Though knowledge is important, a curiosity for what we don’t know is probably more important still. And while curiosity about the world and the way it works may make one high-brow and cultured, curiosity about the way our mind and emotions work has the power to transform us into more evolved and effective beings.
Thoughts and feelings are primary drivers of our action and action is the creative force in our life. The ability to achieve and attain success, happiness are all determined by the quality of our action, over time. And so it becomes clear rather quickly that our ability to influence, manage and control our thoughts is of particular importance if we are to consciously create a life based on our wants, desires, hopes and dreams.
Below are five books to satiate the curious mind. Each book is laced with ideas, insights, and examples of how to master our mind so we can effectively change our lives for the better. Sometimes through personal experience or times through research and expert opinion, each book sheds light on the process of becoming more of your best self so you can have more of your best life.
- Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl
During World War II a man named Viktor Frankl became one of millions of Jews to suffer at the hands of Hitler and the Nazi occupation. For him, it was prison life, mainly in Auschwitz, a concentration where more than a million Jews lost their life. Without knowledge of his family’s whereabouts or even if they were alive or dead, he was forced into prison camp life and made to the endless pain inflicted on the victims. As a former interest and also as a coping mechanism, he became curious about how people, himself included, were able to endure the unendurable. From a disassociated state he watched, sometimes with morbid curiosity, as prisoners fell victim to apathy and depression. He also noticed that some stayed strong, mentally. What he discovered was that the difference between the two – those who became victims of their circumstances and those who were able to transcend them – relied less on their experiences and more on their ability to give meaning to those experiences. The book’s direct purpose, using all he learned as a prisoner, is to impress upon the reader the importance of assigning proper meaning and context to life and circumstances; proper meaning being one that allows us to thrive in the face of adversity and come out on the other side victorious, successful and happy.
- Psycho-Cybernetics, A New Way to Get More Living Out of Life – Maxwell Maltz
Written by a plastic surgeon – who through his practice and over the course of time – began to notice a trend with his patients. No matter how beautiful he was able to make their outer appearance they never quite felt beautiful or complete. He began to realize it wasn’t their body that needed fixing, it was their mind. He realized that who we believe ourselves to be is based on our self-image and if the self-image is not updated, it doesn’t matter what superficial changes are made on the outside, people will still see themselves in the old way. This book teaches us about the power of the mind and how to use it to update our self-image so that we can live a happy and successful life.
- Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
This book discusses 13 success principles, as identified by Napoleon Hill, that if executed, builds the habits, traits, and behaviors that ensure success in life. His principles cover concepts such as the role and importance of strong desire in our life and how to cultivate it, as well as the power of visualization and autosuggestion to transform thought and belief. Much of his research came from interviewing the most successful people of his day, including the man who started him on this journey, Andrew Carnegie. Considered to be one of the richest men to ever live, Carnegie believed that the ability to attain wealth and success could be taught. He left a young Napoleon Hill with the task of creating a framework for just this purpose. It became Hill’s life’s work.
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen. R. Covey
This book focuses on a progressive habit development protocol that begins with mastery of self, then moves to mastery of situations and circumstances. This process is meant to create paradigm shifts or fundamental changes in perception that build upon each other and which inform and update the way we process ‘reality.’ According to Covey, this process allows us to build stronger habits that allow us to be more effective in life. Through this process we’re able to create better quality thoughts and emotions, resulting in behavior that’s more in line with our desired aims and goals.
- How to Win Friends & Influence People – Dale Carnegie
If we want to go far in life, we’re going to need the assistance of other people. Knowing how to win friends and influence people, then, is an important skill to develop and hone as we seek to create success in life. This book details 30 principles that can help us gain the influence and favor we seek with others. The principles dive deep on important ideas such as seeking to understand more than to be understood, being non-judgmental, appealing to another’s self-interest and offering sincere praise.