4 Personal development books to download and read RIGHT NOW!

With all that’s going on in the world right now, it’s important to protect your mental as well as physical health.

Constantly checking updates on the novel coronavirus can make you tense as well as tired, neither of which helps maintain a strong spirit and upbeat attitude.

Of course, I get it.

It’s damn hard to back away from the social media feeds right now.

But, for your own sake and sanity, try limiting yourself to maybe only two 20-minute blocks of time where you catch up on reading and watching reports on the coronavirus from around the world. 

As for what to do during the other 15 waking hours, consider any of these 4 personal development books below to keep your mind – and hopes – healthy.

(And, by the way, don’t worry if you didn’t have time for book-shopping earlier when you were filling up on trolly-loads of pasta and toilet paper. Several companies, as well as libraries around the globe, are offering free e-books and audiobooks right now. 

Check out the 30-day free trial to the reading subscription service Scribd and 30 free ebooks to choose from at the nonprofit press Archipelago Books. Several classic children’s audiobook titles are also available for teachers and children on Penguin Random House’s Volumes App.)

Learned Optimism – How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, by Martin E.P. Seligman

Martin E.P. Seligman is known as the father of positive psychology. And there’s a good reason for it. For more than 40 years, he has been researching how a positive attitude can enhance life quality.

What he has discovered is that optimists tend to be happier, deal with depression better, recover more quickly when life serves you a series of swift blows, and – particularly important in these days – have stronger immune systems.

And the good news? We can all learn to be optimists.

In this New York Times best-seller, Seligman offers a simple framework to help individuals see a situation more accurately. This, the Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania claims is the key to success in work and life, and therefore fundamental in developing a more optimistic outlook.

(Read the book, Now what? Watch this great interview between grumpy Jeremy Paxman and self-professed pessimist, Mr. Martin Seligman himself, on BBC’s Newsnight.)

Positivity, by Dr. Barbara Fredrickson

Seligman isn’t the only brainiac whose given over years to discovering the science behind happiness and positivity. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of North Caroline, has been studying love, inspiration, and a whole host of other positive emotions for close on thirty years.

In her succinctly titled, Positivity, Fredrickson shows how a positive mind-set can transform your life.

But as well as piling on the scientific stats to back up her claims, she also offers lab-tested tools that, even from the confines of your apartment, can help you create a happier, healthier, more thriving you.

(Not in the mood to read. Yeah, it happens. Don’t sweat it. Watch Dr. Fredrickson explaining positivity’s power here instead.)

The Myths of Happiness – What Should Make You Happy, But Doesn’t, What Shouldn’t Make You Happy, But Does, by Sonja Lyubomirksy

Following the above two books, we’ll be fully tuned into how happiness helps our health. That makes it a perfect time to check out Lyubomirksy’s book, The Myths of Happiness.

Within these pages, Lyubomirksy shares the skinny on all the stuff that, in themselves and just because convention tells us so, won’t necessarily set us on a path to ‘happy ever after’.   

Here the author and Professor of Psychology at the University of California examines accepted life achievements (marriage, kids, work promotions, riches) and failures (singledom, divorce, chronic illness, bankruptcy).

And as she does so, she shows us how even in the scariest or messiest moments of our lives, it’s our minds, not our circumstances that empower or disempower us and ultimately determine whether we can be happy or not.

Understanding that we’re stronger and much more adaptable than we think can get us over the toughest hurdle and actually make us feel happy in the process.  

(Sick of reading or looking at screens? I hear you. Pop on your ear plugs, lie back on the bed, and  listen to Lyubomirksy share her wisdom on this podcast.)

Daring Greatly, How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, by Brené Brown

Any book by researcher, professor, and award-winning author Brené Brown is a book worth reading.  But Daring Greatly is particularly profound and helpful for these days.

And anyone who’s feeling sad and scared, but afraid to be vulnerable in front of their loved ones, will surely benefit from Brown’s words of wisdom.

In Daring Greatly she shows us how being brave enough to own our feelings in challenging moments is actually how we’ll get through the worst of times with love, courage and compassion.

A particularly powerful quote in terms of how it relates to all that’s going on right now is:

“Worrying about scarcity is our culture’s version of post-traumatic stress. It happens when you’ve been through too much, and rather than coming together to heal (which requires vulnerability), we’re angry and scared and at each other’s throats.”

(Need some laughs along with learned wisdom? Then check out Brown’s TED Talk, listed as one of the most popular TED Talks of all time. )


Siobhan Colgan

Siobhan Colgan is a business owner and writer. As part of her work as a writer, she also helps other creatives and would-be writers find their voice. Email her at colgansiobhan@gmail.com to find out more.

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