9 Books That Will Radically Change Your Life
They forever shifted my thoughts, beliefs, and future.
If you want to change your life, read.
If you really want to change your life, read more.
Over the years, I’ve found many books that transformed everything. From the moment I read them, it was as if time stood still—suddenly, everything I previously knew or believed disappeared, and a new way of being and thinking began.
I could not have the life I have now if it wasn’t for those lessons. (And I can never go back to my previous world.) To this day, I regularly reread them to gain new insights as I move to different stages in my life.
Here are 9 of the most impactful ones I’ve read across various topics. I’m sure there will be more books in the future that shatter everything I know, but until then, I can’t recommend these enough:
“The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey
This was the first personal development book I ever read (at age 21) and it introduced a new world to me: For the first time, I realized I could transform how I think, feel, and act as a person.
Up to that point, I had a traumatic childhood that left me feeling angry, resentful, and worthless—but I couldn’t comprehend there was a different way to be! Yet once I read this book, it revolutionized what I thought was possible and gave me hope.
I learned how much potential I had to overcome my past and create a better future—once I committed to doing so, it changed my life forever.
“Whatever your present situation, I assure you that you are not your habits. You can replace old patterns of self-defeating behavior with new patterns, new habits of effectiveness, happiness, and trust-based relationships… Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.”
“Mindset” by Carol Dweck
This book helped me shift from a “fixed mindset” (which was taught my entire life) to a “growth mindset,” which is vital to success and overall happiness.
A fixed mindset believes our abilities are innate — you either have it, or you don’t. Fixed mindsets are unwilling to challenge themselves because failure would reflect poorly on them.
A growth mindset, however, believes our abilities are changeable. Even if we are bad at something right now, we can still improve and grow. Growth mindsets are far more willing to challenge themselves and embrace difficulties.
“The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the
most challenging times in their lives.”
“Man’s Search For Meaning” by Viktor Frankl
This is a book that every human should read—and reread.
It’s a bone-chilling account from a Holocaust survivor. And despite the horrific, indescribable tragedies he suffered daily, he shared many beautiful, profound lessons of hope and inspiration.
There’s not much to say: Read it. Trust me, your life will change by the end.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
“The Defining Decade” by Meg Jay
From career, dating, and life advice, Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist, shares stories based on her experience with clients specifically in their twenties.
It changed my paradigm because, in my 20s, I was often told that I had “all the time in the world” — that I should “have fun in my 20s” and that I shouldn’t worry about various things until I’m 30 (or even 40).
But according to research and examples from Dr. Jay, that’s shortsighted advice: Your 20s massively impact the rest of your life so it’s critical to use that time to build strong foundations.
“When it comes to adult development, 30 is not the new 20. Even if you do nothing, not making choices is a choice all the same. Don’t be defined by what you didn’t know or didn’t do.”
“The Four-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss
This book destroyed the career advice I previously learned and altered my life goals and ambitions.
To me, it isn’t solely about “how to work only four hours a week” (he actually picked the title for marketing purposes); it’s about how to work the way you want, where you want, and for how many hours you want. It’s about deliberately building a lifestyle where you spend more time doing what you love and less time doing things you loathe.
It also helps you avoid delaying your life until retirement — and missing the best years of your life — and instead, making the most of life now.
“To enjoy life, you don’t need fancy nonsense, but you do need to control your time and realize that most things just aren’t as serious as you make them out to be.
“Letters from a Stoic” by Seneca
Every time I read this book, it feels like I’m being lovingly hugged and kicked in the groin at the same time. His lessons, while valuable and supportive, bluntly demolish any egotistical delusions I might have about life.
He teaches the importance of letting go of attachments to possessions, status, and even life itself — and by doing so, you can achieve a freedom and peace of mind like nothing else. Interestingly enough, these principles aren’t only found in Stoicism, but also in many different philosophies and religions.
“Until we have begun to go without them, we fail to realize how unnecessary many things are. We’ve been using them not because we needed them but because we had them.”
“Willpower Doesn’t Work” by Benjamin Hardy
Thanks to this book, two years ago, I sold everything in the US and moved to Europe to travel the continent.
Previously, I believed self-improvement was all about willpower. If I was struggling, I needed to work harder; if I was failing, it was all my fault.
But the truth is our environments dictate our present and our future. Relying on willpower, however, is exhausting and ineffective—to grow, we need to change our environments first, whether that’s our social circle, workspace, or (in my case) city.
Once you do, you’ll adapt, grow, and become a different person as a result.
“One fact is certain: You are evolving right this very minute. Change is inevitable. Conversely, growth is optional and is rarely the case. If you don’t pay attention to your environment, you will unwittingly become something you may not have wanted.”
“Inner Game of Tennis” by W. Timothy Gallwey
This book flipped every single thing I knew about competition, sport psychology, inner motivations, and high-level performance. Thankfully, you don’t need to play tennis to understand it. (Hell, I first heard about the book while watching a baseball game on TV.)
It’s a brilliant blend of Zen principles and the art of elite performance. And while the book uses tennis as the medium, the Inner Game can apply to everything from golf, dance, learning a language, dating, and life itself.
There is always an “outer game” and an “inner game.” But once we shift from the outer game — trying to gain achievements and validation — to the inner game — what we can do within ourselves at every moment — we can finally unlock our full potential.
“The message of the Inner Game is simple: focus. Focus of attention in the present moment, the only one you can really live in, is at the heart of this book and at the heart of the art of doing anything well.”
“Secrets of the Millionaire Mind” by T. Harv Eker
While many money-related books teach you how to invest, save, earn more, find good deals, etc., T. Harv Eker focuses on the real obstacle to wealth and success: Our mind.
All of us have our own “thermostat setting” on how much wealth we deserve and are comfortable with. Once we surpass it, however, our thermostat brings our wealth back down. Ultimately, our inner blueprints created by our beliefs (false or not), experiences, and society are what actually shape our reality — and the only way to change what’s on the outside is to change what’s on the inside.
After you finish this book, I encourage you to read it again but, this time, replace the word “money” with things like success, relationships, fitness, etc., and you’ll see how deep this rabbit hole goes.
“If you want to change the fruits, you will first have to change the roots. If you want to change the visible, you must first change the invisible.”
CONTRIBUTED BY Anthony J. Yeung