Want to transform your life, or just a part of it? Looking for a book to guide you towards empowerment or self actualization? Here are my top ten titles on the topic of which I am most passionate.
The self-development field has grown exponentially. Doesn’t that logically follow that humans should as well?
My belief is that we are inherently more powerful and capable than we choose to execute daily. Through direct intention, learning, and some effort, we can call forward the abilities deep within us.
The Foundation of Self-Actualization
Abraham Maslow is credited as the author of the theory of self-actualization. To vastly simplify the concept, in order to fully develop into our full potential as humans within our lifetime, we access various levels of needs in life.
The hierarchy of needs begins with the physiological criteria of life (i.e., food, water, shelter, etc.), continues with safety (i.e., security, stability, freedom from fear), and progresses to a sense of belonging and relationship (i.e., love with friends, family, spouse, lover). After we meet those needs, we can fully embrace self-esteem without looking to others to fill unmet needs (e.g., achievement, mastery, recognition, and respect). Self-actualization is realized in the hierarchy when one’s innate talents fulfill meaning and purpose.
- Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization by Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D.
In Transcend, Dr. Kaufman takes a thorough analysis into Abraham Maslow’s theory of self-actualization and goes beyond it. Finding additional work by Maslow, the author reviews and clarifies the original work, adding new research. If Maslow’s theory left questions or confusion, this book may answer it. And as a standalone volume on the topic of self-actualization, Kaufmann’s work is brilliant. He is the author of several other excellent titles.
At the foundation of Maslow’s theory is a need to establish a strong sense of safety in oneself. Of the many books Deepak Chopra has written, I challenged myself to choose one, since the majority of his subjects pertain to self-actualization and transformation.
In Meta Human, Deepak addresses how we can access our higher consciousness to become our highest potential. He does so by outlining a practical 31 day guide. It is both a simple guide and a sophisticated one.
3. Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen M.R. Covey
This book is a classic. Written in 2008, this content still holds truer than any recycled verbiage. More than a business book, trust is the one thing that changes everything in relationships. Trust is transformational. Without it, self-actualization isn’t possible.
Once we are secure within ourselves, we can forge secure and mature relationships with others.
4. Soul Friends: The Transforming Power of Deep Human Connection by Stephen Cope
Self-actualization is sometimes criticized as self-absorbed. Yet, when understood in its full manifestation of the hierarchy of development, each level of growth unfolds to the next. And self-development leads to enriching relationships. Stephen Cope is a psychotherapist and author of several wonderful books. Soul Friends explores how relationships have the power to transform us.
5. The Values-Driven Organization: Unleashing Human Potential for Performance and Profit by Richard Barrett
There is no question the world has changed in the last several years. And I have no doubt it will continue to do so. I also believe human values will guide us through changes, and our behaviors will be the strongest contribution to any outcome.
Organizational change occurs through personal transformation. This book discusses how we achieve personal change to affect organizational transformation.
This book is timeless in how it applies Maslow’s theory to organizations. Richard Barrett established the Barrett Values Centre, pairing values and behavior to aid in organizational understanding and coherence. For additional reading and study on organizational transformation, the Barrett website may be of further interest.
In Create a World That Works, Alan outlines the practical tools on how to put all the tools of living a self-actualized life together, while explaining esoteric concepts that sometimes accompany them. This is a wonderful book to read in its entirety. And then return to again and again.
7. Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness by Rick Hanson, Ph.D. with Forrest Hanson
Like many of the authors on this list, Dr. Hanson has written many excellent books. Resilient is on this list because of the topic choice.
Life throws us curve balls. Books and advice so often leave us without guideposts for difficult times. We hear more about the daily joy, rather than how to cope with the crises.
As a long practicing psychologist with a background in Eastern meditation and study, Dr. Rick Hanson and his son outline the tools on how to build an internal framework to sustain you when those curve balls of life hit, so you can continue to grow towards self-actualization and full potential.
8. Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results by Judith E. Glaser
I had the great fortune to study with Judith Glaser in her last class and become certified within the Conversational Intelligence coaching program. Combining neuroscience with high levels of emotional intelligence and skill, she outlines a compassionate and practical method for EVERYONE to connect.
The book design may look a bit more like a business book, but its content will appeal to anyone interested in using empathy, connection, and human integrity in deep connection.
9. Creativity on Demand: How to Ignite and Sustain the Fire of Genius by Michael J. Gelb
Creativity is an elusive trait in the hierarchy of self-actualization. Perhaps it belongs as a sub-category of meaning and purpose, or perhaps in communication? This book doesn’t extoll the virtues of creativity. Rather, it begins by accepting the inherent importance and emphasizes how to incorporate it into daily life.
The author outlines very practical steps and exercises for maintaining one’s creative fire. My favorite aspect of the book, though, is his discussion of the five stages of creativity.
Rather than consider creativity consistently be the “production” of something, I understood the various stages more after reading this book. It changed how I approach my creative process, and that of my clients’, as well.
10. Choosing Happiness: Keys to a Joyful Life by Alexandra Stoddard
There are various books like this one, but this volume is my favorite. The author has been writing about authenticity and joy for over 40 years. So while sometimes the dustcovers on the books may seem a bit dated, the writing is heartfelt. That speaks to me. What book do you have that reminds you to choose happiness?
The Joy of Searching
As you’ve discovered in the list above, many of these authors have other books that may be of interest. Additionally, authors’ book notes within offer more to explore.
Happy searching, and may the chase lead you to fulfillment!
Looking for books on intuitive living? You may enjoy my article here.
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