11 Of The Greatest Self-Help Books Ever Published

We all need a little help now and then.  These are, in our opinion, the best books to have around when you need a little advice or uplift.

11. Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life By Martin Seligman

From the ‘father of positive psychology,’ Seligman harnesses over twenty years of clinical research to demonstrate how optimism enhances our quality of life, and how to learn to practice it.

He covers aspects of life such as money, love, sports, health, and parenting. The author also devotes a large segment on how to free children from pessimistic thinking.

This best-seller originally published in 1990 delivers positive-thought strategies that could turn even the most strident pessimist into an optimist.

10. To Have or To Be? By Erich Fromm

Two modes exist in the struggle for the spirit of humankind: the having mode, which concentrates on power, aggression, and possession, the foundation of the evils of violence, envy and greed; and the being mode, which is based on love, the pleasure of sharing, and in productive activity. 

Fromm, a social psychologist, critiques American culture from the perspective of the 70’s when it was written. The main idea is that America had become a culture obsessed with “having.” Not much has changed.  We still tend to think that we can buy happiness, and that our possessions will somehow fulfill us.

Fromm traces the origin of the shift from “being” to “having” to the Industrial Revolution, when mass production made once-unattainable goods available to common people.

Finally most people had enough disposable income to buy things that they didn’t necessarily need, and attain status through their possessions.  He outlines how his readers can revert to a life devoted to ‘being,’ and enjoy the pleasures that life inherently offers.

9. When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times By Pema Chödrön

The beautiful practicality of her teaching has made Pema Chödrön one of the most beloved of contemporary American spiritual authors among Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.

This book is a compilation of seven years’ worth of lectures given by the author, a student of Chogyam Trunpa Rinpoche. The conversations work their way through a variety of troubling topics, and how they are solved by Buddhism.

For example, topics include: the use of pain in finding inner strength, dealing with stress, replacing bad habits with healthy ones, and allowing one’s self and others to feel comfortable experiencing emotions.

8. Psycho-Cybernetics, A New Way to Get More Living Out of Life By Maxwell Maltz

This 60’s best seller of over a million copies is the original text that defined the mind/body connection. That singular concept inspired a host of future self-help authors and paved the way for many of today’s personal empowerment programs.

The book shows you how to turn negative habits such as failure into positive ones like success.

Underlying Maltz’s work was why setting goals is so effective in helping people achieve success.

He founded techniques such as creative visualization, which has helped countless athletes achieve and maintain their best levels of performance. Maltz shares these same techniques with his readers to help them turn their dreams into achievable goals.

7. When Bad Things Happen to Good People By Harold S. Kushner

This popular book has brought solace and hope to millions of readers and Rabbi Kushner has become a nationally known spiritual leader.

Originally written as a ‘Why, God?’ moment following the untimely death of his 11 year-old son, the piece turned into a straightforward, elegant meditation on the fear and doubt that arises when tragedy strikes

. Kushner shares his wisdom as a rabbi, a parent, and a human being.

“When Bad Things Happen” answers that question:

“If God is loving, why is there suffering?” with “Suffering is part of the natural flow of life, and God is there to ease our trouble.”  In this way, the author developed a solid foundation that we can build in order to handle grief.

6. Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life By Thomas Moore

This New York Times bestseller takes the reader on a trip through the fascinating world of Myth and Archetypal Psychology.

Internationally renowned theologian and former Catholic monk Thomas Moore marries research from psychology with spiritual truths to provide a guide designed to nurture the soul.

The book is a philosophy of life involving the acceptance of our humanity rather than striving to transcend it.

By nurturing the soul in everyday life, Moore shows how to cultivate dignity, peace, and depth of character. For example, in addressing the importance of daily rituals he writes, “Ritual maintains the world’s holiness. As in a dream a small object may assume significance, so in a life that is animated by ritual there are no insignificant things.”

Care for the Soul has sold so many copies because it shows readers how to apply the spiritual philosophies of the East to the fast-paced culture of the West.

Moore highlights how the archetypes that pop up in ancient myths are mirrors of the human psyche, and that we all can embody any of those characteristics with proper nourishment of the soul.

5. The Science of Getting Rich By Wallace Wattles


The publication of this book over 100 years ago helped to define the genre.  What is groundbreaking is the Hindu philosophy of Oneness which is found tied to concepts throughout the work.

Wattles’ classic has inspired hugely popular and successful books such as The Secret and Think and Grow Rich.

The main theory is that wealth does not stem from selfish competition, but rather through cooperative innovation and willpower.

For those who want timeless advice, this is THE book.


4. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy By David D. Burns

This work was published in 1980, and is one of the most recommended books for those suffering from depression.

It outlines a procedure known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, in which a trained psychotherapist aids the depression sufferer in consciously rebuilding their harmful behaviors and thoughts.  This way, the person can understand their destructive patterns.

Formerly housed only in the world of academia, now this theory is accessible to the everyday person.  Research has proven that people with depression who read this book alongside regular visits with counselors see positive and continual changes in their outlook.

Burn’s theories have revolutionized the field of Psychology, which has solidified its place among other books on this list.

3. The Power of Your Subconscious By Joseph Murphy

Dr. Murphy claims to have seen miracles in many types of different people in radically different places all over the world, citing spontaneous cures for blindness and even lung cancer using only the subconscious mind.

He uses scientific research to support these claims regarding the power of the subconscious. This scientific basis makes the book a great choice for those who are skeptical. It’s understandable why this book has sold over a million copies.

Murphy’s book on the subconscious shows just how much of our choices are made on autopilot.

He teaches his readers how the subconscious is the key to many aspects of life, including the healing of disease in the physical body, finding friends among strangers, freeing yourself of nonsensical fears, making relationships stronger, and career advancement through the use of confidence.



2. The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be By Jack Canfield and Janet Switzer

Canfield is a co-creator for the wildly popular Chicken Soup for the Soul series of products and brings tips, tricks, and skills he has developed over 30 years as a best-selling author and motivational speaker to this publication.

The feel-good nature of the series is carried over into this book.

This book helps you get from your current situation i life to where you want to be. It teaches you how to  tackle daily challenges, live with purpose, heighten your confidence and realize your ambitions.

Filled with memorable and inspiring stories of both successful famous, and normal everyday people, it notes 64 timeless principles used by successful men and women throughout history that can be adapted for your own life.

Use this book to do all you can and want to do with your life!


1. A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principle of “A Course in Miracles” By Marianne Williamson

A seller of over 3 million copies and one of the first books to join Oprah’s book club, this work has been credited with bringing spiritual well-being to the masses.

The author’s primary point is to unlock one’s potential by loving life like a child does. The book has been an essential tool in helping many to embark upon a spiritual path to happiness for over 20 years.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure”

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