2: Your First 5 Self Development Books

There’s an overwhelming amount of content to sift through when you’re new to the world of self-development. This episode is all about 5 incredible books that have the potential to be game-changers in your life.

If you’d like to buy any of the books talked about in the show, for yourself or for others, use the Amazon affiliate links below to support our content. 

How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
The 48 Laws of Power – Robert Greene
Think Like A Monk – Jay Shetty
Atomic Habits – James Clear
The Gap and the Gain – Dan Sullivan & Benjamin Hardy


 Hello and welcome to episode two of the Minimal Minds podcast. I am your host, my name is Alex, and thank you so much for spending your time here with me today, whether it be on your commute, making dinner, or just sat down relaxing. I appreciate your time and you choosing to spend it with me wherever you are in the world.

Today’s topic is all about self development books. If you’re new to the world of self improvement, the amount of content can be simply overwhelming. It can be hard to know what to look at and what to take seriously. There’s just simply so much content. Today we’re going to be exploring my personal recommendation of five incredible books that have the power to shape your life for the better.

If you’ve never read a self improvement book before, these are the five you should start with. If any of them sound interesting to you, and you’d like to read them for yourself, feel free to use our links in the show notes, and subscribe to the website, and provide more content like this in the future.

Now, this first book is one of the oldest and most timeless books of advice you can find, other than, like, the Bible or something. It should be everyone’s first read when stepping into the world of self development. It’s, of course, the classic title, How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie.

It has sold over 30 million copies since it was first published in 1936, yet the content is more relevant than ever today. Now after the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to brush up on our social skills, right? But they’re called social skills for a reason, because they’re a skill. That can be learned and improved.

Some people might be born naturally charismatic, but there is nothing stopping you from learning what makes someone charismatic and implementing those exact behaviours in your life. And that’s the exact aim of this book. Now, upon hearing the title, you might think, Ah, that sounds a bit manipulative, doesn’t it?

Influencing people? Influence typically has a negative connotation to it. It’s if people with influence only use it for selfish intentions. But what does the term influence actually mean? Well, the term influence is defined as the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something.

Isn’t that what we all want in our lives? The ability to effortlessly uplift others? That’s what positive social influence looks like. As you read this you’ll think, Oh, that’s just common sense, isn’t it? Quotes like, ‘Praise is more effective than criticism’. And, ‘Make everyone you meet feel interesting and important’.

I should just go without saying, once you’ve embodied this information, you’ll begin to notice how often these basic principles are completely ignored by those around you. If you follow the advice this book gives, you’ll have a tremendous advantage compared to those around you. You’ll be more universally liked and admired, you’ll be seen as charismatic and charming, and it will all appear completely effortless.

Three quotes that stood out to me from this book are, ‘Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him’. ‘The rare individual who unselfishly tries to serve others has an enormous advantage’. ‘Criticisms are like homing pigeons. They always return home.’

Our second book on the list is The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. And it’s another book that can be misjudged by hearing its title alone. It’s exactly what it sounds like. 48 laws revolving around power. These laws are timeless and are found in most cultures all around the world. They’re most often subconscious, and the majority of people aren’t even aware that they exist.

Green’s just managed to put them into words through his own experiences in the world. If your first thought is, well I’m not interested in becoming a CEO or becoming powerful, I just want to have a happy life. You know what? That’s a completely valid thought. However, the true value in this book is not just a guide on how to get to the top in any realm.

It also allows you to recognize when people are using these exact techniques against you. I remember reading this book for the first time and thinking, ah, of course, how can I not see this sooner? It’s so obvious. Not only do these rules allow you to gain power. They also show you how to avoid misfortune in your life.

That in itself is incredibly powerful. My three quotes for this book are ‘A person who cannot control his words, shows that he cannot control himself, and is unworthy of respect’. ‘When you’re trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, the less in control. Even if you’re saying something banal, it will seem original if you make it vague, open ended, and sphinx like’.

‘Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.’ When you show yourself to the world and display your talents, you naturally stir all kinds of resentment, envy, and other manifestations of insecurity. You cannot spend your life worrying about petty feelings of others.

Now our third book is To Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty. It’s Jay’s first book and it’s all about, as you can imagine, Thinking More Like a Monk. Jay spent three years living as a monk at an ashram in Mumbai, in India. He shares a mix of his personal experiences, as well as teachings passed down from hundreds of generations, and how they can all be implemented in our modern lifestyles.

This book is separated into three major sections. Let go, grow, and give. Within each section, Jay deep dives into topics like negativity, fear, ego, service, and gratitude. This book has so much wisdom in it that I cannot recommend it enough. It really is like a guide on living a more fulfilling life. Jay also has an amazing podcast called On Purpose, which I also highly recommend.

One particular section that stood out to me in this book is the concept of detachment. It goes on to explain that attachment to people, things, ideas, places, and so on are the causes of all human suffering. And the cure is to learn to detach yourself from these. That does not mean becoming cold and distant.

Far from it. It means appreciating everything in your life despite knowing that they’re only temporary. Even the most wealthier people don’t actually own anything. Everything from our possessions to our friends, parents, we’re all borrowed. That realization was a game changer for me in my life. It changed my relationship with everything and made me appreciate what I have and what I no longer have.

My three quotes for this book are, ‘When we accept the temporary nature of everything in our lives, we can feel gratitude for the good fortune of getting to borrow them for a time’. ‘When we look for the good in others, we start to see the best in ourselves too’. ‘If you don’t break your ego, life will break it for you.’

Our fourth book is Atomic Habits by James Clear. If you’ve ever struggled with stopping bad habits or forming new good habits, this book is by far the best. Best book around. It breaks down the habit forming process scientifically in an easy to understand format so you can make lasting changes in your life.

It begins by showing you how small habits can have a surprisingly powerful impact on your life. Tiny behaviors done repeatedly not only add together but compound over time. It shows you what a habit actually is. Just an automated behavior that we have learned from our experiences. These habits aren’t inherently good or bad.

Every habit at a point in time has served you in some way. But they might not serve you anymore and those are the ones we want to get rid of. This book goes on to show you what makes habits actually stick. Those specifically being to make your ideal behaviours obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying.

Conversely, it shows you how to rid yourself of the habits no longer serving you by making them invisible, unattractive, hard and unsatisfying. The most effective way to change your habits is to focus not on what you want to achieve but on who you wish to become. The book helps you design a system that allows you to get there.

By changing your system instead of your goals, you’re more likely to achieve longer lasting results relating to your habits. Your willpower is a limited resource, and so by brute forcing change, you’re only going to tire yourself out and eventually just go back to your old routines. Now, three quotes that stood out to me in this book are, ‘You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems’.

‘You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results’. ‘When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock. Perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundredth and first blow, it was split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it.

It was all the blows that had gone before’. Our final book today is The Gap and the Gain by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy. It’s described as the high achievers guide to success, happiness, and confidence. This book is for when you start seeing more and more successes in your life. It’s funny, you can ask millionaires whether they see themselves as successful and you’ll be genuinely surprised at how many don’t think they’re successful at all.

This book is all about changing your relationship with happiness, taking ownership of it and understanding what it actually means to be happy. It shows you that nobody needs to pursue happiness, you can choose to be happy right now, in this moment. It tells you to stop comparing yourself to others because it’s a completely futile practice, right?

Your life is entirely unique, and so the only objective comparison you can make is to yourself, but in the past. Instead, define your own criteria for success, and measure yourself against that. Let me give you an example. If your goal is to do 100 push ups today, and you only managed 70, have you failed?

Well, regardless of whether you hit the goal of 100, you still did 70, which is 70 more than if you hadn’t set the goal at all. So that’s a win. You’ve done 70 more push ups than former you, but if you consider yourself a failure for not hitting your target, you’re only doing yourself a disservice. This book also talks about something called the hedonic treadmill.

If you’ve not heard that before, it’s described as the human tendency to pursue one pleasure after another. If you win the lottery, at first you’ll be ecstatic, right? What a massive change, complete life changer. You can do anything you want, but after a few weeks, that’s your new standard. The normal for you.

And that actually results in a decrease in happiness, compared to if you just hadn’t won the lottery. My quotes for this book are, If you focus on what you lack, You lose what you have. If you focus on what you have, you gain what you lack. Billions of dollars are spent every day to manipulate and change your thoughts, desires, and behaviours.

The reference points for your own success are being created for you, not by you. If you’re not paying for the product, then your behaviour change is the product. Research in psychology shows that confidence is not what creates success, but rather prior success is actually what creates confidence. Thank you so much for listening to today’s podcast.

If any of these books sound like they would improve your life, please consider using the links in the show notes. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard, give us a review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, wherever you’re listening to us. Appreciate it. If you’d like to see more content from us, just go to theminimalminds.com and we’ll see you in the next episode. Thanks again. Bye bye.