8 Self Help Books That Will Get Your Ass In Gear

I often hear from people who hate self help books. I firmly believe that if you think this, then you simply haven’t encountered the right book yet. It’s a magical experience when you find a book you really need at the exact time in your life that you need it.

Sure, non-fiction books can be boring, and self help books can be cliché and worthless. No matter what we are talking about, be it people, dog breeds, movies, or pretty much anything else, it’s not fair to pass judgement on an entire group based on a few bad apples.

Here’s why I think people hate Self Help books: They don’t fully grasp the fact that it’s called Self Help for a reason. That means you will be helping yourself by reading this book. That means you have to do work to improve your life with the advice given in this book. You can’t read a book, then say “My life still sucks, therefore this book sucks.” The book might be amazing, and life-changing in a different set of hands. Your life sucks because you say it sucks.

I made a list of the books I’ve found most helpful in my personal journey, then I Googled “Best Self Help Books” and was surprised by the amount of overlap. Of course Self Help is a broad category so I’m including books from all parts of life here.


8 Self Help Books That Will Get Your Ass in Gear

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

This book will probably show up on every list I make because I believe so strongly in its message! Happiness is something different for everyone. Gretchen explores what happy means to her and experiments with how to increase her happiness. It opened my eyes to the concept of unapologetically being myself. When I stopped hiding parts of my true self, and doing things for the sake of others’ happiness, I noticed a giant shift in not only my happiness and quality of life, but also the number of happy quality human beings I began to attract into my life.

Favorite Lines: “What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.”
“Act the way you want to feel.”

  Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Some people say they aren’t creative, but Liz Gilbert and I disagree. This book address all aspects of creative endeavors, which is to say how to handle all those ideas you have. What resonates with me most is the idea that fear is at the root of everything that holds us back. This book gave me permission to finally release all the nonsense thoughts I had around being creative, particularly being a writer. I don’t have to make money writing, or care what a certain person will think of what I write. I don’t have to be “qualified,” because I’m writing and that makes me qualified to write more. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a creative type, I know you will take something away from this book.

Favorite lines: “Most things have already been done–but they have not been done by you.”
“But to yell at your creativity, saying, “You must earn money for me!” is sort of like yelling at a cat; it has no idea what you’re talking about, and all you’re doing is scaring it away, because you’re making really loud noises and your face looks weird when you do that.”



You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero

This is a book that came into my life at exactly the right moment. I’m familiar with the The Law of Attraction and the general message, which is similar to a lot of other books I’ve read that have made a difference in my life. While I’m all about self improvement, I find personal growth exhausting at times, and had been in a funk, feeling low and overwhelmed by life. This book gave me a kick in the pants that I needed to bust out of my negative cycle. I realized “Of course I’m feeling maxed out, because I keep telling myself I’m maxed out!”

Favorite Lines: “You are responsible for what you say and do. You are not responsible for whether or not people freak out about it.”

“Decide that you live an awesome, relaxed life full of interesting projects that you love doing and communicate that to the world and yourself. And then go out and merrily do it.”



 What Are You Hungry For? by Deepak Chopra

I’ve never been interested in books on dieting, although that’s not exactly what this is. It combines two things I love, Deepak Chopra and food, and while technically the book is about how to lose weight, it address weight loss from a deeper, spiritual place. I struggle with emotional eating, and overeating in general, and Chopra’s messages resonate well with me. While I strive to be present and aware in my day to day life, the concept of eating mindfully is not one I’d thought about, yet it makes a ton of sense. The title is perfect because that’s the question I now ask myself when I’m craving fatty foods, or eating past the point of fullness.

Favorite Lines: “Your body is the physical record of your life story as you’ve lived it until today.”

“Everyone’s life story is complicated, and the best intentions go astray because people find it hard to change.”


The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz

This is another book that will come up often for me because I find it extremely powerful. The first time I read it I liked it a lot, but I had to read it a second time to get the message fully. The Four Agreements are  a code of conduct, which if followed will allow you to live your truth and find peace. They are certainly easier said than done, but once I fully understood each, and how to incorporate them into my life, I realized how important this way of life is to one’s true happiness.

Favorite Lines: “There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.”

“You will find that you don’t need to trust others as much as you need to trust yourself to make the right choices.”




He’s Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

Every woman should read this book in her late teens/early twenties! I honestly think I might have made some different choices in my younger years if I’d had this resource. I was dating after my divorce when I first read this, and it was a gigantic wake up call. A lot of this is stuff I already “knew” but didn’t truly believe. I’ve applied what I learned here to non-romantic relationships as well because ultimately it’s about seeing my worth and knowing that if any person wants to be in my life they will work for it, and I won’t beg.

Favorite Lines: “When it comes to men, deal with them as they are, not how you’d like them to be.”

“I don’t want to be in a serious relationship” truly means “I don’t want to be in a serious relationship with you.”

Good Morning: 365 Positive Ways To Start Your Day by Brook Noel

I thrive with structure and routine. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, or like I’m floating aimlessly off course, I return to this book over and over again. I make it a priority to get up early so I can have time alone in a quiet space to read each day’s passage and do a little journaling. Starting each morning with a little silence and a positive affirmation (and coffee) goes a long way in keeping my energy and mood up for the rest of the day.

Favorite Lines: “How freeing it can be to realize that maybe we don’t “need” everything we think we do-instead, what we need to do is scale back on perceived needs.”

“Each step forward is an accomplishment, deserving the same celebration as a reached goal.”



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

Full disclosure: I’ve never read this book, although I’ve been meaning to for years! It was on every list I found of Best Self Help books, and it’s been recommended to me by my editor. From Covey’s website “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has been a top-seller for the simple reason that it ignores trends and pop psychology for proven principles of fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity.”

Have any of these books spurred you to action? Or did you read one that didn’t resonate with you at the time? 

I’d love to hear which self help books have been most useful in your life!




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