*Written by Ali Kaplan*
As I was reflecting on 2021, I took a look at some of my favorite self-help books. These four books helped give me a new perspective on life as well as provided me tools for personal growth. Here are some of my favorite self-help books that I read in 2021, and how they may be just as beneficial for you to get your hands on in the new year.
- The Power Of Now
Even if you’ve never read a self-help book before in your life, my guess is that Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment is not entirely unfamiliar. This book was a bit of a heavier read for me, and I found myself wanting to annotate throughout it to really decipher the message. The format is written in a question/answer format, which I found helpful if I wanted to read a few increments at a time in the morning or before bed to put me in the right headspace. To describe the impact of the book without giving too much away–the content is in the name. The Power of Now was effective in teaching me to focus on where I am at the present moment, since all we truly ever have in life is the present. Tolle talks a lot about how thinking about the past or the future when you are in the present is actually a form of self-suffering. This book challenged a ton of my beliefs about overthinking, despite my original skepticism of the spirituality of it all (it seemed very intimidating at first to me to be on a “spiritual journey” at first). However, learning about how my ego is holding me back from inner peace motivated me to adopt habits from the book into my daily life. The Power Of Now is transformative and enlightening–It is a book I know I will reach for on my shelf many more times.
- The Four Agreements
A close second favorite self-help book for me would be The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz. This book is excellent for a beginner in the self-help department, and also for someone who is on the younger side. The Four Agreements talks about four very simple but not easy practices to live by. 1) Be Impeccable With Your Word 2) Don’t Take Anything Personally 3) Don’t Make Assumptions 4) Always Do Your Best. Since reading this book, the four agreements are ingrained in my mind. I found them relatable to my life as I read, and easy to remember. I genuinely believe that these agreements have helped to keep me in check in situations when I am talking negatively to myself, doubting my decisions because of the opinions of others, or struggling mentally at all. I refer to the agreements and remember now simply it is to change my mindset to be more fulfilled and at peace–since I know I already have the tools.
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***k
Honestly, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***k by Mark Manson was probably the hardest self-help book I have ever read. Not for its writing style or length, but because it felt like a bit of a personal attack. In a “hey, here is everything that you are doing wrong that is holding you back. You’re really overcomplicating your life for no reason” type of way. However, I think that is why I appreciated the book so much. Written in 2016, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***k was a little less spiritual and a lot more anti 24/7 positivity. In fact, Mark Manson pretty actively disagrees with most self-help books out there today. His book is mainly centered around accepting your struggles, responsibilities and mistakes instead of trying to “find yourself.” Manson talks a lot about how you’re doing it all wrong if you’re trying too hard (pretty opposite of one of those four agreements). I found Manson’s approach unique and refreshing, and although I maybe didn’t agree with everything he said…this book definitely got me a little bit frustrated and a whole lot motivated.
- Normal People
Normal People by Sally Rooney is not a traditional self-help book at all–in fact, it is not in that genre at all. It is a fiction novel. However, I needed to include it in this list because of its impact on my life and perspective of relationships. Normal People is a love story between two high school students who continue to lose and find each other as life takes them in different directions. This book challenged most of the opinions I had about what authentic relationships are like. In any romance book I ever read, it ended in predictability and perfection. Yes, the plot had some obstacles and the relationships were rocky at times, but they all ended in ways that seemed unrealistic to me. Normal People was the most “real” fiction book I think I have ever read. The characters are likable at times, and unlikable at others. This book taught me much about the imperfections of being someone’s partner and how life will get in the way sometimes. There is not much else I can say about this novel without a spoiler alert, but all I am saying is PLEASE READ THIS BOOK. And watch the hulu series afterwards (I watched it in 24 hours). Check out the Fit Magazine book club for a more detailed profile about the book and information about Sally Rooney!