Generally Inspiring Books Around Purpose, Happiness, Meaning of Life, Compassion, and Kindness

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey (this is my single top book recommendation that covers it all for life, leadership, and purpose.  Many other books have more detail, are easier to read, or go deeper in an area, but this is my favourite summary.  I teach a guided interpretation to this book, which has helped many people in their lives.  I continue to return to it when I am struggling, and I find new material each time)

How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton M. Christensen (this is one of my top books that I give as a gift, after 7 Habits, as it is a great book to have us stop and think about our life and how to make it meaningful.)

The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn (this is a pop culture version of The 7 Habits, with a great story around finding your purpose and doing your best work, with the example of Fred the mailman.  If you can’t make it through 7 Habits, this is a great read to get a lot of the principles in a less philosophical and theoretical way.  And if you liked 7 Habits, this is still a fun read and I keep Fred in the back of my head as a reminder to make the most of whatever I do).

Think Again by Adam Grant (a great book about how our brains work and how we can open our minds.  This is a very enjoyable read, as well as containing significant important information.  I particularly like the discussion on Imposter Syndrome and the goal of Confident Humility)

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon’s last lecture, as he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Great to give thought to what matters in our life)

The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander (this is one of my favorites, as the author’s stories and general zaniness lends to both an entertaining and inspirational read to help us open our minds to see more possibilities)

Pathways to Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander (building off of The Art of Possibility, this book goes deeper into how to expand our minds and become more open to seeing more possibilities)

The Choice by Dr Edith Eva Eger (a powerful testimony to the power of the human mind, as lived by the author first hand through the concentration camps of World War II.  A very inspiring and thought-provoking read)

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl (a fantastic insight to the power of the human mind to influence one’s life, from concentration camps to the founding of the psychological school of logotherapy (that mental illness stems from a lack of purpose), this book defines the value of having purpose in life and continually working towards it)

The Happiness Track by Emma Seppälä (this book introduced me to the work in compassion, which has opened up new insights and goals for me.  This book draws on research across many areas in positive psychology, compassion, and happiness to provide strategies for achieving greater and lasting happiness in life)

The War for Kindness by Jamil Zaki (this book argues that empathy, and thereafter kindness and compassion, can be developed and outlines how to go about working with it.  Great insight and practical strategies)

A Fearless Heart by Thupten Jinpa (this book is the basis for the Compassion Cultivation Training, an 8-week program through the Compassion Institute that I underwent Fall 2020.  It was a paradigm shifting experience for me, providing greater insight (and compassion) to my self, as well as increasing my capability and interest to seek compassion for others.  I highly recommend CCT, but if you can’t do it, this book gives most of the exercises and insights that are done.  The basis for the practice of compassion is from Buddhism, but the book and practice is more contemplative and meditative than specifically religious)

Mindset:  The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck (this was another paradigm shifting book for me with the discussion of Growth vs Talent mindset.  I realised that a lot of my own insecurities were based on a talent mindset, so I have been working with this a lot, both with myself and my daughter)c

Ikigai:  The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles (defined as the intersection of What You Love, What You Can Be Paid For, What the World Needs, and What You Are Good At, this could be seen as another way of identifying one’s strength, purpose, mission, etc)

What Should I Do with My Life by Po Bronson (tales of people who have asked this question and solved it in different ways.  I read this book years ago at one point when I was questioning what I should do with my life.  I don’t recall any life-changing insights, but many different perspectives to consider)

Our Iceberg is Melting:  Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions by John Kotter (a fun story about penguins and how the react when their ice is melting.  Illustrates the power of attitude and mindset)

Who Moved My Cheese?  by Spencer Johnson (another fun story about change, this time based on personified mice and how they adapt to cheese moving in the maze)

The Good Neighbour:  The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King (Mr Rogers was fundamental to the US childhoods of the 1970’s, and in a sense, pioneered kindness, sensitivity in men, and even racial equality.  This is a biography of his life.)