Orius Medical

Top 5 Self Help Books

Self-help is one of the most popular genres worldwide, with an estimated 18.6 million self-help books sold in 2019 according to NPD. This number continues to grow as an increasing number of people search for knowledge and advice to help them cope better with the stresses of modern life.

The self-help genre has grown to cover all areas of life, from productivity to improving your mental health to personal finance.

We have selected a range of titles that will teach you how to create and maintain strong habits, improve your output and build a healthy and resilient mindset.

1. Atomic Habits: James Clear

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems”

Habits are the very cornerstones of our lives, and over time many of the outcomes we experience in life, both good and bad, are a direct result of our habitual actions.

Atomic Habits is the go-to guide to habit formation that will teach you how to put in place systems that will help you make your desired behaviours habitual, leading to better outcomes down the road.

James Clear has a succinct and straightforward style of writing that makes the book easy to engage with and the tips and strategies he provides are highly practical.

Some of the key takeaways from the book include:

1. Make it easy to start the habit you are trying to build by setting very small goals. For instance, reading one page or writing one email.

2. Find ways to make your good habits enjoyable, by mixing them with things you enjoy or doing them with friends for example

3. Make your desired habits part of your identity- our self-image can often lead to self-fulfilling prophecies, so by intentionally changing your self- image, for instance by identifying yourself as a runner or someone who is always punctual, you are likely to act in accordance with this persona.

2. The Happiness Trap: Russ Harris

Many people fall into what Russ Harris defines as the happiness trap; feeling that you ought to be happy, and consequently feeling inadequate or defective whenever the pressures of life get you down, making your sense of suffering far worse than it has to be.

In The Happiness Trap, Harris, a professional Acceptance Commitment Therapy trainer, explains how our pursuit of happiness and our attempts to eliminate negative thoughts and feelings can be counterproductive. Instead, he argues, it is better to mindfully accept our circumstances, both internal and external, and enjoy the good moments without actively chasing them.

Furthermore, instead of focusing on our emotional states, which are largely
outside of our control, he suggests building a clear set of values and doing our best to live by them every day. This frees us from the pressure of trying to feel a certain way, and in the long run, will lead to a deeper and more fulfilling life.

3. Eat That Frog: Brian Tracy

Eat That Frog is a quick and easy guide to improving your productivity. This book is ideal for anyone who finds that they struggle to stay organised or feels that they need help becoming more efficient and effective.

Focusing on practice rather than theory, Brian Tracy has organised his material into 21 key steps, with useful hacks for each.

Some of the steps we found most useful are:

1. Apply the 80/20 rule to everything in your life. This means discovering which 20% of tasks contribute most to your goals and making them your top priority

2. Schedule “blocks” of time into your day, and during these blocks of time focus exclusively on the task you have assigned yourself, without distraction

3. Take it one step at a time — isolate a specific task that you have been putting off for some time. Carefully list the exact steps involved, then follow it through from start to finish

4. Thinking Fast And Slow: Daniel Kahneman

In this book, Kahneman, the only psychologist ever to win a Nobel prize, describes the various cognitive biases that can influence our judgement and decision- making processes.

The central thesis is that our brains have two basic modes; system 1 and system 2. System one is automatic and instinctive, while system two is slower and more cerebral, involving thought and logic. Both systems have a vital role to play in helping us make appropriate decisions but both also come with trade-offs. In particular, Kahneman shows how system 1 can be extremely vulnerable to various biases which can lead to poor decision making.

Essentially, we humans tend to hugely overestimate our own capabilities when it comes to effective decision making, with unconscious biases and stereotypes clouding our vision. Data-driven algorithms typically perform much better and more consistently than humans in many complex decision-making processes.

While this book does not provide direct solutions to the problems outlined, it is helpful to have an understanding of our psychological limitations and to be aware of the times when you are liable to make poor choices due to flawed reasoning.

5. Man’s Search For Meaning: Victor Frankl

One of, if not the biggest name in late 20th-century psychiatry, Victor Frankl developed a unique form of therapy, called Logotherapy, as a result of his personal experience of living through the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp.

The first section of the book recounts Frankl’s experience in the camps, where people suffered torment of the most savage kind.

During this time, Frankl, a practising psychiatrist, saw many people crack under the torment they were subjected to. But perhaps more surprisingly, he also observed that there was a contingent that were able to detach from the suffering, and had a much greater capacity to endure.

What these people had in common, Frankl observed, was that they had a strong sense of purpose which gave them the strength to keep fighting no matter the circumstance. For Frankl himself, this sense of purpose was found in his desire to reconnect with his partner.

In the second section, Frankl explains how these observations led to his developing Logotherapy, a form of therapy that helps ordinary people cope with their problems by finding meaning and purpose in their life.

While a harrowing read, the book provides great insight and demonstrates that we are capable of enduring great challenges if we have a sense of hope and purpose to lean on.