Best Motivational Books

Down on your luck? Need some motivation to get out of bed? How about grabbing a book? Let us guess: you would, but you’re out of ideas regarding its author or title.

Worry not: we’re here to help!

Just bookmark this article, and you’re covered for the whole of 2019; even if need less than three days to read a 300-page book! Whether it is self-improvement you’re interested in or books about personal growth, whether you want the best motivational books for women or the best motivational books of all time – they are all here.

And we’ve provided a brief, unique summary/review for each of them, and categorized them on ten different self-explanatory shelves.

So, seriously, bookmark this article: it’s that useful

Without further ado – let’s roll.

The 101 Best Motivational Books List

(Click a title below to go to the respective shelf)

1. Basics of Motivation
2. Rules for Life
3. Power of Positive Thinking
4. You Are a Badass
5. Great Lecture
6. Why Would You Give a Damn
7. Fables and Fiction
8. Inspirational Biographies
9. Don’t Worry, Be Happy
10. Show Me the Money
Wildcard

1. The “Basics of Motivation” Shelf

You can’t motivate yourself without learning what motivation is. Want to do that? Well, these 10 books offer a great philosophical and theoretical framework!

The Motivation Manifesto1.1 Brendon Burchard – The Motivation Manifesto

About the Book: What better way to start a list of the 101 best motivational books you should read in 2019 than with a motivation manifesto? And Brendon Burchard’s really lives up to its name! His “9 Declarations to Claim Your Personal Power” will energize you to your very core! This is one you should keep on your bedside table. Or even under your pillow. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Without making the actual attempt, without trial and strife, there can be no true knowledge, no progress, no high achievement, and no legend.

Find Your Why1.2 Simon Sinek – Find Your Why

About the Book: In Start with Why, Simon Sinek proposed to the world – in his very own words – “the world’s simplest idea.” Namely, that why you are doing what you’re doing is more important than how you’re doing it or even what it is that you’re doing. In Find Your Why Sinek teams up with Peter Docker and David Mead and gives us the book we’ve all been waiting for: a practical guide to discovering that why. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

If we want to feel an undying passion for our work, if we want to feel we are contributing to something bigger than ourselves, we all need to know our WHY.

Drive1.3 Daniel H. Pink – Drive

About the Book: The subtitle of Daniel H. Pink’s thought-provoking 2011 bestseller, Drive – “The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” – tells you everything you need to know about this book. First of all, it explores the roots of motivation; and secondly, it reaches unexpected conclusions. In a nutshell, that money doesn’t motivate us; what does is autonomy, mastery, and purpose. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Drive
Favorite Quote:

Pay your son to take out the trash — and you’ve pretty much guaranteed the kid will never do it again for free.

The Power of Habit1.4 Charles Duhigg – The Power of Habit

About the Book: We are creatures of habit, and Duhigg knows that the real power of this insight lies in the fact that “your habits are what you choose them to be.” However, as you know full well, it’s not easy to choose them: you are intrinsically motivated to do some things much more than some others. And though it’s not easy to change them as well, you can actually do it: just replace the routine but keep the initial cue and the final reward. Apparently, this works 100% of the time! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

The Power of Habit
Favorite Quote:

The Golden Rule of Habit Change: You can’t extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it.

Switch1.5 Chip and Dan Heath – Switch

About the Book: Speaking of habits and how to change them – here’s another classic in the field: Chip and Dan Heath’s Switch. According to the Heath Brothers, all successful changes follow the same pattern. Namely, people who change all have a clear direction, plenty of motivation, and a supportive environment. Or to use the Jonathan Haidt analogy they use: you need to direct the rider; motivate the elephant, and shape the path. You’ll know what we mean: just see 9.7 below. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Switch
Favorite Quote:

Change is hard because people wear themselves out.

Thinking, Fast and Slow1.6 Daniel Kahneman – Thinking, Fast and Slow

About the Book: Daniel Kahneman is a world-renowned psychologist with – get this – a Nobel Prize in Economics. So, basically, he already knows about you more than you’ll ever know about yourself. Thinking, Fast and Slow is a summary of his life-long research, exploring the dichotomy between fast and slow thinking. We don’t think that you’ll place that much value in your own judgment after reading this book. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Thinking, Fast and Slow
Favorite Quote:

A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact.

David and Goliath1.7 Malcolm Gladwell – David and Goliath

About the Book: Even in his forties, Malcolm Gladwell was already one of the most influential thinkers of our times. Now at 55, he is nothing less than an icon. Even though – like all of his books – a New York Times bestseller, David and Goliath may be his least famous book. But, in our opinion, it may be his most motivating one. Because it can show you why – and how – you can win, even when all odds are against you. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

David and Goliath
Favorite Quote:

Courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times, and you discover they aren’t so tough after all.

The Power of Myth1.8 Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers – The Power of Myth

About the Book: People have found different ways to motivate themselves to endure and succeed ever since the beginning of times. In The Power of Myth – a book based on the six one-hour conversations taken between journalist Bill Moyers and mythologist Joseph Campbell in the last year of Campbell’s life – you can see why (and how) these most ancient strategies still work. “Follow your bliss,” says Campbell, “and doors will open where there were no doors before.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is all about.

How Will You Measure Your Life?1.9 Clayton Christensen – How Will You Measure Your Life?

About the Book: Clayton Christensen is a Harvard-based scholar most famous for his theory of “disruptive innovation.” However, in How Will You Measure Your Life? – co-authored with James Allworth and Karen Dillon – rather than giving us another analysis of Schumpeter’s Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, he gives us a book more in the tradition of Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture (see 5.10). And we should be grateful for it! Because How Will You Measure Your Life? introduces the “hygiene-motivation theory,” according to which, it is not money, but work conditions and job security, combined with recognition, personal growth, and sense of responsibility that are the true motivating factors of existence. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

It’s easier to hold your principles 100 percent of the time than it is to hold them 98 percent of the time.

Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work… and What Does1.10 Susan Fowler – Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work… and What Does

About the Book: Motivation, according to Susan Fowler, is a skill. Meaning, like all other skills, it can be taught and acquired. However, misunderstanding what motivation is leads to a “misapplication of techniques to make it happen.” For this reason, Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work… and What Does sets before itself an objective to dispel all myths about motivation. Here you’ll learn how external undermine internal motivators and how, in order to be motivated, you need to live under an ARC of Freedom. We’ll let you find out what ARC stands for. But we’ll tell you that “people who experience ARC are thriving. They do not need something or someone else doing the driving.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Motivation is a skill. People can learn to choose and create optimal motivational experiences anytime and anywhere.

2. The “Rules for Life” Shelf

There are some people who can tell you how you should live your life. And usually, they are smart enough to pack their lifetime of knowledge in several rules. Your job: to merely follow them!

12 Rules for Life2.1 Jordan Peterson – 12 Rules for Life

About the Book:  By all accounts, Jordan Peterson is “the most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now.” His 12 Rules for Life are both humorous and revelatory. And they cover everything – from standing up straight with your shoulders back and putting your house in order to be precise with your speech and – yes! – petting a cat when you encounter one on the street. It’s Peterson, so of course there’s more to it; and of course, it’s as motivating as hell! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

It took untold generations to get you where you are. A little gratitude might be in order. If you’re going to insist on bending the world to your way, you better have your reasons.

The Four Agreements2.2 Don Miguel Ruiz – The Four Agreements

About the Book: In his “practical guide to personal freedom,” Mexican neo-shaman Don Miguel Ruiz reveals the four tenets of true joy and happiness. Though fairly simple – as all wisdom is – the four agreements will probably affect you in a life-changing, world-shattering kind of way. Want to immediately find out what are they? Read here. (Read a brief summary of the book | Read the best quotes from the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The world is very beautiful and very wonderful.  Life can be very easy when love is your way of life.  You can be loving all the time. This is your choice.

Just Shut Up and Do It2.3 Brian Tracy – Just Shut Up and Do It

About the Book: You already know that Brian Tracy is a no-excuses kind of guy. Hence the title. In Just Shut Up and Do It he presents his 7 steps to conquer your goals. So, you can learn how to: surmount the biggest obstacle to success; take charge of your life; dare to go forward; decide what you really want; overcome procrastination; become a lifelong learner; and never give up. (Read a brief summary of the book | Read more about Brian Tracy | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Top people build learning into each day. They read thirty to sixty minutes each morning—approximately one book per week.

Emotional Habits2.4 Akash Karia – Emotional Habits

About the Book: Akash Karia is a peak performance coach and a celebrated NLP trainer; and in Emotional Habits, he shows how Subtitled “7 Things Resilient People Do Differently and How They Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life,” this book is “a quick read that can have immediate and long-term benefits.” (Phil Barth) Not the least because it includes spot-on practical executrices. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The goal of building emotional strength is not to somehow make every situation in life happy and rosy.

Simple Rules2.5 Donald Sull and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt – Simple Rules

About the Book: Life is difficult as it is to make it even more unbearable by adhering to complex rules. If you are – then this book is for you. Drawing on hundreds of studies and more than a decade of research, in Simple Rules Sull and Eisenhardt show how simple rules are the deal and how, armed with just a few of them, “you can tackle even the most complex of problems.” And thrive. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Simple Rules
Favorite Quote:

Investing the time up front to clarify what will move the needles dramatically increases the odds that simple rules will be applied where they can have the greatest impact.

The Daily Stoic2.6 Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman – The Daily Stoic

About the Book: Another obligatory bedside-table – or even under-the-pillow – book. Compiled by one of the leaders “for the charge of stoicism,” Ryan Holiday, The Daily Stoic contains “366 meditations on wisdom, perseverance and the art of living” – one for each day of the year, for the rest of your life. And they are all commented upon by Holiday who has a knack for illustrating how relevant this ancient school of philosophy is for our modern world. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Serenity and stability are results of your choices and judgment, not your environment.

Ignore Everybody2.7 Hugh MacLeod – Ignore Everybody

About the Book: Hugh Macleod (of gapingvoid.com) is a pretty creative guy; so, when he publishes a book sharing a list of his 40 keys to creativity, it is bound to make a splash. A paean to originality and nonconformity, Ignore Everybody is both a humorous and engaging read; not to mention inspirational. By the end of the book, you’ll definitely want to take your kindergarten crayons back. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.

The Art of Nonconformity2.8 Chris Guillebeau – The Art of Nonconformity

About the Book: Chris Guillebeau has lived a pretty unconventional life, volunteering with Mercy Ships, founding a $100 startup, and visiting all 193 countries of the world by the age of 35. So, in a way, he has mastered the art of nonconformity. Based on his popular online manifesto, “A Brief Guide to World Domination,” this book shares what he learned throughout the process. And can help you learn not only how to set your own rules and live the life you want, but also how to change the world. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Unreasonable, unrealistic, and impractical are all words used to marginalize a person or idea that fails to conform with conventionally expected standards.

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success2.9 Deepak Chopra – The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success

About the Book: In the eyes of most people – yes, we’re looking at you, mums and dads – dreams are an antonym of reality. However, in the eyes of Deepak Chopra, reality and dreams are interconnected, and “the same laws that nature uses to create a forest, a star, or a human body can also bring about the fulfillment of our deepest desires.” A pocket-sized practical guide to the fulfillment of dreams, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, shares the whys and the hows; and it’s both motivating and enlightening. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success
Favorite Quote:

The past is history, the future is a mystery, and this moment is a gift. That is why this moment is called ‘the present.

The Code of the Extraordinary Mind2.10 Vishen Lakhiani – The Code of the Extraordinary Mind

About the Book: True, many books can claim to contain “10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed on Your Own Terms,” but Vishen Lakhiani’s bestseller actually does. There’s a high chance that you’ve encountered upon none of them (at least in the form they are shared here) in any other book you’ve ever read. And yet, from law #1 (“transcend the culturescape”) through law #7 (“live in blissipline”) to law #9 (“be unf*ckwithable”) – they all make sense and are helpful! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.

3. The “Power of Positive Thinking” Shelf

Science has repeatedly shown that glass-half-full people live longer and happier lives than the rest of, well, us. These books show why. And how you can become one of them.

As a Man Thinketh3.1 James Allen – As a Man Thinketh

About the Book: Published more than a century ago, As a Man Thinketh is a literary essay by James Allen, one of the first which deals “with the power of thought, and particularly with the use and application of thought to happy and beautiful issues.” Described by Allen himself as “a book that will help you to help yourself,” As a Man Thinketh is one of the earliest self-help books; and it is still one of the best. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.

The Power of Positive Thinking3.2 Norman Vincent Peale – The Power of Positive Thinking

About the Book: Even though published fifty years after James Allen’s masterpiece, The Power of Positive Thinking is usually credited as the book which started the “positive thinking” revolution. Justly so, bearing in mind the fact that it’s written in a simple, yet engaging, style, and that it compiles an extensive list of case histories to go with the practical instructions. A classic. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop the picture.

The Secret3.3 Rhonda Byrne – The Secret

About the Book: Rhonda Byrne doesn’t hide the fact that The Secret is directly inspired by the ideas of Norman Vincent Peale – or those by Wallace Wattles (10.1), Napoleon Hill (3.8 & 10.2) or Helena Blavatsky. And, indeed, The Secret doesn’t offer any new insights. But it does explain the law of attraction in the simplest manner possible – which is why the book sold over 30 million copies and was translated into 50 world languages. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

The Secret
Favorite Quote:

The truth is that the universe has been answering you all of your life, but you cannot receive the answers unless you are awake.

Ask, Believe, Receive

3.4 David Hooper – Ask, Believe, Receive

About the Book: Byrne’s The Secret may be inspired by Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking, but Ask, Believe, Receive is a direct sequel to The Secret. Inspired by the fact that “The Secret exposed the world to the Law of Attraction in ways James Allen, Earl Nightingale, and others hadn’t,” David Hopper wrote this book to complement it with a practical guide. It is a “step-by-step formula, actually five of them, to help you achieve what you want in specific areas of your life – money, relationships, health, employment, and business.” In seven days. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The Law of Attraction won’t enclose you in a cushy cocoon, so you never have to deal with problems again – but it can give you greater control over how many of those problems you experience.

Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life3.5 Brian Tracy – Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life

About the Book: A list of 101 best motivational books is bound to include quite a few Brian Tracy entries; after all, he is a powerhouse – if not the powerhouse – in the world of motivational speakers. In Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life, Tracy provides a step-by-step blueprint on how to transform your ways of thinking about yourself and your potential and, thus, change your life for the better. If not – for the best. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The very best way to predict the future is to create it.

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind3.6 Joseph Murphy – The Power of Your Subconscious Mind

About the Book: “I have endeavored to explain the great fundamental truths of your mind in the simplest language possible,” writes Joseph Murphy in the introduction to his ultra-popular The Power of Your Subconscious Mind. And he does. The result? The best book on the “miracle-working power of your subconscious mind” and its ability to “heal you of your sickness” and “make you vital and strong again. “ (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Busy your mind with the concepts of harmony, health, peace, and good will, and wonders will happen in your life.

You Can Heal Your Life3.7 Louise L. Hay – You Can Heal Your Life

About the Book: Just like is the case with most of the books in this category, the premise of You Can Heal Your Life is quite simple: everything is connected, and you can use this to your own benefit. However, if the other books explore the links between your mind and the universe, Louisa L. Hay’s perennial bestseller is mainly focused on the interconnections between your mind and your body. The main takeaway: most diseases are actually mental diseases; and they can be cured via your mind. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

What we think about ourselves becomes the truth for us.

Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude3.8 Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone – Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude

About the Book: After the Second World War, the godfather of self-help books and New Thought guru, Napoleon Hill, teamed up with businessman and philanthropist W. Clement Stone. Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude is the final result of their collaboration. “These two men,” commented upon it none other than Norman Vincent Peale, “have the rare gift of inspiring and helping people… In fact, I owe them both a personal debt of gratitude for the helpful guidance I have received from their writings.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude
Favorite Quote:

Whatever your mind can conceive and can believe, it can achieve.

The Road Less Traveled3.9 M. Scott Peck – The Road Less Traveled

About the Book: It’s been half a century since The Road Less Traveled was first published, so it may be a bit difficult today to understand the spiritual impact this book exerted upon publication. Read it, and you’ll instantly see why it sold almost 10 million copies long before books of its kind became mainstays of the bestseller lists. Exploring the topics of discipline, love, religion, and grace, Peck’s book will etch in your mind such truisms as “laziness is the ultimate sin” and “love is not a feeling, but an action.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.

The Power of Now3.10 Eckhart Tolle – The Power of Now

About the Book: Translated into more than 30 languages and recommended by Oprah Winfrey on numerous occasions, The Power of Now is one of the best manuals you’ll ever find on how to conquer your ego and let go of your worries. A mixture of Buddhism, mysticism and New Age, Eckart Tolle’s masterpiece suggests that about nine-tenths of your anxieties come not from things which are happening, but of things which have happened or might happen. And this is something you can – and should – change. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

The Power of Now
Favorite Quote:

As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle to dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease.

Best Motivational Books

4. The “You Are a Badass” Shelf

As the story itself demonstrates, there’s a Goliath in every David; in other words: it’s all in the state of mind. The biblical David had God as his guide; we are positive that these ten great motivators can serve the same purpose in your transformation from a David to a Goliath.

Rising Strong4.1 Brené Brown – Rising Strong

About the Book: In the world of motivational thinkers, Brené Brown is all but a legend. And Rising Strong is her call for “a critical mass of badasses who are willing to dare, fall, feel their way through tough emotion, and rise again.” And the rising process she suggests is a simple 3R procedure. First, you reckon with your emotions; then you rumble with your stories; and, finally, you revolutionize your existence. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The truth is that falling hurts. The dare is to keep being brave and feel your way back up.

You Are a Badass4.2 Jen Sincero – You Are a Badass

About the Book: Hilarious and inspiring, You Are a Badass is the debut book of Jen Sincero, a motivational coach who has helped numerous people worldwide transform their lives and finally experience happiness. It is a 250-page tour-de-force of inspiration, shared out in 5 parts and 27 chapters. Through quite a few inspiring stories, wise advices, and simple exercises, Sincero goes on a mission to teach you “how you got this way,” “how to embrace your inner badass,” “how to tap into the motherlode,” and “how to get over your b.s. already.” You know, the lot which will help you learn “how to kick some ass.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

If you’re serious about changing your life, you’ll find a way. If you’re not, you’ll find an excuse.

Grit4.3 Angela Duckworth – Grit

About the Book: Angela Duckworth is University of Pennsylvania’s Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology and a 2013 MacArthur Genius Fellowship awardee. So, it’s safe to say she knows some things about human nature. In her debut, Grit, she claims that talent is only one part of the equation for success. Moreover, that it may even be the least important part. As she repeatedly shows in this great book, the ones who succeed are rarely the ones who are the best. It’s the ones who are the grittiest. Or, to clarify that a bit, the ones with the passion and the perseverance to succeed. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Grit
Favorite Quote:

With effort, talent becomes skill and, at the very same time, effort makes skill productive.

The Power of Self-Confidence4.4 Brian Tracy – The Power of Self-Confidence

About the Book: Oftentimes, average players can become great overnight; the only thing that’s changed in the meantime: their confidence. Brian Tracy’s book shows the extent to which self-confidence is the secret ingredient to success; and teaches you how you can attain it so that you can become unstoppable, irresistible, and unafraid in every area of your life. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

What one great thing would you dare to dream if you knew you could not fail?

Girl, Wash Your Face

4.5 Rachel Hollis – Girl, Wash Your Face

About the Book: It’s not you: nobody has life figured out. Rachel Hollis, for example, has four children, owns an ultra-popular blog, and is the CCO of a company she has founded. How does she do it? Well, actually, she doesn’t: she has merely let the chaos of her life spur her onwards. In Girl, Wash Your Face she shares the tips and tricks. Oh, yes: if the title wasn’t a giveaway, guys, turn away – this one’s for the girls only. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are.

Year of Yes4.6 Shonda Rhimes – Year of Yes

About the Book: Among other things, Shonda Rhimes was the creative force behind one of the most popular TV shows ever: Grey’s Anatomy. She was also a workaholic with barely a minute to spare on her three children or dearest friends. That all changed in 2015, her “Year of Yes.” This book chronicles her experiences of that year; and can certainly inspire you to do something and start creating some of your own. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be.

Choose Yourself4.7 James Altucher – Choose Yourself

About the Book: Rife with insightful interviews and astute life lessons, Choose Yourself is one of the best self-improvement and motivational books you’ll ever read. The basic premise is (once again) quite simple (just see the title), but the way it’s related and the sheer force of the arguments is compelling. Because, as Altucher says, if there ever was a time in history when you could choose yourself – that time is today. Make the most of it. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Forget purpose. It’s okay to be happy without one. The quest for a single purpose has ruined many lives.

Awaken the Giant Within4.8 Tony Robbins – Awaken the Giant Within

About the Book: Tony Robbins is a motivational powerhouse. In fact, just seeing him or hearing him talk is enough for one to realize that he’s all kinds of a powerhouse. Awaken the Giant Within, a massive 600-page book, is perhaps his still best-known and best-loved work. As you’ll find out in it, getting rid of your old limiting belief systems is a painful process; but if there’s someone who can inspire you to endure the pain necessary to develop an empowering belief system, well, Robbins is your guy. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Awaken the Giant Within
Favorite Quote:

I truly believe we all have a sleeping giant within us.

Now, Discover Your Strengths4.9 Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton – Now, Discover Your Strengths

About the Book: As its title suggests, Now, Discover Your Strengths is a sequel to Buckingham’s debut, First, Break All the Rules, with the sole aim to help you – and we do mean you – realize your innate potential. It does this via the Internet-based StrengthsFinder Profile, based on a multimillion-dollar 25-year-long study. Once you buy the book, you’ll discover your unique number to use the program. And after going through the internet analysis and discovering your strengths, you are advised to come back to the book and find the best way to use them. Very unique, Now, Discover Your Strengths is not only groundbreaking but also an extremely useful book. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

If you stop investigating yourself for fear of how little you might find, you miss the wonder of your strengths.

Finding Your Element4.10 Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica – Finding Your Element

About the Book: If you don’t know who Ken Robinson is, then there’s a high chance that you don’t know what TED is either; because Robinson’s 2006 speech, “Do Schools Kill Creativity” is by far the most viewed TED Talk of all time. Finding Your Element builds upon that speech and its prequel-book (The Element), which taught us that the Element is the point at which “natural aptitude meets personal passion.” Here you’ll learn how to discover it and transform your life. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Finding your Element is vital to understanding who you are and what you’re capable of being and doing with your life.

5. The “Great Lecture” Shelf

Regardless of who you are or who you’ll become, a large part of it (for better or for worse) will always be the aftereffect of your professors’ lectures. We can only wish that some of them looked like these ten.

5.1 Elbert Hubbard – A Message to Garcia

About the Book: On February 22, 1899, Elbert Hubbard, an American philosopher and publisher, was irked by a lazy worker. That very night, he wrote this 32-page essay in an attempt to expose “the imbecility of the average man” and his “inability or unwillingness to concentrate on a thing and do it.” His starting point for comparison: a certain soldier named Andrew S. Rowan, who, just prior to the Spanish–American War, was tasked with carrying a message from President William McKinley to the Cuban insurgents’ leader, Gen. Calixto García, “somewhere in the mountain vastness of Cuba—no one knew where.” Hubbard’s main point: Rowan asked no questions; he just took the message and delivered it. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The hero is the man who does the work.

This Is Water5.2 David Foster Wallace – This Is Water

About the Book: Due to his problems with depression and anxiety, David Foster Wallace lived a famously secluded life. In fact – and unfortunately – the only public speech he ever gave in his life was the commencement speech delivered on May 21, 2005 to the graduating class at Kenyon College. An unforgettable lecture on awareness and empathy, the speech was published in a slightly extended version as this book in 2009, a year after Wallace decided to end his life. Regardless of whether you’ll listen to the speech or read the book, Wallace’s messages will most certainly remain with you for many years to come. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book | Listen to the speech)

Favorite Quote:

You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship.

Harvard Commencement Speech5.3 J.K. Rowling – Harvard Commencement Speech

About the Book: Back in 1994, J. K. Rowling was a single mother of one, diagnosed with clinical depression and as “poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless.” A year later, 12 publishing houses rejected her manuscript of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Today, she is one of the bestselling authors in history. In her 2008 Harvard Commencement Speech Rowling looks back at it all and shares the two lectures she wishes she had been taught at university: the importance of imagination and the usefulness of failure. (Read a brief summary of the speech | Watch the speech)

Favorite Quote:

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case, you fail by default.

Want to Get Great at Something? Get a Coach5.4 Atul Gawande – Want to Get Great at Something? Get a Coach

About the Book: Atul Gawande is an exceptional American surgeon and public health professor. In this TED2017 speech, he explains that, regardless of his level of expertise, he still needs a coach to get better – or at least not to regress. Athletes have been aware of this fact ever since the beginnings of sport. Even a Michael Jordan or a Garry Kasparov needs a coach. Doesn’t that mean, by implication, that we all do? (Read a brief summary of the speech | Watch the speech)

Favorite Quote:

Great coaches…are your external eyes and ears, providing a more accurate picture of your reality.

The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage5.5 Susan David – The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage

About the Book: There are objective facts and events; and, then, there are also our emotional reactions to them. It is the latter which actually shape our lives, everything from our health through our relationships and careers to the genuineness of our happiness and contentment. That’s why it’s exceptionally important to develop emotional flexibility; and Susan David’s speech will tell you how you can achieve that. (Read a brief summary of the speech | Watch the speech)

Favorite Quote:

Diversity isn’t just people; it’s also what’s inside people, including diversity of emotion.

Make Your Bed5.6 William H. McRaven – Make Your Bed

About the Book: The title of this book is the first of Admiral William H. McRaven’s ten life lessons. It’s a different way of saying “start your day with a task completed.” The other nine are the following ones: you can’t go it alone; only the size of your heart matters; life’s not fair – drive on; failure can make you stronger; you must dare greatly; stand up to the bullies; rise to the occasion; give people hope; and never, ever quit. Funny and inspiring, McRaven has a host of personal anecdotes to illuminate each of these suggestions; and to inspire you to dare greatly. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book | Watch the speech)

Favorite Quote:

Without pushing your limits, without occasionally sliding down the rope headfirst, without daring greatly, you will never know what is truly possible in your life.

You Don’t Have to Be an Expert to Solve Big Problems5.7 Tapiwa Chiwewe – You Don’t Have to Be an Expert to Solve Big Problems

About the Book: “Even if you’re not an expert in a particular domain,” says Tapiwa Chiwewe in this endlessly unassuming and infinitely inspiring speech, “your outside expertise may hold the key to solving big problems within that domain.” In his case, it was his background in computer engineering that helped him solve an ecological problem. What will the combination be in your case? The combinations are endless. And that’s the point. (Read a brief summary of the speech | Watch the speech)

Favorite Quote:

Sometimes just one fresh perspective, one new skill set, can make the conditions right for something remarkable to happen.

Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are5.8 Amy Cuddy – Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

About the Book: The second most watched TED Talk in history, Amy Cuddy’s Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are can be summed up in a single sentence: strike a “power pose” (think Wonder Woman) and your body will start releasing hormones to boost your feelings of confidence. In other words, regardless of whether you’re actually confident or not – you can trick your body to trick your mind that you are. (Read a brief summary of the speech | Read some Amy Cuddy quotes | Watch the speech)

Favorite Quote:

Don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it…Do it enough until you actually become it and internalize it.

Tuesdays with Morrie5.9 Mitch Albom – Tuesdays with Morrie

About the Book: Morrie Schwartz, a sociology professor, was Mitch Albom’s favorite teacher at Brandeis. However, even though he had promised him the opposite at his graduation day in 1979, Mitch (now a nation-famous sportswriter) had not corresponded with Morrie for the next 16 years. And then he learned from an interview with Schwartz on the TV show Nightline that his university professor is dying from ALS. He called him immediately and for the next fourteen weeks, Mitch Albom spent every Tuesday with Morrie Schwartz. This book describes their discussions, covering everything from family to religion to the meaning of life. And it’s everything you’d expect it to be: poignant, heartbreaking, life-changing. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The truth is, once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.

Tuesdays with Morrie5.10 Randy Pausch – The Last Lecture

About the Book: What if you suddenly find out that you have barely a few months left to live on this planet? We know what you’re thinking: there are so many things I’d do, so many dreams I have yet to achieve. Well, what’s stopping you now? In a nutshell, that’s the question Randy Pausch thinks is the most important one you can ask yourself. And the question he tried to answer in a poignant and inspiring one-hour talk, which he gave before a packed audience, merely 8 months before he passed away. This book grew out of that talk. And it’s so wonderful that we can honestly say to you this: if Pausch can’t motivate you to start achieving your dreams today, well, we don’t know who can. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book | Watch the speech)

Favorite Quote:

We cannot change the cards we are dealt; just how we play the hand.

6. The “Why Would You Give a Damn” Shelf

You know what? You worry about too many trivial things in your life. And that’s what stopping you from being happy. Here are ten books which can teach you how to give less damn about, well, almost everything.

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living6.1 Dale Carnegie – How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

About the Book: Published in 1948, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie – the godfather of self-improvement – is widely considered a self-help classic and one of the best books on the topic ever written. Carnegie wrote it because, in his own words, he “was one of the unhappiest lads in New York.” And these are the time-tested methods which helped him recognize and overcome his worries. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Nobody is so miserable as he who longs to be somebody and something other than the person he is in body and mind.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck6.2 Mark Manson – The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

About the Book: Mark Manson is not a guy who’ll ever try to sugarcoat his words or his messages. And, albeit The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck cites quite a few academic studies, very early on you get the feel that this book is the best (unsubtle) proponent of the message he’s trying to relate to his readers. Namely, that life is unfair and that no matter how much you try to make it right, it will certainly find a way to hit you with a hammer at the least convenient moment. Your job is to find a way to absorb the blow. And not giving a damn about 99% of the things you are – is the best way to do it. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
Favorite Quote:

Who you are is defined by what you’re willing to struggle for.

Don’t Sweat Over the Small Stuff… and It’s All Small Stuff6.3 Richard Carlson – Don’t Sweat Over the Small Stuff… and It’s All Small Stuff

About the Book: Profoundly believing that “stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness,” Richard Carlson — a renowned psychotherapist and motivational speaker — spent almost all of his (unfortunately short) life studying the ways to overcome it. And the trademark-titled Don’t Sweat Over the Small Stuff is his best-known book on the subject. It shows marvelously how important is to simply calm down and chill out in life. True, the idea is simple, but so is Carlson’s style. Which makes both for an enjoyable and an inspiring read. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

We deny the parts of ourselves that we deem unacceptable rather than accepting the fact that we’re all less than perfect.

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck6.4 Sarah Knight – The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck

About the Book: “The life-changing magic of not giving a f*ck,” writes Sarah Knight in this “practical parody” of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, “is all about prioritizing. Joy over annoy. Choice over obligation. Opinions vs. feelings.” Hilarious and stimulating, Sarah Knight’s profane language, coupled with her blunt honesty, will teach you “how to stop spending time you don’t have with people you don’t like doing things you don’t want to do.” Don’t like it? Well, Knight couldn’t care less about it. It’s there on the first page: this is “a no f*cks given guide.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

I call it the NotSorry Method. It has two steps: 1. Deciding what you don’t give a f*ck about; and 2. Not giving a f*ck about those things.

Ego Is the Enemy6.5 Ryan Holiday – Ego Is the Enemy

About the Book: At first glance, the title of this book says it all. What it doesn’t say, however, is that Ryan Holiday is a modern-day Stoic (see 2.6) and that, for him, ego is not merely a clinical term in Freudian theory, but a word to describe “an unhealthy belief in your own importance.” And this belief is something you must get rid of, Holiday says, going over a host of killing-the-ego-related positive anecdotes – as well as cautionary tales – to make his point. Some of the great historical and contemporary figures mentioned in his book are George Marshall, Christopher McCandless, Jackie Robinson, Eleanor Roosevelt, as well as Larry Page, Paul Graham, and Steve Jobs. See why. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Ego Is the Enemy
Favorite Quote:

Be lesser, do more. Imagine if, for every person you met, you thought of some way to help them, something you could do for them? And you looked at it in a way that entirely benefited them and not you.

The 4-Hour Workweek6.6 Timothy Ferriss – The 4-Hour Workweek

About the Book: Before he became the world-famous entrepreneur that he is today, Timothy Ferriss was not much different from you; in other words: he worked about two-thirds of the day – and slept away the last one. There must be more to life – he thought to himself one day while on a 3-week sabbatical to Europe. And that’s when he stopped checking email and started outsourcing assignments. The result? Well, see the title. If that seems like a stretch, we guarantee you at least this: stick to Ferriss’ advice and you will at least undoubtedly escape the boring 9-5 lifestyle that’s draining all of your energy. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

The 4 Hour Workweek
Favorite Quote:

Doing less meaningless work, so that you can focus on things of greater personal importance, is not laziness.

Why Men Love Bitches6.7 Sherry Argov – Why Men Love Bitches

About the Book: A practical “from doormat to dreamgirl” guide for women, Why Men Love Bitches answers the rhetorical question from the title in an example-rich and emphatic fashion. We’ll let Argov’s definition of what being a bitch actually means give you a taste of what to expect from this brilliant New York Times bestseller: “A woman who won’t bang her head against the wall obsessing over someone else’s opinion – be it a man or anyone else in her life. She understands that if someone does not approve of her, it’s just one person’s opinion; therefore, it’s of no real importance. She doesn’t try to live up to anyone else’s standards – only her own. Because of this, she relates to a man very differently.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Be an independent thinker at all times, and ignore anyone who attempts to define you in a limiting way.

What If It Does Work Out?6.8 Susie Moore – What If It Does Work Out?

About the Book: If you’re anything like us, the first question you ask yourself every time you come up with an idea for something big is “what if it doesn’t work out?” Well, it’s time for a why-worries paradigm shift: in What If It Does Work Out? Susie Moore takes you on a step-by-step journey of how to transform your side hustle into cash; and, by way of proxy, your mediocre present of whys and what-ifs into a bright future of passion and fulfillment. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

You are not your job. You are much bigger than and not restricted by whatever your job title says you are – even if you love your current career.

Braving the Wilderness6.9 Brené Brown – Braving the Wilderness

About the Book: In the words of Joseph Campbell (see 1.8): “if you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.” So, “stop walking through the world looking for a confirmation that you don’t belong,” Brené Brown joins in (see 4.1). “The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.” And no one can teach you to stop worrying about the world and brave the wilderness inside you better than Brown. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

I have started to believe that crying with strangers in person could save the world.

When Things Fall Apart6.10 Pema Chödrön – When Things Fall Apart

About the Book: Almost any book illuminating the principles of Tibetan Buddhism can teach you to worry less and accept more. This one – one of our favorites – is written by a Berkeley-educated disciple of that crazy sage, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche; and abounds with piercingly beautiful pieces of counterintuitive “heart advice for difficult times.” The bottom line: you can overcome any pain by embracing it; and Pema Chödrön has a knack for choosing the right words in teaching you how. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.

top motivational books

7. The “Fables and Fiction” Shelf

“I give you the truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion,” informs us Tom Wingfield at the beginning of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. And that’s what great fiction always does; and that’s why you can learn more about real life from these ten fictional stories than you can from, well, real life itself.

Allegory of the Cave7.1 Plato – Allegory of the Cave

About the Book: Imagine a group of prisoners incarcerated in a cave and chained in such a manner that they are merely facing a blank wall; and on the wall: nothing but shadowy projections of people and things passing in front of a fire burning behind them. And yet, since they can perceive nothing else, the shadows are what constitutes reality for these prisoners. According to Plato, in this unforgettable excerpt from The Republic, it is the job of the philosopher to break away from the chains and inspire others to see that there’s more to reality than mere projections; and it is a job he did flawlessly. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Anyone who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light.

The Alchemist7.2 Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist

About the Book: Inspired by an old folktale (search for the Peddler of Swaffham), Paulo Coelho’s most-celebrated book, The Alchemist, follows the journey of a young shepherd named Santiago, from the pastures of Andalusia to the pyramids of Egypt – and back again. The reason for this journey: a recurring dream which promises the poor boy treasure. In the end, he finds it; but it’s not where he expected it to be; and, moreover, it’s not what he expected it to be. Oh, just when will they finally release that Idris Elba-starring movie adaptation? (Read a brief summary of the book | Read the best quotes from the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

The Greatest Salesman in the World7.3 Og Mandino – The Greatest Salesman in the World

About the Book: According to Norman Vincent Peale (see 3.2), The Greatest Salesman in the World is “one of the most inspiring, uplifting, and motivating books” in existence; and, according to Matthew McConaughey, it profoundly changed his life. A parable set in the last years of the first century before Christ, this tiny booklet weaves mythology and practical tips in a way which makes life much more graspable and the act of selling (in the words of Daniel H. Pink) an inherently human – and humane – endeavor. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand.

TheMonk Who Sold His Ferrari7.4 Robin Sharma – The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

About the Book: In a novelistic fashion, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari retells the story of Robin Sharma’s actual real-life transformation. A motivational fable, it is presented in the form of a conversation between two friends, Julian and John, during which the first one, a successful trial lawyer, recounts to the second one how he sold his Ferrari and his holiday home after suffering a heart attack. And how that decision was the best in his life, because it funded a Himalayan journey which, ultimately, changed his whole perception about himself – and life itself. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Life has bigger plans for you than you can possibly know.

Who Moved My Cheese?7.5 Spencer Johnson – Who Moved My Cheese?

About the Book: A very short 32-page barely illustrated story, Who Moved My Cheese? tells the story of two mice (Sniff and Scurry) and two little people (Hem and Haw). They live in a maze and are in a constant pursuit for cheese. After they find a whole bunch of it, the little people seem quite content with the discovery, while the mice are already thinking about the day they’ll have none. Sure enough, that day comes. And the little people have no choice but to learn how to deal with the scarcity of food. One of them deals with it better. And tries to motivate the other. And, much more importantly, by way of proxy, you. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

If you do not change, you can become extinct.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull7.6 Richard Bach – Jonathan Livingston Seagull

About the Book: What can a story about an outcast seagull who prefers mastering the art of flying to, well, eating, tell you about how you should live your life? Surprisingly: a lot. It is not for nothing that the book is dedicated to “the real Jonathan Seagull, who lives within us all.” Critically acclaimed Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury once wrote that Richard Bach “does two things: he gives me Flight. He makes me Young. For both, I am deeply grateful.” We are too, Ray, we are too. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Overcome space, and all we have left is Here. Overcome time, and all we have left is Now.

Siddhartha7.7 Hermann Hesse – Siddhartha

About the Book: Profoundly influenced by Western (Jungian) psychoanalysis and Eastern (Buddhist) philosophy and written in the simplest and most lyrical of styles, Siddhartha is one of the all-time classic novels of self-discovery and enlightenment. Siddhartha, a contemporary of the Buddha, experiences everything from the silence of asceticism through the pleasures of sex to the emptiness of loss – only to ultimately realize that life is actually what happens deep within ourselves. Let Hermann Hesse guide you on this very same path through the pages of this absolutely mesmerizing book. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is a spiral; we have already climbed many steps.

Walden7.8 Henry David Thoreau – Walden

About the Book: Remember how John Keating motivated his students in Dead Poets Society? Well, this is the book he used to do that. And if you want to “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life” – it is certainly the book you should read as soon as possible! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

The Old Man and the Sea

7.9 Ernest Hemingway – The Old Man and the Sea

About the Book: Ernest Hemingway had written quite a few immense novels adored by literary critics before he penned The Old Man and the Sea in 1951 in Cuba, but it seems that both the Nobel Prize Committee and the general public of the world really made note of him as a writer because of this novella. A story about a Cuban fisherman and his exhausting fight with a 5.5-meter-long marlin and quite a few hungry sharks, The Old Man and the Sea reads as something even more than an unforgettable allegory: a modern myth. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Man is not made for defeat… A man can be destroyed but not defeated.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven7.10 Mitch Albom – The Five People You Meet in Heaven

About the Book: Killed in an amusement park accident while trying to save a little girl from a falling cart, 83-year-old Eddie awakes uninjured in heaven. He is afterward taken on a journey through all five levels of it, meeting, at each step, a person whose life had been interrelated with his own while on earth. A timeless tale, The Five People You Meet in Heaven is as profound and as moving read as Tuesdays with Morrie (see 5.9); and at least as life-altering. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

We are all connected. You can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind.

8. The “Inspirational Biographies” Shelf

Some lives can be just as inspiring as any book or movie; the least they deserve is to be put on paper or adapted for the big screen. Here are our ten choices.

Man’s Search for Meaning8.1 Viktor Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning

About the Book: Voted one of the ten most influential books in the United States, Man’s Search for Meaning is a once-in-a-lifetime life-changing book. Written by Viktor Frankl, an Auschwitz survivor, the book is not merely a haunting memoir of his soul-crushing experiences in the concentration camp (something which would have been enough to earn this book a place on this list in itself), but it also introduces a psychotherapeutic method which has helped numerous people around the world to overcome any kind of difficulty in their own lives. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Man’s Search for Meaning
Favorite Quote:

So live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!

The Diary of a Young Girl8.2 Anna Frank – The Diary of a Young Girl

About the Book: Here’s another memoir straight from the depths of despair and the abysses of human evil. Arguably the most famous among many written against the background of the horrors of the Holocaust, Anne Frank’s Diary chronicles the last two years of her prematurely ended life. However, what has really made this book “one of the most enduring documents” of the 20th century is Anne Frank’s “triumphant humanity in the face of unfathomable deprivation and fear.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them because, in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.

What Is the What8.3 Dave Eggers – What Is the What

About the Book: What is the What is subtitled “The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng” which may even sound a bit strange if you don’t know Dave Eggers’ aptitude for combining fiction and non-fiction to create unforgettably imaginative novels firmly rooted in reality. Yes, that means that Valentino Achak Deng is a real person and that Dave Eggers is essentially writing his story in his place. And what a story it is! One of the Lost Boys of Sudan, battling being orphaned, starvation, soldiers and lions (yes, lions!) only to finally be offered a new life in the United States and end up discriminated. Remind us, Primo Levi: what does it mean to be a human? (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Humans are divided between those who can still look through the eyes of youth and those who cannot.”

When Breath Becomes Air8.4 Paul Kalanithi – When Breath Becomes Air

About the Book: Paul Kalanithi was an Indian-American neurosurgeon with an MA in Literature and a bright future ahead of him when he was diagnosed with metastatic stage IV lung cancer. He passed away two years later, a month shy of his 38th birthday. Behind him he left a loving wife, a newborn daughter and a thought-provoking book which will undoubtedly enthuse you with a new-found love for life; whilst, expectedly, bringing quite a few tears to your eyes. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Even if I’m dying, until I actually die, I am still living.

Unbroken8.5 Laura Hillenbrand – Unbroken

About the Book: Adapted in a 2014 Angelina Jolie-directed movie, Unbroken tells the story of Louis “Louie” Zamperini, the youngest US Olympian in history and a World War II hero. After suffering a plane crash, Zamperini survived 46 days drifting in the ocean before landing on the occupied Marshall Islands and ending up a Japanese prisoner of war. And he overcame everything to die peacefully in the 97th year of his life. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

A lifetime of glory is worth a moment of pain.

The Glass House8.6 Jeannette Walls – The Glass House

About the Book: Back in 1963, Jeannette Walls set herself on fire while trying to cook herself some hot dogs on the stovetop because her mother was too busy painting to bother making her lunch. The most frightening part of that story: she was merely three years old. Still under the impression that you had a bad childhood? Walls’ remarkable memoir, The Glass House, is here to shatter for you that impression, all the while redefining the meaning of some words such as “family” and “love.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Things usually work out in the end.’ ‘What if they don’t?’ ‘That just means you haven’t come to the end yet.

Long Walk to Freedom8.7 Nelson Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom

About the Book: “Do not judge me by my success,” said Nelson Mandela once. “Judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” Long Walk to Freedom, his autobiography which served as the basis of the similarly titled 2013 movie adaptation, documents all of his pre-1994 falls and, more importantly, ascends. History has already judged them; by taking a bow. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but it’s lowest ones.

Way of the Peaceful Warrior8.8 Dan Millman – Way of the Peaceful Warrior

About the Book: Based upon the author’s early life, Dan Millman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior tells the story of the life-changing meeting between a hurt world champion gymnast and a powerful old warrior/gas station attendant nicknamed Socrates. It may sound stranger than fiction, and yet, it’s all but. The 2007 movie adaptation was dubbed “Rocky for the soul,” and Eckhart Tolle (see 3.10) praised it with the words: “Watch it and be transformed.” Let us paraphrase him: read the book and change your outlook on life. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

Shoe Dog8.9 Phil Knight – Shoe Dog

About the Book: Phil Knight is currently worth more than $30 billion; and yet, just fifty years ago, he was basically a penniless entrepreneur with a risky idea. Namely, to strike an exclusive deal for the US distribution rights of the Tiger shoes with the Japanese Onitsuka company by presenting himself as a representative of Blue Ribbon Sports. The trick is: Onitsuka is a giant, and Blue Ribbon Sports is located in Knight’s parents’ house and has only him as the sole employee. Shoe Dog tells the rest of the story. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Shoe Dog
Favorite Quote:

Let everyone else call your idea crazy… just keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where ‘there’ is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop.

Losing My Virginity8.10 Richard Branson – Losing My Virginity

About the Book: If not the favorite, Richard Branson is certainly the most colorful and least boring of all great entrepreneurs (Elon Musk comes close second). Judging by the quote below, you can easily guess why. Losing My Virginity is the first part of his autobiography – and it’s as outrageous and inspiring as you would expect! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

I can honestly say that I have never gone into any business purely to make money. If that is the sole motive, then I believe you are better off not doing it. A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.

9. The “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” Shelf

According to most philosophers, happiness is the ultimate goal of human life; in fact, according to Aristotle, it is the only thing human beings desire for its own sake. But should it be? Find out with some of the most motivational books on the subject of happiness ever written.

Stumbling on Happiness9.1 Daniel Gilbert – Stumbling on Happiness

About the Book: “If you have even the slightest curiosity about the human condition,” writes Malcolm Gladwell (see 1.7), “you ought to read this book.” And you really should! Written by a Harvard psychologist, it is witty and engaging, wide-ranging and thoroughly researched. Not to mention it answers some of the most troublesome questions of your life! Like, for example, why does the grocery store line slow down the very moment you join it? (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

If you are like most people, then like most people, you don’t know you’re like most people.

The Happiness Project9.2 Gretchen Rubin – The Happiness Project

About the Book: If there’s one thing that Gretchen Rubin is famous for – other than long, long subtitles – is her interest in all topics happiness-related. In this case, she explains why she spent a year trying to sing in the morning, clean her closets, fight right, read Aristotle, and generally have more fun. And how that all worked out. By the way, the project had a sequel in Happier at Home which was all about kissing more, jumping more, abandoning a project, reading Samuel Johnson – and some other experiments in the practice of everyday life. So be sure to check that one as well! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.

The Art of Happiness9.3 Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler – The Art of Happiness

About the Book: Who better to tell you how you should live a happy and worry-free life than the man a large part of the world population considers the most enlightened human being currently treading the earth? In The Art of Happiness, His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, shares his simple philosophy on the art of happiness – all the while providing you with a multipurpose handbook for living. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

The How of Happiness9.4 Sonja Lyubomirsky – The How of Happiness

About the Book: It’s easy to experience a moment of happiness; what’s difficult is sustaining it for the long run. The How of Happiness by Russian-born American psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky – justly advertised as “a scientific approach to getting the life you want” – is focused on this letter part of the equation. And for a reason: according to studies, 40% of your happiness depends on your intentional activities and only 10% on the circumstances. True, the other half is genetically determined, but look at it this way: even in the worst-case scenario, you’re responsible for at least half of your own happiness. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

People have a remarkable capacity to become inured to any positive changes in their lives.

Happiness9.5 Richard Layard – Happiness

About the Book: One of the preeminent economists of happiness today, Richard Layard has been fascinated for most of his life with something called the Easterlin paradox. Namely, it seems that people’s happiness depends on their income only until a certain point – after which, money has no effect whatsoever on their wellbeing. The interesting thing: the paradox is as factual as Napoleon’s date of birth. Richer societies? Oh, no – says Layard in Happiness. We need to strive for happier societies. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The more television people watch, the more they overestimate the affluence of other people. And the lower they rate their own relative income. The result is that they are less happy.

The Happiness Equation9.6 Neil Pasricha – The Happiness Equation

About the Book: In the words of Susan Cain, author of Quiet, Dale Carnegie (see 6.1) was last century, Stephen Covey was last decade, but Neil Pasricha is what’s now. And after earning himself a name with The Book of Awesome series and giving one of the most inspiring TED Talks ever (“The 3 A’s of Awesome”), Pasricha is back again with the simplest of all happiness equations: want nothing + do anything = have everything. Believe it or not – it is not a contradiction in terms. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Motivation doesn’t cause action. An action causes motivation.

The Happiness Hypothesis9.7 Jonathan Haidt – The Happiness Hypothesis

About the Book: In The Happiness Hypothesis, award-winning psychologist Jonathan Haidt examines – in as many chapters (not counting the conclusion) – ten ancient ideas about what it means to be happy; and he extracts the most applicable parts of them all. The main metaphor he uses – that of the dichotomy between the rider (the conscious mind) and the elephant (the unconscious mind) – has been reused by many authors during the last decade – the finest evidence in favor of the popularity and significance of this book. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Love and work are to people what water and sunshine are to plants.

The Happiness Advantage9.8 Shawn Achor – The Happiness Advantage

About the Book: An advocate of positive psychology, Shawn Achor is a Harvard-educated researcher in happiness and the presenter of one of the most popular TED Talks on the platform, “The Happy Secret to Better Work.” And someone whose books would fit just as nicely on our third shelf. Because his main thesis is that it isn’t success which brings happiness, but, the other way around: it’s happiness which brings success. His seven principles of positive psychology are as thought-provoking as funny-named. And we bet you want to immediately find out what does “Tetris effect” and “Zorro Circle” stand for. Please do. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

We tend to miss what we’re not looking for.

The Little Book of Hygge9.9 Meik Wiking – The Little Book of Hygge

About the Book: According to almost every study ever conducted, Denmark is the happiest country in the world. According to Meik Wiking – who is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and is, of course, Danish – this is because the Danish have mastered the art of hygge. Wikipedia defines it as a “mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment;” Wiking has the details. And a bunch of practical tips. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happens but seldom.”

Feeling Good9.10 David D. Burns – Feeling Good

About the Book: As we told you in 9.4 above, about half of happiness is genetically determined; which means that there are numerous people on this planet who are, simply put, almost incapable of being happy. Most of them suffer from depression. David D. Burns’ Feeling Good is specifically written for them. Drawing on the ancient philosophy of Stoicism (see 2.6), Burns provides readers with a problem-focused and action-oriented mood treatment which actually and undoubtedly helps. It is called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and it is widely believed to be as effective as psychoactive medications. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Your thoughts create your emotions; therefore, your emotions cannot prove that your thoughts are accurate.

10. The “Show Me the Money” Shelf

As hinted in 9.5 above, money can’t buy you happiness; but, as Clare Boothe Luce, once quipped, “it can make you awfully comfortable while you’re being miserable.” Need some motivation to start earning? Then have a look at these ten books!

The Science of Getting Rich10.1 Wallace D. Wattles – The Science of Getting Rich

About the Book: The book which directly inspired Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret (see 3.3), The Science of Getting Rich is a century-old classic on the subject of wealth attraction. “There is no reason for worry about financial affairs,” claims Wattles. “Every person who wills to do so may rise above his want, have all he needs, and become rich.” Just follow Wattles’ rules, and you will become rich; with – and this is a direct quote – “mathematical certainty.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The very best thing you can do for the whole world is to make the most of yourself.

Think and Grow Rich10.2 Napoleon Hill – Think and Grow Rich

About the Book: Written in 1937, Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich is the ultimate classic in the genre. Inspired by a suggestion from none other than Andrew Carnegie – at the time the richest man in the world – the book lays out the 13 principles of the Philosophy of Achievement: desire, faith, autosuggestion; specialized knowledge; imagination; organized planning; decision; persistence; power of the mastermind; the mystery of sex transmutation; the subconscious mind; the brain; the sixth sense. It’s difficult to argue with any of them. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Think and Grow Rich
Favorite Quote:

One of the main weaknesses of mankind is the average person’s familiarity with the word ‘impossible.

The Richest Man in Babylon10.3 George S. Clason – The Richest Man in Babylon

About the Book: Advertised as “the most inspiring book on wealth ever written,” The Richest Man in Babylon is yet another of the undisputable all-time self-help classics. Just like Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount, George Samuel Clason imparts his wisdom and knowledge through a collection of parables set in ancient Babylon. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

It costs nothing to ask wise advice from a good friend.

Rich Dad Poor Dad10.4 Robert T. Kiyosaki – Rich Dad Poor Dad

About the Book: Just like Clason’s classic, Robert T. Kiyosaki’s bestseller – according to many lists, the #1 personal finance book of all times – is also written in a simple style abounding in immediately comprehensible parables. Its wisdom boils down to something that should be a truism: you can’t become rich without a proper education; and your school doesn’t provide it; neither your proper-education-bereaved poor or middle-class family. Let Kiyosaki. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Rich Dad Poor Dad
Favorite Quote:

Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.

MONEY Master the Game10.5 Tony Robbins – MONEY Master the Game

About the Book: After publishing Awaken the Giant Within in 1991 (see 4.8), Tony Robbins published just one book in the next 23 years: the incremental-changes guide Giant Steps in 1994. And then, two decades later, inspired by the financial crisis, he came up with this exceptional “7-step blueprint for securing financial freedom.” “If there were a Pulitzer Prize for investment books,” noted at the time a review in Forbes magazine,  “this one would win, hands down.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

MONEY Master the Game
Favorite Quote:

Money can have the power to create or the power to destroy. It can fund a dream or start a war.

The Total Money Makeover10.6 Dave Ramsey – The Total Money Makeover

About the Book: Dave Ramsey is the common-sense financial guru of millions of Americans. And most of them will tell you that The Total Money Makeover is essentially their Money Bible. Time to make it yours. Why? Because it will help you create a plan for paying off all of your debt; because it will dispel for you the most dangerous money myths out there; and, finally, because it will inspire you to take control of your financial freedom. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.

Retire Inspired10.7 Chris Hogan – Retire Inspired

About the Book: Chris Hogan is Dave Ramsey-approved (“In my opinion, Chris Hogan is the voice of retirement in America today.”) And that should tell you enough. In Retire Inspired, he teaches that retirement isn’t an age, but a financial number. Which means that if you follow his advice – based on the amount of money you need to start living out your dreams – you can retire at any age you like; all you need to be is reasonable. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

It’s hard to live your dream in your golden years when you’re trying to make it on an income that’s actually below the poverty line.

The Millionaire Next Door10.8 Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko – The Millionaire Next Door

About the Book: If you are like most people, you don’t become rich by suddenly obtaining lots of money; you become rich by consistently spending less than you earn. It’s that simple. And Stanley and Danko’s comparison of UAWs (under accumulators of wealth) and PAWs (prodigious accumulators of wealth) is ample evidence in favor of this. The bottom line: the rich are your neighbors, and status items are for showoffs. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

Whatever your income, always live below your means.

The Power of Broke10.9 Daymond John – The Power of Broke

About the Book: From time to time, it’s good to have someone turn things on their head. If the power of money won’t do the trick for you – says Daymond John – The Power of Broke undoubtedly will. Published only recently, John’s manual for start-up entrepreneurs gives all the details on “how empty pockets, a tight budget, and a hunger for success can become your greatest competitive advantage.” (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

The easiest thing to sell is the truth.

Tools of Titans10.10 Tim Ferriss – Tools of Titans

About the Book: Once he successfully limited his workweek to four hours (see 6.6), Tim Ferriss started The Tim Ferriss show, “the first business/interview podcast to pass 100,000,000 downloads” and “generally the #1 business podcast on all of Apple Podcasts.” For it, he had the privilege and honor to interview over 200 world-class performers. Tools of Titans reveals their secrets, in a structured, easy-to-read and easier-to-apply manner. (Read a brief summary of the book | Buy the book)

Tools of Titans
Favorite Quote:

The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.

The Wildcard

The Little Prince101. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – The Little Prince

About the Book: Some books manage to sell 2 million copies overall, and are considered exceptional successes; The Little Prince sells as much on a yearly basis for the past 70 years! Translated into more than 300 – yes, 300! – languages, this is one of the best-selling books ever published. Also: one of the very best. Fortunately, it just entered the public domain, so now everybody can read it. And everybody should. Because just like Ancient Greek myths or Jesus’ parables, it is timeless; and just like them – you can enjoy it – and understand it differently – regardless of your age. (Read the book | Buy the book)

Favorite Quote:

One sees clearly only with the heart. The essential is invisible to the eye.

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The Art of Happiness Summary | PDF Format |

The Art of Happiness PDFA Handbook for Living

Some say that attaining human happiness is as easy as adhering to a scientific formula. Others – that it’s more of an art. And among the latter is none other than Dalai Lama.

And we’re guessing that he’s your go-to guy as well when it comes to mastering “The Art of Happiness.”

Who Should Read “The Art of Happiness”? And Why?

Unfortunately, nowadays suffering seems to be a part of everybody’s life. For example, there are at least 40 million people in the US alone, not to mention globally who suffer from depression.

And what about their families and loved ones, or about the families and the loved ones of the victims of murder, rape and domestic abuse? It’s painful just to think about it…

And that’s why books such as “The Art of Happiness” exist. In fact, its title may be misleading. Because everyone can be happy when life is treating them fine; the point is to remain happy when things inevitably turn against you.

Read “The Art of Happiness” if you want to learn how you should deal with suffering. Or, for that matter, almost any negative feeling: pain, anger, anxiety, depression, guilt. After all, its author is someone praised as “the source of all sentient beings’ happiness,” And, by acclamation, one of the most spiritual beings living on this planet.

About Dalai Lama

Dalai LamaDalai Lama is actually the title Tibetans give to their spiritual leaders. The one shown in the photograph is the last in a line of fourteen. His name is Tenzin Gyatso. He was enthroned as the Dalai Lama in 1940, and he assumed political duties ten years later, at the age of 15.

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and is one of the most widely revered and respected men on the planet.

He has authored many books, most of which are translated into many languages, and oft-quoted in each of them. Among them is his most recent one, “The Book of Joy,” co-authored with Desmond Tutu.

And you can learn even more about his views and ideas by checking out our summary of Daniel Goleman’s “A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World.”

“The Art of Happiness PDF Summary”

Strictly speaking, “The Art of Happiness” is not actually written by the 14th Dalai Lama. But, its actual writer’s only intention is to relate Dalai Lama’s teachings – in His Holiness’ words.

That’s why the book can be best summarized as lists of quotes and monologues by the Dalai Lama, well organized by Howard C. Cutler, a Phoenix psychiatrist, in 5 parts and 15 chapters.

The first part is titled “The Purpose of Life,” and it consists of four chapters.

The basic idea of this part is relatively simple: we are not only born to be happy, but we’re also born happy. The problem is that we need some help to reclaim the state of innate happiness. Which is, in fact, the purpose of life.

Are you ready to take the next step? Walking on air as a way of life is not easily achievable if you are not equipped with the right mindset.

However, in order to discover what makes us happy, we must also find out what makes us unhappy. So, we must learn about our world and train our minds and bodies accordingly.

For example, many people are unhappy because they compare themselves to people who earn more than them. The Dalai Lama says that the trick is to flip this relation: why aren’t we comparing ourselves to the less fortunate?

Only then we’ll be able to learn that affection and love, closeness and compassion are the things that actually make us happy. A lot of talk about happiness, but not enough actionable tips is that right? Hold your horses, because things are about to get peaceful:

The second part, “Human Warmth and Compassion” is dedicated to a deeper exploration of these categories.

For example, according to the Dalai Lama, the Western concept of romantic love is very narrow and ultimately flawed. We must learn to connect with much more than one person. And in a much more profound and more meaningful way.

Because helping others makes us happier. And because it’s the one thing we can hope for when the suffering comes. It’s that simple, – it’s not a rocket science for God’s sake, but we so effortlessly disregard these teachings and focus on the material side of things.

Suffering is merely the end result of wanting – not accepting your current situation induces sorrow on a colossal scale. Shift your mindset and attention to things that you feel grateful for. A twist of perception is more than enough to get the ball rolling.

And that’s what the third part of “The Art of Happiness,” “Transforming Suffering” is all about.

Understandably, the Dalai Lama thinks that suffering and pain is an inevitable part of our existence. Moreover – and just like any Buddhist – he also feels that it may be one of the more important parts as well.

Life shouldn’t be about trying to avoid suffering; it should be about facing it and finding meaning inside it. As he says – suffering is there to teach us about comfort. Because if we didn’t feel pain, we’d stick our hands in fires and burn them altogether.

But, what about anger, hatred, and anxiety?

Well, that’s what the fourth part, “Overcoming Obstacles,” is dedicated on in its entirety. The basic premise: you can’t control what’s happening to you, but you can control how you react to it.

Remember? The Pareto Principle.

Or, in other words, whether it’s anger, hatred or anxiety, a positive attitude is the right attitude. In fact, the only viable one. Because bad feelings are never your friends. And the thing they fear the most: your mind taking a stand and saying “I don’t need to be angry. I don’t need to hate.”

Finally, the fifth part, “Closing Reflections on Living a Spiritual Life,” is a one-chaptered conclusion about what it means to live spiritually and which religion offers the best road to happiness.

Unsurprisingly, according to the Dalai Lama, it’s all of them – if practiced the right way.

Key Lessons from “The Art of Happiness”

1.      Flip the Practice of Comparing Yourself to Others to Your Favor
2.      Romantic Love Is a Myth – and a Bad One Too
3.      There’s Nothing Unnatural in Suffering: Learn to Accept It

Flip the Practice of Comparing Yourself to Others to Your Favor

Almost every philosophy is based on a straightforward notion: the purpose of life is to be happy. But, the 14th Dalai Lama says, it’s not enough to just know this – you must also really understand it.

For example, comparing yourself to the wealthier will leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth. So, why don’t you start comparing yourself to the ones less fortunate than you?

Just think about it: if you’re reading this summary, there are probably at least 4 billion such people worldwide!

Romantic Love Is a Myth – and a Bad One Too

The western idea of romantic love revolves around the concept of “the one.” The prince on a white horse in shining white armor. The blue-eyed blond virgin fallen head-over-heels with your every word and action.

However, this is actually a really narrow concept of love. Love is something much bigger. And includes many more people. If not – the whole world.

There’s Nothing Unnatural in Suffering: Learn to Accept It

Possibly the most important lesson in “The Art of Happiness”: suffering will inevitably happen. But, don’t blame God or your friends or yourself for it. It’s simply a part of life. And if you want to be happy, you’ll need to accept it.

Even more – to learn from it. Because from suffering we learn the most about happiness.

Like this summary? We’d like to invite you to download our free 12 min app, for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

“The Art of Happiness Quotes”

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive. Click To Tweet If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. Click To Tweet A disciplined mind leads to happiness, and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering. Click To Tweet Although you may not always be able to avoid difficult situations, you can modify the extent to which you can suffer by how you choose to respond to the situation. Click To Tweet In general, if we carefully examine any given situation in a very unbiased and honest way, we will realize that to a large extent we are also responsible for the unfolding of events. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

According to its blurb, “The Art of Happiness” is “the book that started the genre of happiness books.” Currently in its 10th-anniversary edition, “it remains the cornerstone of the field of positive psychology.”

When you think about it, anything else would have been all but a shock. Even to those who consider his religious views outdated and “absurd,” the Dalai Lama is a “man who stands for nonviolence and the disinterested pursuit of truth in a way that no other religious leader manages to do.” Perhaps the main reason for this can be found in the last chapter of “The Art of Happiness.”

Namely, unlike other religious leaders and many believers, the Dalai Lama says that spirituality is not a domain of a particular religion; or even of religion in general. According to him, it’s everyone’s mission to find his or her own path, regardless of his/her cultural and religious background.

The plasticity of Dalai Lama’s views, founded upon openness and honesty. makes “The Art of Happiness”  “an essential read.” Well structured by Cutler, the simple, and yet profound wisdom of Dalai Lama can have life-changing effects on almost anyone.

A book for your perennial “rereading list,” “The Art of Happiness” is a rare amalgam containing the best of two worlds: Western skepticism and Eastern spirituality.

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The Book of Joy Summary | FREE PDF |

the book of joy pdf

“The Book of Joy Summary” will give you a taste of reality, and what a person needs to do in order to encounter a peaceful solution to all problems.

Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

We are constantly feeling stressed. Spiritual awakening has never been more crucial than now.

And who would know more about spirituality than Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, who share their knowledge in “The Book of Joy”?

Who Should Read “The Book of Joy”? And Why?

Soon after it was published, “The Book of Joy” was predicted to become one of the all-time favorite gift-books – up there, with Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, the Places You Will Go” and “Who Moved My Cheese?” And, of course, the prediction came true: who wouldn’t want to get a book on joy written by two Nobel Peace Prize winners?

We guess this rhetorical question gives an answer to the one posited in the title of this section. Everybody should read “The Book of Joy.” It’s written by a Buddhist and a Protestant Anglican – and that just shows you how much the message is universal. Not to mention – timeless.

People who are feeling down on life and those who don’t know how to connect will find much wisdom in this wonderful, little gem. Those who suffer will find consolation and peace. The rest – will find a manual to be happier and more joyful people!

About Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu

Dalai LamaThe 14th Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and a Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

He was born in 1935 as Lhamo Thondup and renamed four years later as Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, or Tenzin Gyatso for short. He became Tibet’s leader in 1950 and received his Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

The current Dalai Lama is widely beloved and consulted on various questions.

Desmond TutuDesmond Tutu is a South African Anglican cleric, the Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, a civil rights activist, and a Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

He was the first black man to become the Bishop of Johannesburg, as well as the first black Archbishop of Cape Town.

Before that, he was one of the fiercest critics of the South African racist policies, and, together with Nelson Mandela, the most prominent anti-apartheid activist.

He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, five years before the Dalai Lama.

“The Book of Joy PDF Summary”

In April 2015, South-African human rights activist, the Most Revered Desmond Tutu, traveled to Dharamsala, India.

His goal?

To visit Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, and celebrate with him – though a few months early – his 80th birthday.

Now, Tutu isn’t a young man himself: four years older than the Dalai Lama, he was 84 at the time of this visit. At one point during their week-long conversation in Dharamsala, he even makes a joke about this: “You must shorten your answers,” he says to the Dalai Lama, who claims that they have plenty of time. “I am brief.”

It’s painful to think about it: unless someone ends aging fast, both of them – these two spiritual giants of the 20th century – will probably not be among us for long.

Now, we don’t really know what Tutu gave the Dalai Lama for his eightieth birthday. Fortunately, we do know what they both gave us afterward: “The Book of Joy.”

A kind of a structured transcript of their discussions in Dharmsala; and one of the most beautiful joint efforts to discover the nature of joy, the obstacles which stand before us to attain it, and the pillars upon which it is founded.

Expectedly, we didn’t hesitate for a second to include it in our list of best mindfulness books in history!

And, actually, that’s where the book starts: with a bittersweet discussion about the roots of its absence. Namely, mindfulness’ greatest nemeses. The obstacles to Joy.

Shut your eyes a bit: we’re going to list few words you dread!

Fear, stress, and anxiety. (Feeling nervous?) Frustration and anger. (Do you want to shout out loud?) Sadness and grief… Despair and loneliness. (Oh, how bad you want to hug someone right away…) Envy. (“That guy goes past yet again in his Mercedes-Benz…”) Adversity, illness, fear of death. (“And, you say, this is ‘The Book of Joy’, ha? Really?”)

That’s right –  you know them well. Some of them – very well. They are the things which make you suffer – on a daily basis.

However – and this is the key takeaway from “The Book of Joy” – Tutu and the Dalai Lama claim that, despite its “dark” side, suffering, although constant, is essential to life. As the authors themselves say: nothing beautiful comes without some suffering.

Why?

Because it allows you to experience the positive moments more profoundly.

In fact, if you know how to use pain the proper way, it can become a constructive force. And to experience suffering the proper way, you need to shift your focus from yourself to others.

Observing yourself, according to lo-jong, the Buddhist mind training practice, will only cause sadness. What you need in life is to build up a mental immunity. If you do it, you will still feel pain, but you will recover far easier.

But how do you build up such immunity?

Well, the first step is understanding the nature of fear and frustration. You need to understand that fears are not rooted in reality – they are facets of your mind.

When you do understand this, you will also comprehend that by shifting your perspective you can find joy in any situation.

Most of the time you will face events that you cannot change.

Thinking about them and letting frustration build up will only do you harm. The only way you can control is your own reaction. So, what you should do is to accept the situation and use it as an opportunity to grow. And master the art of patience.

Yes, we understand that this is easier said than done, but it is possible to let go of stress.

Because the basis of most stress is fear.

Fear of failure, of not getting what you want, of disrespect, or of others not loving you. Fear, if you leave it unattended, can evolve into anger and then decrease the quality of your life. Control it before it’s too late.

If you want to lead a better life, you need to cultivate happiness.

the book of joy summary

And you can do this by building upon a strong foundation. The one made of the eight pillars of joy: perspective, humility, humor, acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude, compassion, and generosity.

1. Perspective means that there are many different angles to look at a thing. Taking a pause and looking at a problem a bit more open-mindedly may make you much happier than you’ll ever thought possible.

2. Humility – be humble and modest. As John C. Maxwell says wittily: “People with humility don’t think less of themselves; they just think of themselves less.”

3. Humor: joking is always better than not joking. Even if it means joking with your own faults. You are certainly not perfect – and that lifts a huge burden off your shoulders. Think about it.

4. Acceptance. This is where the change actually happens. More often than not, you can’t change reality. But you can change your attitude towards it.

5. Forgiveness. If you want to live in the present, forgiveness is your best shot at freeing yourself from the past. You’re doing everybody a favor.

6. Gratitude. Be thankful for everything. Starting with the very fact that you’re alive.

7. Compassion. Try to understand everybody. Stop comparing yourself to those more fortunate than you.

Compare yourself to those who have less. We’ve told you before: the very fact you’re able to read this article means that you’re more fortunate than about 4 billion people.

8. Generosity. Now that you understood the pain of others, be generous to them. Always offer than what you receive. And, in a way, you’ll actually receive the most.

Key Lessons from “The Book of Joy”

1.      The Nature of Joy
2.      The Obstacles to Joy
3.      The Eight Pillars of Joy

The Nature of Joy

Most people would define joy along these lines: it is the absence of suffering. However, Tutu and the Dalai Lama think otherwise: they say that joy is what happens when you understand suffering.

It is all in your mind. You can think of suffering as something which hinders happiness – but, if so, be prepared to be unhappy. Because suffering is inevitable. If you can’t change it – why should you maximize its effects by worrying about it?.

Somehow, we think that the opposite is the only thing which makes sense.

The Obstacles to Joy

There are many things which may stand on your way to true joy. Fear, stress, and anxiety – almost on a daily basis. Frustration and anger – every time someone does something you don’t like. Sadness and grief… Despair and loneliness. Feelings which will inevitably come with some great loss. Envy – which makes you want more when you don’t really need it.

Adversity, illness, fear of death. You can’t stop them, can you?

The Eight Pillars of Joy

You should build your joy upon eight pillars: perspective, humility, humor, acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude, compassion, and generosity.

So, from now on – try to look at things from a different angle. Be humble and laugh out loud when someone’s making a joke about your faults. Accept reality when you can’t change it – and forgive those who harm you. Be grateful for what you have and feel compassionate with those who have less.

And be generous to them. It’s them who need some help to be happy. You already are.

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“The Book of Joy” Quotes

There’s a Tibetan saying: Wherever you have friends that’s your country, and wherever you receive love, that’s your home. Click To Tweet The more time you spend thinking about yourself, the more suffering you will experience. Click To Tweet Why be unhappy about something if it can be remedied? And what is the use of being unhappy if it cannot be remedied? Click To Tweet

We create most of our suffering, so it should be logical that we also have the ability to create more joy. It simply depends on the attitudes, the perspectives, and the reactions we bring to situations and to our relationships with other… Click To Tweet

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Our Critical Review

Rarely you find a text written by not one – but two Nobel Prize winners. In fact, excepting some books or articles written by joint Nobel Prize winners, we’re not even sure that we can think of any other example at the moment.

The Book of Joy Summary explains that there’s nothing strange nor embracing when you are in need of happiness.

You win a Nobel Prize for being an original thinker, and unless you win it the same year with your co-author, the chances are you’re not really a pioneer.

In a nutshell, Nobel Prize winners don’t write what’s already written; but what hasn’t been written before.

However, there’s one Nobel Prize category, which is a bit different from the rest: the Peace Prize. Not because, unlike all the others, this one’s given out in Oslo, Norway.

But because it’s not really about being original and discovering something new. It seems that peace, just like the meaning of life, is fairly conventional.

But it takes a lot of courage, dedication, and self-sacrifice to attain it and share it with others.

Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu should know this better than many. Both faced persecution for large periods of their lives; both had to live in exile.

In fact, most of the people reading this sentence haven’t been on Earth as long as Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu have been soul-crushingly oppressed.

And yet – they managed to not only survive through it all but laugh it all away. They are “two of the most joyful people on the planet” – not despite their sufferings, but because of them.

And we guess this story tells a lot more about this book than any other, more conventional critical review.

If people who’ve suffered violently for more than half a century can be happy – why shouldn’t you be? And if they wrote a book teaching you few lessons – could you think of any excuse to not read it?

Especially today – when we need to tend the better angels of our nature just a little more to reach a world bereaved of violence.

Because, as the short review in “Time” magazine concludes, the questions analyzed by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu in “The Book of Joy” “may be timeless, but their answer has urgent significance.”

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The best mindfulness books are here!

We know how vital serenity and self-awareness can be for your well-being in the fast-paced and event-flooded world of today. And we’ve never forgotten how little time you might have to start reading the right books covering these topics.

That’s why we’ve decided to make a list of the 15 best mindfulness books we could find. And, guess what: we’ve already written summaries of most of them! Yes, the best zen books are here. Find your zen with this amazing list.

It’s time to start transforming your life – the calm way.

“BEST MINDFULNESS BOOKS”

#1. “Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation” by Sharon Salzberg

best mindfulness booksMaking bad decisions too often? Stuck in way too many bad habits? And life has become nothing more but a string of disappointments?

Well, “Real Happiness” may be the perfect book for you! In it, Sharon Salzberg explores the concept of insight meditation, an ancient and straightforward Buddhist practice focused on moment-to-moment awareness. By teaching you how to cultivate concentration, mindfulness, love, and kindness, this book will strengthen your attention, and help you achieve more balance in your life.

And it will make you one more favor! Because, before balance, comes recovery. And “Real Happiness” knows this. So, it includes many bits of practical advice on how you can cope with disappointments and distress.

The best part? It’s a 28-day program!

#2. “A New Earth: Awakening to the Purpose of Your Life” by Eckhart Tolle

best mindfulness booksCrippled by fear, anxiety, and despair? What you need is an internal transformation!

“A New Earth,” by perennial favorite Eckhart Tolle (yes, his other book is in this list as well), will guide you on a wonderful quest to awakening. It will help you forget about your ego and erase the “I” which is bothering you.

The New Earth of the title is the earth of the selfless and the compassionate. It’s the earth inhabited by those who are aware that they are more than the voice in their head. And who can live much more fully because of this?

As Tolle writes: “Awareness is the greatest agent for change.” So, become aware now!

#3. “Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Consciousness in Everyday Life” by Thich Nhat Hanh

best mindfulness booksEckhart Tolle is not the only guy with two books on this list! There are two more! And Thich Nhat Hanh is the second one.

His book, “Peace Is Every Step,” is a timeless masterpiece. You know, one of those books which can cultivate some peace in your life wherever and whenever you live. And, some more!

Because applying the Hanh’s principles of meditative mindfulness won’t only benefit you as a person! They will also play a significant part in spreading peace to your family, neighborhood, country, and even the whole world.

Hanh’s teaching revolves around the method of conscious breathing. It suggests cognizance of every move you make in your daily life. Because you can achieve peace and happiness only if you are focused at all times.

And doing away with distractions starts with living in the present moment.

#4. “The Power of Now: An Incredible Masterpiece of Spiritual Enlightenment” by Eckhart Tolle

books on mindfulnessFeeling a bit stuck in your past? Can’t get out of your head to see the happiness around you?

Eckhart Tolle‘s “The Power of Now may make all the difference in your life!

It’s a combination of the most relevant ancient philosophies and modern teachings. And it is designed to help you overcome your past pain, anxiety, and stress. So that you can consciously start living your life moment by moment!

Discover numerous meditation approaches which provide profound insights into presence, positive thinking, mindfulness, and acceptance.

And do it… well, now!

#5. “The Miracle of Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to the Practice of Meditation” by Thich Nhat Hanh

books on mindfulnessOnce again Thich Nhat Hanh!

Appealingly written, The Miracle of Mindfulnessguides readers to attaining the skills of meditation and mindfulness.

Because, being focused on your work, and being ready to deal with any situation which might arise, is the essence of the power of self-awareness.

This book is the ideal introduction to your inner self. The author’s spiritual teachings utilize familiar objects and situations – like dishwashing, and drinking tea – to illustrate how you can maintain mindfulness and live a better life.

Yes: In the unbearably dynamic world of today!

#6. “The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself” by Michael A. Singer

mindfulness books

Do you want to gain some freedom from your limitations and rise above your weaknesses? What can you do to achieve happiness and self-realization?

“The Untethered Soul” by Michael A. Singer answers these questions in a profound and appealing manner.

By scrutinizing all aspects of meditation and mindfulness, Singer illustrates how living well is interrelated with the development of consciousness. And how doing the latter is equal to living in the present moment and letting go of past painful thoughts.

After all, they are the only ones which prevent you from excelling.

#7. “Mindfulness in Plain English” by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

Mindfulness in Plain English SummaryThe main idea behind “Mindfulness in Plain English” is helping you see reality just as it is. So no theory, no ideology – just the practice of mindfulness.

Bhante Henepola Gunaratana – god, that’s a difficult name to spell! – dives into mindfulness meditation in an extremely simple, yet pragmatic way.

Most importantly, he provides deep insights into the Buddhist-based practice called vipassana. In plain English, it means insight into the true nature of reality. Into Gunaratana’s even plainer English, it’s a shortcut to overcoming past obstacles and living your life in the present moment.

Noticing a mindfulness pattern?

#8. “Buddha’s Brain: The Neuroscience of Happiness, Compassion, and Wisdom” by Rick Hanson

Buddha's Brain SummaryFirst of all, let’s get one thing straight: the brain is not the same as the mind. The first is a biological fact, the second a psychological entity. Now, a question: do you know that changing your brain can change your life as well?

“Buddha’s Brain” elaborates how. It examines the lives and teachings of great leaders, such as Buddha, Mohammed, Moses, Gandhi, and Jesus, and shows how they upgraded their normal brains in ways that transformed the world. Paradoxically, the author, Rick Hanson, Ph.D., draws on modern neuroscientific breakthroughs to give evidence for a more in-depth spiritual life.

And that is the best part of “Buddha’s Brain.” It’s an extraordinary amalgam of meditative practice, neurology, and psychology. Moreover, it is enriched with practical tools which can help you use the unexploited potential of your brain to achieve better well-being, as well as peace of mind.

#9. “The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World” by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu

best mindfulness books“The Book of Joy” is a rare delight of a book!

After all, it’s written by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu! Nobel Prize Laureates, Misters Holiness themselves!

And, as the title suggests, the book is for anyone who wants to bring greater joy, contentment, and purpose into their lives.

It’s a one-of-a-kind teaching which depicts the nature of the interrelated relationship between painful experiences and deep happiness. The authors explain how prominent spiritual leaders like Abraham demonstrate what it really means to be both ordinary and at the same time outrageously and completely unpredictable!

Like, for example, right ab…

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best mindfulness books

#10. “Emotional Intelligence: Why it Could Be More Important Than IQ” by Daniel Goleman

best mindfulness books 2014Sorry for finishing the previous summary so abruptly! But, can you blame us? We were merely practicing our right to be unpredictable!

“Emotional Intelligence,” however, steers a bit the other way. It tries to show how important harnessing your emotions is and how anything else can hurt your potential.

To prove this point, Daniel Goleman points to the surprisingly malleable circuitry of a person’s brain. And he shows how it changes via the power of emotions from childhood to adulthood.

Goleman believes that temperament isn’t destiny. It’s merely the complex of physical, social, and chemical aspects which shapes your emotional responses.

And which you can hardworkingly change!

#11. “Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves through Meditation and Mindfulness” by Jon Kabat-Zinn

best selling books 2017Coming to Our Senses is another plea for living in your “now”!

It is a beautifully and profoundly written book, tracing your steps from waking up from your memories to re-discovering the present moments, which actually make up your life.

And when we say beautifully written book – we really mean it!

It’s written with such a poetic voice, that merely reading Jon Kabat-Zinn will calm your spirit and relax your nerves. And, this merely reinforces the knowledge it presents, both ancient and contemporary.

An incredible spiritual primer, “Coming to Our Senses” expounds on the Buddhist-based meditation techniques which are proven over and over again to work wonders!

#12. “Journey of the Heart: Path of Mindful Love” by John Welwood

best books to learn meditationJourney of the Heart by John Welwood is a wonderful little book.

It is meant to inspire those who believe that an intimate relationship can help two individuals to grow and expand their senses. In fact, the book shows how one can use the challenges one experiences in a relationship as perfect opportunities to deepen his or her ability to connect with others.

In a nutshell, “Journey of the Heart” is a guidebook to mindful love.

#13. “Body Calm: The Modern-Day Meditation Approach that Helps You Live Your Life to the Fullest” by Sandy C. Newbigging

best selling meditation booksLooking for practical self-healing meditation techniques which can help you achieve inner peace?

Body Calmis here to help you! It’s a great no-theory all-practice book, which strives to help you stay healthy.

It presents a powerful way to meditate and give your body enough rest to recover, while also helping you to have a calm mind. It utilizes the mind-body connection to promote healing and bring greater harmony to your mind, body, and soul.

So, if you want to lead a healthy life and deliver your best in either sports or business, this book is for you!

It will not disappoint you!

#14. “Anti-Stress Dot-to-Dot: Relaxing and Inspirational Adult Dot-to-Dot Pictures to Calm Yourself” by Emily Wallis

mindfulness best booksOK, this one’s a wildcard! (Get used to them: there will be few of them in these lists).

A Top 15 Mindfulness book that has practically not one line of text, bar its title! But, believe us: it makes a lot of sense! Because just as mindfulness is about not thinking, reading may be all about drawing!

We’re not joking!

“Anti-Stress Dot-to-Dot” by Emily Wallis is one of the first books of its kind: a complex dot-to-dot drawing book. Featuring elegant buildings, spectacular nature scenes, and majestic animals, Wallis’ book spells peace and calm on basically each and every one of its pages.

And whether you decide on dot-to-dot drawing a beautiful mermaid or a knotty swarm of bees, it really seems that this compact little masterpiece has it all to help you reach serenity trough practice!

#15. “Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness” by Jon Kabat-Zinn

best books on happiness 2017Full Catastrophe Living” is Kabat-Zinn’s second entry on this list. And it’s prefaced by another of our two-entry authors, Thich Nhat Hanh.

So, need we say more?

Yet, we will.

Because, “Full Catastrophe Living” is a groundbreaking work on healing, mindfulness, and meditation. It’s a book for the beginners, and for the most advanced, for those who are happy, and for those who are in a deep crisis.

Kabat-Zinn presents profound insights into the powerful effects of trained breathing, meditation, body scans, and yoga. And he doesn’t merely investigate some original ideas about the origins of stress and anxiety and their dominant role in our everyday lives.

Oh, no! He offers effective ways to deal with them on a daily basis. And what more can you ask from a book on mindfulness?

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