Being a man in the modern world is confusing at times.
With the mainstream media constantly chipping away at the male image while the “love yourself” movement insists that you are perfect just the way you are, knowing the best way to live and how (or if) you can be better has never been more difficult.
Self-reflection and the need for improvement are being mistaken for self-hatred and perfectionism and the world is encouraging people to stay exactly where they are.
“Accept yourself!” they yell. “Don’t let the judgments of others tear you down!”
In their eagerness to throw off the chains of judgment and oppression from the past (think holocaust, slavery, suppression of women) and accept anyone and everyone, the world is letting slip some of the most fundamental values that have held up humanity for millennia.
While letting self-doubt, regret, and others’ opinions ruin your life is dangerous, men today must understand that there are better and worse ways to live.
So, you’re a man living in the 21st century. How should you live? Why are you unhappy? What are you doing wrong?
You’ve followed society’s clear set rules up to this point and feel you are still missing something big. You feel an emptiness inside and nothing the world sends your way seems to fill it. Your self-esteem is low, you have zero self-control, and you’re having difficulty overcoming self-defeating behavior.
Let me introduce you to the key ingredient that changed my life and so many of the clients I’ve coached in my relationship coaching program: self-love books.
What are self-love books?
I’ve intentionally chosen to call these self-love books rather than self-improvement or self-help books (though that is what they are) as I think it is important to recognize that the recent push for acceptance and self-love in the social and political world isn’t a bad thing altogether. Rather, it is misguided.
Here is what I mean:
We are being taught that self-love is patting yourself on the back and telling yourself you are doing good no matter the situation–that the best way to love yourself is to accept everything you do as a part of you. Lines like, “I’m just not a kind person” or “I’m not good at relationships” are delivered as quirky personality traits rather than personal issues that need addressing. This isn’t self-love.
The best self-love is self-improvement. The best way to love yourself is to take your life into your own hands and steer it in the direction that you want it to go rather than following society’s universally prescribed map.
Self-love books are books that push you to be a better man in every aspect of your life. They are books written by men who have “been there, done that” and have decided to put the lessons they learned in an easily understandable guide so other men don’t make the same mistakes.
Literature of this nature has, for as long as the written word has existed, helped guide humanity and lend a sense of direction when life seems directionless. Thinkers like Aristotle, Plato, and Confucius led generations with their ideas and philosophies.
But what now? Who do we look to now?
Many have lost the appetite for such literature (and reading altogether). The truth is, self-love books can change lives.
Why men should read self-love books
There are numerous benefits associated with reading self-love books for men. While not every sentence of every book delivers some miraculous, life-changing magic, these books put you, the reader, on the path to understanding and putting into action the lessons learned.
Self-improvement books can help you solve problems without having to wade through the well-meaning but often errant advice of close friends or family members. The right book can guide you through the most tumultuous times and replace negative thinking patterns with positive thinking.
They have the power to bolster your self-confidence, get rid of self-pity, and help you build meaningful relationships.
Self-help books for men really are one of the keys to personal development, personal success, and in the end, the living of a better life.
While any self-improvement in your own life will ultimately have to come from you, self-help books can put you on the right track and give you the knowledge necessary to improve your life. They are guidebooks that, when understood and followed, lead to a more fulfilling life.
Self-love doesn’t mean these books will be happy. The journey of personal growth is long, unpredictable, and plagued by many difficulties. Becoming a better man, overcoming self-doubt, and facing the challenges of everyday life come with their fair share of pain.
That said, I promise you that it will all be worth it in the end.
Top 10 Self-Love Books For Men
Here are the top ten self-love books you should read to get your life on track.
1. Unf*ck Yourself: Get out of your head and into your life
Written by Gary John Bishop, this book is all about getting you unstuck.
Whether it’s in a personal relationship or your life overall, this book helps you get out of your own way and take a step into your potential.
To achieve success in this, you have to have the self-awareness to recognize that you are in the way of your own future.
This book helps you do this better than any.
2. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
With a strong philosophical tone, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People speaks about the importance of matching your inner values with your practical work and your actions.
Author Stephen Covey highlights seven habits that set apart effective people from everyone else, emphasizing the importance of thinking in terms of effectiveness and relationship when it comes to people, rather than efficiency.
The book addresses people of all walks of life, but especially those looking to influence others, expand their network, and lead an ultimately happier life.
3. Awaken the Giant Within
If you have been a part of the self-help or self-improvement world for any length of time, you will know (or at least heard of) Tony Robbins.
Growing up in poverty and struggle, Tony Robbins rose to become one of the leading life coaches and motivational speakers around the world. His message is not to be taken lightly.
In Awaken the Giant Within, he pushes the idea of incremental changes having staggering effects down the road.
His contagious energy and the passion with which he speaks and writes have influenced millions across the world for decades.
So, if you’re looking for a kick in the pants–and not only a kick but a kick in the right direction–Awaken the Giant Within could prove decisive in your life.
4. Make Your Bed: Small Things That Can Change Your Life…and Maybe the World
The rising popularity of the “everyone is a victim of everything” movement is slowly but surely taking personal responsibility away from the individual.
We are all born in difficult situations and we all face insurmountable issues in our lives. The world is urging us to lay down any personal responsibility or individualism and blame the world (the government, our parents–anything but ourselves).
In Make Your Bed, Navy Seal Admiral William H. McRaven discusses how taking control of small things in your life can send shock waves throughout the rest of your life…and maybe the world.
Rather than submitting to the storm of life, he preaches a message of conquest and taming of your life through ten principles.
You can only change the world if you first change yourself.
5. Can’t Hurt Me
If you’re at all a fan of motivation, facing the difficulties of life head-on, or fitness, then you have heard of David Goggins. A retired navy seal and ultra-marathon addict, Goggins has earned the name “toughest man alive” for a reason.
In Can’t Hurt Me, he tells the story of his life. Raised in the thick of poverty and terrible abuse and violence, David Goggins tells the unbelievable tale of how he stopped submitting to his situation and turned his life around.
He writes and speaks in a no-nonsense, gritty, forceful way that has lit a fire in the hearts of so many around the world.
Trust me, once you read Can’t Hurt Me, you’ll truly believe anything is possible.
6. Man’s Search for Meaning
Victor Frankl, the author of Man’s Search for Meaning, tells his personal story of misery and trauma as he traveled between four Nazi death camps between the years of 1942 and 1945.
With a rare and intimate relationship with suffering and questioning the meaning of life, Victor Frankl is a man you should listen to.
Knowing what to live for and giving meaning to the seeming randomness of life can be extremely difficult, and Man’s Search for Meaning has helped millions find and keep some form of meaning in their lives.
If you’re feeling stuck, this book will give you a better understanding of human psychology and how to find a life that fulfills you.
7. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck
The title says it all. Written by blogger turned author Mark Manson, this book helps you, the reader, focus on what is important in life and ignore things that detract or distract you.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck is a practical guide to how to stop worrying about things that you don’t need to, eliminate negative thinking, and stop comparing yourself to others.
It has become one of the best self-development books for men over the past five years–one of the key cornerstones of self-improvement philosophy.
8. Get Out of Your Own Way
This is a clear-cut, no-nonsense guide to diagnosing and overcoming the self-defeating behaviors that hold so many men back from realizing their full potential.
It is impossible to move forward in your life and become a better man if you don’t first address your way of thinking as well as the practical habits that make up your everyday life. So many men waste their life away through bad habits.
Coauthored by Dr. Mark Goulston and Philip Goldberg, Get Out of Your Own Way is a pretty straightforward book that takes a deep dive into these self-sabotaging habits that eat away at your potential as a man.
If you struggle with things like procrastination, self-pity, anxiety, guilt, and compulsiveness, head to your local bookstore and discover why Get Out of Your Own Way has changed so many lives.
9. Eat Move Sleep
Eat Move Sleep, by Tom Rath, is a guide to living a better life.
Rath organizes the book thematically with chapters addressing three different components of living a better life: decision-making, quitting bad habits, and increasing your energy.
Then, he provides a tip related to each of the three categories that will help you improve your eating, moving, and sleeping.
So many men have complicated life and self-improvement. The modern world wants to convince us all that mental fortitude and health are completely separate from physical health and that self-improvement is some complex inner riddle that’s really foolish to try to solve. This is the biggest load of BS out there and Eat Move Sleep makes that clear.
In the words of the Rath: “Every hour you spend on your rear end saps your energy and ruins your health.”
10. The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem
And last but not least, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem.
Self-esteem, self-reflection, self-control, self-confidence–if you think deeper into each of these words, you realize just how related they all are. So much of what makes or breaks our relationships and things we consider important in life is related to our relationship with ourselves.
Understanding your own values and why you have them gives you self-confidence that sets you apart from the average man.
Written by psychotherapist Nathaniel Branden, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem is a guide to overcoming low self-esteem. This book takes a deep dive into concepts such as self-worthiness and self-doubt.
Branden explains how confidence is the key to happiness in every area of life, exploring various angles of the problem in the average man’s life.
With a very analytical and philosophical approach to one of the biggest problems facing modern man, this book can be a life-changer to the average reader.
Self-love books have the potential to change your life.
Whether you are looking for a kick in the pants (Can’t Hurt Me, Awaken the Giant Within), a practical guide to overcoming negative forces in your life (Get Out of Your Own Way, Unf*ck Yourself), or a deep dive into the psychology of the human mind and the forces that control you (Man’s Search for Meaning, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem), modern self-help books can give you so much more than you know.
Facing the challenges of life completely alone can be a daunting and impossible-seeming task. Taking bits and pieces of wisdom from men who have been there, and done that can turn your life around and save you years and years of heartache.
Throughout my coaching career, I’ve seen these books get desperate men out of bad relationships, help them grab life by the reigns, and reawaken their passion for life.
Do keep in mind, however, that reading one book or ten books won’t change your life. To change your life, you must apply the principles given to you. You must take your life into your own hands with intentionality. Tony Robbins or David Goggins can’t do it for you.
If you feel lost and need help in this journey of self-improvement, you may not want to go alone. Here at Knowledge for Men, we have at our disposal the best-trained coaches in the self-help world. These are men who have faced the same impossible situations you are facing right now–men who have traveled long and lonely roads and don’t want you to do the same. The journey to a better life only starts when you start acting intentionally.