Audiobooks became a great hobby and almost like a companion when I for a walk or do my chores. I’ve discovered audible* about 2 years ago and have been binging on it ever since.
My favourite audiobooks are non-fiction books that will help me develop further and learn new things.
When it comes to personal growth, I found that books giving psychological insights are essential. However, I also started listening to spiritual books that others had recommended to me. To my great surprise, I found those extremely powerful for me to develop and become a “better” person.
Here are my top 7 audiobooks for personal growth and spirituality, which have been changing my life and how I see things, one step at a time.
Audiobooks For Personal Development
1. Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself* by Dr Kristin Neff
Dr Kristin Neff is a worldwide expert in the field of self-compassion, and you can learn a great deal from her book. Here are the most important learnings from my point of view:
SELF-ESTEEM is not as helpful as people tend to think.
It makes you believe that you are above average and causes you to downplay what others do in order to improve your image of yourself.
Harsh SELF-CRITICISM is also hurtful.
It can be a form of submission that you impose on yourself before others may do it. It creates sympathy so that you still get accepted by the group. The problem is that this behaviour triggers a stress signal and causes your body to react as if it had to confront a difficult situation.
SELF-COMPASSION serves us and those around us well.
We can trigger the production of the hormone linked with love and bonding called “oxytocin” ourselves. Social bonding is an instinctive behaviour for mammals, at the core of the species’ ability to survive. This means that when we are kind to ourselves in a difficult situation, we change our body as well as our mind. We feel calm, content and safe.
What’s really fascinating is HOW you can trigger self-compassion and calm your body and mind down.
Caress your own cheek, arm or else. What’s important is that your gesture shows love and caring for yourself: your body won’t make a difference if it comes from you or another! You can even just THINK and imagine doing it.
Watch the way you TALK TO YOURSELF.
When you are being self-critical, try to soften your tone and be self-compassionate. Try to reframe your self-criticism in a positive optimistic way. Talk to yourself as if you were your best friend. Surely, you wouldn’t beat them up, right?
I’ve experienced both the harms of self-esteem and harsh self-criticism and found this book really useful. For me, they were actually closely intertwined. I was trying to build up my self-esteem (which I’ve always been cruelly lacking) for a long time, but when I was not 100% perfect at something, I would immediately slip into very harsh self-criticism, beating myself up for no good reason, really.
It helped me a lot to realise that I did NOT NEED TO BE SPECIAL OR DIFFERENT to be worthy.
I hope this book will help you, too!
2. Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It* by Kamal Ravikant
Here is a short audiobook that combines the author’s story about how self-love and forgiveness helped him out of his lowest lows in life. It’s very motivating and you can use the methods the author recommends to try it out yourself.
I sometimes really like short and simple audiobooks that are easy to listen, positive and actionable. Which is why this book made it on this list.
A lot of spiritual and personal development books revolve around the idea of SELF-LOVE and FORGIVENESS. Those seem to be essential to us as humans and social beings to function well.
Here are my key learnings from this audiobook:
- Self-love, forgiveness, meditation are essential to function well. They are to be practised REGULARLY. If you stop taking care of yourself, you will stop seeing the benefits of it in your life.
- Ways to practise self-love:
- Listen to a carefully selected piece of MUSIC that you have positive associations with, close your eyes and tell yourself “I love myself” in your mind, gently. Do this often. The music will become a great anchor for you to recreate this meditative state in the future.
- Stare at yourself in a mirror and say “I love myself” for 5 minutes. Be gentle and smile.
- Vulnerability is key. This is why you should try to LET GO of your EGO and of what others think you should be or do.
- Be careful about what you think: If you believe that growth only happens through great difficulty, then you will attract difficult situations.
3. The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life* by Shawn Achor
The happiness advantage is a brilliant audiobook by Shawn Achor, who has been researching the topic of happiness for years at Harvard. I first got aware of this audiobook because I had seen his a memorable and funny TED talk, “The happy secret to better work“. It’s worth watching 😉
I love this audiobook because it combines facts based on thorough research, experiences and real-life applications. But it’s still really easy to listen to.
What I have learned in the happiness advantage:
a) Things that make you happier:
Even if only 5 minutes per day of breathing.
I.e. looking forward to something.
Acts of kindness and altruism.
The author recommends doing those consciously 5 times per week at least.
Improving your surroundings
For instance through decoration, nice pictures etc.
Watching LESS TV
!!! Didn’t see that one coming, right?
It even lowers the chances of a relapse after depression. In particular, exercising early in the morning makes your brain work really well.
Money spent on experiences
Here it’s even better if you do these things with others.
Using skills in which you are good at
That’s why picking the right career path or hobbies can make you so much happier…
Using a trait that is deeply part of your character.
It could be the love of learning, appreciation of beauty, perseverance, social intelligence etc. Pick one of your strengths and try using it in a new way every day. This is proven to have a very long-lasting effect on your happiness.
Strong social relationships
They are the most important factor for happiness and health. That’s why social interactions at work, for instance during the break, work miracles for health and productivity.
b) How Happiness Relates To Success
- The happiness of employees is directly and positively correlated to a company’s benefits. To go in the right direction, a successful team or company needs a ratio of at least 3 positive comments vs. 1 negative comment.
- Profitability and success are increased by the way employees in a team feel about one another. And if someone cares about you at work, you are more productive and stay longer.
- All you need to create the bond are FREQUENT and POSITIVE interactions.
- Your EXPECTATIONS create brain patterns that are AS REAL AS IF the expected events were TRULY HAPPENING.
- When we believe that we will succeed at something, we most probably will!
- The words you use are really important: a “DEADline” should probably be called a “LIFEline”, otherwise, it may turn something fun into a constraint.
- Focus on and enjoy the PROCESS, rather than just focusing on the end.
- Here is a really important lesson for me: if you conceive time spent outside work to be a “hindrance” to productivity, you will start feeling guilty about having free time. You will have trouble resting and recharging your batteries, which will make you less productive in the end.
- Another really exciting one: The managers’ expectations (whether outspoken or not) of the employees’ motivation is what becomes true! This also holds true in other life situations, such as parents’ or teachers’ expectations about children. This means that people who are in the position to lead others should have or develop faith in people’s abilities to learn and improve.
- Playing for HOURS in a row is really important to be able to break the patterns in which you get stuck through everyday life.
c) Train Your Brain To Scan The World For The Positive.
Even more so if you have a job that forces you to focus on errors or bad things. This will trigger the following in you:
- Gratitude. Grateful people are more energetic, emotionally intelligent, forgiving, less likely to be depressed, anxious or lonely.
- Optimism, which is a predictor of work performance. Optimists cope better with stress and a higher level of well-being. They are more persistent, resilient and consistently “luckier”. There is, of course, no such thing as luck: their brain is simply trained to see the opportunities when they arise. While pessimists will filter the world for its negative aspects, hence overlooking a good opportunity when it presents itself.
d) How To Get There…
- Failing is very important.
If you have a start-up or are learning to code, you should FAIL A LOT AND OFTEN. This way you quickly learn self-efficacy and how to get out of difficult situations.
- Taking just micro-steps at a time is very important and powerful.
- Always think about how you can REDUCE THE BARRIER to positive habits, and increase the barrier to negative ones.
- Limiting the choices you have to make will make everything easier.
- Setting rules in advance reduces stress and makes it easier to implement a new habit!
- Changing yourself will impact more people than you think. It will not only influence people who have direct contact with you but up to 3 degrees of social link with you. It means that up to 1000 people could be influenced by your actions and attitude.
This book has so many more details and so much more wisdom in it. I really loved it and while reading my notes again, I realised how much impact it could have if all of us just implemented a small amount of it in our daily lives. Go ahead and listen to it. Enjoy.
Audiobooks About Spirituality
Every now and then, I feel like the world challenges me beyond my capacity to react wisely. That’s when I like to turn to audiobooks that stimulate my spirituality. I listen to them with an open mind and am willing to explore. It does not mean, however, that I necessarily BELIEVE in the same things as the authors.
I find that very often, religious or spiritual audiobooks simply give greater GUIDANCE about how to deal with unforeseen challenges in your life. And I am willing to extract the bits and parts that HELP ME BECOME A BETTER PERSON, in the long run, using my own moral compass.
4. Conversations With God* by Neale Donald Walsch
This series consists of Book I, II, III and, most recently the Book 4 “Awakening The Species” (published in 2016).
I first heard from this book in an online programme called “Becoming Limitless” by Vishen Lakhiani, the founder of Mindvalley. To be honest, at that stage I would never have read such a book. The title would have misled me into thinking that the book is of a highly religious and preachy nature. But I find Vishen Lakhiani’s input to be very interesting and valuable most of the time, so I gave it a try.
What I found was a series of audiobooks that feel highly MEDITATIVE in nature. It brings me inner peace to listen to these conversations.
If I were to try and put the content of these audiobooks into words, I’d say that it’s like listening to a higher being’s voice talking with compassion and sometimes humour about the world.
It helps OPEN MY MIND and feel more at peace with what is happening on earth and my own actions, “good” or “bad”. Some of these conversations also brought me a really NEW AND REFRESHING perspective on human relations and actions.
Definitely recommended if you can keep an open mind.
5. The Mastery Of Self: A Toltec Guide to Personal Freedom* by Don Miguel Ruiz
This audiobook is great to dive deep into your inner fears and redefine yourself. The idea behind it is that we all get “domesticated” by our culture, our experiences, our close friends and family. We learn to see and judge the world and ourselves in a certain way.
In order to FREE OURSELVES, we first must be clear about our level attachment. To objects, to people, or to a certain role think we should play. What if all of these things you are attached to disappeared or changed?
Further, the audiobook discusses negative self-talk and how it impacts you. The author then gives you tools to FORGIVE yourself and others, and to cultivate SELF-LOVE.
I highly recommend this audiobook if you feel pushed in a direction that doesn’t fit you by society or your close friends and family.
6. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book)* by Don Miguel Ruiz Jr.
The Four Agreements are written with a spirit very similar to The Mastery Of Self. This audiobook gives your 4 rules which you should follow every day, at every moment:
Agreement 1: BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD
The author postulates that words are shaping everything. According to this audiobook, you should be extremely careful with your words, as these can be seen as a “program” that can domesticate others and make most things materialise. While I am not sure if I believe that words are THAT powerful, this audiobook made me pay more attention to what I am saying. I discovered that I, indeed, still have a lot of work to do to become impeccable with my word. A great insight, since I always see myself as a very honest person and did never pay closer attention to every single word I am saying. As you may know, the devil lies in the details.
Agreement 2: DON’T TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY
That’s an extremely important lesson I learned over the past few years, and hearing it put in clear terms by the author helped make yet another leap forward. I would tend to say that this is core to open-mindedness and a central part of becoming an adult. You should get away from the idea that everything revolves around you. The only thing you should focus on is to stay true to yourself. I find this lesson very useful when, for instance, someone around me acts differently for no apparent reason. Why would their different behaviour always be related to me? Very often, I found that the change of mood really had nothing to do with me.
Agreement 3: DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS
Making assumptions causes suffering. You should not interpret or put words in the mouth of others. Ask questions instead. Look for honest, direct and clear communication. According to the author, with clear communications, all relationships will change. I strongly agree. I have ended relationships in the past based on wrong assumptions. Don’t overestimate yourself: YOU DO NOT KNOW OTHERS better than they know themselves! Give them the space to express what they truly mean and want.
Agreement 4: ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE
Doing your best is TAKING ACTION and doing something because you like it, and not because you will get a reward. The important thing is to just be yourself and express who you truly are. This is a very interesting interpretation of what “doing your best” means. In a way, it makes a lot of sense to me. How can you “do your best” in the long run if you do things that you do not like doing?
This audiobook was very inspiring, and I would like to try and apply the four agreements every day in the future, at least for a set period, to see where they would lead me.
The Four Agreements also discusses two other topics:
- How to defeat your FEAR parasite in order to free yourself. What most intrigues me here is confronting your daily fears using “SYMBOLIC DEATH“. The idea behind this is that your fear of death can TEACH YOU TO LIVE EVERYDAY AS IF IT WERE THE LAST ONE.
- FORGIVENESS, once again, is a central tool to heal and be your BEST SELF. The audiobook gives a great tool to find out whether you have truly forgiven yourself and others. You have truly forgiven WHEN you feel NO EMOTION when seeing someone or being reminded of your past actions or self.
I hope you will enjoy this audiobook as much as I did.
7. Zero Limits: The Secret Hawaiian System for Wealth, Health, Peace, and More* by Joe Vitale, Ihaleakala Hew Len
And here is my last (but not least) audiobook in the spirituality category. I had heard about the Hawaiian practice called “Ho’oponopono” but did not know anything about it. So I got curious and listened to this audiobook, which one should definitely approach with an OPEN MIND.
I cannot say that I am adhering to a 100% of what I heard in this audiobook. BUT it teaches a great lesson about SELF-LOVE, FORGIVENESS and taking FULL RESPONSIBILITY. That part is so powerful, that I definitely want to include it in this list. Here are the bits that I found EXTREMELY valuable and helped me make progress:
Assume TOTAL RESPONSIBILITY for what happens in your life.
I LOVE this idea.
- This means that, whatever comes up in your life, you should assume that you are fully responsible for it and act as such. It may seem somewhat extreme at first sight. But, the effect it has on you when you think this way is brilliant. You STOP blaming bad stuff on others, and you do your best to help improve the situation, no matter where the harm seems to come from.
- Imagine you have a crazy boss, who seems to get angry irrationally all the time. No matter how nuts he is, if you only blame him and take no responsibility for the whole situation, it will only get worse. This happened to a friend of mine. But in a brilliant twist, one day, she’s had enough. And decided to observe what was going wrong. She also closely observed that there was ONE SINGLE colleague with whom the boss behaved well. She wondered why and started adapting. It worked! The situation improved drastically until she became one of the favourites as well.
- I also love this idea because it forces us to STOP building up a divide between us and others. This approach helps us understand that everything is intertwined. And if you help others, you will indeed get help in return, if maybe in indirect ways.
When bad things happen to you or around you, CLEAN YOURSELF…
…by repeating the sentence “I’m sorry, please forgive me, I love you, thank you“. It may sound weird but try it out. This sentence especially works wonders when you feel powerless over a bad situation. It has a very meditative power and I find that it helps you focus on taking responsibility and showing love and appreciation nevertheless. Supposedly, this sentence helps you get into “zero limit” state, where you receive clear intuitions and simply need to act on it.
If it sounds partly woo-woo to you, I totally get it. But try it out for one full day. Use the sentence “I’m sorry, please forgive me, I love you, thank you”. Every time you feel something is off or feel unwell. Every time someone seems upset, angry, or sad around you. No matter if you know them or not, no matter if you feel responsible or not. How do you feel after thinking or saying this sentence?
Before you go…
I am extremely happy that you found me and read my post. I hope that you enjoyed my pick of audiobooks and notes about them. Are you going to put them into action?
I’m also trying to improve, one step at a time, one day at a time.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, you are NOT ALONE 🙂
Here Are My Top 7 Life-Changing Audiobooks…