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The 50 Greatest Self-Help Books

Best Self Help Books





Success and Personal Effectiveness
Self Help Books

Icons of success occupy a hallowed place in the American Pantheon: Ben Franklin, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Bill Gates, Sam Walton. The United States is a symbol of success, welcoming immigrants who want to work hard and make a better life. Continue reading article on Success and Personal Effectiveness»

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The books listed below offer encouragement and support for those with dreams, and practical help for avoiding self-defeating behavior.

See also: Prosperity; Self Esteem and Self Confidence; Creativity

Best Self Help Books on Success and Personal Effectiveness

Learned OptimismThe 7 Habits of Highly Effective People"These are the Success and Personal Effectiveness self help books and products that I recommend most frequently."
David Yarian, Ph.D.







More Recommended Self Help Books on Success and Personal Effectiveness

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in KindergartenAll I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

This little self help classic has sold 7 million copies, underscoring Fulghum’s wisdom in pointing us to the truth that the most basic aspects of life bring life’s most important opportunities. Filled with simple, profound wisdom, finding life lessons hidden in the laundry pile, musing about mortality and surviving catastrophe, Fulghum reminds us to be brave, creative, and engaged to the fullest with life. 2004, Ballantine Books


Anxious 9 to 5: How to Beat WorryAnxious 9 to 5: How to Beat Worry, Stop Second Guessing Yourself, And Work With Confidence

Anxiety, worry, perfectionism, self-defeating thoughts and fears of failure in the workplace can hold you back from achieving the success you deserve, despite how hard you work. This self help book offers simple and effective techniques to get your workplace anxiety under control once and for all so you can enjoy work and be more productive. 2006, New Harbinger


Awake at WorkAwake at Work: 35 Practical Buddhist Principles for Discovering Clarity and Balance in the Midst of Work's Chaos

This collection of teachings is designed to illuminate the power that mindfulness can have at work. By surrendering to the moment one becomes alert, open, and unusually skillful. In brief chapters, Carroll expounds some thirty-five slogans designed to be both fodder for meditation and mnemonic devices for when that particular message can help the most, during an opportune moment at work. "Welcome the tyrant" helps one to disarm a cranky boss; "avoid idiot compassion" reminds one to eschew giving merely superficial help. 2004, Shambhala


Chicken Soup for the SoulChicken Soup for the Soul: Living Your Dreams

This collection of 101 stories is based on the belief that testimonies of goodness and loving transformations can nourish us to the bone and heal the cynicism in our hearts. The short simple stories tell about an event, a person, or an everyday miracle that exemplifies the best of the human spirit. This multi-million selling self help book has taught readers that dreams really do come true for those who dare to believe that any obstacle can be overcome with persistence, patience, and belief in oneself. 2003, HCI


Do What You Love, the Money Will FollowDo What You Love, the Money Will Follow: Discovering Your Right Livelihood

Sinetar urges you to find the work best suited to your needs and talents. She provides assessment tools and guidance for overcoming fears, learning to take risks and building self esteem. 1989, Dell


Don't Sweat the Small Stuff . . . And It's All Small StuffDon’t Sweat the Small Stuff . . . And It’s All Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life

This cheerful self help book offers 100 meditations designed to make you appreciate being alive, keep your emotions in proper perspective, and cherish other people as the unique miracles they are. It’s an owner’s manual of the heart -- and if you follow the directions, you will be a happier, more harmonious and successful person. 1997, Hyperion


Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates UsDrive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

According to Pink everything we think we know about what motivates us is wrong. He cites a dizzying number of studies revealing that carrot and stick can actually significantly reduce the ability of workers to produce creative solutions to problems. What motivates us once our basic survival needs are met is the ability to grow and develop, to realize our fullest potential! Case studies of Google's 20 percent time (in which employees work on projects of their choosing one full day each week) and Best Buy's Results Only Work Environment (in which employees can work whenever and however they choose—as long as they meet specific goals) demonstrate growing endorsement for this approach. 2009, Riverhead Hardcopy

Pick of the Month Self Help BookThis book was a Pick of the Month Self Help Book! Read David's full Book Review.


Emotional IntelligenceEmotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

In this fascinating self help book based on brain and behavioral research, Goleman argues that our view of intelligence is far too narrow. He suggests that “emotional intelligence” -- defined in terms of self-awareness, altruism, personal motivation, empathy and the ability to love and be loved -- is the strongest indicator of human success. People who possess high emotional intelligence are the people who truly succeed in work as well as play, building flourishing careers and lasting, meaningful relationships. 2006, Bantam


Emotional Intelligence QuickbookEmotional Intelligence Quickbook: Everything You Need to Know to Put Your EQ to Work

The authors outline techniques anyone can use to achieve goals in an easier and more fulfilling way, improve relationships, enhance health, and become more accomplished. 2005, Fireside


Falling Awake: Creating the Life of Your DreamsFalling Awake: Creating the Life of Your Dreams

Businessman and philanthropist Ellis says, "Life can work." Falling Awake presents twelve major Success Strategies to assist you in reaching the life of your dreams. 2002, Breakthrough Enterprises


Feel the Fear and Do It AnywayFeel the Fear and Do It Anyway

Jeffers teaches a ten-step program to convert the negative emotions of fear, indecision and anger into power, action and love. She offers cognitive exercises and visualization techniques to help persons move beyond destructive fear. 2006, Ballantine Books, 20th Anniversary Edition


First Things FirstFirst Things First: To Live, To Love, To Learn, To Leave a Legacy

This self help book will help you create balance between your personal and professional responsibilities by putting first things first and acting on them. Covey teaches an organizing process that helps you categorize tasks so you focus on what is important, not merely what is urgent. “Doing more things faster is no substitute for doing the right things,” says Covey. This book shows you how to balance your time to achieve a meaningful life. 1996, Free Press


Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free ProductivityGetting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

David Allen offers a crash course in basic time management and personal organization. His message is concise: Organize yourself to free your mind for greater pursuits. This simple self help book makes that daunting task seem possible. It's a quick glimpse at setting goals, clearing clutter, and staying focused. 2002, Penguin


Getting to Yes: negotiating Agreement without Giving InGetting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

The classic self help guide to negotiation has sold over 1 million copies. This completely revised edition is a universal guide to the art of negotiating personal and professional disputes. It offers a concise strategy for coming to mutually acceptable agreements in every sort of conflict. 2011, Penguin Books; Revised edition


Infinite PossibilitiesInfinite Possibilities: The Art of Living Your Dreams (CD)

This audio series is filled with encouragement – to think and dream larger, to grow into the belief that dreams can be actualized. Not a “motivational” series, but a playful and philosophical approach to life which affirms that abundance, health and harmony are your birthright. Dooley addresses beliefs which nurture success and happiness, your emotions and how to understand them, and includes many tools and techniques for the art of living your dreams. 2009, Simon & Schuster Audio


Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin SeligmanLearned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life

Seligman says that pessimists believe that bad events are their fault, will last a long time and undermine everything. Optimists, on the other hand, believe that defeat is a temporary setback or a challenge. In this self help book, he teaches the skills of changing from pessimism to optimism which will enable you to take charge, resist depression, feel better and accomplish more. 2006, Vintage

A 50 Greatest Self Help Book



Life Stategies: Doing What Works, Doing What MattersLife Strategies: Doing What Works, Doing What Matters

Dr. Phil tells his readers how to make the dramatic changes in their lives that they’ve craved for so long. Whether in a bad relationship or a bad marriage, stuck in a dull career or in harmful habits, he offers ten strategies to help readers wake up and get out of their ruts. These strategies are eye-opening and no-nonsense, urging readers to take charge of their lives, get ready to act, and move on. 1999, Hyperion


The Power of IntentionThe Power of Intention: Learning to Co-create Your World, Your Way

This self help book might help readers land a better job, but it is more relevant for those who are ready to detach from an ego-driven life filled with quick fixes of happiness and step into a more authentic, joyful and spiritually fulfilling life. Dyer calls people who are consciously co-creating their lives by using the power of intention “individuals who have made themselves available for success.” He gives detailed instruction for connecting with the “seven faces of intention” – creativity, kindness, love, beauty, expansion, abundance and receptivity. 2005, Hay House


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Covey, an internationally respected leadership authority, emphasizes that true success encompasses a balance of personal and professional effectiveness. This self help book is a manual for performing better in both arenas. Covey lists seven basic habits that are necessary for quality-oriented success: be proactive, be clear about the end goal, put first things first, think win-win, seek first to understand, synergize, and focus on renewal. Personal, family, educational and professional examples are used to illustrate the habits of highly effective people2004, Free PressA 50 Greatest Self Help Book

 


Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth by T. Harv EkerSecrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth

Using pithy statements such as "Rich people focus on opportunities; poor people focus on obstacles," Eker argues that poverty or wealth begin first in one's imagination. This inspiring self help book challenges the reader to develop an intensly positive and optimistic focus and provides a set of tools and techniques to do so. 2005, HarperBusiness


Self Defeating BehaviorsSelf-Defeating Behaviors: Free Yourself from the Habits, Compulsions, Feelings, and Attitudes that Hold You Back

This self help book explains that self-defeating attitudes or actions may have worked well at one time but ultimately cycle into adult behaviors that backfire. Self-defeatists harbor mythical fears that stifle creative thought patterns and cause faulty conclusions that perpetuate the destructive cycle. Through real-life examples, self-tests, and charts, this book helps readers identify, intercept, and overcome their self-imposed barriers to success and growth. 1993, HarperSanFrancisco


The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak ChopraThe Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams

Deepak Chopra offers a life-altering perspective on attaining success: once we understand our true nature and learn to live in harmony with these natural laws, wellbeing, good health, fulfilling relationships, energy and enthusiasm for life and material abundance can be achieved. 1994, Amber-Allen


Success Is a ChoiceSuccess Is a Choice: Ten Steps to Overachieving in Business and Life

Successful NBA coach Rick Pitino outlines his approach and techniques for motivating individuals. He describes success as the result of hard work, optimism, and determination. He doesn’t believe in short cuts and presents a ten-point program for achieving success in every aspect of life. 1998, Broadway


The Success PrinciplesThe Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

Canfield knows about success: he is co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series which have sold more than 80 million books. He presents 64 success principles and draws on his own experience and that of others to illustrate them. Canfield's energy and enthusiasm bounce off the page: those starting off in business or in need of a refresher course may consider this book required reading. 2004, Collins


Talking to Yourself by Pamela ButlerTalking to Yourself: Learning the Language of Self-Affirmation

This cognitive therapy approach helps the reader to identify distortions in thinking, shed the self-defeating images of the past, and state a more realistic and workable alternative. A practical self help book which many people find quite helpful. 1991, HarperCollins


The Tao of LeadershipThe Tao of Leadership: Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching Adapted for a New Age

This self help book provides the most simple and clear advise on how to be the very best kind of leader: be faithful, trust the process, pay attention, and inspire others to become their own leaders. 1986, Humanics Publishing Group


Ten Days to Self-Esteem by David BurnsTen Days to Self-Esteem

Dr. Burns presents innovative, clear and compassionate methods to help the reader identify the causes of mood slumps and develop a more positive outlook on life. The book emphasizes that negative feelings do not result from the bad things that happen to you but from the way you think about these events. Burns provides a ten-step program to self esteem; the self help book is filled with logs, charts and step-by-step guides. HarperCollins
The 50 Greatest Self Help Books

 


Time Management from the Inside OutTime Management from the Inside Out: The Foolproof System for Taking Control of Your Schedule--and Your Life

Morgenstern believes there are three primary reasons why people have difficulty managing time: "technical errors" (miscalculating the length of a task); "external realities" (new baby, new job); and "psychological obstacles" (perfectionism). Instead of trying to change people's natural behaviors and preferences, she encourages them to expand upon whatever is working already, no matter how overwhelmed they may feel. Morgenstern's simple self help book presents a superb, sound program for creating a life that nutures you and makes you feel good. 2004, Owl Books (2nd edition)


The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big DifferenceThe Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

Gladwell's thesis is that little changes can have big effects: when small numbers of people start behaving differently, that behavior can ripple outward until a critical mass or "tipping point" is reached, changing the world. Word of mouth "epidemics" can be triggered with the help of three pivotal types: Connectors, who bring people together; Mavens, who like to pass along knowledge; and Salesman, who are adept at persuading the unenlightened. 2002, Back Bay Books; Reprint edition


Transitions by William BridgesTransitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes, Revised 25th Anniversary Edition

This revered self help classic has helped hundreds of thousands of readers cope with change by providing an elegantly simple yet profoundly insightful roadmap of the transition process2004, Da Capo Press

 


Unlimited PowerUnlimited Power: The New Science of Personal Achievement

If you have ever dreamed of a better life, Unlimited Power will show you how to achieve the extraordinary quality of life you desire and deserve and how to master your personal and professional life. Unlimited Power is a revolutionary fitness book for the mind, a guidebook to superior performance in an age of success. 1997, Free Press


Visualize ConfidenceVisualize Confidence: How to Use Guided Imagery to Overcome Self-doubt

This self help book presents a wide range of guided imagery tools to build confidence, overcome self-doubt, and increase self esteem. 2007, New Harbinger



The War of ArtThe War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

Best-selling author Steven Pressfield shows readers how to identify, defeat, and unlock the inner barriers to creativity. The War of Art is an inspirational, funny, well-aimed kick in the pants, guaranteed to galvanize every would-be artist, visionary, or entrepreneur. 2012, Black Irish Entertainment LLC



Watercooler WisdomWatercooler Wisdom: How Smart People Prosper in the Face of Conflict, Pressure, & Change

This practical self help guide offers you pertinent and powerful techniques for coping with conflict, pressure, and change - the three greatest sources of stress for workers worldwide. Use these strategies to prosper - even when circumstances seem to conspire against you. 2006, New Harbinger


What Makes the Great, GreatWhat Makes the Great, Great

African-Americans seeking high levels of success and accomplishment must never let negative influences such as poverty and racism infiltrate their souls, exhorts Kimbro in this inspirational self help manual. The book uses the success stories of black achievers in many fields to illustrate nine mental strategies which underlie high achievement – deep-seated spiritual beliefs, a guiding vision, passionate commitment, character, competence, willingness to take risks, self-confidence, discipline, and an I-can –do-it attitude. 1998, Main Street Books


What to Say When You Talk to Yourself by Shad HelmstetterWhat to Say When You Talk to Yourself

Helmstetter describes different levels of self-talk, the most useful being universal affirmation. He outlines a number of strategies including silent self-talk, self-speak, self-conversation, self-writing and creating self-talk tapes. This self help book is especially helpful for negative thinkers and people low in motivation.  Pocket Books


What You Can Change and What You Can'tWhat You Can Change and What You Can’t: The Complete Guide to Successful Self-Improvement

This highly rated self help book provides a wealth of scientific thought about the effect of biology, genetics, heredity, environment and self-motivation on how we think and change. Seligman emphasizes that there is much we can do within these parameters to influence our quality of life. 2007, Vintage


When Smart People FailWhen Smart People Fail: Rebuilding Yourself for Success

This self help book describes the feelings of fear, isolation, shame and remorse associated with losing a job, status or money. Hyatt and Gottlieb emphatically stress that career failure is something that eventually touches every professional. They describe the process of dealing with emotions associated with failure and how men and women may respond in different ways to experiences of failure. They offer a comprehensive strategy for personal reinvention after suffering a career setback through discovering how one has failed, learning from the failure, letting go of old ways of understanding oneself, expanding one’s career choices and making the transition from the old professional to the new centered and focused individual. 1993, Penguin Books; Revised edition


Win-Win Negotiating: Turning Conflict into AgreementWin-Win Negotiating: Turning Conflict into Agreement

The author argues that conflict can be a positive force leading to increased communication, teamwork, and healthy change in an organization. He presents examples of many creative negotiating techniques such as “unpacking” – dealing with each point of disagreement as a separate issue, or “determining the Mini-Max” – how to get the most and give up the least without alienating your adversary. 1987, Wiley