5 Personal Development Books That'll Light You Up

June 12, 2019

We live in a time when there are so many resources available to help us improve our relationships, mindsets, careers, and lives. Between podcasts and Netflix specials (have you checked out the Brene Brown one yet? So good!) and even uplifting social media pages, so much content exists to support, encourage, and inspire its viewers. But there’s just something equally calming and powerful about holding a book in your hands and reading something new, don’t you think?

I love reading because it allows me to slow down and take in different stories and ideas to open my mind and heart in new ways. It’s not always easy to find the time to read, but I know how good it is for my mind and mental health, so I really try to prioritize it by committing to reading for at least 5 to 10 minutes every day. Even if you’re not a reader, if you download an audiobook app, it’s almost like you’re listening to a long-form podcast episode and you can finish books when you take walks, drive to work, clean your home, or cook meals.

Throughout the years working in the mental health world, I’ve read so many self-help and personal development books for the sake of my own continued education and to have some really incredible resources to share with my clients. So today, I’m sharing 5 of my favorite personal development books of all time that’ll give you hope, make you feel less alone, provide tools for living a better life, and just light you up.

5 personal development books to add to your reading list

1. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown

Speaking of her Netflix special, Brene Brown is also an incredible and relatable author, teacher, researcher, and leader. She empowers readers to quiet the voices in our heads telling us we’re not enough or not worthy, and instead, lean into acceptance, compassion, and gratitude. This is a tactical guide to living wholeheartedly and uncovering your self-esteem.

Brown shares stories about her own imperfections with honest and witty storytelling, as well as how she’s learned to embrace living authentically, no matter how imperfect it all looks along the way. You’ll feel like you’ve gotten a big hug and a jovial shove into your purpose after reading this. (Plus, it’s a quick read, so bonus for the non-readers!)

2. Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Dr. Kristin Neff

This book is a game changer for self-esteem and transforming your view of yourself. We all have insecurities and weaknesses we harp on, but Dr. Neff says it’s time to “stop beating yourself up and leave insecurity behind,” and she provides real-life advice for how to do it. She teaches readers how to realize when they’re belittling themselves, limit self-criticism, enable them to reach higher potential, and create a more fulfilling life.

Rather than working solely on ways to build self-esteem, she walks readers through tangible ways to be more compassionate to themselves, with exercises and action plans for dealing with emotionally triggering situations, including health struggles, parenting, and more everyday tribulations that come with life.

3. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert by John Gottman

Whether you’re married, in a serious relationship, or single, this book is an incredible way to learn about yourself and how you can bring your best self to the many relationships in your life. Gottman walks you through the seven principles that guide relationships and how to curate a long-lasting, happy, and harmonious relationship with your current or future partner.

No matter how compatible you and your partner are, everyone fights, and every relationship faces problems. He offers resources and strategies to help couples work through issues of all kinds, including sex, religion, work, money, family, and beyond. With straightforward yet incredibly wise guidance, Gottman teaches innovative ideas for resolving problems, creating a common ground, and reaching new levels of intimacy.

4. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

We know mindset to be an extremely powerful factor in our lives. Dweck introduces a new idea about mindset, though. Those who believe their capabilities are limited have a “fixed mindset,” while those who believe their strengths and potential can be tapped into and harnessed continually have a “growth mindset.” She explores the notion that those with growth mindsets are more likely to flourish and find success than those with the limiting fixed mindset.

It’s a powerful exploration of how our beliefs affect our lives, be it work, relationships, money, or anything else. Dweck guides readers toward implementing a deeply ingrained growth mindset and applying it to our communities, as well. With the adoption of this mindset, you can positively influence and motivate those around you.

5. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

Another rockstar in terms of personal development and tapping into your greater potential, “7 Habits” is an easily digestible guide to solving both personal and professional problems with principle-centered, holistic advice and insights. Covey’s pointed guidance gives a step-by-step plan for pursuing fairness, integrity, dignity, and service.

He teaches you to learn to adapt to change with grace, and how to take action with big opportunities while believing in your inner wisdom and power to create change. This book is imperative for anyone who wants to tap into their biggest potential and make a lasting impact.