When you think about it, the term “self-help book” doesn’t make that much sense, does it? After all, you’re not really helping yourself, but rather seeking some guidance from an expert. And when you do that, you’re doing it right, sir. If you are in a mental and emotional place you’d rather not be, it’s a great move to accept that it will be difficult to get out of that place without some help. These books exist for that very reason.
While in some cases, meeting with a trained therapist is probably a good idea, for many, reading a book through which an expert has disseminated thoughts, ideas, and inspiration is enough to help you make the necessary changes.
Here’s the thing: The actual self-help? The part where you learn to kick this habit, try that challenge, ditch that toxic someone, all of that? That all comes after the book.
Simply reading any of the books featured here won’t change your life if you don’t act on what you learn and what you come to see differently about yourself. While you can always run off and try the Eat, Pray, Love approach to fixing things, keep in mind that you go with yourself wherever you go. Better approach? Face the problems, identify them, make a plan, and then execute it. If you’re reading these words, chances are you are already a couple of steps down that road, so make the next part of your self-help plan looking into one or two (or five) of these best self-help books for men.
More Things to Read
Also, give yourself a break. Chances are that a few small changes and improvements will bring about a radical improvement in your life. You’re already good if you’ll let yourself see it. Getting to great just takes a bit more effort.
Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop
Gary John Bishop really, really wants you to stop being so negative. And as you read through his bluntly titled but often surprisingly tender book, you will almost assuredly come to realize that the way you think about things is the biggest stumbling block to your own success and happiness. If you can reframe your thinking and stop settling for things that don’t satisfy you, you will find yourself motivated to make the changes that have eluded you. “Sometimes declaring your unwillingness can be just as powerful as declaring willingness,” Bishop writes. “Are you willing to live with a body that’s unhealthy? No. Are you willing to continue living paycheck to paycheck? No.” In other words, redefine your sense of self-worth, then match it.
No Death, No Fear by Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh — born in 1926 and today noted as one of the world’s preeminent authors and scholars on Buddhist philosophy in particular and on matters of religion, philosophy, and nonviolent activism in general — did not set out to write a self-help book in his 2002 work, No Death, No Fear. Rather, the book addresses the greatest source of fear we all face: Death. In reading the many essays, anecdotes, and selections of ancient and classical Buddhist writings contained within, the reader gains such a sense of calm and affirmation that self-improvement follows. Simply put, reading this book can help to free you from fears and make clear how much time we waste on needless worries. Into the space cleared out by removing these hangups can flow the positivity you have been missing.
If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy? by Raj Raghunathan
Provided he has a decent amount of motivation, a man of decent intelligence and with a good education has a solid chance of being financially comfortable if not even becoming wealthy. So why are so many successful men so unhappy? What Raj Raghunathan came to uncover in seeking the answer to this question is that the correlation between wealth and happiness is minimal, and in many cases, inverse. Over the course of the book, the reader is encouraged to embrace generosity over personal gain, to accept uncertainty as not only a necessary but even a positive condition at times, and to realize your own happiness may already be well within your reach if you can reframe your thinking about what you already have.
Not Another F-ing Motivation Book by Joanna Jast
The sub-header of Joanna Jast’s book lays it out clearly: “A Pragmatist’s Guide to Nailing Your Motivation, Keeping It, and Effortlessly Achieving Your Goals.” OK, so the “effortlessly” word might be a bit optimistic, but “achieving” is the operative term. Jast breaks down why we so often break down on the road to a goal and offers simple, operable advice on how to keep yourself on track. She includes specific motivational strategies for specific situations and provides plenty of different approaches, acknowledging that what works for one man may not for another. You know that quote by American author Napoleon Hill? “A goal is a dream with a deadline?” So does Jast.
Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven
Before he was writing this elegantly simple, approachable book, retired Navy Admiral William H. McRaven was a Navy SEAL. Motivation probably wasn’t much of an issue for this guy, but just the same, he clearly and compassionately understands that it can be for so many people. That’s why in this book, which grew out of a University of Texas commencement speech that went viral, McRaven doesn’t say you need to get up every day and hit life with everything you’ve got. He knows that’s not practical. Instead, he encourages small acts that, taken together, lead to overall success. If you start each day by making your bed, you’re on the path to success even before you get into the kitchen for coffee, and that’s a good way to start.
Atomic Habits by James Clear
Breaking a bad habit and picking up new good habits is tricky stuff, but James Clear wants to teach you that it’s not about the habit itself, it’s about your approach. In Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones, Clear blends science, celebrity anecdotes, and a decent amount of comedy into a book that teaches you to reframe the way you think about your habits and provides new strategies for changing them. Whether it’s quitting smoking, sticking with a fitness routine, changing the way you approach your work, or something else entirely, with a new way of approaching the process of change, you gain a much better chance for success.
Declutter Your Mind by S. J. Scott and Barrie Davenport
If you’re feeling over-worked, stressed, anxious, and generally unsuccessful in life, chances are that your brain is just too cluttered to see the good stuff that’s also very much a part of your existence. This book takes a scientific approach to what is effectively meditation, teaching you to figure out what aspects of your life deserve attention and concern — e.g., those that are actionable and can be improved — and which can be dismissed from your mind, reducing worry and creating more space for calm and contentment. The authors include specific, actionable steps and plenty of examples that will resonate with many people.
Beyond Mars and Venus by John Gray
John Gray’s seminal book from 1992, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, has long been hailed as one of the best books ever written about relationships, and has been used as a reference well beyond the scope of romantic couples, with even many business executives citing it is an exceptional guide for communication and negotiation skills. His much more recent work, Beyond Mars and Venus, offers much of the same insight in the first book but is updated for our times. In its pages, a man can learn how to be a better partner, a more authentic, thoughtful, and reliable other half.
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