Gain Perspective and Improve Your Life with 8 Powerful Books

Gain Perspective and Improve Your Life with 8 Powerful Books

An avid reader since childhood, books have always allowed me to escape to another time, place, and perspective. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for books that support me on my journey inward. These 8 books are some of my favorites; the kind of books with so many nuggets of wisdom that you simply stop highlighting. Each one has provided significant insight and understanding into the person I am continually becoming. I hope some of them do the same for you!

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

Don Miguel Ruiz is a Mexican spiritual teacher and author who writes about life and spirituality from his perspective as a nagual, or master, in the Toltec tradition. Toltec wisdom is born out of a long lineage of artists and scientists working to preserve the spiritual knowledge and practices of their ancestors. In this book, don Miguel Ruiz expands on four principles, which he calls the Four Agreements, we can apply to our lives in order to find personal freedom. The introduction alone is packed with many powerful lessons in perspective.

How This Book Has Impacted My Life

I’ve recommended this book to more people than any other. The messages shared here are so simple, and yet so profoundly life-changing when applied to our lives. The suggestions offered through the second agreement (Don’t Take Anything Personally) have had the most significant impact on me. I’ve become much more aware of how often I victimize myself in any given situation, and this text was the beginning of that journey. According to Toltec wisdom, we are not actually hurt by the things others say and do. Rather, we feel hurt because what they’ve said or done touches upon insecurity or fear we already have. Other people do not have the power to hurt us. We create our own suffering in the ways we receive and respond to others.

Powerful Perspectives to Reflect on

“It is very interesting how the human mind works. We have the need to justify everything, to explain and understand everything, in order to feel safe. We have millions of questions that need answers because there are so many things that the reasoning mind cannot explain. It is not important if the answer is correct; just the answer itself makes us feel safe. This is why we make assumptions…We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions…We have agreed that it is not safe to ask questions; we have agreed that if people love us, they should know what we want or how we feel. When we believe something, we assume we are right about it to the point that we will destroy relationships in order to defend our position.”

“Humans are storytellers. It is our nature to make up stories, to interpret everything we perceive. Without awareness, we give our personal power to the story and the story writes itself. With awareness, we recover the control of our story. We see we are the authors and if we don't like our story, we change it.”

You may also be interested in The Mastery of Love and The Fifth Agreement by don Miguel Ruiz

a return to love

Based on A Course in Miracles, Marianne Williamson highlights some of the most important lessons from the larger text and presents them in much more accessible ways. While this work is primarily based on biblical principles, much of its insight is applicable far beyond the context of any single doctrine. A central message in this book is that we’ve allowed fear to define us and lead us away from who we truly are, the embodiment of love (also known to many as God). The insights shared aim to bring us back everyday miracles available through a life centered on love.

How This Book Has Impacted My Life

I read this book shortly after jumping headfirst into an unwise relationship (yet again). The chapter on Relationships was a huge eye-opener for me. I began to deeply reflect on my patterns in relationships and came to life-changing (honestly!) realizations about myself. I was drawn to people who treated me poorly because I believed I wasn’t actually worthy of love. These painful “relationships” served to reaffirm my inner belief/lie. Once I recognized this pattern, I was also able to stop it. I’ve previously shared some of these realizations about relationships and self-worth here.

Powerful Perspectives to Reflect on

“Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we learn. The spiritual journey is the relinquishment— or unlearning—of fear and prejudices and the acceptance of love back in our hearts.”

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us...Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you...And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

“We are not held back by the love we didn’t receive in the past, but by the love we’re not extending in the present.”

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

A central message in this book is that our fear of vulnerability and showing the world we who truly are ensures that we remain outsiders in our own lives. Being seen is scary and uncomfortable, but not in comparison to what happens when we fail to live as our whole, authentic selves. While vulnerability feels risky, it also opens us up to a life of more joy, belonging, and personal freedom.

How This Book Has Impacted My Life

I can’t deny that I love Brené Brown’s work. A huge advocate for the power of vulnerability myself, her research and findings always resonate with me on a deeply personal level. As a very private person who rarely shares personal information with people unless I feel very safe, opening myself up to be more vulnerable and honest has most often been a terrifying process for me. Yet I find it so valuable. Not only because it truly is liberating and empowering to show up as my whole self, but it also invites others to do the same. I highly recommend reading this book if you’re tired of hiding behind your own shadow. It’s time to be known, seen, and loved—just as you are.

Powerful Perspectives to Reflect on

“Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness. To foreclose on our emotional life out of a fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to living.”

“Only when we’re brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light”

“The power of owning our stories, even the difficult ones, is that we get to write the ending.”

You may also be interested in The Gifts of Imperfection and Dare to Lead by Brené Brown

The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself

Using the foundations of mindfulness, Michael Singer reveals how we can develop our consciousness to release harmful habits and painful memories in order to live more wholly in the present. This book will help you become more aware of your unconscious habits and limiting thoughts and will provide examples and tools to empower you to transform your patterns, freeing both you and those around you to live a happier, simpler life.

How This Book Has Impacted My Life

I love all the insights I’ve gained from this book. It’s packed with valuable lessons, and I learn something new about myself each time I read it. One section I really like focuses on how we perceive things around us based on what we’ve internalized through our personal experiences. The examples shared shed light on why certain things are important to us, and why those around us may not perceive those things with the same degree of importance. Singer presents simple examples in uniquely perceptive ways. This text really allowed me to step outside of myself and consider everything around me from a much more objective perspective.

Powerful Perspectives to Reflect on

“External changes are not going to solve your problem because they don’t address the root of your problem. The root problem is that you don’t feel whole and complete within yourself.”

“If you’re not trying to make people fit into your preconceived notions of what you like and dislike, you will find that relationships are not really that difficult. If you’re not so busy judging and resisting people based upon what is blocked inside of you, you will that they are much easier to get along with—and so are you. Letting go of yourself is the simplest way to get closer to others.”

“When a problem is disturbing you, don't ask, "What should I do about it?" Ask, "What part of me is being disturbed by this?

“To spend your life avoiding pain means it’s always right behind you.”

You may also be interested in The Surrender Experiment by M. Singer

Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One

Dr. Joe Dispenza combines quantum physics, neuroscience, brain chemistry, biology, and genetics to demonstrate the true power of our minds and our ability to reprogram not only ourselves but also the world around us. Combining science and spirituality, this book provides insight into how our brain works and how it shapes our reality. It also offers tools to help you rewire your mind and forge a new reality.

How This Book Has Impacted My Life

My greatest takeaway from this book is Dr. Dispenza’s explanation of how our brains and bodies become trained to act in certain ways because of our thoughts. When we repeatedly tell ourselves we are unworthy and undeserving, our brain alters its neuron patterns to support that belief and keep us in a state of suffering. Repeating these thoughts trains our brain to believe we want or need the conditions of suffering caused by our attachment to it and literally reproduces an internal state reflective of this attachment. It becomes natural for us to exist in a state of suffering that we have essentially created all on our own.

Powerful Perspectives to Reflect on

“We could say that the environment is actually controlling your mind. Since the neuroscientific definition of mind is the brain in action, you repeatedly reproduce the same level of mind by “re-minding” yourself who you think you are in reference to the outer world. Your identity becomes defined by everything outside of you, because you identify with all of the elements that make up your external world. Thus, you’re observing your reality with a mind that is equal to it, so you collapse the infinite waves of probabilities of the quantum field into events that reflect the mind you use to experience your life. You create more of the same.”

“Your past shortfalls can be traced, at their root, to one major oversight: you haven’t committed yourself to living by the truth that your thoughts have consequences so great that they create your reality.”

I also recommend watching this documentary featuring Dr. Dispenza

astrology for the soul

In this book, astrologer Jan Spiller shares powerful insights based on one element in your birth chart, the North Node of the Moon, which reveals an intimate understanding of the specific lessons you came to learn in this lifetime, what you’re meant to share with the world while here, and how you can stand up against your self-defeating tendencies.  This text offers a chart for learning where your North Node is located as well as extensive information on each of the 12 placements, meaning you can gain valuable insight on your life as well as those you hold dear.

How This Book Has Impacted My Life

Wow, wow, wow! This book blew my mind. It basically summarized the things I have most deeply struggled with since birth, shed light on my patterns, and made clear the lessons that have repeatedly come up in my life. I can’t recommend this book enough, honestly. The section for my partner’s North Node was spot on as well. Not only does this help us understand one another better, but it also makes it so clear why we’ve been put into each other’s lives. I can’t wait to read the sections pertaining to my immediate family members, too! Amazing. A must-read. Period.

Powerful Perspectives to Reflect on

“Sun sign astrology, such as the horoscopes covered in daily newspapers and magazines' are predictions that take into account only the sign position of the Sun. Full natal astrology takes into account the sign positions of ten planets (the Sun and Moon are considered planets in this context, as the galaxy is seen from the point of view of its effect on the Earth), the axis that was active when the individual was born, and several other points: the Nodes, Eclipses, and so on. In fact, each of us is entirely unique; a birth chart isn't duplicated for 25,000 years because all the planets are traveling at different speeds around the Sun...the moment when you were born was stamped on the cellular level of your very being, and it remains a part of you.”

“I do not view your astrology chart as an accident. The moment of your birth, which is what your chart is based on, is perfect and very carefully chosen on the spiritual level of your own soul. Our soul chose its moment for manifestation, how it wanted things to be, only we forgot and lost the authority of our own energies. The curtain dropped, and we forgot that we chose it all. In this way the birth chart is a means of getting back in touch with the way we wanted it to be, our life or soul’s direction. The astrology chart defines precisely the path we need to follow in order to fulfill personal potential and gain the satisfaction of self-completion. It is, in terms of individual completeness, the map back home.”

man’s search for meaning

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl spent several years in the concentration camps during World War II, where he lost all of his immediate family members. Following his experiences in the camps, as well as the things he’d learned from his patients, Frankl came to the conclusion that suffering is inevitable, but we have a choice in how we respond it. In this moving testimonial to the meaning of life, Frankl suggests that our lives are a quest to discover and pursue what we find meaningful—by finding the meaning in all things, we’re able to find the courage to persevere through them.

How This Book Has Impacted My Life

This book is beautiful. As I read it many years ago, I re-read the reviews as a refresher, and the small snippets of quoted text alone brought me to tears. In the midst of one of the most horrific tragedies in our world’s history, Frankl finds compassion, empathy, and meaning in every aspect of his circumstances. Humbling and emotional, this book further inspired me to find purpose and meaning in all things, which makes any burdensome situation seem less so.

Powerful Perspectives to Reflect on

"We who lived in the concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that 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."

“Love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire.  Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.”

“No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same.”

"The meaning of your life is to help others find the meaning of theirs."

journey of souls: Case studies of life between lives

This text compiles the memories of 29 of Dr. Michael Newton’s patients who were able to recount their experiences between lives through hypnotherapy. These testimonials reveal the purpose of our human incarnations, what our souls are doing between lives, why and how we choose to incarnate as we, and so much more. Regardless of what you believe about the soul and what happens to us after we die (or in this case, before we’re born, as well), this book is fascinating and will give you a lot to reflect on, especially if you value the notion that everything happens for a reason.

How This Book Has Impacted My Life

This book came to me at the right time. I had begun walking away from concepts that didn’t make sense to me (“hell,” for example). Reading the experiences of people recalling life between lives resonated with me so deeply. This book played a large role in shaping what I now believe about the soul, our purpose in life, what happens when we die, and more. No matter what you believe, this is a fascinating read.

Powerful Perspectives to Reflect on

“Both positive and negative emotions are valued. If a soul only knew love and peace, it would gain no insight and never truly appreciate the value of these positive feelings. A soul grows by trying to overcome all negative emotions connected to fear through perseverance in many lifetimes, often returning to the spirit world bruised or hurt. Some of this negativity can be retained, even in the spirit world, and may reappear in another life with a new body. The test of reincarnation for a soul coming to Earth is the conquering of fear in a human body.”

“By surviving different challenges our soul identity is strengthened. The word strength should not be misunderstood. My subjects say the real lessons of life are learned by recognizing and coming to terms with being human. Even as victims, we are beneficiaries because it is how we stand up to failure and duress which really marks our progress in life. We don’t need to change who we are in relation to life’s experiences, only our negative reactions to these events.”

You may also be interested in Destiny of Souls by Dr. Michael Newton


You might have noticed a pattern or theme as you read through these recommendations. Though presented through entirely different frameworks, each of these books is essentially sharing one, common message: We are capable of (and responsible for!) creating our own reality. As the authors of our own stories, we can craft a narrative of victimhood in which life is happening to us, or we can take responsibility for our choices, responses, and behaviors in order to live with more gratitude, joy, forgiveness, and love.

Which kind of story will you choose to write?

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