Must-Reads On The Road To Self-Development

by Auriel Simmonds

It can be difficult to face up to your flaws and even harder to work on and better yourself. But self-development is an essential journey that we all must go on in order to understand ourselves and the world around us better. People often scoff at the notion of self-help books. They think ‘I don’t need to be told how to do x or y’. But these kinds of books offer an insight into effective ways to improve upon yourself in order to improve your mental health and existence in the world. And since we’re constantly growing as people, we should embrace any knowledge on how to exist in our minds, bodies and in our relationships with others and the world around us. 

Self-development is a wonderful thing. It’s confronting the parts of yourself that you don’t like and doing something about them. Here are my must-reads on the road to self-development. 

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson 

An infamous criticism of self-help literature is the fact that it seems to only ever encourage you to be positive without any actual advice or help in order to actually achieve this sense of positivity. With which I totally agree. Self-help books that go on and on about finding happiness within yourself without helping you figure out just how to do that can be an exasperating read. Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck does exactly the opposite.

Manson illuminates the fact that trying to attain positivity for the sake of it is futile. He argues that it is our struggles in life that help to shape us and make life meaningful – allowing us to truly appreciate the positives that life does have to offer. This will help you on your journey to better yourself. It acts as a reminder that while things might not be perfect, that doesn’t inherently mean you’ll be leading an unhappy life. Embracing both pain and failure can actually help you to become a happier and more well-rounded person.

How to Survive the End of the World (When It’s in Your Own Head): An Anxiety Survival Guide by Aaron Gillies

They always say that laughter is the best medicine. I believe it to be true – and Aaron Gillies proves it with his book How to Survive the End of the World (When It’s in Your Own Head). Gillies utilises humour in order to discuss the reality of anxiety. People who struggle with mental health issues such as anxiety may find the road to self-development a bit more bumpy than others. But Gillies’ book arms you with the skills you need to navigate not only this journey but also your mental health journey.

You will learn how to identify your problems and then learn all the ways you can deal with them. In being able to confront your mental health struggles and try to cope as best you can with them, you’ll be working on an aspect of self-development that is a difficult one to endure, though incredibly worthwhile. The humour and insight that Gillies combines in this book make it the perfect read for the time in your life when nothing feels right and everything feels insurmountable. You can survive and even thrive through your issues.

No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering by Thích Nhất Hạnh

Suffering is often depicted as something we’d all rather avoid as much as possible. And although I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed any sense of suffering I’ve endured in my life, I have become aware of its place in the world and within me. Thích Nhất Hạnh’s book No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering explores the importance and power of suffering in life.

Hạnh teaches us that we have to be connected to our suffering in order for it to help us develop as people and to become reconnected with happiness. He acknowledges that it is normal to want to run away from pain. But he also argues that we can only ever learn and grow if we face it. In doing this, our suffering will transform and become a source of strength. Hạnh reveals the practises we can take up such as mindful breathing in order to embrace our pain and allow it to foster self-development.

The Self-Love Experiment: Fifteen Principles for Becoming More Kind, Compassionate, and Accepting of Yourself by Shannon Kaiser

The journey to self-development can be a difficult one. It’s about stripping back to basics and looking at yourself for who you are and magnifying any character flaws you don’t like. But, a key component of self-development is self-love. If you don’t have compassion for yourself then you can’t begin a successful journey of self-development. You need to have self-love in order to want to improve and better yourself because otherwise, you won’t believe you’re worth the time and effort. Self-love underpins Shannon Kaiser’s The Self-Love Experiment and it will captivate you. Kaiser encourages you to focus on yourself in order to learn compassion and kindness and I think that’s the greatest message of all that we all need to learn and truly apply in our everyday life.

Self-development and improvement is a long road. But ultimately it’s worthwhile. As people, we are constantly changing with every passing minute and so we have to look inward and learn about ourselves. These books will help guide your self-development journey and remind you that knowledge is power. And we can always learn more about ourselves and the world around us and embrace our experiences to be a better you than the you from yesterday.

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