about stopping the never-ending chase for the elusive happiness. Delving into the principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), the book challenges conventional notions about happiness, proposing that the relentless pursuit of pleasure can actually lead to more suffering. Harris argues that true contentment comes from embracing life as it is, with all its complexities and challenges. He introduces the concept of 'psychological flexibility' and guides readers on how to develop it through mindfulness skills and acceptance strategies. The book is a valuable resource for anyone looking to find lasting happiness, not by avoiding or eliminating negative emotions, but by learning to approach life with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to embrace all experiences.
Personal growth is hard! Cultivating a growth mindset, and most importantly, doing the work, is necessary if you want to grow, but it won't come easy. Mixing up valuable insights rooted in science with practical advice, these books provide a place to start. If your goal for 2024 is to work on your personal growth, be sure to check them out.
Looking for more on mindset? Check out these articles!