5 Books That Changed My Life

autobiography of a yogi

Read enough personal development books and eventually, you’ll realize that most of them say the same thing in a different way. Everybody’s got their favorites.

I believe the potential impact a book can have on our lives largely depends on where we’re at on our journey and what we’ve read, discovered, or experienced leading up to the moment the book arrives in our hands.

These five books aren’t my “favorites” – there are other books I’ve enjoyed more in different ways. Hardly any of these are light, fun reads, and sometimes those are the most profound. 

Instead, I narrowed it down to five books that significantly changed the course of my life over the last nine years.

Here are my Top 5, presented in the order they came into my life…

#1 – Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins

Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins

What makes it unique:
Tony is an OG. Period. A master at helping you see that by changing your state, you can change your life. It’s packed with exercises to help you reflect on your current state and start creating the life you want. Consider it a super motivational life coach in a book.

Personal Impact:
I remember the couch I was sitting on when I “got it” in a way that I never had before: we can literally change our reality with our thoughts. This book helped me reflect on where I had been, dream about where I wanted to go and start aligning with what I valued. Years later, I had accomplished a number of the things I set intentions around in that book, including understanding what spirituality means to me and connecting with my calling in this life.

#2 – The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer

The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer

What makes it unique:
Michael Singer explains the process of spiritual awakening step by step, from 0 to 100. He has a special gift for simplifying the mystical and distilling various spiritual traditions into logical, practical insights. He doesn’t have you make a list of values and goals like Tony; he just shows you how all of that gets solved when you stop listening to the mind and decide to open up to every experience in the present moment. I highly recommend this Spotify/YouTube episode if you want to hear the core message distilled into an hour-long talk.

Personal Impact:
This is the first book my coach recommended to me and it was a complete game changer. So many of the things I had read about and dabbled in (mindset, Buddhism, yoga, chakra system, etc.) all of a sudden came into focus. The answer within all of it was very, very simple. It immediately amplified my desire for a consistent meditation practice, even though Singer doesn’t talk all that much about meditation in the book.

#3 – Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

What makes it unique:
This book details the firsthand account of a yogi growing up in India and becoming one of the greatest spiritual teachers in the last century. It’s funny, charming, witty, heart-opening, and mind-bending. Yogananda and his guru, Sri Yukteswar, explain some of life’s biggest mysteries with rationality and practical depth. Don’t let the length or the writing intimidate you – this one is meant to savor. 

Personal Impact:
Hands down, this book solidified my belief in “magic” by explaining miracles in a logical, scientific fashion. Teleportation, telepathy, it covers it all. His explanations of passages from the Bible showed me how profound the teachings of Jesus were and how they perfectly intertwine with concepts from modern science to New Age spirituality. This book, The Untethered Soul, and Harry Potter are the only books I’ve read at least three times in my life.

#4 – Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg

Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg

What makes it unique:
It’s one thing to not want to blame, judge, or project onto another person when working through conflict. It’s a whole other thing to make a request or set a boundary without it going all to hell. Rosenberg gives incredible examples of the power empathy can have on anyone from enraged burglars to leaders at war, and how exactly we can tweak our language to take radical personal responsibility.

Personal Impact:
This book taught me how to enter into any conversation with compassion and understanding (not saying it did it for me!) and it has infiltrated the way I view conversation and conflict. It expanded my emotional vocabulary, and thereby my emotional experience. It taught me that by simply connecting with my feelings and needs, I may be able to eliminate the need for confrontation altogether. It completely opened my eyes to where and how most disagreements go wrong.

#5 – Human Design: The Science of Differentiation by Ra Uru Hu

Human Design: The Science of Differentiation by Ra Uru Hu

What makes it unique:
The “synthesis” that is the Human Design System is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Diving into this knowledge is like learning sociology, psychology, neuroscience, biology, astrology, physics, yoga, and more. WTF. There are many profound systems and teachings that don’t become universalized until after an author’s passing, and sometimes hundreds of years after. I believe this system is so intricate, logical, and life-changing that it has that kind of staying power. If you haven’t heard of Human Desing, you can get a free chart at mybodgraph.com.

Personal Impact:
After discovering Human Design, I see myself and the world in an entirely new way. I understand why some people are designed to create and build all kinds of things in their lives, and others are designed to follow a path of less doing. I immediately stopped setting an alarm that would wake me up. I hardly worry about big decisions. I worry less that taking a lot of downtime is anti-social and lazy. Ultimately, I have more compassion for myself and others by seeing how differently we are designed to operate.

I can’t say for sure what the next life-changing book will be, but A Course In Miracles is starting out as a strong contender. I’m in awe after reading a tiny portion. 

Have you read any of these? Did they have the same impact?

What would be on your list? 

I’d love to hear in the comments.

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