Over the years I’ve read tons of articles, books, blog posts, tweets, etc. all about self-improvement, mental health, and anxiety.
And there’s one thing I really started to notice.
There is a wild amount of ridiculous, repetitive, and just plain awful pieces of life advice out there. So much of these “quick life solutions, find your life purpose in 15 minutes…” type bullshit. Other pieces that promise tricks and tips, to being better, smarter, more productive, rule the fucking universe in 3 easy steps type crap.
And some books that actually make me feel like myself, and anyone who’s ever read it are now dumber for doing so…
Live footage of my actual thoughts on most self-improvment advice being thrown around
Where was I? Right, there’s a lot of crap out there – you get the point.
But amongst all the clutter, routine, bland cliché advice you’ve heard a million times, and other various crap, there are some books I’ve read that were truly unique, powerful, and still, change my life to this day.
This book is an absolute must-read for everyone (especially if you deal with anxiety). So much of anxiety advice focuses on the surface, how to cover it up, and how to “avoid” it, which if you have anxiety and have tried a lot of the advice out there, you’ve probably learned that doing this actually makes it worse. Fighting anxiety is like trying to throw a gas soaked blanket on top of a bonfire in the hopes of putting it out.
But this book takes a head-on approach to fear. It breaks down the root of all your fears, why fear is something to embrace not run away from, and ultimately how to look fear in the eye and say, “fuck you, I’m doing it anyway.
There is no bullshit in this book, and Dr. Jeffries does an amazing job breaking down real life examples through patients she has had in the past. The other refreshing thing is it’s written so anyone can grasp the concepts. That’s right, no twelve syllable psychology terms that make you feel like a putz. Straight forward, no bullshit, powerful stuff here.
2. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck – Mark Manson
This book was a breath of fresh air that the self-improvement industry so badly needs. There’s so much ra-ra, be fucking awesome all the time, happy always, positive, positive, positive, always smiling, always just be star spangled fucking awesome, happy every waking moment type life advice out there.
And this is totally the opposite. This is the most down to earth, realistic approach to self-improvement I’ve ever read. Embrace pain, fail, stop trying, give less fucks, question everything, why we’re all-wrong, and oh, kill yourself.
Actual footage of no fucks being given
It includes crude humor, historic tales of alcoholics, losers, and complete nut jobs, and a superhero panda that goes around telling people that the world is full of disappointments.
Fantastic read if you’re sick of the hearing the same endless repetitive advice and want something truly unique and inspirational. The last chapter of this book had me in chills.
3. Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story – Arnold Schwarzenegger
Not a self-help book in the traditional sense, but Arnold is one badass dude, and there is so much to learn from him and this book. This book challenged me to think bigger, do more, give less fucks, and just have more fun with life.
Before reading this, I knew as much about Arnold as probably most other people probably do. He was the Terminator, body building champion, from Austria or something, used to scream “aarrrggggg,” “get to the chopper,” and “do it, kill me now!” (ahh Arnold, so relatable) and somehow managed to become governor of the largest state in the U.S.
However, his story is truly is incredible (as the title eludes to) and packed with more life lessons than anything I have read. He tells his tale of transforming the body building industry (which didn’t even exist at the time) and eventually running the Presidential Council of Fitness and Sports for the White House, the struggle of becoming a Hollywood star, and his mission into politics. He defies odds, nay-sayers, and achieved things people routinely said were impossible. This guy is a damn superhero.
He has a wildly unconventional way of doing things, gives zero fucks, and takes a bold/creative approach to everything he does. Example, he got people interested in going to the gym by comparing a good “gym pump” to having an orgasm. “When I’m at the gym it’s like I’m coming, I’m coming everywhere.”
Throughout the journey he leaves us with “Arnold’s Rules” talking about how people need to stop looking in the mirror and look at helping the world, not to overthink, work harder, be outrageous.
This is an actual veto document Arnold (as Governor of California) sent back to a politician who had mocked him previously…who said a Governor can’t be badass?
It’s a long book (over 600 pages) and honestly, could be cut in half and hold the same value, but provides some serious values and life lessons worth checking out.
4. What to Say When You Talk to Yourself – Shad Helmstetter
If you’re like I was, you probably rolled your eyes just reading that title. It just sounds kinda gimmicky, weird, and something a crazy person would do/read. I actually first heard about this book at a sales talk in NYC and this guy swore by it. Again, I thought it would be just another bs piece of self-improvement with “weird tips and tricks,” but I decided to get the book and give it a try.
I couldn’t have been more wrong about this book. This should be taught to every parent, teenager, kid, toddler, baby, everyone! It should be taught in schools, businesses, local meet-ups, AA meetings, therapy sessions, literally everywhere.
I had read various books about the power of the mind and messages we tell ourselves, but none that made realize just how big of an impact this has on your life and the true power of it before. And unlike a lot of things I tried, the results I had were immense.
It points to how our entire lives we are being subtly programmed (if you watched West World…you already know…like “have I done this before?” Ok, this is not the same or the point, but like fuck…that show mind-fucked me…like, what’s real anymore? Ok, back to what I was talking about) by everything around us, everyone who speaks to us and tells us what we can’t and can do, and all the little things we are consciously or subconsciously telling ourselves (internally or out loud) that are responsible for the makeup of your entire life and how it runs. Heavy right?
It then teaches us how to “re-program” by talking to ourselves (we’re already always doing this). Admittedly, it sounds a bit hokey and bullshit, but I soon realized how often I was already talking to myself, and more importantly how negative and limited my thoughts were. I then learned how to replace the negative thoughts with the positive and quickly saw how much my anxiety subsided, confidence went up, and overall felt happier.
This is a must read for every human being.
5. What the Buddha Taught – Walpola Rahula
I’m not religious, but Buddhism (as talked about in the book) is not a religion as much as it is a lifestyle. It doesn’t believe in superior beings or God’s (the Buddha considered him to a be a man, just like anyone else).
Buddhism is realism. It takes a realistic non-bullshit look at the world, all of suffering we encounter, anxiety, stress, pain and teaches a simplified way of looking at the world and living.
And this book teaches the thoughts, beliefs, values, and lifestyle of Buddhism in a very simple high-level overview. The best part is that it doesn’t get too granular or woo-woo religious. It’s very well written, simplified, and written for the average person. It’s also a quick read (124 pages)
This is such a refreshing and calming book.
Read, em. Do it!
Cut the bullshit reads out of your life and read these.