post by: Michelle Kuiv


“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” – Mortimer J. Adler


“Self-Help” books can often be seen as gimicky or unhelpful but the idea of “personal growth” has become more popularized and has allowed the success of hundreds of books, many with amazing insights into different ways to think, live and grow. These books range from subjects like behavior modification, money management, and leadership. The following is a list of books I have read recently that take an unorthodox approach to their subjects challenging commonly accepted beliefs. These authors dare to question the norm and create works of art that make others do the same. I highly recommend all of the following books and have tried to include some interesting factoids or exercises from each. 


The Compound Effect – Darren Hardy

“Talk about things that matter to people who care.”


Hardy starts at the foundation by asking the reader to identify their core values and then challenges them to be diligent in making decisions that align with these values. Every decision you make accumulates into a result and every situation you find yourself in is a result of these decisions.

Some of the common themes of this book include:

  1. Examining the idea behind compound interest with “The Magic Penny.” 
  2. Taking 100% responsibility for every situation in your life and what you can control in each situation.
  3. Creating small choices that may seem insignificant in the short term but accumulate to benefit you long term.
  4. Exploring the Law of Attraction which allows your focus to shift to the things that matter in life, make you notice them and take advantage of opportunities.
  5. Having a “Garbage in Garbage Out” mentality that allows you to choose your activities carefully and consciously to make sure you are only consuming things that will add to your life.


See the following video for a brief summary:


The Confidence Gap: A Guide to Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt – Russ Harris

“Genuine confidence is not the absence of fear; it is a transformed relationship with fear.”


As human beings we think negatively and are often told to stop thinking negatively and try to only think positively. There are subjects and situations we avoid, truths untold, and negative thoughts repressed all to create an illusion as a society that we are all happy and healthy. Harris illustrates the idea that negative thoughts will happen and you are not going to get rid of them. So rather than pretending everything is okay and trying to turn all your thinking around instead examine the nature of the thought and what role it plays. Ask yourself not whether or not the thought is true or false but consider “If I let this thought dictate my actions, will it help me to lead the life that I want?”


An exercise I really enjoyed was a list of Diffusion Techniques to allow you to unhook from your thoughts (some adapted from Steven Hayes’ “ACT: Acceptance Commitment Therapy, An Experimental Approach to Behavioral Change.”) Next time you find yourself going down the rabbit hole create distance with that thought by trying the following:

  1. Add the phrase “I notice I’m having the thought that” [insert negative self judgement.]
  2. Try singing your thought to the tune of “Happy Birthday” or another harmony (this one made me giggle.)
  3. Say the negative thought in a silly voice or accent.
  4. Visualize the phrase on a computer screen and play with formatting: font, color, & size.

Use these tools to reconsider the nature and benefit of that thought and create an internal dialogue to decide if this thought is helpful or if it just needs to acknowledged and move on.


The Go Giver – Bob Burg & John D. Mann

“Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.” 


Many businesses are built on the idea of continually making profit and shifting out of the Red Zone. At times this can shift the original focus or intent of a business and decreases the value of the product provided to its customers. Rather than thinking about always trying to get something out of a relationship start trying to think about what you can give and put into a relationship.. All these concepts can be applied to both business and personal relationships and you may be surprised to see the shift in these relationships once your focus is put in the right place. 


The following are guidelines that are expanded on in the book.

The Five Laws of Stratospheric Success:

  1. Value – creating a product, service or relationship that is valuable enough that others need or want your service
  2. Compensation – how many people you serve and how well you serve them
  3. Influence – placing others’ interests first
  4. Authenticity – the most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself
  5. Receptivity – the key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving


See the following video for a brief summary:


How Not to Die; Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease – Michael Greger M.D.

“Your body has a remarkable ability to recover from sporadic insults as long as you’re not habitually poking it with a fork.” 


This book dives into almost any disease that could even remotely be affected by diet and exactly what to do about it. It examines the concept that we all have mutated cells inside us that could cause cancer but diet can play a major role in whether or not those cells are able to manifest. It challenges the idea behind genetics playing a large role in disease by stating “The primary reason diseases tend to run in families may be that diets tend to run in families.” There can be a predisposition or “opportunity” for you to have a disease but diet can play a bigger role in the prevention of you getting that disease. Greger also wrote in a neutral fashion, not advocating for “pro” or “anti” any specific diet but rather encourages the consumption of a high quantity of plant based foods to get as many antioxidants and phytonutrients as possible. Fun fact: “In a comparison of the Antioxidant Content of 3,139 Foods, ounce for ounce dried herbs and spices average the greatest antioxidant punch of all!”   


Dr. Greger does a wonderful job of providing resources for nutrition education including his website and YouTube Channel and a phone application called “Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen” which provides an easy way to track the positive foods in your diet. If you follow the checklist there is often not room for any negative foods. This app is a great tool for examining your diet and determining whether or not everything you are eating has a positive benefit to your body. It will make you think twice!


The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life – Mark Manson

“Suffering is biologically useful, it is nature’s preferred agent for inspiring change.”


As you can tell this book is a bit more blunt than most. If you are sensitive to language be aware that this book does not beat around the bush but still give it a try. Every word chosen for this book is used well to emphasize the concepts and ideas behind the subject. The first chapter of this book will make you feel so silly that you every tried to think the way that you did, all that worrying and anxiety and for what? Manson illustrates the following and many more concepts:

  1. Suffering is conducive to happiness – what is the purpose of this suffering?
  2. What to care about – discovering values and the characteristics of good values.
  3. Question your beliefs – “for any change to happen in your life you must be [open to admit you’re] wrong about something.
  4. The Law of Avoidance – if it threatens your “identity” you avoid it.
  5. Freedom in commitment – rejecting alternatives or distraction helps create focus