Reading books

9 Powerful Short Books to Change Your Mindset and Improve Your Life

I have always admired authors. In fact, I have always admired people who could write really well. There is of course business/academic writing, which a lot of people have to do, but I really am referring to the type of writing that is creative and inspirational – the writing that moves me to change things about myself.

Sometimes this comes from fiction, but most often it comes from non-fiction works that I read about or that friends recommend. My criteria for books of this type is that they must be short (I need to absorb the entire piece as a whole), and that they must speak to something I want to address in my own life.

Given that, some stand out for me, and, because they are short, they can be re-read quickly when reminders are required. The 9 books described here are my favorites because they are both inspiring and practical. You may find one or two that pique your interest too.

9 Powerful Short Books to Change Your Mindset and Improve Your Life

power of habit books to change your mindset

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg – Buy at

The rest of this title reads, “Why we do what we do in life and business.” According to Duhigg, 40% of what we do every day is the result of habits we have formed. And, he says, we do not really understand the neurological nature of how habits are formed and broken. This is why they are so hard to break.

Duhigg teamed up with neurological researchers to conduct a study of people who had successfully broken several really bad habits and to figure out what brain activity was different as a result. What they found was pretty fascinating, but what is more important is the practical advice that has come out of this study.

If you have several bad habits (overeating, smoking, being late all of the time, etc.), you can actually change them all if you just set about breaking one of them. He then translates that to businesses and society in general, and it does get even more interesting! If you want to change bad habits, this is a good read. Here is one review from Amazon.


Powerful short books to change your mindset about the happiness project by gretchen rubin

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin – Buy at amazon

This read is all about finding balance in life, and that is the author’s prescription for happiness. To achieve this, she spent one year, researching and studying the various aspects that she felt constituted happiness and believes she has found her balance.

To conduct her study, she divided happiness into 12 sub-categories and focused on one a month. What she discovered and the insights she gives are pretty great. Plus, Rubin is just a great storyteller to boot!

Search inside yourself powerful short book  by Chade meng tan

Search Inside Yourself  by Chade-Meng Tan – Buy at Amazon

Tan is such an interesting person because he began his adult career as a software engineer for Google. He is still there today, but in a totally different role. Now he is a personal growth coach for the company’s employees, focusing specifically on “mindfulness,” which he sort of defines as going within and learning how to “program” your thoughts and emotions.

A lot of the book deals with developing “emotional intelligence,” which he divides into 5 key elements. Once someone has mastered this intelligence, he says, s/he will be productive, healthy, and at peace. His methodologies are clearly outlined and can be used by anyone.

Don't sweat the small stuff by Richard Carlson an amazing books to change your mindset

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff  by Richard Carlson – Buy at Amazon

This has been a popular book for many years, and it really is a great reminder that we must stop letting all of the little challenges and frustrations of life get to us.

The book is full of really practical basic steps we can all take to discard the focus on the things that really will not matter in the long run, freeing us up to focus on the big things that really do matter. Living for right now is a big theme throughout the book, as is being content with imperfection and letting your intuition guide you more.

The takeaway for me? If it will not matter 5 years from now, let it go!

Roben Holden book Loveability

Loveability: Knowing How to Love and Be Loved, by Richard Holden, Ph.D.

While this book gives very practical advice on loving and being loved, it also delves into the broader definitions of love that we often fail to remember. To Holden, love is the universal “glue” that holds the human race together, despite the wars, the conflicts, and the small “wars” that we experience in our daily lives.

His advice is geared to incorporating love into all of our relationships, even with those we currently do not like very much. To him, the absence of love is fear, not hatred, because we only truly “hate” out of fear.  Love at all levels is explored – romantic, familial, friendship, societal, and human.

This is a book you need to keep close by and refer to whenever you are experiencing feelings of anger, hatred, and engaging in conflict with others.

The 52 weeks powerful short books to change your mindset about the journey of two women

The 52 Weeks: Two Women and Their Quest to Get Unstuck by Karen Young and Pam Godwin – Buy at amazon

What a great read! While it may seem to be “chick non-fiction,” there are some really powerful insights for both genders. Young and Godwin decided over drinks one night that they had accomplished lots of stuff but that they were really just stuck in a rut. So, they set about to have one new adventure per week for a year – thus, the title.

Each new activity was a very small goal (e.g., test-driving a Maserati), but each goal reached brought an understanding that life is about continuing to learn, experience, and grow until it is over. Some of the book includes advice from experts in the fields of psychology and life coaching, and their advice is sound and practical. You will laugh out loud many times!

Prison we choose to live in compelling short book

Prisons We Choose to Live Inside by Doris Lessing – Buy at amazon

This is the oldest book on the list (published in the 80’s), and it is really not a book. It is a series of essays, based on the lectures that Lessing gave, regarding how we are influenced and indoctrinated by certain societal groupings of which we are a part – church, political affiliations, government – and taught to define who is good and who is bad.

Because of the beliefs we subsequently hold, we insist that we are right, and this assuredness justifies treating others badly, as the enemy, or justifies our trying to “fix” them somehow. Who should read this book? All of us! We all need to reflect on how we treat others and on who we define as “bad” or “good.”

The myth of more - impressive short book

The Myth of More by Joseph Novello – Buy at amazon

The main thesis of the work is that people have learned to equate happiness with pleasure. Thus we are happy when we get a new car, or buy a home. And this, says Novello, is why we are never happy. There is always more pleasure to seek, even for the millionaire who can have any physical thing he wants.

Novello speaks to “life traps” which we accept as children but which we never discard as we grow into adulthood, and these traps make us dysfunctional as human beings. His cure? Take his practical steps to accept who you are right now, in this moment. With this acceptance comes happiness.

While you may think this book is “dry” it is not. There are great stories, humor and poignancy throughout that will really hold your interest. Good food for the soul here.

The Dna of Success one of the most powerful short books to change your mindset

The DNA of Success by Jack Zufelt – Buy at amazon

This entire book is a great translation of the phrase, “success is an inside job” as it relates to both your professional and personal lives. Zufelt is far more practical than some of these other authors.

He is all for identifying exactly what you want and then attaining those goals through a step-by-step process that is practical but that requires commitment and steadfastness. If you are committed and willing to do what it takes, he states, you will get what you want. The book is filled with actual success stories and testimonials to the process, and this makes it an interesting as well as pretty practical read.

Self-help books comprise the largest section of any bookstore you visit. They are so popular because, as a people, we are continually searching for that which we believe to be missing in our lives or for those insights that will make us better human beings in any number of ways. This list crosses all aspects of human longing, I believe, and will have something for everyone.

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