Home Psychology The Top 10 Self-Help Books Of 2017

The Top 10 Self-Help Books Of 2017

Although it was some 2,300 years ago when the great Athenian philosopher Aristotle introduced the world to the ideas of improving one’s self, upholding a standard of ethical values and making excellence a habit, it wasn’t until around the turn of the 20th century when the self-help industry we love today was born in America. Since the work of success pioneers such as Orison Marden, Wallace Wattles, Dale Carnegie and Napoleon Hill, a seemingly endless number of other iconic figures have built upon these great men’s efforts while building the self-improvement industry into one that generates billions of dollars each year.

Thanks to the ever-expanding interest the field has generated over the decades, we now have access to a seemingly endless variety of books and actionable strategies that promote personal transformation in a similarly expansive number of ways. Better yet still, because citizens across the western world are so deeply passionate about improving themselves as individuals, each and every year the field evolves to include new bestsellers that are based upon the latest scientific research, life-changing ideas and inspirational stories.

Just as has been the case in years past, 2017 gave way to a plethora of highly acclaimed titles, the best of which we’ll explore here, that can motivate us to become more. Because the broader industry can be broken down into a wide variety of sub-genres, we’ve decided to limit our list of The Top 10 Self-Help Books of 2017 (published between October 2016-December 2017) to literary works that fall into these categories: Business & Leadership, Inspirational Biographies & Memoirs, Habits of Success, Psychology, Health & Wellness, and Relationships. Later this week, in coordination with this article, we’ll release our list of The Top 10 Spirituality Books of 2017 ralph waldo emerson which will feature titles emphasizing ideas such as Meditation & Mindfulness, Buddhism, Hinduism, Transcendentalism, and Death & Grief. With that being said, let’s now introduce you to Balanced Achievement’s Top 10 Self-Help Books of 2017:

10.) The Little Book of Hygge – Meik Wiking:

An image shows the cover of The Little Book Of Hygge which made Balanced Achievement’s list of the 10 best personal transformation books of 2017.When the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) releases their annual World Happiness Report, which aims to rank the happiness levels of 155 countries, few in the self-help industry are surprised to find Denmark at or near the top of the list. Since the first report was published in 2013, the Danish people have never finishing outside of the top five and taken the crown as the world’s happiest three times. In The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, author and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute Meik Wiking, who’s been described as the world’s happiest man, illuminates the reasons why Danes are so fulfilled and shows us how we can incorporate a bit of the joy producing Danish lifestyle into our own lives. While there are of course a variety of different factors that play a part in Denmark’s unmatched levels of life-satisfaction, Wiking tells us it all comes down to Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga), a Scandinavia word that loosely translates to mean a sense of comfort, togetherness and well-being. He writes:

We are social creatures, and the importance of this is clearly seen when one compares the satisfaction people feel in relationships with their overall satisfaction with life. The most important social relationships are close relationships in which you experience things together with others, and experience being understood; where you share thoughts and feelings, and both give and receive support. In one word: hygge.”

9.) Peak Performance – Brad Stulberg & Steve Magness:

An image shows the cover of Peak Performance which made Balanced Achievement’s list of the 10 best personal transformation books of 2017.Ever since the previously mentioned Orison Marden, Wallace Wattles, Dale Carnegie and Napoleon Hill helped to legitimize the self-help industry in the early parts of the 20th century, a seemingly endless number of personal development leaders, inspirationally focused authors and decorated psychologists have sought to discover and expound the scientific secrets of success. While many have failed to achieve this goal, Brad Stulberg, a highly accomplished health and human performance writer, and Steve Magness, a performance scientist and Olympic coach, have hit the mark with Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success. Throughout the pages of this highly acclaimed booked, the duo illuminates a set of universally adaptable peak performance principles, that can be applied to all professional field, by masterfully blending the latest scientific research related to achievement with motivational stories of top performers throughout the world. In the book, we’re told:

The real secret of world-class performers is not the daily routines that they develop, but that they stick to them. That they show up, even when they don’t feel like it. Call it drive, call it passion, or call it grit; whatever you call it, it must come from deep within.”

8.) Daring to Drive – Manal al-Sharif:

An image shows the cover of Daring To Drive which made Balanced Achievement’s list of the 10 best personal transformation books of 2017.While learning the success secrets and transformational strategies of the world’s most iconic self-improvement teachers can certainly lead us towards positive personal change, these tools alone generally can’t inspire us like a powerful story of resilient courage. In Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening, one such tale is told by a woman who stood up for women’s rights in a country where there are none. It was in 2011 when Manal al-Sharif, the book’s author, took the unthinkable steps of defying Saudi law by driving a car, broadcasting her law breaking actions online and encouraging her fellow countrywomen to do the same. Throughout the pages of this deeply intimate memoir, al-Sharif shows how it’s possible to beat even the most insurmountable odds with education, determination and an unwillingness to be silenced. She writes:

But my view is that while there are some scars that we might wish to hide because the spiritual or mental pain they represent is far greater than the physical pain caused to us at the time of injury. there are also some scars that we want to see whenever we look in the mirror. Because these scars serve as a valuable reminder of our past. My scars teach me that I am stronger than what caused them. Whenever I look at the scars on my face, I feel a renewed sense of resolve that my children should have a happy life, full of love and encouragement, free from screaming, scolding and neglect.”

7.) Tools Of Titans – Tim Ferriss:

An image shows the cover of Tools Of Titans which made Balanced Achievement’s list of the 10 best personal transformation books of 2017.Since 2007 there hasn’t been a single personal development icon who’s enjoyed more success than Tim Ferriss, as this was the year he published his globally acclaimed book The 4 Hour Workweek. Since then, the self described ‘human guinea pig’ has not only released five additional best selling books but also created one of the world’s most downloaded self-improvement podcasts. In Tools Of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers, Ferriss outlines what’s he learned from interviewing more than 200 experts, form a wide variety of disciplines, on The Tim Ferriss Show and asking them questions such as ‘What do you do in the first hour of each day?’, ‘What inspirational books have you gifted most?’ and ‘How do novices in your field waste time most?’. Throughout the pages of this New York Times Bestseller, you’ll gain access to the achievement secrets of world class athletes, celebrities, scientists, military commanders and other inspirational icons. Ferriss writes:

Have you outgrown your systems or beliefs? Is it time that you upgraded? Or, on a personal level, as Jerry Colonna, executive coach to some of the biggest tech stars in Silicon Valley, would ask: How are you complicit in creating the conditions you say you don’t want?”

6.) Principles – Ray Dalio:

An image shows the cover of Principles which made Balanced Achievement’s list of the 10 best personal transformation books of 2017.From the man who turned himself from a middle class Long Islander into one of the Time’s 100 most influential individual in the world, by transforming the investment company he founded in his apartment into one of the most successful businesses of its kind, comes this powerful book that can change your personal and professional life. In Principles: Life and Work, none other than Ray Dalio illuminates the rules and beliefs that’ve allowed him to not only survive but thrive in one of the most cutthroat and competitive industries around the globe. Within the 592 pages of this #1 New York Times Bestseller, which is the only book Dalio has written, the man who’s been described as ‘the Steve Jobs of investing’ shares the foundational principles for his success and provides us with hundreds of practical lessons so that we can incorporate them into our own lives. Amongst the many transforming teachings Dalio shares, readers learn what’s most important of all is a unwavering commitment to making decisions based upon radical transparency and truth. The financial giant tells us:

Whatever circumstances life brings you, you will be more likely to succeed and find happiness if you take responsibility for making your decisions well instead of complaining about things being beyond your control.”

5.) Make Your Bed – William H. McRaven:

An image shows the cover of Make Your Bed which made Balanced Achievement’s list of the 10 best personal transformation books of 2017.On May 17, 2014, the highly decorated United States Admiral William H. McRaven stepped onto the stage at the University of Texas-Austin to deliver what’s become one of the most iconic graduation commence speeches ever to be given. In the now famous address, which has been viewed over 10 million times on YouTube, McRaven passionately outlines the ten principles he learned while training to become a Navy Seal and relied upon the rest of his life to propel him towards legendary levels of success even in the most challenging of times. In Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World, the iconic Admiral builds upon his captivating speech with tales from his storied military career and shows why developing the personal qualities of determination, compassion, honor and courage are of outmost importance. McRaven writes in this #1 New York Times Bestseller:

It is easy to blame your lot in life on some outside force, to stop trying because you believe fate is against you. It is easy to think that where you were raised, how your parents treated you, or what school you went to is all that determines your future. Nothing could be further from the truth. The common people and the great men and women are all defined by how they deal with life’s unfairness: Helen Keller, Nelson Mandela, Stephen Hawking, Malala Yousafzai, and—Moki Martin. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, no matter how good you are, you still end up as a sugar cookie. Don’t complain. Don’t blame it on your misfortune. Stand tall, look to the future, and drive on!”

4.) The Power of Moments – Chip Heath & Dan Heath:

An image shows the cover of The Power Of Moments which made Balanced Achievement’s list of the 10 best personal transformation books of 2017.Over the past decade, leaders in the both the self-help industry and field of psychology have increasingly told us about the impact meaningful life experiences have on our well-being. While all too many individuals still falsely assume that their happiness is directly related to their professional success and material wealth, an ever-expanding base of scientific research is showing that memorable moments are much more powerful. In The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact, brothers Chip and Dan Heath, who’ve previously co-authored New York Times Bestsellers Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, and Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, illuminate the life-affirming potency of experiences and show us how we can create extraordinary moments in our lives more regularly. In the book, we’re told:

Moments matter. And our research suggests that people’s most positive moments share certain traits in common–traits such as elevation, or being lifted out of the ordinary. (You pick up a mysterious red phone and someone answers, ‘Popsicle Hotline, may I help you?’). Traits such as insight (shaping the way we see the world) and connection (deepening our ties with others). A wedding ceremony, for instance, features all three: The elevation of fine food and dancing and fancy clothes, and the insight afforded by toasts and stories, and the connection of sharing the moment with loved ones.”

3.) The Undoing Project – Michael Lewis:

An image shows the cover of The Undoing Project which made Balanced Achievement’s list of the 10 best personal transformation books of 2017.It was in the 1970s when two iconic Israeli psychologists by the names of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky published a series of ground-breaking studies that drastically changed how we think about human decision-making and subsequently the way the world at large operates. By coming to understand the problematic role cognitive biases play on our abilities to make wise choices, the duo’s work gave rise to the field of behavioral economics, moved the world of medicine towards evidence-based research and increased numerous industries reliance on big data and algorithms. In The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds, award winning author Michael Lewis, who’s previous book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game was only made possible with Kahneman and Tversky’s work, brings the unlikely friendship of these two celebrated psychologists to life while making readers aware of unreliable cognitive mechanisms that hamper their decision-making prowess. Lewis writes:

The world’s not just a stage. It’s a casino, and our lives are games of chance. And when people calculate the odds in any life situation, they are often making judgments about similarity – or representativeness. You have some notion of a parent population: ‘storm clouds’ or ‘gastric ulcers’ or ‘genocidal dictators’ or ‘NBA players’. You compare the specific case to the parent population.”

2.) A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea – Melissa Fleming:

An image shows the cover of A Hope More Powerful Than The Sea which made Balanced Achievement’s list of the 10 best personal transformation books of 2017.Throughout history, there have been a select number of people who’ve shown what humans are truly capable by facing an unconquerable set of circumstances with an unrelenting refusal to be defeated. In A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival, readers meet one such individual as author Melissa Fleming, chief spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), tells the triumphant story of Doaa Al Zamel, a Syrian refugee who gets stranded at sea for days with two baby girls and only a raft to stay afloat. Not only will this gut wrenching tale motivate you to become more, but it will also open your eyes to the disheartening reality faced by countless refugees like Doaa and expand your feelings of compassion to the greater world. In the book, Fleming writes:

She began paddling toward the boat with one hand, the other wrapped around the two little girls. She didn’t care what happened to her, but if Malak and Masa lived, she felt that her life would mean something. She would last long enough to know that she had saved the little girls, then she could finally stop struggling and be with Bassem again.”

1.) Option B – Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant:

An image shows the cover of Option B which made Balanced Achievement’s list of the 10 best personal transformation books of 2017.Although we’ll go to nearly any length to tell ourselves that things aren’t as they should be or that a particular event shouldn’t have happened to me, the reality of life is that it doesn’t always work out the way we want it to. This unavoidable truth is one that Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s highly accomplished Chief Operating Office (COO) and celebrated author, had to come face-to-face with after her husband unexpectedly passed away while exercising on a family vacation. Despite the fact that Sandberg was certain she’d never be able to overcome her tremendous amounts of grief, she was eventually able to press forward towards happier times with a lot of resilience and the help of a friend. In Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy, Sandberg tells her deeply intimate story of loss, and Adam Grant, one of the world’s most respected psychologists, shares the life changing evidence-based advice he offered Sandberg when she was going through hell. Throughout the pages of Balanced Achievement’s 2017 Self-Help Book of The Year, the distinguished duo shows how we can resiliently overcome any challenge we may face and rediscover joy by fully embracing our secondary options. Sandberg proclaims:

Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. It comes from gratitude for what’s good in our lives and from leaning in to the suck. It comes from analyzing how we process grief and from simply accepting that grief. Sometimes we have less control than we think. Other times we have more. I learned that when life pulls you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again.”

1 comment

Steve Van Herreweghe December 14, 2017 - 3:01 am

Great article, great job Patrick! Inspirational!
Keep up with the writing 😉


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