The best books to achieve lasting personal change

Who am I?

I'm a psychologist and neuroscientist and I've been writing for the public about all things mind and behaviour for more than two decades. Something I've noticed in that time is that the question people want to know the answer to, perhaps more than any other, is how much we can ever truly change, deep down. After all, self-help advice is seemingly endless, but does any of it really work, or are we ultimately destined to always revert to type? That's what motivated me to begin delving into the latest science of personality – defined by psychology as the habits of emotion, behaviour, and thought that make us who we are.


I wrote...

Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change

By Christian Jarrett,

Book cover of Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change

What is my book about?

Whether you're an introvert or extravert, creative and open-minded or focused and disciplined, psychology has always taught that there are various personality types. The common perception is that we’re stuck with what we’re given. However, drawing on the latest psychological theories and methods, interviews with leading experts, as well as a personal anecdote, in Be Who You Want I argue that although your initial personality type is moulded by a combination of genetic influences and early experiences, it is not fixed. It is malleable, voluntary even. In my book, which is packed with quizzes and practical exercises, I help you understand how your personality was formed and give you the tools to further shape your traits in the ways you desire and that will benefit you most.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Change: What Really Leads to Lasting Personal Transformation

Christian Jarrett Why did I love this book?

Week in, week out, therapists meet people who are trying to change. Kottler is a highly experienced psychotherapist and in this book you will discover all that he has learned about the process of personal transformation through his career – including the obstacles to change (such as procrastination and lack of self-monitoring) and also the factors that make it easier, such as through fostering hope. I particularly enjoyed the passages on what's known as post-traumatic growth - that is, our ability to turn frightening or stressful experiences into catalysts for positive personal development.

By Jeffrey A Kottler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Think of a time in your life when you overcame a significant, chronic, intractable problem that had challenged you for years, until somehow you managed to completely turn things around in such a way that the change has persisted to this day. How did this happen, and what was it that made the greatest difference?

Jeffrey Kottler has often explored this question-interviewing hundreds of people about their change experiences and synthesizing all the research around the globe-and he poses it in the opening pages of Change: What Really Leads to Lasting Personal Transformation. This fundamental query-how do we (or don't…


Book cover of Personality Isn't Permanent: Break Free from Self-Limiting Beliefs and Rewrite Your Story

Christian Jarrett Why did I love this book?

There's a theory in psychology that alongside our basic traits, our personalities are also defined in part by the stories we tell about our lives – what's known as your narrative identity. In this inspirational book, Hardy shows how you can change who you are by reinterpreting your own past and, in effect, retelling your own story. As part of this process, you can think of past events as happening 'for you' instead of 'to you'. What's especially compelling about this book is that Hardy has made these changes in his own life and personality. You get to hear how he left behind his difficult youth, transformed into a dramatically more conscientious person, built a successful career as a psychologist, and became a loving husband and father.

By Benjamin Hardy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Personality Isn't Permanent as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Psychologist and bestselling author Benjamin Hardy, PhD, debunks the pervasive myths about personality that prevent us from learning—and provides bold strategies for personal transformation
 
In Personality Isn’t Permanent, Dr. Benjamin Hardy draws on psychological research to demolish the popular misconception that personality—a person’s consistent attitudes and behaviors—is innate and unchanging. Hardy liberates us from the limiting belief that our “true selves” are to be discovered, and shows how we can intentionally create our desired selves and achieve amazing goals instead. He offers practical, science-based advice to for personal-reinvention, including:
     

   • Why personality tests such as Myers-Briggs and Enneagram are not…


Book cover of Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being

Christian Jarrett Why did I love this book?

The author is a psychology professor and a leading populariser of personality psychology. His book will give you a great overview of the most widely endorsed model of personality, which is based on the so-called Big Five traits, including extraversion, conscientiousness, and openness. Little is also renowned for his research into 'personal projects' – the goals you have that are meaningful to you. What I particularly took away from this book is how these projects feedback and shape your personality. So, if you want to have more control over who you are and will become, it is worth thinking about the goals that you are pursuing in life – whether they are satisfying and how they might be influencing you.

By Brian R. Little,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How does your personality shape your life , and what, if anything, can you do about it?Are you hardwired for happiness, or born to brood? Do you think you're in charge of your future, or do you surf the waves of unknowable fate? Would you be happier, or just less socially adept, if you were less concerned about what other people thought of you? And what about your Type A" spouse: is he or she destined to have a heart attack, or just drive you to drink?In the past few decades, new scientific research has transformed old ideas about the…


Book cover of Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Christian Jarrett Why did I love this book?

A message that emerges from modern personality psychology is that, at a fundamental level, our personalities are formed from our ingrained habits of thought and behaviour. The implication is that by forging new habits – that is, ways of acting that are effortless and automatic – we can begin to change ourselves deep down. Clear's book provides perhaps the best available advice on how exactly to establish new habits and give up unhelpful ones. The title derives from the author's theory that little changes snowball, so he makes it easy to start and he motivates you to keep going. One nugget is the 'two-minute rule' – reduce any new habit to a version you can complete within two minutes. Studying more becomes 'get out my notes', for instance. Stick with the changes, build them, and over time, you will see your new habits manifest in lasting personality change. 

By James Clear,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked Atomic Habits as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 New York Times bestseller. Over 4 million copies sold!

Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results

No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving--every day. James Clear, one of the world's leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

If you're having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn't you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don't want to change, but because you have the…


Book cover of Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want to Come: One Introvert's Year of Saying Yes

Christian Jarrett Why did I love this book?

As an introvert myself, and having tried to deliberately come out of my shell – as I document in my own book– I was intrigued to come across Pan's book. Her year-long experiment living as an out-and-out extravert chimes with a key piece of the advice I give on wilful personality change – that is, having switched up your narrative identity, thoughtfully considered your personal projects, and even worked on your underlying habits, at some point, you have to get out there and really walk the walk. For introverts who wish to become more outgoing, that means being more sociable and willing to take risks. My word, Pan does this in spades, including performing stand-up comedy and joining an improv theatre group. Her hilarious stories will inspire you to see that personal change really is possible, if you are determined enough.

By Jessica Pan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want to Come as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Funny, emotional and deeply inspiring, this is perfect for anyone wanting to break out of their comfort zone' Heat

What would happen if a shy introvert lived as an out-and-out extrovert for one year? Jessica Pan is about to find out...

*

When she found herself jobless and friendless, sitting in the familiar Jess-shaped crease on her sofa, she couldn't help but wonder what life might have looked like if she had been a little more open to new experiences and new people, a little less attached to going home instead of going to the pub.

So, she made a…


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Terra Blanca - Insurrection: Gaia Prequel

By Zoe Routh,

Book cover of Terra Blanca - Insurrection: Gaia Prequel

Zoe Routh Author Of The Olympus Project

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Leadership futurist Adventurist Former bellydancer Historical and speculative fiction nut Marathoner

Zoe's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A test of leadership, loyalty, and legacy. Rylie Addison faces the greatest leadership challenge of her life. As climate change ravages the world, leaving millions displaced, Rylie is handpicked by the enigmatic Maja Garcia of Gaia Enterprises to govern Terra Blanca, an unprecedented man-made island community for climate refugees.

As the stakes rise and the fragile foundations of Terra Blanca begin to crumble, Rylie is forced to confront her own beliefs and faces a leadership decision that could change the course of history. Can she find the strength to make the right choice, or will her actions lead to the downfall of the very people she has vowed to protect?

Terra Blanca - Insurrection: Gaia Prequel

By Zoe Routh,

What is this book about?

Rylie Addison faces the greatest leadership challenge of her life. As climate change ravages the world, leaving millions displaced, Rylie is handpicked by the enigmatic Maja Garcia of Gaia Enterprises to govern Terra Blanca, an unprecedented man-made island community for climate refugees.


Thrust into a new world of power and responsibility, Rylie must navigate the treacherous waters of team dynamics and power struggles as she fights to make Terra Blanca a beacon of hope amidst the chaos. But her mission takes a sinister turn when a secret agent infiltrates the community, hell-bent on testing the innovative governance and social structures…


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Interested in extraversion and introversion, change, and self-actualization?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about extraversion and introversion, change, and self-actualization.

Extraversion And Introversion Explore 25 books about extraversion and introversion
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