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The Most Helpful (Life-Altering) Books I Read in 2021

Updated: Dec 30, 2021

I love this time of year. Not only because it is a time of joy, celebration, and connecting with family and friends, which is life-giving in itself. But also because it is a time of reflection, gratitude, and filled with possibility for the year to come.

As this year comes to a close, I am indescribably grateful for the support I received and was able to give throughout the year and the lessons that were both hard-won and learned from others. These learnings and gifts have better prepared me and filled me with optimism for the future.

I consider books to be lessons and gifts from people I will likely never know. This year I rediscovered the joy of exploring the depth and breadth of compelling topics by reading books rather than merely taking in summaries via articles.

Each of the 24 books I read was unique, insightful, and enabling. But three rose to the top as potentially and significantly life-altering for every personality type, should the reader embrace the gift. Further, these are just as approachable for all people, not just personal development junkies. I hope these help you as much as they have helped me. And here they are.

by Michael Easter

When we physically challenge our bodies, we keep our muscles strong. There is struggle and reward associated with this work. Our minds are the same. When we consistently challenge our minds, embracing mental discomfort, we benefit from and can rely on a capable, resourceful, and healthy mind. When we do not deliberately and actively challenge our minds, just like muscles, they become weak. In doing so, we can begin to opt-out and fear what was a regular part of life and essential to our well-being and shy away from opportunities to reach our meaningful and fulfilling goals.

Easter explores how we are more comfortable than ever before and how our protected, indulgent, and under-challenged lives may actually be a primary cause of our physical and mental issues and distress.

He then goes into the research from a diverse group of experts to uncover what creates peak physical and mental strength and wellness.

I found this book particularly relevant in our pandemic times as so much of what was normal has been cut off or greatly limited. Further, I believe Easter's journey is captivating and wonderfully enriching, and I hope you do too.

by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.d.

There is a reason this book comes up again and again as one of the best personal and professional development books to read. That is because it tackles the fundamental mindset and approach we take to all that we experience in the external world and all the thoughts and emotions we encounter in our inner world. In truth, I resisted reading this book because even the updated edition was published quite some time ago, and I felt I was already sufficiently acquainted with the concept of growth vs. fixed mindsets. However, I was richly rewarded when I explored the depth and breadth of this topic through Dweck's book. My favorite chapters are, of course, at the end. So I encourage you to dive into this topic and explore it through the completion of this book. I hope it helps you to benefit from developing greater mindfulness and intentionality in all you think, say, and do, as it has me.

by Russ Harris

If I could only recommend one book to best support and enable you throughout all the challenges, phases, and goals you will have in your life, I think this would be the one. It is an owner's manual of sorts and, I feel, should not only be read regularly but also referenced often. The Happiness Trap takes some of our most deeply held and problematic beliefs around happiness and our mental struggles and dispels these in a refreshingly honest, approachable, and leverageable manner. He also explores what it means and how to create a rich, full, and meaningful life, guiding people out of struggle and into a fulfilling life. I hope this becomes well-worn insight and support that guides you in all you do, as I am certain it will for me.

Thank you for your help, support, feedback, and guidance this year! It is sincerely appreciated and valued! I hope these books help you in the next year and beyond.

All the best to you in 2022, and be well!

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