5 Interesting Books That Will Improve Your Mental Health

Matt Lillywhite


I used to struggle to sleep at night because my mental health was terrible. Anxiety was something I frequently dealt with, and I constantly found myself questioning my self-worth.

For a long time, I wanted to improve my mental health. The only problem? I had absolutely no idea where to start. But one day, I started reading new books. Admittedly, it was out of desperation since I couldn’t think of any other way to improve my circumstances.

I assumed that if other people had overcome adversity, I could learn from their experience to do the same. And sure enough, I was correct. I applied what I learned and gradually began to improve my life.

So below is a collection of books that improved my mental health. Each of them taught me to live a happier life in the modern world. Hopefully, they will do the same for you, too.

“12 Rules For Life” By Jordan B. Peterson.

Sure, Jordan Peterson has had his fair share of controversy over the past couple of years. However, I felt like I had to include his book, as it certainly helped me improve my confidence and become the person I am today.

In it, Jordan writes essays that draw upon psychology and religion to offer practical ways that a person can improve their life. For example, he recommends to “treat yourself like you are someone you are responsible for helping.” After all, we frequently go out of our way to take care of our friends whenever they’re in need. Thus, it’s a good idea to do the same for ourselves.

“Don’t underestimate the power of vision and direction. These are irresistible forces, able to transform what might appear to be unconquerable obstacles into traversable pathways and expanding opportunities. Strengthen the individual. Start with yourself. Take care of yourself. Define who you are. Refine your personality. Choose your destination and articulate your being.” — Jordan Peterson

After reading this book, I began taking the necessary steps to improve my mental health, relationships, and other important aspects of life. I recognized that by continually putting one foot in front of the other, I’d eventually reach my desired destination. So that’s what I did.

“Stillness Is The Key” By Ryan Holiday.

The world is noisy. Life can get busy. Sometimes, it’s necessary to take a step back and practice the art of “Stillness.” In essence, it’s the ability to avoid distractions, conquer your temper, and remain calm during moments of chaos.

“The gift of free will is that in this life, we can choose to be good or we can choose to be bad. We can choose what standards to hold ourselves to and what we will regard as important, honorable, and admirable. The choices we make in that regard determine whether we will experience peace or not.”― Ryan Holiday

In the book, Ryan Holiday writes about the importance of focusing solely on the things that genuinely matter. Using historical case studies, he describes stillness as the key that unlocks the door to a meaningful life.

From this book, I learned that spending your time solely on things that matter is the best way to avoid wasting time on things that don’t.

“The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck” by Mark Manson.

This book is a bestseller for a reason: it’s absolutely brilliant. In it, Mark Manson writes about coming to terms with the aspects of life that suck.

He says that not everything will go your way, but that’s okay. Because you have a limited amount of time & energy each day. Just focus on the things that are genuinely important to you.

“There is a simple realization from which all personal improvement and growth emerges. This is the realization that we, individually, are responsible for everything in our lives, no matter the external circumstances. We don’t always control what happens to us. But we always control how we interpret what happens to us, as well as how we respond.”―Mark Manson

I used to spend a lot of time worrying about what people thought of me. I couldn’t help it. Like many people struggling with anxiety, overthinking was something I did throughout the entire day. But after reading the book, I learned that it’s impossible to please everyone.

Some people will inevitably dislike me through no fault of my own. Thus, I recognized that a better use of my time & energy is to spend time with people who accept me for who I truly am. So that’s what I did. And sure enough, I quickly found myself worrying about people’s opinions less frequently.

Someday, you are going to die. Until then, what you do with your time & energy is entirely up to you. But if you want to live a happier life, it’s certainly a good idea to stop caring about the aspects of life that you can’t change. Focus on what you can.

“Man’s Search For Meaning” by Viktor Frankl.

This book was written by Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor. In it, Frankl writes about how he managed to stay emotionally resilient throughout one of the darkest moments in human history.

Frankl wrote about his inability to change his circumstances, as he couldn’t alter the fact that he was stuck in a Nazi concentration camp. However, he could control his mindset.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”―Viktor Frankl

I’ve read this book at least four times. The reason? It puts everything into perspective. Upon re-reading it, I recognize that people have gone through terrible situations and come out even stronger on the other side. So, I always have the potential to do the same.

Frankl’s book reminded me that even during the darkest moments of our lives, we can find hope when everything feels hopeless. We can find meaning when everything feels meaningless. At least to me, that’s beautiful.

“The Obstacle Is The Way” by Ryan Holiday.

During the book, Ryan Holiday writes about how stoicism can be applied in the modern world. For example, there’s no point in complaining about a situation if you can’t change the outcome.

“There is no good or bad without us; there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.”―Ryan Holiday

Over the past twelve months, I’ve learned to accept the pandemic since I can’t change the fact that it’s happening. My actions can’t make it go away tomorrow morning. However, I have complete control over my actions. So what’s what I choose to focus on.

The message of the book is simple: you can turn adversity into triumph. Sure, challenges in your life might seem inconvenient or horrible at the time. But you always have a choice: You can either learn from adversity or let it destroy your entire being. Choose wisely.

Each of the above books improved my mental health in one way or another. They helped me overcome anxiety, become more confident, and ultimately, live a much happier life in the modern world.

Whenever you encounter a problem, consider looking to books for answers. Because chances are, someone else has been through the exact same situation. Therefore, you can use books as a roadmap to learn, navigate adversity, and become the person you were destined to be.

Fall in love with reading. It quite literally changed my life. Hopefully, it’ll do the same for you, as well.

Photo via Unsplash

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