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While searching a book about how to search for meaning of life, I found Siddhartha, a novel by Hermann Hesse. The book deals with the spiritual journey of an Indian man named Siddhartha during the time of the Buddha.

The story takes place in ancient India around the time of Gautama Buddha (likely between the fourth and seventh centuries BC). Siddhartha, the son of a Brahmin, leaves his home to join the ascetics with his companion Govinda. The two set out in the search of the enlightenment. Siddhartha goes from asceticism, to a very worldly life as a merchant with a lover, and back to asceticism as he attempts to achieve this goal.

Hesse’s crafting of Siddhartha’s journey shows that understanding is attained not through scholastic, mind-dependent methods, nor through immersing oneself in the carnal pleasures of the world and the accompanying pain of samsara; however, it is the totality of these experiences that allow Siddhartha to attain understanding.

The novel is structured on three of the traditional stages of life for Hindu males (student (brahmacarin), householder (grihastha) and recluse/renunciate (vanaprastha)) as well as the Buddha’s four noble truths (Part One) and eight-fold path (Part Two) which form twelve chapters, the number in the novel.

Siddhartha does not, in the end, learn true wisdom from any teacher, but from a river that roars in a funny way and from a kindly old fool who always smiles and is secretly a saint.

It was written in German, in a simple, powerful, and lyrical style and was later translated to English.

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I feel that with time, human being need to develop personally, improve oneself and then improve the surrounding and society in which one lives.

You might want to ask what do I mean by personal development. Am I not developed personally? Well..this is a good question..

Personal development refers to activities that improve self-knowledge and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and employability, enhance quality of life and contribute to the realization of dreams and aspirations. But above all, it is to improve oneself and oneself’s surrounding and society.

I created a list of my favorite and noteworthy personal development books.

I already read a few among these and some of these I am reading now and plan to read within this year.

This is a list of the top Personal Development books that will have huge impact on all. I wanted to share this list with you because I feel that perhaps, it might be useful to you as well.

The link will lead you to Amazon site which will give you more details about this book, its index and its content.

Spirituality Mind Motivational Money Productivity Leadership Business

Spirituality Personal Development Books

Mind Personal Development Books

Motivational Personal Development Books

Money Personal Development Books

Productivity Personal Development Books

Leadership Personal Development Books

Business Personal Development Books

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One of the most heart touching books I have ever read is Viktor E. Frankl’s world famous book “Man’s Search for Meaning”.

This books chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate and describes his psychotherapeutic method of finding a reason to live. According to him, the book intends to answer the question “How was everyday life in a concentration camp reflected in the mind of the average prisoner despite the face that all the inmates were not given any food to eat, were prosecuted, harassed, tortured daily

Viktor Emil Frankl M.D., Ph.D. (March 26, 1905, Vienna – September 2, 1997, Vienna) was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. He was born in Vienna into a Jewish family of civil servants. His interest in psychology surfaced early.

In this book Viktor explains how the nazis treated the prisoners in concentration camps and how how his life changed from a famous doctor to a concentration camp prisoner with in a span of few days, when he and his family was taken to Nazi concentration camps in Germany.

On September 25, 1942 he, along with his wife, and his parents were deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. There Frankl worked as a general practitioner in a clinic until his skill in psychiatry was noticed, when he was asked to establish a special unit to help newcomers to the camp overcome shock and grief. He later set up a suicide watch unit, and all intimations of suicide were reported to him.

The gist of his book is listed below in terms of famous quotes from his book.

On Choosing One’s Attitude
“Everything can be taken from a man but …the last of the human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” p.104

“There is also purpose in life which is almost barren of both creation and enjoyment and which admits of but one possibility of high moral behavior: namely, in man’s attitude to his existence, an existence restricted by external forces.” p.106

On Committing to Values and Goals
“Logotherapy…considers man as a being whose main concern consists in fulfilling a meaning and in actualizing values, rather than in the mere gratification and satisfaction of drives and instincts.” p.164

“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.” p.166

On Discovering the Meaning of Life
“The meaning of our existence is not invented by ourselves, but rather detected.” p.157

“What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general, but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.” p.171

“We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by doing a deed; (2) by experiencing a value; and (3) by suffering.” p.176

On Fulfilling One’s Task
“A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any “how.”
p.127

“It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life – daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.” p.12

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One of the best books I have ever come across is “As a Man Thinketh” written in year 1902, by James Allen. The title is influenced by a verse in the Bible “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

Don’t expect that its a big volume, rather it’s a very simple literary essay, but the most surprising thing about this book is its narrative, the flow of information and above all each and every word of this book speaks tons of things. It has some of the best quotes about what makes a human to suffer and how a man makes or destroys his life.

This is how James Allen starts the books:
The aphorism, “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he,” not only embraces the whole of a man’s being, but is so comprehensive as to reach out to every condition and circumstance of his life. A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.

As the plant springs from, and could not be without, the seed, so every act of a man springs from the hidden seeds of thought, and could not have appeared without them. This applies equally to those acts called “spontaneous” and “unpremeditated” as to those which are deliberately executed.

James Allen beautifully compares human mind with a garden, as explained below:
A man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.

Just as a gardener cultivates his plot, keeping it free from weeds, and growing the flowers and fruits which he requires, so may a man tend the garden of his mind, weeding out all the wrong, useless, and impure thoughts, and cultivating toward perfection the flowers and fruits of right, useful, and pure thoughts, By pursuing this process, a man sooner or later discovers that he is the master gardener of his soul, the director of his life.


Quotes From As a Man Thinketh

• Men do not attract what they want, but what they are.
• A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.
• Cherish your visions. Cherish your ideals. Cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts, for out of them will grow all delightful conditions, all heavenly environment, of these, if you but remain true to them your world will at last be built.
• The soul attracts that which it secretly harbors, that which it loves, and also that which it fears. It reaches the height of its cherished aspirations. It falls to the level of its unchastened desires – and circumstances are the means by which the soul receives its own.
• Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves, they therefore remain bound.
• Every action and feeling is preceded by a thought.
• Right thinking begins with the words we say to ourselves.
• Circumstance does not make the man, it reveals him to himself.
• You cannot travel within and stand still without.
• As the physically weak man can make himself strong by careful and patient training, so the man of weak thoughts, can make them strong by exercising himself in right thinking.

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We all make mistakes. Sometimes they are very bad and cause ourselves and others much worry and suffering. We can be depressed and burdened with regret for many years, never forgiving ourselves, never forgetting our actions. Carrying on in this way is another big mistake, disturbing our lives in very unpleasant and painful ways.

Worrying about something that has already happened is a complete waste of time if you just keep wishing that it hadn’t happened. There is absolutely nothing you can do to change it.

“We ought not to look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dear-brought experience.” – George Washington (1732-1779)

Negative thoughts about the past will keep coming back again and again unless there are other thoughts occupying your mind. Begin feeding your brain with encouraging and fun ideas especially when that ‘thing’ from the past returns. Be generous, kind and forgiving to others and yourself.

“When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell

You no longer have yesterday; you only have today. So start living in TODAY.

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle is one of the best books for people who wants to understand the power of living in Present.

Tolle narrates a wonderful story about the greatest obstacle to Enlightenment.

A beggar had been sitting by the side of a road for over thirty years. One day a stranger walked by. “Spare some change?” mumbled the beggar, mechanically holding out his old baseball cap. “I have nothing to give you,” said the stranger. Then he asked: “What’s that you are sitting on?” “Nothing,” replied the beggar. “Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember.” “Ever looked inside?” asked the stranger. “No,” said the beggar. “What’s the point? There’s nothing in there.” “Have a look inside,” insisted the stranger. The beggar managed to pry open the lid. With astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold.

Tolle goes on saying that I am that stranger who has nothing to give you and who is telling you to look inside. Not inside any box, as in the parable, but somewhere even closer: inside yourself.

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Recently I read a fabulous book – Happy for No Reason – 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out by Marci Shimoff, where she explains the following.

1. Why some people are happier than others regardless of their circumstances
2. What fundamental “laws” to follow to be happy for no reason
3. How to develop “21 happiness habits” that will raise your basic happiness “set-point.”
At the beginning of the book, she explains that finding 100 happy people in this world itself was a big task for her, but she did not give up. She interviewed 1000s of people and finally she listed 100 Happy people.

Marci interviewed those 100 people whom she refers to as the Happy 100. Their qualities included:
1. Having a sense of lightness or buoyancy
2. Feeling alive, vital, energetic
3. Having a sense of flow, openness
4. Feeling love and compassion for yourself and others
5. Having passion about your life and purpose
6. Feeling gratitude, forgiveness
7. Being at peace with live
8. Being full present in the moment

Happiness should be a journey, not a destination. This book will help you believe and achieve just that.

Happy for No Reason: Happiness Quotes
• This joy that I have – the world didn’t’t give it, the world can’t take it away. – Shirley Caesar
• Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.
–Aristotle
• Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves. – J. M. Barrie
• It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day-to-day basis. – Margaret Bonnano
• Our business is to be happy. – His Holiness the Dalai Lama
• Happiness for any reason is just another form of misery. – The
Upanishads
• Things do not change we change. – Henry David Thoreau
• Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot. – The Talmud
• We first make our habits, and then our habits make us. – John Dryden
• Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
• If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.– Maya Angelou
• The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you are in control of your own destiny. – Dr. Albert Ellis
• We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.
– His Holiness the Dalai Lama
• The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of Hell, a hell of Heaven.
– John Milton
• What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner. – Colette
• I would rather have eyes that cannot see; ears that cannot hear; lips that cannot speak, than a heart that cannot love. – Robert Tizon
• The heavens and the earth are there; the sun, the moon, and the stars, fire and lightning and the winds – the whole universe dwells within our heart. – adapted from the Upanishads
• If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.
– Meister Eckhart
• Appreciation and gratitude are a must if you choose to become the architect of increased happiness and your own fulfillment. – Doc Childre
• To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.–
Robert Mueller
• A sound mind in a sound body is a short but full description of a happy state in this world.
– John Locke
• Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are. – Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
• There is vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action…Keep the channel open. – Martha Graham
• We will be in tune with our bodies only if we truly love and honor them. We can’t be in good communication with the enemy. – Harriet Lerner
• There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as thought everything is a miracle. – Albert Einstein
• To make the right choices in life, you have to get in touch with your soul. To do this, you need
to experience solitude…because in the silence you hear the truth and know the solutions.
– Deepak Chopra
• The winds of grace are always blowing, but you have to raise the sail. – Sri Ramakrishna
• There are two great days in a person’s life—the day we are born and the day we discover why.
– William Barclay
• When we learn to say a deep, passionate yes to the things that really matter, then peace begins to settle onto our lives like golden sunlight sifting to a forest floor. – Thomas Kinkaide
• The important thing is not to think much but to love much; and so do that which best stirs you to love. – St. Teresa
• When you follow your bliss….doors will open where you would not have thought there would be
doors; and where there wouldn’t’t be a door for anyone else. – Joseph Campbell
• I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve. – Albert Schweitzer
• Whoever is happy will make others happy, too. – Mark Twain
• You become the average of the five people you associate with most. – Jim Rohn
• You have to do it by yourself, And you can’t do it alone. – Martin Rutte
• Human beings are more alike than we are un-alike…try to spread your giving of yourself…to people who may not even look like you. You belong to everybody, and everybody belongs to you.
– Maya Angelou
• When there is light in the soul, there is beauty in the person. When there is beauty in the person, there is harmony in the house. When there is harmony in the house, there is order in the nation.
When there is order in the nation, there is peace in the world.
– Chinese proverb

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Wayne Dyer wrote Wisdom of the Ages, a book which gives you ideas about how our ancestors lived their lives. Wayne has tried to explain the lives and life philosophy of various great people lived before us, from Buddha to Blake. He has written the book in such a way that even a layman can easily understand that he is asking us to implement the secrets these great souls are giving us.

Two of the most significant quotations are about the silence and meditation.

Learn to be silent. Let your quiet mind listen and absorb.
PYTHAGORAS
(580.B.C.-500 B.C.)

A Greek philosopher and mathematician, Pythagoras was especially interested in the study of mathematics in relation to weights and measures and to musical theory.

All man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone.
BLAISE PASCAL
(1623-1662)

Blaise Pascal was a French philosopher, scientist, mathematician, and writer, whose treatises contributed to the fields of hydraulics and pure geometry.

I myself tried to sit quietly in a room alone, but failed many times. The mind doesn’t allow silence when you are alone especially when you are surrounded by the four walls. It starts reminding you about different stories, incidents, creates stories, reminds past, and contemplates future.

Wayne goes on explaining that if we can sit alone in room without thinking anything, meditating and keeping out mind and thoughts under control, we can feel a very peaceful and serene feeling which is our true nature. He explains that mind is like a pond, where the top surface has so much disturbance, but the bottom of the pond has pure silence without any waves and disturbance.

This is how Wayne explains.
I selected two men whose lives were separated by over two millennia, both of whom in their own times were considered the most knowledgeable in the rational fields of mathematics and science. Pythagoras, whose writings influenced the thought of Plato and Aristotle, was a major contributor to the development of both mathematics and Western rational philosophy. Blaise Pascal, a famous French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher who lived twenty-two centuries after Pythagoras, is considered one of the original scientific minds. He is responsible for inventing the syringe, the hydraulic press, and the first digital calculator. Pascal’s Law of Pressure is still taught in science classes around the world today.
Keeping in mind the left-brained scientific leanings of these two scientists, reread their two quotes. Pascal: “All man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone.” Pythagoras: “Learn to be silent. Let your quiet mind listen and absorb.” They both speak to the importance of silence and the value of meditation in your life, whether you are an accountant or an avatar. They send us a valuable message about a way of being in life that is not popularly encouraged in our culture: that there is tremendous value in creating alone time in your life that is spent in silence. If you want to shed your miseries, learn to sit silently in a room alone and meditate.

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