By Kara Mason

5 Personal Development Books to Uplift and Inspire


Learn from leaders, creatives, and psychologists who hold the keys to happiness.

The journey to finding joy and fulfillment can be a winding one. 

Anybody who is working toward a personal or professional goal can testify to that. 

The winding road isn’t always hard, but neither is it always perfect. Living in the moment and enjoying the process, even in moments of turmoil and discomfort, is important. There is comfort in knowing it is all, always, a part of the process.

Working through these notions and ideas can be hard, but picking up a book tailored to your journey of personal development can make it a little less intimidating. Whether you’re embarking on a leadership goal or climbing out of a creative slump, there’s a way to boost your happiness, find purpose, or learn to enjoy the ride. 

The books on our list today are some of the most beloved in the self-help genre, and each one has tools to help you achieve whatever you set your mind to.

High Achiever’s Guide to Happiness

By Vance Caesar and Carol Ann Caesar

Being a high achiever doesn’t always make life easy, although it can be viewed that way from the outside. While everything can seem near-perfect, high achievers know there are times when happiness is lacking despite all the success. 

Vance Caesar, a life coach to some of the country’s top CEOs and business leaders, estimates that only about 8 percent of people who identify as a high achiever are also happy. Along with co-author Carol Anne Caesar, Vance guides readers through articulating purpose, developing meaningful relationships, and becoming more disciplined for the sake of happiness, not just for achievements.

Promising Review: I found it extremely practical. It's the type of book you should really contemplate and make notes in (there's space intentionally provided for that) as you read it - and then look back and review at each year as a reminder and to see if you are sticking to the changes you need to make to get where you want to be. Definitely recommend it.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change 

By Stephen R. Covey 

First published in 1990, there’s still a lot to learn from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The book has sold more than 10 million copies, and it’s still at the top of best personal development book lists. Author Stephen R. Covey dives into how fostering better relationships in your personal life and professional life serve a purpose for success. Covey reminds that there’s no silver bullet when it comes to fulfillment or happiness. It takes real work, but it’s worth it. 7 Habits will help you make small, but significant changes that help improve life and increase happiness.

Promising Review: “I rarely if ever leave reviews on purchases, but I felt the need to share this one. I've spent the past several years trying to figure out what I was doing wrong when it came to happiness. I had every reason to be happy, but yet felt this deep hollowness inside. I've tried all the positive thinking quick-fixes, meditation, law of attraction, etc. Nothing seemed to click or "cure" this aching inside. It wasn't until I read the 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, that the fog finally lifted. This book taught me why all those quick fixes don't work and how my happiness depended on my own internal work and efforts. I encourage anyone who is struggling with a similar situation or everyone for that matter to read this book. It'll change your perspective on life!”

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

By Elizabeth Gilbert

What does it mean to be creative? Ask that question to a thousand people and you’ll likely get a thousand different answers. 

While readers may initially struggle with their own definition of creativity, author Elizabeth Gilbert guides readers through her creative process in a way that is helpful and expandable across creative goals of all kinds. The author of Big Magic says there are “strange jewels” in all of us, which create our authenticity and purpose. Unlocking them is the key.

Promising Review: “I love this book. It made me look at creativity in a completely different way, one that promises to help me to develop a much closer and friendlier relationship with it. Already I feel more relaxed about the way I spend creative time. It's like a burden has been lifted where there should never have been one anyway. Elizabeth Gilbert is a compassionate writer and it is this feeling of being more compassionate around our creativity which I find exciting. Highly recommended from me. I'm glad I stumbled across it, if stumble I actually did.”

The Art of Authenticity: Tools to Become an Authentic Leader and Your Best Self

By Karissa Thacker

Leadership can mean being a lot of things to a lot of people, and in the thick of it it can also be difficult to remain true to yourself. You’re being pulled in so many different directions. It’s easy to become distracted from your center or the thing that got you to your place as a leader. 

Rest assured that all leaders battle the question of what it means to be authentic. In The Art of Authenticity, author Karissa Thacker starts with the premise that good leaders are the best versions of themselves. Getting there means leading “through reflection, action, and conscious choice.” Instead of just going through the motions, you’ll learn how to take conscious actions.

Promising Review: “As a retired consulting firm senior partner, I've read and recommended a lot of books on leadership to my clients. Dr. Thacker's Art of Authenticity is a "master class" in becoming a successful executive while and through attending to one's true self. With clear language, she explores the complexities of personal psychology and the vagaries of organizational challenges, melding these together in a thoughtful and provocative manner. She skillfully avoids business book claptrap and the assumption that leadership is a list to be checked off. I recommend it to executives and aspiring executives who have the courage to look at themselves as well as their worlds.”

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

By Eckhart Tolle 

Truth and light are the key ingredients to spiritual enlightenment and appreciating the moment for what it is. Psychologist Echart Tolle has sold 2 million copies of the Power of Now, which “awakens readers to their role as a creator of pain and shows them how to have a pain-free identity by living fully in the present.” You can count Oprah as a fan. The media mogul credits the book with getting her through the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

While spiritual enlightenment might seem like a heavy topic, Tolle breaks down complex ideas into simple concepts that anyone can understand.

Promising Review: “I have over 25 years of experience as a clinical psychologist. This is hands down the best self-help book I have ever come across, and can not fathom why the very simple and straight-forward concepts Tolle presents were never once mentioned in my grad school training or any of the countless professional development workshops I have attended over the years. If you are dealing with depression and/or anxiety, this is the book to get. But you need to read it slowly, to take it in bit by bit, and actually pause to practice what he is explaining in each section to benefit from it. You can't just skim it and expect to understand it in a way that will open your life and help you experience the freedom and ease of this very moment. I keep it by my bed and re-read sections all the time. Thank you Eckhart!”