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.

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The books I picked & why

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

Why did I love 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.

By Kristin Neff,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Self-Compassion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'Kristin Neff offers practical, wise guidance on the path of emotional healing and deep inner transformation.' Tara Brach, PhD, author of Radical Acceptance

Kristin Neff PhD, is a professor in educational psychology, and the world's expert on self-compassion. A pioneer who established self-compassion as a field of study, Kristin offers a powerful solution for combating negativity and insecurity - the symptoms of living in a high-pressure world.

Through tried and tested exercises and audio downloads, readers learn the 3 core components that will help to heal destructive emotional patterns…

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

Why did I love 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.

By Matthew McKay, Patrick Fanning,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Self-Esteem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Circumstances and status can affect self-esteem-many factors can contribute to the way we see ourselves-but the one contributing factor that all people who struggle with low self-esteem have in common is our thoughts. Of course we all have a better chance of feeling good about ourselves when things are going well, but it's really our interpretation of our circumstances that can cause trouble, regardless of what they are.

This revised and updated fourth edition of the best-selling Self-Esteem uses proven-effective methods of CBT and relevant components of ACT to help you raise low self-esteem by working on the way you…

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

Why did I love 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. 

By Jack Canfield, Janet Switzer,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Success Principles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In celebration of its 10th anniversary, a revised and updated edition of Jack Canfield’s classic bestseller with a brand new foreword and an afterword for succeeding in the digital age.

Since its publication a decade ago, Jack Canfield’s practical and inspiring guide has helped thousands of people transform themselves for success. Now, he has revised and updated his essential guidebook to reflect our changing times.

In The Success Principles, the cocreator of the phenomenal bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul series, helps you get from where you are to where you want to be, teaching you how to increase your…

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

Why did I love 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.

By Jim Kwik,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Limitless as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For the last 25 years, Jim Kwik has helped everyone from celebrities to CEOs to students improve their memory, increase their decision-making skills, learn to speed-read and unleash their superbrains.

In Limitless, readers will learn Jim's revolutionary strategies and shortcuts to break free from their perceived limitations. They'll learn how to supercharge their brains with simple, actionable tools to sharpen the mind, enhance focus and fast-track their fullest potential.

The book is organized into four sections: Mindset, Motivation, Meta-Learning and Mission. Readers will discover the myths they've been told about their IQ, abilities and skillset; understand why learning matters; learn…

Book cover of How to Win Friends and Influence People

Why did I love 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. 

By Dale Carnegie,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked How to Win Friends and Influence People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Millions of people around the world have - and continue to - improve their lives based on the teachings of Dale Carnegie. In How to Win Friends and Influence People Carnegie offers practical advice and techniques, in his exuberant and conversational style, for how to get out of a mental rut and make life more rewarding.

His advice has stood the test of time and will teach you how to:
- make friends quickly and easily
- increase your popularity
- win people to your way of thinking
- enable you to win new clients and customers
- become a…

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

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