The best books for improving your life

Jennice Vilhauer Author Of Think Forward to Thrive: How to Use the Mind's Power of Anticipation to Transcend Your Past and Transform Your Life
By Jennice Vilhauer

Who am I?

I’m a psychologist in Los Angeles specializing in helping people identify their blind spots and break the cycles of their past by retraining their mindset about the future. I developed a new treatment called Future Directed Therapy and I’ve been helping people build better lives for over 15 years. I’m very passionate about empowering my clients to find practical skills and tools for taking charge of their emotional health and achieving the things they want in life. I recommend these books to my clients on a regular basis and find inspiration in them for my own blog Living Forward which I write as a featured expert for Psychology Today


I wrote...

Think Forward to Thrive: How to Use the Mind's Power of Anticipation to Transcend Your Past and Transform Your Life

By Jennice Vilhauer,

Book cover of Think Forward to Thrive: How to Use the Mind's Power of Anticipation to Transcend Your Past and Transform Your Life

What is my book about?

Science has shown that anticipating a positive future is the key to well-being and mental health. Yet when many people think of the future, they experience anxiety, depression, fear, and self-doubt. Unaware of how to change the future, most people are trapped in a cycle of re-creating their past. But your past does not define who you are or where you are going — you can break free. Future Directed Therapy (FDT) is a new psychological method that helps people create their future with awareness and choice, using skills based on cutting-edge cognitive science. Think Forward to Thrive is filled with information and step-by-step exercises to help you: overcome negative emotions; identify what you want in life; transform limiting beliefs; and take action.

The books I picked & why

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Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself

By Kristin Neff,

Book cover of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself

Why this book?

People are limited in life by the internal dialogue they have in their head and most people have an inner critical voice that leaves them feeling never good enough. I recommend Self-Compassion by Neff to all of my psychotherapy clients at the beginning of therapy because developing a kinder inner voice that encourages them through the difficult times is essential for mental well-being and lays the perfect foundation for moving forward in therapy.


Self-Esteem: A Proven Program of Cognitive Techniques for Assessing, Improving, and Maintaining Your Self-Esteem

By Matthew McKay, Patrick Fanning,

Book cover of Self-Esteem: A Proven Program of Cognitive Techniques for Assessing, Improving, and Maintaining Your Self-Esteem

Why this book?

I recommend this book to many of my clients because you create your life based on your perceived self-concept about who you are in the world. If you don’t feel good about who you are it’s hard to build a good life. This book is great because it applies the well-researched principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy to overcoming the inner critic and building a positive view of one’s self, creating the much-needed platform for transforming your life.


The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

By Jack Canfield, Janet Switzer,

Book cover of The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

Why this book?

Canfield’s book is a classic for identifying and overcoming the mindset that keeps many people stuck in life. It gives important insights into how we shape our lives and encourages people to take accountability for the life they are creating. It also uses excellent examples to learn from and provides practical strategies that anyone can apply. It has been an inspiration for me in my own life and career. 


Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life

By Jim Kwik,

Book cover of Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life

Why this book?

I’m always saying to my clients, “Everything in life comes with a user manual these days except your brain.” That is, until Jim Kwik wrote his book Limitless. People often feel distressed when they aren’t able to make their brain do what they want it to do, such as focusing, remembering old things, or learning new things. This book translates into a useable form, what neuroscience has shown us is how our brains work. With this book it is now possible to make your brain work for you. If you have a brain, you should not be without this book.


How to Win Friends and Influence People

By Dale Carnegie,

Book cover of How to Win Friends and Influence People

Why this book?

This is a classic book that everyone should read. Knowing how to navigate people and building a strong social network are key for success and emotional well-being and yet so much of the distress people experience has to do with problems they are having with other people. This book covers timeless principles of human psychology that often aren’t obvious. So many of my clients self-sabotage themselves by wanting to be right. If you want to understand where you might be going wrong with other people so you can turn things around, this one is for you. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in success in life, the brain, and self esteem?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about success in life, the brain, and self esteem.

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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