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28 Books that Will Open Your Mind, Expand Your Knowledge & Transform the Way You Live

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Can books really open your mind, expand your knowledge, and transform the way you live?

YES! Three years ago, I stopped watching television and started devouring books. 100+ books later, I can confidently say it’s the best investment I’ve ever made.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

Books have expanded my knowledge and opened my mind. They have allowed me to solve hard problems and uncover new interests. They have helped me excel in life and business. Above all else, books have brought me closer to a meaningful and fulfilling path.

I recently re-read one of my favorite books, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 . The novel is about a futuristic society in which people are banned from reading books. These people do not read, think independently, have meaningful conversations, or spend time in nature.

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” – Ray Bradbury

Bradbury’s future is my nightmare, and it’s not that far off. If we continue to scroll our phones, wear Airpods as we walk around, and consume pointless news that makes us angry at each other and the world, we’re an inch away from living in Bradbury’s world.

So how do we prevent this nightmare from becoming a reality?

READ books ! Otherwise, the sun will stop rising, the oceans will boil, and we’ll all…

Okay, it probably won’t be that bad, but we can all still benefit from more reading. To help you on your journey, I’ve curated a list of 28 great books that have profoundly expanded my knowledge and changed the way I think and operate.

My hope is that these books will expand your mind as well. And if you’re looking for good advice to help improve your life, check out these 40 pieces of advice that most people ignore .

P.S. If you enjoy the recommendations in this article, it’s worth checking out Foundations , a growing and fully searchable digital notebook with insights from 100+ timeless books.

Books to Expand Your Knowledge and Open Your Mind

1. man’s search for meaning by viktor frankl.

Man's Search for Meaning Book Cover

“…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.”

Rating : 10/10

Why it’s Great : This book changed my life. In it, Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl shows us that we have the ability to choose our response to every situation we face and that we can find meaning in our suffering.

2. Meditations By Marcus Aurelius

Meditations Book Cover

“Choose not to be harmed—and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed—and you haven’t been.”

Why it’s Great : A life-changing collection of philosophical and spiritual thoughts from Marcus Aurelius, a Stoic and the former Roman Emperor.

3. Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind By Yuval Noah Harari

“Culture tends to argue that it forbids only that which is unnatural. But from a biological perspective, nothing is unnatural. Whatever is possible is by definition also natural. A truly unnatural behaviour, one that goes against the laws of nature, simply cannot exist, so it would need no prohibition.”

Why it’s Great : A refreshingly comprehensive, engaging, and scientific account of history that will make you a better-informed person and leader.

4. The War Of Art By Steven Pressfield

The War of Art Book Cover

“The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not. He will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation.”

Why it’s Great : Pressfield prepares and inspires creatives to survive and thrive the challenging journey to produce good work in the face of resistance.

5. The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*Ck By Mark Manson

“Because once we become comfortable with the fact of our own death—the root terror, the underlying anxiety motivating all of life’s frivolous ambitions—we can then choose our values more freely, unrestrained by the illogical quest for immortality, and freed from dangerous dogmatic views.”

Why it’s Great : In this engaging and philosophical read, writer Mark Manson provides philosophical and candid thoughts on how we can live a better life.

6. Getting More: How You Can Negotiate To Succeed In Work And Life By Stuart Diamond

“People do some of the most important things in life not for money, not for rational benefits, but for how it makes them feel.”

Rating : 9/10

Why it’s Great : A fantastic introduction to negotiation that arms you with the knowledge and strategies to help you get more out of your work and life.

7. A Random Walk Down Wall Street: Including A Life-Cycle Guide To Personal Investing By Burton Malkiel

“What is hard to avoid is the alluring temptation to throw your money away on short, get-rich-quick speculative binges.”

Why it’s Great : A guide that blends history, economics, and behavioral finance to offer practical and actionable advice for investing and achieving financial freedom.

8. The Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art Of Turning Trials Into Triumph By Ryan Holiday

“Adversity can harden you. Or it can loosen you up and make you better—if you let it.”

Why it’s Great : A practical and actionable philosophy book on how to perceive, act, and thrive in an uncertain, difficult, and fast-paced world.

9. When Breath Becomes Air By Paul Kalanithi

“Science may provide the most useful way to organize empirical, reproducible data, but its power to do so is predicated on its inability to grasp the most central aspects of human life: hope, fear, love, hate, beauty, envy, honor, weakness, striving, suffering, virtue.”

Why it’s Great : While dying of lung cancer, neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi confronts the unanswerable and difficult question of what makes life meaningful.

10. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead And Win By Jocko Willink And Leif Babin

“Leaders must always operate with the understanding that they are part of something greater than themselves and their own personal interests.”

Why it’s Great : Two Navy SEALs show you how to be a better leader by practicing extreme ownership, killing your ego, prioritizing, and executing.

11. 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote To Chaos By Jordan Peterson

“Conscious human malevolence can break the spirit even tragedy could not shake.”

Why it’s Great : A profound and deeply philosophical read that shows us why we do what we do and how we can all live better, more fulfilling lives.

12. Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance By Robert Pirsig

“To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here’s where things grow.”

Why it’s Great : Through an entrancing narrative of a man on a summer motorcycle trip with his son, Pirsig takes us on a deeply philosophical journey that explores society, values, and life’s big questions.

13. Shoe Dog By Phil Knight

“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”

Why it’s Great : This is the inspiring story of Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, and his struggles, victories, and lesson learned while building a billion dollar shoe giant.

14. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less By Greg McKeown

“Play expands our minds in ways that allow us to explore: to germinate new ideas or see old ideas in a new light. It makes us more inquisitive, more attuned to novelty, more engaged. Play is fundamental to living the way of the Essentialist.”

Why it’s Great : A practical philosophy about living consciously, focusing on the essential, and creating a life to achieve your highest point of contribution.

15. Give And Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success By Adam Grant

“You never know where somebody’s going to end up. It’s not just about building your reputation; it really is about being there for other people.”

Why it’s Great : Adam Grant shows us how being a giver in our attitudes and actions towards others can fuel our long-term personal and professional success.

16. Awaken The Giant Within By Tony Robbins

“All too often, the security of a mediocre present is more comfortable than the adventure of trying to be more in the future.”

Why it’s Great : A comprehensive and invaluable guide to mastering your mind, body, emotions, and finances from leading life and business strategist Tony Robbins.

17. The Power Of Habit By Charles Duhigg  

“The water is habits, the unthinking choices and invisible decisions that surround us every day—and which, just by looking at them, become visible again.”

Why it’s Great : A digestible, comprehensive, and transformative guide to understanding why habits exist, how they work, and how you can change then.

18. Never Split The Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It By Chris Voss

“He who has learned to disagree without being disagreeable has discovered the most valuable secret of negotiation.”

Why it’s Great : International hostage negotiator Chris Voss provides a practical set of principles to improve your effectiveness in getting what you want.

19. The Game: Penetrating The Secret Society Of Pickup Artists By Neil Strauss

“Smile when you enter a room. As soon as you walk in a club, the game is on. And by smiling, you look like you’re together, you’re fun, and you’re somebody.”

Rating : 8/10

Why it’s Great : A fascinating and in-depth look at how journalist and author Neil Strauss became a well-respected leader in the pick-up artist community.

20. The Art Of Possibility: Transforming Professional And Personal Life By Rosamund And Benjamin Zander

“Every problem, every dilemma, every dead end we find ourselves facing in life, only appears unsolvable inside a particular frame or point of view. Enlarge the box, or create another frame around the data, and problems vanish, while new opportunities appear.”

Why it’s Great : 12 helpful and inspiring practices from a conductor and a psychotherapist that will fuel your personal and professional success.

21. Thinking, Fast And Slow By Daniel Kahneman

“The idea that the future is unpredictable is undermined every day by the ease with which the past is explained.”

Why it’s Great : An engaging and comprehensive introduction to the psychology of decision making and judgment by one of the pioneers in the field.

22. Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) By Caroll Tavris And Elliot Aronson

“Our convictions about who we are carry us through the day, and we are constantly interpreting the things that happen to us through the filter of those core beliefs.”

Why it’s Great : An examination of the human tendency to self-justify everything we do that will reshape your understanding of your memory, beliefs, and actions.

23. Deep Work: Rules For Focused Success In A Distracted World By Cal Newport

“The Deep Work Hypothesis: The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.”

Why it’s Great : Georgetown Professor Cal Newport shows us how to increase our focus and produce deep, meaningful work in a hyper-distracting world.

24. How To Lie With Statistics By Darrell Huff

“The secret language of statistics, so appealing in a fact-minded culture, is employed to sensationalize, inflate, confuse, and oversimplify.”

Why it’s Great : A great reminder of the basic principles of statistics and how they are often violated in the data we use and see in work, the news, and our personal lives.

25. The Power Of Now: A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment By Eckhart Tolle

“To complain is always non-acceptance of what is.”

Why it’s Great : Eckhart Tolle takes you on a journey that explores presence, thinking, spirituality, and how to reduce pain in your life.

26. Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation In Everyday Life By Jon Kabat-Zinn

Wherever You Go There You Are Book Cover

“Meditation is neither shutting things out nor off. It is seeing things clearly, and deliberately positioning yourself differently in relationship to them.”

Why it’s Great : A complete introduction to how and why to practice meditation and mindfulness that will help you live with more clarity, acceptance, and presence.

27. Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With The Heart Of A Buddha By Tara Brach

“When we believe something is wrong with us, we are convinced we are in danger. Our shame fuels ongoing fear, and our fear fuels more shame.”

Why it’s Great : If you have ever struggled with self-compassion, this book is for you. Clinical psychologist and meditation teacher, Tara Brach, introduces a fantastic approach to better relating to your experiences and emotions.

28. Models: Attract Women Through Honesty By Mark Manson

“Until you learn to trust your own actions and learn to pursue women with your own unique style and personality, you have learned absolutely nothing.”

Why it’s Great : An honest and helpful dating guide for men that will allow you to better connect with women in an authentic and effective way.

Final Thoughts and Tips on How to Get Started

  • For more good book recommendations and lessons, check out Foundations , a growing digital notebook with lessons from 100+ timeless books across categories.
  • If you haven’t read a book in a while, check out How to Read a Nonfiction Book. Yes, I know you know how to read, but this article will help you get the most out of the time you spend reading, and it starts with the topic of book selection.
  • If you struggle to read, try listening to audiobooks with Amazon Audible . If you want to easily track notes and highlights from books you read, I’m a big fan of Readwise .
  • Check out 40 Best Self-Help Books and 11 Great Books for Decision Making .
  • Like with relationships, timing is everything with books. I’ve found that reading books that explore and solve problems I’m currently facing resonate the most. Start with a book that looks interesting based on your current life challenges.
  • Don’t feel the need to finish a book that isn’t working for you. Drop it and move on.
  • I think everyone should own a Kindle , so if you don’t already, consider buying one. I’ve read 5x more books with a Kindle, and it’s super handy for when you’re traveling.

Finally, I send out a weekly Sunday newsletter, Life Reimagined , with helpful ideas and quotes from good books. If you want to receive small nuggets of wisdom and recommendations for future reading every week, you can sign up below.

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Items related to Self-Knowledge (Essay Books)

Self-knowledge (essay books) - hardcover, the school of life.

9780995753501: Self-Knowledge (Essay Books)

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  • About this title
  • About this edition

In Ancient Greece, when the philosopher Socrates was asked to sum up what all philosophical commandments could be reduced to, he replied: ‘Know yourself’. Self-knowledge matters so much because it is only on the basis of an accurate sense of who we are that we can make reliable decisions – particularly around love and work. This book takes us on a journey into our deepest, most elusive selves and arms us with a set of tools to understand our characters properly. We come away with a newly clarified sense of who we are, what we need to watch out for when making decisions, and what our priorities and potential might be.

Exercise: Interpreting Anxiety Write down what you are anxious about; find at least eight things. Each entry should only be a single word (or just a few words) at this point. Don’t worry if some of the anxieties look either incredibly trivial or tragi-comically large. If you’re having trouble, search for things that may be anxiety-inducing under the following categories:

  • – Work
  • – Relationships
  • – Children/Parents
  • – Health
  • – Money

1. Practical unpacking Walk yourself through the practical challenge. Ask the following questions: – What steps do you need to take? – What do others need to do? – What needs to happen when? It is very useful to have a calm and sympathetic part of yourself (or a friend) listening in on the detailed description of what needs to be done to address an issue. It is no longer merely an anxiety; it is a set of steps. They might not all be easy, but at least you are clearer about what they are.

2. Emotional unpacking Talk yourself through an emotional challenge or set of doubts. Describe the feeling in more detail. What do you feel it points to? Imagine trying to piece it together for a very considerate friend. The aim here isn’t to solve all anxieties; it’s to start to get to know them and to experience the relief that comes from this.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

The School of Life is a global organization helping people lead more fulfilled lives. It is a resource for helping us understand ourselves, for improving our relationships, our careers, and our social lives―as well as for helping us find calm and get more out of our leisure hours. They do this through films, workshops, books, and gifts―and through a warm and supportive community. You can find The School of Life online, in stores and in welcoming spaces around the globe.

Emotional Inheritance

What creates Emotional Identity? Why do we have the Emotional Identity we do and not a different one?

A big modern response looks to genetics for answers: it tells us that we have a specific genetic inheritance and (via many complex processes) that this inheritance shapes our adult personality. We're not saying that genetics are irrelevant, but we want to focus attention on another kind of inheritance: Emotional Inheritance.

One of the characteristic possessions of all European nobles for many centuries was an elaborate depiction of their family tree, showing their lineage down the generations. The idea was that the person sitting at the bottom of the tree would see themselves as the product of - and the heir to - all who had come before them. The tree came a quick visual guide to who they were and what others should know about them. If two aristocrats were contemplating marriage, the first thing they would do was to carefully examine each other's trees.

It can seem like a quaint preoccupation, wholly tied to another age and solely of interest to members of a few grand and ancient families. But the idea of such a tree sits upon a universal and still highly relevant concern: irrespective of the financial and status details of our families, we all have another significant legacy to grapple with, in that each of us is the recipient of an emotional inheritance, largely unknown to us, yet enormously influential in determining our day-to-day behaviour, and normally in rather negative or complex directions. We need to understand the details of our Emotional Inheritance a little before we are able to ruin our own and others' lives by acting upon its often antiquated and troublesome dynamics.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

  • Publisher The School of Life
  • Publication date 2018
  • ISBN 10  0995753504
  • ISBN 13  9780995753501
  • Binding Hardcover
  • Edition number 1
  • Number of pages 96
  • Rating 4.03 avg rating • ( 1,751 ratings by Goodreads )

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Book Description Hardcover. Condition: new. Hardcover. In Ancient Greece, when the philosopher Socrates was asked to sum up what all philosophical commandments could be reduced to, he replied: 'Know Yourself'. Self-knowledge matters so much because it is only on the basis of an accurate sense of who we are that we can make reliable decisions - particularly around love and work.This book takes us on a journey into our deepest, most elusive selves and arms us with a set of tools to understand our characters properly. We come away with a newly clarified sense of who we are, what we need to watch out for when making decisions, and what our priorities and potential might be. This book takes us on a journey into our deepest, most elusive selves and arms us with a set of tools to understand our characters properly. Shipping may be from multiple locations in the US or from the UK, depending on stock availability. Seller Inventory # 9780995753501

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What Is Self-Knowledge in Psychology? 8 Examples & Theories

Self-knowledge

Another provocative question is, “Why do I act the way I do?”

If you’ve asked yourself similar questions, you are not alone.

When we don’t know ourselves or act in ways we don’t understand or aren’t fond of, it may be a signal that change is in order. But how do we change, and what needs changing?

Einstein once reflected, “How many people are trapped in their everyday habits: part numb, part frightened, part indifferent? To have a better life, we must keep choosing how we’re living” (Cooper, 2001, p. 131).

Ignorance, fear, and indifference do not provide the impetus for gaining self-knowledge or effecting positive change.

Conversely, self-analysis leads to self-knowledge, which is the necessary first step in initiating positive change (Schaffner, 2020).

Let’s explore how self-knowledge facilitates self-improvement and provides other benefits.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Strengths Exercises for free . These detailed, science-based exercises will help your clients realize their unique potential and create a life that feels energizing and authentic.

This Article Contains:

What is self-knowledge in psychology, why is self-knowledge important, how can self-knowledge lead to self-mastery, self-knowledge vs self-awareness, self-knowledge, self-identity, & self-concept, 2 real-life examples of self-knowledge, 6 theories about self-knowledge, resources from positivepsychology.com, a take-home message.

Self-knowledge in psychology is “actual genuine information one possesses about oneself” (Morin & Racy, 2021, p. 373). This includes information about our emotional state, personality traits, relationships, behavioral patterns, opinions, beliefs, values, needs, goals, preferences, and social identity (Morin & Racy, 2021).

Self-knowledge results from self-reflective and social processes (Morin & Racy, 2021).

However, self-knowledge isn’t derived solely from introspection. According to Brown (1998), there are five sources that contribute to the reservoir of self-knowledge.

1. Physical world

This category of information is limited to physical information such as height, weight, and eye color.

2. Social comparisons

This source of self-knowledge occurs when comparing ourselves with others. Subcategories include upward and downward comparisons, in which we compare ourselves with someone better off and worse off, respectively (Brown, 1998).

3. Reflected appraisals

This source of self-knowledge stems from others’ evaluations of us. The term denotes the fact that we see ourselves reflected through the eyes of others (Brown, 1998).

4. Introspection

This source of self-knowledge is derived through inward observation of thoughts, feelings, motives, and desires. Introspection is interwoven with and integrally connected to self-knowledge.

5. Self-perception

In this category of self-knowledge, we learn about ourselves through observing and examining our own behavior.

Schaffner (2020) includes two additional sources of self-knowledge:

6. CBT-style approaches

Another source of self-knowledge emanates from a rational analysis of our negative thought processes through approaches similar to and including Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

7. Mindfulness techniques

Mindfulness-based techniques help us assess and enhance our emotional intelligence skills, building self-knowledge (Schaffner, 2020).

In sum, self-knowledge is obtained through a combination of the physical, social, and psychological world.

Importance of self-knowledge

Indeed, “People who do not see themselves accurately are likely to bungle their lives” (Begley, 2020).

Key aspects at risk due to lack of self-knowledge include life partner choices, education and career choices, and where and how to live (Morin & Racy, 2021).

Deficits in self-knowledge lead to over-estimation of subjective strengths, which can cause lower life satisfaction and poor academic performance (Morin & Racy, 2021).

Schaffner (2020) lists five reasons self-knowledge is essential for psychological growth.

  • It satisfies the desire to learn and make sense of experiences.
  • It prevents discord between self-perceptions and others’ perceptions of us.
  • It emancipates us from the irrational whims of our unconscious.
  • It facilitates proactive responses rather than reactivity.
  • It is a necessary first step for positive change.

Huseyin (2017) suggests that self-knowledge demands us to develop a balanced suspicion of our feelings.

Other benefits include having less work frustration, less insecurity and envy, and less stress about money. In addition, we gain the ability to take responsibility for our emotions and have more empathy and compassion (Huseyin, 2017).

self knowledge (essay books)

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Because self-knowledge includes honest self-assessments and other acquired information, we can use it to make positive changes and master aspects of our lives.

Self-knowledge is essential for “giving a meaningful narrative to our past, present, and future actions, a sense of continuity over time, a sense of being both unique and similar to others” (Bukowski, 2019).

Knowing ourselves enhances our ability to live coherent and fulfilling lives. In addition, it allows us to understand our basic motivations and fears, and enhances our control of our emotions (Schaffner, 2020).

Conversely, the inability to recognize our feelings leaves us vulnerable and at their mercy (Schaffner, 2020).

Stellar self-knowledge motivates us to pursue ambitious projects, relationships, and other challenges. Lack of insight can inhibit great aspirations (Begley, 2020).

Psychosocial domains ripe for change

Three domains ripe for change include blind spots, self-deception, and conflict triggers.

1. Blind spots

Blind spots are unconscious processes that “typically bias the access to and formation of self-knowledge” (Bukowski, 2019).

In this video, we learn that Brian Wagner views the world differently than most and uses his gift to help others identify their personal blind spots and overcome their self-limiting beliefs.

2. Self-deception

Baumeister (2010) describes self-deception as a kind of wishful thinking. In this state, we believe what we want to believe, bereft of rigorous justifications. Various biases serve as a vehicle for self-deception.

3. Conflict triggers

Conflict triggers are words or actions performed by another that are perceived as offensive and create conflict (Wilmot & Hocker, 2011). Taibbi (2019) suggests these triggers stem from unhealed wounds from our past.

Why few people seek self-knowledge

  • Exploring unknown aspects of ourselves is risky, as it may reveal information that contradicts our current self-beliefs .
  • Our culture is more interested in success and advancement than introspection (Huseyin, 2017).
  • A variety of closely related terms distract information seekers, forming barriers to self-knowledge (Bukowski, 2019). Terms such as self-awareness, self-concept, and self-identity dilute the field of self-knowledge.

Let’s analyze some of these terms to provide greater clarity.

Self-awareness

Self-knowledge refers to information about subjective tendencies, such as our emotional state, personality traits, and behavioral patterns (Morin & Racy, 2021).

Psychologists view self-awareness as a stepping stone on the path toward self-knowledge (Alicke, Zhang, & Stephenson, 2020).

Goleman (1997) states that in self-awareness, the mind investigates experiences and the corresponding emotions. This investigation can be both nonreactive and nonjudgmental.

Goleman (1997, p. 47) simplifies the concept of self-awareness by defining it as being “aware of both our mood and our thoughts about that mood.”

Some benefits of self-awareness include enhanced emotional intelligence, empathy, and listening skills (Berger, 2018).

Strong empathy and listening skills are instrumental in communication and for building robust and enriching interpersonal relationships.

In addition, self-awareness boosts critical thinking and decision making. These are skills often associated with effective leaders (Berger, 2018).

Increase your self-awareness with one simple fix – Tasha Eurich

According to Sheldon Stryker, identity is “a ‘part’ of one’s self that is ‘called up’ while interacting with others” (Appelrough & Desfor-Edles, 2008, p. 478).

The number of identities associated with a person corresponds with the roles they participate in, such as child, parent, employee, friend, and spouse (Appelrough & Desfor-Edles, 2008).

Identity salience refers to how the person organizes their identities hierarchically, as not every identity has the same meaning or status (Appelrough & Desfor-Edles, 2008).

Self-concept is the image we develop about ourselves, which, contrary to self-knowledge, may or may not be reality based (Morin & Racy, 2021). Self-concept may be ascertained using assessments such as the Self-Concept Questionnaire. This tool asks 48 questions assessing domains of self, such as moral, intellectual, social, physical, educational, and temperamental.

Self-concept is developed based on beliefs about self, whereas self-knowledge is derived from various sources of information, including external evidence (Morin & Racy, 2021).

A lack of clarity, stability, and consistency of self-concept is associated with low self-esteem , chronic self-analysis, high neuroticism, low agreeableness, and low conscientiousness (Morin & Racy, 2021).

Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka

The courageous actions of tennis star Naomi Osaka demonstrate self-knowledge. Osaka has won multiple Grand Slams and is among the world’s highest paid female athletes (Kelly, 2021).

Osaka made the difficult decision to put her mental health before her career and public image by declining to participate in the 2021 French Open press conferences (Kelly, 2021).

As public fervor grew, Osaka withdrew from the tournament and was subsequently fined $15,000 and given a stern lecture on tournament code infractions (Kelly, 2021).

It appears that Osaka knew herself physically, mentally, socially, and professionally. She was forthcoming on social media about suffering from protracted bouts of depression following her first Grand Slam win in 2018 (Kelly, 2021).

She took initiative to prioritize caring for herself over her career, despite social scrutiny. Osaka is a rare example of how self-knowledge can be used to make critical, sometimes life-altering decisions.

Viktor Frankl

Viktor Frankl was a 20th-century psychiatrist and psychotherapist who, as a Holocaust survivor, emerged from horrific circumstances to create logotherapy and author numerous books (Frankl, 2006).

He was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1905 and received his MD and PhD from the University of Vienna. Frankl’s (2006) early work focused on depression and suicide.

After years of waiting, Frankl received his visa allowing emigration to the United States. However, the decision necessitated that he leave his parents, wife, and siblings behind. After contemplation, Frankl allowed the visa to lapse (Schatzman, 2011).

In 1942, Frankl was sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp along with his family. He was the only member of his family to emerge from imprisonment (Schatzman, 2011).

Frankl’s body of work, early achievements, and life-transforming decisions signify self-knowledge proficiency and reflect his goals, values, beliefs, and social identity.

Various models and theories seek to explain self-knowledge. Below are concepts explaining how self-knowledge is acquired.

1. The unmediated observation model

The unmediated observation model, most notably associated with Descartes, posits that we attain self-knowledge through our own unmediated thoughts, separate from outside input or sources. This model is typically used for comparing other philosophical models (Gertler, 2003).

2. The transparency model

The transparency model involves making up your mind and rationally reflecting on and reaching a conclusion about the state of the world.

Using this model, we gain knowledge not just about our beliefs, but about any judgment-sensitive attitude. One attraction of transparency is the intimate connection between self-knowledge and agency (Jongepier, 2021).

3. Social constructionism

Social constructionism is a way of understanding ourselves and our world through the use of language to create a shared reality (Gergen, 2009). Constructionists theorize that meaning is created in relation to others.

4. The “looking-glass self”

This model, posited by sociologist Charles Horton Cooley, asserts that our sense of self is developed through interactions with others.

In this theory, our appearance is reflected through the other person. We then make a hypothesis about their judgment of us and have a resulting emotion regarding that judgment (Appelrough & Desfor-Edles, 2008).

5. Narrative self

Narrative self is necessary for introspective reasoning and autobiographical memory reconstruction. It includes two branches of thinking:

  • Paradigmatic mode, which accesses logical explanations in order to build a rational explanation of reality
  • Narrative mode, which uses meaningful interpretations of ourselves to create a coherent explanation of our identity

These narratives combine the past, present, and future events into a coherent sequence (Bukowski, 2019).

6. Self-perception theory

This theory, proposed by Daryl Bem, suggests that people learn about themselves by observing behavior and making inferences (Baumeister, 2010).

We have an array of resources to boost self-knowledge for yourself and your clients. Below is a list of recommended courses, articles, and free worksheets from around our site.

Mindfulness X© course

This course was developed to increase mindfulness through analysis of the underlying workings of habitual thought patterns. The combined psychology, research, and practice behind mindfulness help participants better understand the workings of the mind, adding to self-knowledge.

Emotional Intelligence Masterclass©

Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage and interpret emotional encounters. Individuals with high emotional intelligence skills tend to handle everyday stress better (Gohm, Corser, & Dalsky, 2005), have meaningful and close relationships (Schutte et al., 2001), and higher levels of wellbeing (Fernandez-Berrocal, Alcaide, Extremera, & Pizarro, 2006).

Emotional intelligence provides a deep understanding of subjective emotional tendencies, adding to self-knowledge. This masterclass  is an invaluable course for practitioners, as it includes high-quality material for practitioners to provide science-based training sessions.

This worksheet invites clients to discover who they are by considering how others and different temporal versions of themselves might respond to questions about their identity.

For instance, clients will consider how their closest friends and family likely perceive them. They will also consider what they would communicate about their present-day identity to past and future versions of themselves.

Personal Values Worksheet

Personal values refer to the beliefs, principles, and ideas that reflect the core of each individual. They bring meaning to our actions and shape our preferences, behaviors, and decisions.

This worksheet helps clients explore what they view as meaningful and important, serving as a basis to determine how they might focus their energy and time.

Replacing Negative Self-Talk

This exercise acknowledges the role of self-talk in making sense of our lives. Participants are encouraged to reframe negative self-talk into positive self-talk , making a positive change in their daily narrative.

Track and Measure Success

Because we remember the things that went wrong better than our successes, it is useful to track wins to add to your personal success story. This worksheet helps keep track of successes, adding to the self-knowledge base.

Self-Assessment for Assertiveness Self-Discovery

One of the numerous benefits of self-knowledge is that it can help enrich assertiveness skills. This worksheet prompts participants to explore various positive aspects of themselves to bolster confidence and self-efficacy .

87 Self-Reflection Questions for Introspection

This self-reflection article provides definitions, questions, and exercises that allow us to know ourselves more holistically.

17 Strength-Finding Exercises

If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others develop their strengths, this collection contains 17 strength-finding tools for practitioners . Use them to help others better understand and harness their strengths in life-enhancing ways.

In this blog post, we’ve discussed several benefits and justifications for gaining self-knowledge.

Self-knowledge is essential for personal growth, decision making, and accurate self-assessment. It is the opposite of ignorance and helps us make sense of our experiences.

Importantly, self-knowledge is an essential tool to help in the change process. Change is hard. It requires intentionality and courage.

We humans spend a good amount of life avoiding the pain and discomfort associated with change.

The journey to gain self-knowledge seeks to dislodge us from our comfort zone to explore aspects of ourselves generally ignored or avoided.

The question I ask myself is, “How will I feel ten years from now if I choose not to look at all aspects of myself?”

Nelson Mandela stated,

“There is no passion to be found playing small—in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

Cooper, 2001, p. xvii

Although change may be difficult, healing, creativity, resilience, and passion are forged through change.

I believe waiting underneath our self-protective layers is a hidden wholeness.

So, who are you and what are you capable of? Aren’t you curious now?

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Strengths Exercises for free .

  • Alicke, M., Zhang, Y., & Stephenson, N. (2020). Self-awareness and self-knowledge. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Psychology . Retrieved June 29, 2021, from  https://oxfordre.com/psychology/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190236557.001.0001/acrefore-9780190236557-e-743
  • Appelrough, S., & Desfor-Edles, L. (2008). Classical and contemporary sociological theory . Pine Forge Press.
  • Baumeister, R. F. (2010). The self. In R. F. Baumeister & E. J. Finkel (Eds.), Advanced social psychology: The state of the science (pp. 143-175). Oxford University Press.
  • Begley, S. (2020, May 18). How much self-knowledge is too much? Mindful. Retrieved June 9, 2021, from https://www.mindful.org/how-much-self-knowledge-is-too-much/
  • Berger, B. (2018, May 22). Know thyself: Examining the benefits of self-reflection. Institute for Public Relations.  Retrieved June 7, 2021, from https://instituteforpr.org/know-thyself-examining-the-benefits-of-self-reflection/
  • Brown, J. D. (1998).  The self.  Routledge.
  • Bukowski, H. (2019). Self-knowledge. In V. Zeigler-Hill & T. K. Shackelford (Eds.) Encyclopedia of personality and individual differences (pp. 61–76). Springer.
  • Cooper, R. K. (2001). The other 90% . Three Rivers Press.
  • Fernandez-Berrocal, P., Alcaide, R., Extremera, N., & Pizarro, D. (2006). The role of emotional intelligence in anxiety and depression among adolescents.  Individual Differences Research ,  4 , 16–27.
  • Frankl, V. E. (2006). Man’s search for meaning . Beacon Press.
  • Gergen, K. J. (2009). An invitation to social constructionism (2nd ed.) Sage.
  • Gertler, B. (2003). Self-knowledge. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Spring 2020 ed.). Retrieved July 19, 2021, from https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2020/entries/self-knowledge/
  • Gohm, C. L., Corser, G. C., & Dalsky, D. J. (2005). Emotional intelligence under stress: Useful, unnecessary, or irrelevant?  Personality and Individual Differences ,  39 (6), 1017–1028.
  • Goleman, D. (1997). Emotional intelligence. Bantam.
  • Huseyin, R. (2017, August 29). Why self-knowledge is hard to come by and what to do about it . Art of Wellbeing with Rezzan Huseyin. Retrieved May 31, 2021, from  https://www.artofwellbeing.com/2017/08/29/self-knowledge/
  • Jongepier, F. (2021). The value of transparent self-knowledge. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice , 24 , 65–86.
  • Kelly, J. (2021, June 1). Tennis star Naomi Osaka stood up for herself, bravely shared her mental health issues and walked away from the French Open. Forbes. Retrieved June 21, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2021/06/01/tennis-star-naomi-osaka-stood-up-for-herself-bravely–shared-her-mental-health-issues-and-walked-away-from-the-french-open/
  • Morin, A., & Racy, F. (2021). Dynamic self-processes. In J. Rauthmann (Ed.), The handbook of personality dynamics and processes (pp. 336–386). Elsevier.
  • Schaffner, A. K. (2020, May 25). What’s so great about self-knowledge? Psychology Today. Retrieved May 31, 2021, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-art-self-improvement/202005/whats-so-great-about-self-knowledge
  • Schatzman, M. (2011, October 23). Obituary: Viktor Frankl. Independent . Retrieved June 22, 2021, from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/ obituary-viktor-frankl-1237506
  • Schutte, N. S., Malouff, J. M., Bobik, C., Coston, T. D., Greeson, C., Jedlicka, C., … Wendorf, G. (2001). Emotional intelligence and interpersonal relations.  The Journal of Social Psychology ,  141 (4), 523–536.
  • Taibbi, R. L. (2019). Healing the past in the present. Psychology Today. Retrieved July 1, 2021, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fixing-families/201907/healing-the-past-in-the-present
  • Wilmot, W. W., & Hocker, J. L. (2011). Interpersonal conflict . McGraw-Hill.

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The School of Life

Self-Knowledge (Essay Books) Kindle Edition

  • Book Description
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A practical guide to knowing yourself. Socrates summed up all philosophical commandments with one directive: "Know yourself." Self-knowledge informs not only our identity, but how we make decisions in life, work, and love. Society has no shortage of people and organizations offering to guide us to distant places, but very few will help us with the far more important task of traveling around the byways of our own minds. This book takes us on a journey into our deepest, most elusive selves and arms us with the tools we need in order to fully understand our characters. We come away with a newly clarified sense of who we are, what we need to watch out for when making decisions, and how to fulfill our true potential.

  • EXPLORES THE LIFE-CHANGING POWER OF UNDERSTANDING OURSELVES
  • A PRACTICAL TOOLKIT  for self-discovery.
  • INCLUDES THOUGHT-PROVOKING EXERCISES  for self-analysis.
  • THE SCHOOL OF LIFE'S MOST POPULAR SUBJECT  the associated YouTube video "Who Am I?" has 1.5 million views.

About the Author

Excerpt. © reprinted by permission. all rights reserved..

Emotional Inheritance

What creates Emotional Identity? Why do we have the Emotional Identity we do and not a different one?

A big modern response looks to genetics for answers: it tells us that we have a specific genetic inheritance and (via many complex processes) that this inheritance shapes our adult personality. We're not saying that genetics are irrelevant, but we want to focus attention on another kind of inheritance: Emotional Inheritance.

One of the characteristic possessions of all European nobles for many centuries was an elaborate depiction of their family tree, showing their lineage down the generations. The idea was that the person sitting at the bottom of the tree would see themselves as the product of - and the heir to - all who had come before them. The tree came a quick visual guide to who they were and what others should know about them. If two aristocrats were contemplating marriage, the first thing they would do was to carefully examine each other's trees.

It can seem like a quaint preoccupation, wholly tied to another age and solely of interest to members of a few grand and ancient families. But the idea of such a tree sits upon a universal and still highly relevant concern: irrespective of the financial and status details of our families, we all have another significant legacy to grapple with, in that each of us is the recipient of an emotional inheritance, largely unknown to us, yet enormously influential in determining our day-to-day behaviour, and normally in rather negative or complex directions. We need to understand the details of our Emotional Inheritance a little before we are able to ruin our own and others' lives by acting upon its often antiquated and troublesome dynamics.

  • Print length 68 pages
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  • Publication date 16 July 2020
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What They Forgot To Teach You At School: Essential emotional lessons needed to thrive

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The School of Life is a global organisation helping people lead more fulfilled lives. It is a resource for helping us understand ourselves, for improving our relationships, our careers and our social lives – as well as for helping us find calm and get more out of our leisure hours. They do this through films, workshops, books and gifts – and through a warm and supportive community. You can find The School of Life online, in stores and in welcoming spaces around the globe.

The School of Life Press was established in 2016 to bring together over a decade of research and insights from The School of Life’s content team. Led by founder and series editor Alain de Botton, this is a library to educate, entertain, console and transform us.

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10 self-help books that even therapists read

These books, recommended and read by professionals, are easy to read and proven to be helpful.

An open book is sits on a stack of a books.

An open book is sits on a stack of a books. Self-help books are resources that provide guidance for personal growth and overcoming obstacles.

Self-help books are resources that provide guidance for personal growth and overcoming obstacles. They cover a variety of topics, such as relationships, productivity, mindfulness and success. Through practical advice and inspiring stories, these books aim to empower readers to improve their lives and reach their full potential.

I began reading self-help books in high school due to my own personal struggles and want of becoming better. While not every book is right for me, I found looking at recommendations from therapists and other psychologists beneficial. Sometimes it’s nice to get help from an expert.

Daniel Tomasulo, a counseling psychologist and the academic director at Teachers College, Columbia University, said to The New York Times , “Almost every therapist I know has a whole list of self-help books to recommend.”

Here is a list of 10 self-help books therapists read and recommend.

1. ‘ Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones’

By James Clear.

Suggested by Wondermind , “Atomic Habits” provides a proven framework for daily improvement, offering practical strategies for forming good habits, breaking bad ones and mastering small behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

Author James Clear, a leading expert on habit formation, reveals how to make positive changes by focusing on your system rather than your goals. Drawing on insights from biology, psychology and neuroscience, Clear presents an easy-to-understand guide for creating inevitable good habits and eliminating bad ones. From winning championships to quitting smoking or reducing stress, “Atomic Habits” reshapes thinking about progress and success, according to the book’s description .

2. ‘ Homecoming: Healing Trauma to Reclaim Your Authentic Self’

By Thema Bryant.

As suggested by The New York Times , the author, Thema Bryant, a trauma therapist, minister and professor, offers a unique perspective on health, hope and healing trauma. Drawing on her clinical expertise, spirituality and personal journey of recovery, Bryant helps individuals believe in their ability to heal while avoiding the superficial language often found in self-help books.

Feeling disconnected from yourself can show up in various ways, such as trying to please others, feeling sad or worried and holding onto anger. Healing begins by understanding and expressing your feelings honestly and reconnecting with neglected parts of yourself. “Homecoming” helps you do this and shows you how to connect with your community, even if you face challenges like racism, sexism, heartbreak, grief or trauma, per the book’s description .

3. ‘ Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion’

By Gregory Boyle.

The New York Times found “Tattoos on the Heart” comprises genuine, unfiltered stories about individuals the author, Gregory Boyle, encountered in his work, offering valuable lessons from their journeys. Boyle is a Jesuit priest who established Homeboy Industries, a program aiding former gang members’ rehabilitation and reintegration.

The book, which includes multiple essays organized by theme, helps individuals discover how their lives can be enriched by finding joy in loving and being loved without conditions. Each chapter shares Boyle’s insightful wisdom about universal connection and redemption, emphasizing the significance of unconditional love and combating despair. “Tattoos on the Heart” is a beautiful reminder that every life is precious, according to the book’s description .

4. ‘ The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity’

By Julia Cameron.

The New York Times shares another therapist-recommended book: “The Artist’s Way.” Julia Cameron offers a 12-week journey to rediscover your innate creativity, though dealing with depression and addiction. The book’s program has an enduring impact for everyone, not just artists or writers, as creativity serves as healing.

The program starts with two important tools for creative recovery: the Morning Pages, where you write three pages of thoughts each day, and the Artist Date, a special time for your inner artist. Cameron provides many exercises, activities and prompts to explore each chapter fully. She also suggests forming a “Creative Cluster” of fellow artists to support each other, per the book’s description .

5. ‘ The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World’

By the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams.

Suggested by The New York Times , the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu delved into their own life experiences to explore how we can can find joy in the midst of personal and collective suffering.

The authors delve into the “Nature of True Joy” and confront obstacles like fear, stress and grief. They offer the “Eight Pillars of Joy” for lasting happiness, sharing stories, wisdom and science. They also provide their daily “Joy Practices” for emotional and spiritual well-being, according to the book’s description .

6. ‘ The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science’

By Norman Doidge.

As suggested by Wondermind , “The Brain That Changes Itself” is easy to understand and filled with thought-provoking tales about the brain.

Norman Doidge introduces us to scientists and individuals whose lives were transformed by neuroplasticity, which challenges the idea that the brain is fixed. From stroke patients regaining speech to a woman born with half a brain adapting fully, the book changes how we see our brains and human potential, per the book’s description .

7. ‘ The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence’

By Gavin de Becker.

Syracuse University , sharing this next therapist-recommended book, finds threats lurk everywhere. However, the author, Gavin de Becker, believes we can all feel safer by tuning into our sixth sense about danger.

De Becker, a renowned expert in predicting violence, draws from his experience protecting celebrities and using advanced risk assessment systems. He offers advice on dealing with street crime, domestic abuse and workplace violence. Through real-life examples, he emphasizes the importance of trusting our instincts for self-protection. This book is a must-read for anyone concerned about their safety, according to the book’s description .

8. ‘ The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living’

By Russ Harris.

As suggested by The New York Times , “The Happiness Trap” introduces Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, a method that encourages embracing negative thoughts and feelings instead of fighting against them.

Through this book, you can discover how to clarify your values, cultivate self-compassion and achieve genuine satisfaction to manage stress and anxiety, break harmful patterns, conquer self-doubt and nurture healthier relationships. “The Happiness Trap” is a resource for all individuals, per the book’s description .

9. ‘ The Power of Character Strengths: Appreciate and Ignite Your Positive Personality’

By Ryan M. Niemiec and Robert E. McGrath.

The New York Times also suggests “The Power of Character Strengths.” The guide helps people learn to identify, appreciate and nurture their best qualities by developing character strengths. It encourages shifting focus from what’s negative to what’s positive and strong.

In this book, you’ll explore your 24 strengths with leading experts and authors to discover how activating your positive traits can boost resilience, reduce stress and enhance well-being, per the book’s description .

10. ‘ The Worry Cure: Seven Steps to Stop Worry From Stopping You’

By Robert Leahy.

The final therapist-recommended book in this list is suggested by Wondermind . Author Robert Leahy guides readers to identify worry patterns and shift them, regain control of their time and embrace uncertainty.

Whether you’re a chronic or occasional worrier, “The Worry Cure” addresses general and specific worries in areas like relationships, health, money, work and approval-seeking. The book helps you achieve a healthier, more fulfilling life, according to the book’s description .

Physical copies can be found online for purchase or at a local library. Audio versions are also available in similar locations.

self knowledge (essay books)

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Self-Knowledge (Essay Books) Hardcover – 6 Nov. 2018

Purchase options and add-ons.

  • Book Description
  • Editorial Reviews
  • EXPLORES THE LIFE-CHANGING POWER OF UNDERSTANDING OURSELVES
  • A PRACTICAL TOOLKIT  for self-discovery.
  • INCLUDES THOUGHT-PROVOKING EXERCISES  for self-analysis.
  • THE SCHOOL OF LIFE'S MOST POPULAR SUBJECT  the associated YouTube video "Who Am I?" has 1.5 million views.

About the Author

The School of Life is a global organization helping people lead more fulfilled lives. Through our range of books, gifts and stationery we aim to prompt more thoughtful natures and help everyone to find fulfillment.

The School of Life is a resource for exploring self-knowledge, relationships, work, socializing, finding calm, and enjoying culture through content, community, and conversation. You can find us online, in stores and in welcoming spaces around the world offering classes, events, and one-to-one therapy sessions.

The School of Life is a rapidly growing global brand, with over 7 million YouTube subscribers, 389,000 Facebook followers, 174,000 Instagram followers and 166,000 Twitter followers.

The School of Life Press brings together the thinking and ideas of the School of Life creative team under the direction of series editor, Alain de Botton. Their books share a coherent, curated message that speaks with one voice: calm, reassuring, and sane.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Emotional Inheritance

What creates Emotional Identity? Why do we have the Emotional Identity we do and not a different one?

A big modern response looks to genetics for answers: it tells us that we have a specific genetic inheritance and (via many complex processes) that this inheritance shapes our adult personality. We're not saying that genetics are irrelevant, but we want to focus attention on another kind of inheritance: Emotional Inheritance.

One of the characteristic possessions of all European nobles for many centuries was an elaborate depiction of their family tree, showing their lineage down the generations. The idea was that the person sitting at the bottom of the tree would see themselves as the product of - and the heir to - all who had come before them. The tree came a quick visual guide to who they were and what others should know about them. If two aristocrats were contemplating marriage, the first thing they would do was to carefully examine each other's trees.

It can seem like a quaint preoccupation, wholly tied to another age and solely of interest to members of a few grand and ancient families. But the idea of such a tree sits upon a universal and still highly relevant concern: irrespective of the financial and status details of our families, we all have another significant legacy to grapple with, in that each of us is the recipient of an emotional inheritance, largely unknown to us, yet enormously influential in determining our day-to-day behaviour, and normally in rather negative or complex directions. We need to understand the details of our Emotional Inheritance a little before we are able to ruin our own and others' lives by acting upon its often antiquated and troublesome dynamics.

  • Print length 93 pages
  • Language English
  • Publisher Duckworth Books
  • Publication date 6 Nov. 2018
  • Dimensions 11.18 x 0.64 x 17.78 cm
  • ISBN-10 0995753504
  • ISBN-13 978-0995753501
  • See all details

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Self-Knowledge (Essay Books)

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The School of Life: An Emotional Education

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  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Duckworth Books (6 Nov. 2018)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 93 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0995753504
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0995753501
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 11.18 x 0.64 x 17.78 cm
  • 3,199 in The Self, Ego & Personality
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  • 34,439 in Lifestyle (Books)

About the authors

self knowledge (essay books)

The School of Life

The School of Life is a global organisation helping people lead more fulfilled lives. It is a resource for helping us understand ourselves, for improving our relationships, our careers and our social lives – as well as for helping us find calm and get more out of our leisure hours. They do this through films, workshops, books and gifts – and through a warm and supportive community. You can find The School of Life online, in stores and in welcoming spaces around the globe.

The School of Life Press was established in 2016 to bring together over a decade of research and insights from The School of Life’s content team. Led by founder and series editor Alain de Botton, this is a library to educate, entertain, console and transform us.

self knowledge (essay books)

Alain De Botton

Alain de Botton is the author of Essays in Love (1993), The Romantic Movement (1994), Kiss and Tell (1995), How Proust can Change your Life (1997), The Consolations of Philosophy (2000) The Art of Travel (2002), Status Anxiety (2004) and most recently, The Architecture of Happiness (2006).

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Self-Knowledge Essay Book

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This essay book takes us on a journey into our deepest, most elusive selves and arms us with a set of tools to understand our characters properly. We come away with a newly clarified sense of who we are, what we need to watch out for when making decisions, and what our priorities and potential might be. 

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6 Self-Help Books That Therapists Read Themselves

Experts recommend these contemplative texts and workbooks to help shift your perspective.

An illustration of a person holding a paddle and standing on a book that is a raft on a dark blue river with large rocks that must be steered around.

By Carolyn Todd

Of the thousands of self-help books on the market, which ones are truly helpful? “It’s uncommon to find a self-help book that feels different,” said Vienna Pharaon, a marriage and family therapist in New York City.

But genuinely useful titles abound. The best of the genre invite reflection or offer practical tools to promote emotional, psychological or spiritual well-being. And there are some that therapists personally turn to or suggest to their patients.

“Almost every therapist I know has a whole list of self-help books to recommend,” said Daniel Tomasulo, a counseling psychologist and the academic director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Teachers College, Columbia University.

When sorting through the self-help stacks, who better to help than mental health professionals? We asked seven to share their picks.

1. The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World , by the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams

How do we experience joy in the face of personal and collective suffering? The Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu spent five days reflecting on their own lives to answer that question, and they compiled their stories and guidance in this 2016 book.

“The Book of Joy” is an opportunity to learn from two spiritual leaders in an intimate, accessible way, said Sona Dimidjian, director of the Renée Crown Wellness Institute at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Through their dialogue, which is punctuated with laughter and tears, the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu teach readers how to cultivate joy and work through difficulties like illness and despair. Dr. Dimidjian recommends the book to “anyone who is feeling overwhelmed by the realities of our world and daily life today,” she said.

2. The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living , by Russ Harris

This book, first published in 2007, teaches you to accept your negative thoughts and feelings as they arise, instead of resisting or being consumed by them — a refreshing approach known as acceptance and commitment therapy.

Diana Garcia, a South Florida-based therapist, says this easy-to-read primer made her “first fall in love” with ACT. She has clients use the book as a supplement to their sessions and recommends it to friends who are feeling stuck. It teaches you how to keep taking actions that move you in a positive direction regardless of how you’re feeling, she explained.

3. Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion , by Gregory Boyle

Gregory Boyle is a Jesuit priest who founded Homeboy Industries, a rehabilitation and re-entry program for former gang members. His 2011 book is a collection of real, raw stories about people he worked with and the lessons we can all draw from their experiences.

“Each chapter reads like a Sunday sermon to be savored and meditated upon,” said Jacob Ham, director of the Center for Child Trauma and Resilience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. While faith is woven throughout the book, Dr. Ham recommends the title to anyone who feels “that their traumas and all the ways they’ve coped with them have left them broken and unredeemable.”

4. The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity , by Julia Cameron

This 1992 workbook from Julia Cameron, a teacher and author, is a 12-week guide to recovering your sense of childlike creativity. And it’s not just for artists and writers, said Britt Frank, a trauma specialist in Kansas.

“Of all of the books I have ever used with clients, this one has the most staying power,” she said. “Because everyone is creative, and creativity is medicine.”

For years, Ms. Frank has returned to the book’s tools — like the “morning pages,” a stream-of-consciousness journaling practice. And she uses “The Artist’s Way” when treating clients with issues like depression and addiction. But skimmers beware, Ms. Frank cautioned: “It’s not a book you read. It’s a book you work.”

5. Homecoming: Healing Trauma to Reclaim Your Authentic Self , by Thema Bryant

Thema Bryant is a trauma therapist, ordained minister and professor who offers a “distinctive lens on health, hope and healing trauma,” said Ayanna Abrams, a psychologist in Atlanta.

Drawing on her clinical work, spirituality and personal recovery from trauma, Dr. Bryant shares stories, reflections and exercises in this 2022 title. She helps people believe in their capacity to heal, Dr. Abrams explained. Dr. Bryant also avoids the “gimmicky, bypassing or vague” language that so many self-help books lean on, she added.

6. The Power of Character Strengths: Appreciate and Ignite Your Positive Personality , by Ryan M. Niemiec and Robert E. McGrath

This 2019 guide helps people recognize, honor and nurture their brightest qualities, Dr. Tomasulo said. The idea of cultivating your “character strengths” comes from positive psychology, which centers on promoting well-being, he explained. “It’s about moving from focusing on ‘what’s wrong’ to ‘what’s strong.’”

People who lean into their character strengths tend to be happier , Dr. Tomasulo said. This book, he explained, is a good pick for “people who are doing OK, but want to have more joy and well-being in their life.”

Carolyn Todd is a freelance health journalist who covers wellness, mental well-being and diabetes.

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Self-Knowledge: An Essay in Autobiography

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Nikolaĭ Berdi︠a︡ev

Self-Knowledge: An Essay in Autobiography Paperback – June 26, 2009

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The great Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev (1874-1948) believed that the dawn of the twentieth century would bring an end to the old atheistic and positivistic worldview and the beginning of a new era of the spirit. His philosophy goes beyond mere rational conceptualization and tries to attain authentic life itself: the profound layers of existence in contact with the divine world. He directed all his efforts-philosophical as well as in his personal and public life-at replacing the kingdom of this world with the kingdom of God. According to him, we can all attempt this by tapping the divine creative powers that constitute our true nature. Our mission is to be collaborators with God in His continuing creation of the world.

Nikolai Berdyaev describes this book as "a philosophical autobiography or a history of spirit and self-knowledge." This book is not only autobiographical; it is also a work of critical self-inquiry: Berdyaev subjects his ideas and his life to philosophical scrutiny, in order to discover his "own image and ultimate destiny." In passing, he elucidates the most important elements of his personalistic philosophy: freedom, creativeness, and divine-humanity. By plumbing the depths of his soul, Berdyaev felt that he could help formulate and resolve certain crucial problems concerning human destiny and contribute to the understanding of our era.

"Nikolai Berdyaev's writings are always insightful, penetrating, passionate, committed-expressions of the whole person. They are as intensely alive now as when they were first written."-Richard Pevear, translator of War and Peace and The Brothers Karamazov

"Nikolai Berdyaev's writings retain their freshness as vehicles for thinking not just about the future of Russia, but about the spiritual challenges facing the modern world."-Paul Vallier, author of Modern Russian Theology: Bukharev, Soloviev, Bulgakov

"Nikolai Berdyaev is one of the few who have found the Christian answer, and yet do not cease to question with those whose lives are still torn asunder by disbelief, doubt, and sufferings; one of the few who dare to be, as thinkers, Christians and, as Christians, thinkers."-Evgeny Lampert, author of The Apocalypse of History

Boris Jakim has translated and edited many books in the field of Russian religious thought. His translations include S. L. Frank's The Unknowable, Pavel Florensky's The Pillar and Ground of the Truth, Vladimir Solovyov's Lectures on Divine Humanity, and Sergius Bulgakov's The Bride of the Lamb.

  • Print length 360 pages
  • Language English
  • Publication date June 26, 2009
  • Dimensions 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • ISBN-10 1597312584
  • ISBN-13 978-1597312585
  • See all details

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  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Semantron Press; Reprint ed. edition (June 26, 2009)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 360 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1597312584
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1597312585
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.16 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • #232,578 in Biographies (Books)

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self knowledge (essay books)

Nikolaĭ Berdi︠a︡ev

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  1. 001 How To Start Off Essay An About Yourself ~ Thatsnotus

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  2. How to Improve Self-Knowledge: 21 Books, Tests, & Questions

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  3. Self-Knowledge (Essay Books) Kindle Edition

    Audiobook $0.00 Free with your Audible trial A practical guide to knowing yourself. Socrates summed up all philosophical commandments with one directive: "Know yourself." Self-knowledge informs not only our identity, but how we make decisions in life, work, and love.

  4. Self-Knowledge (Essay Books) by The School of Life

    1,738 ratings189 reviews In Ancient Greece, when the philosopher Socrates was asked to sum up what all philosophical commandments could be reduced to, he replied: 'Know yourself'. Self-knowledge matters so much because it is only on the basis of an accurate sense of who we are that we can make reliable decisions - particularly around love and work.

  5. The School of Life Collected Essays: Reflections on Self-Knowledge

    Terms A 15th anniversary collection of The School of Life's most popular and essential essays on self-knowledge, relationships, work and culture. The School of Life is an organization with a mission at its heart: to help foster calm, self-understanding and greater emotional maturity.

  6. 28 Great Books That Will Expand Your Knowledge and Open Your Mind

    Books to Expand Your Knowledge and Open Your Mind. 1. Man's Search for Meaning By Viktor Frankl. "…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.". Rating: 10/10.

  7. 10 Best Self-Awareness Books for Increasing Reflection

    The book contains life-changing information on knowing ourselves and using the knowledge to transform our lives for good. Find the book on Amazon. Video. Stephen M R Covey - 7 Habits of highly effective people ... (2009): Self Awareness- The Last Frontier, Edge Foundation web essay. 17 Best New Self Awareness Books To Read In 2019. Retrieved ...

  8. Self-Knowledge Book

    Philosophical Meditation Emotional Identity Honesty and Denial Self-Judgement Emotional Scepticism Hardback book | 96 pp | 181 x 110 mm read an extract of the book Self-Knowledge takes us on a journey into our deepest, most elusive selves and arms us with a set of tools to understand our characters properly.

  9. Self-Knowledge (Essay Books)

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  10. Self-Knowledge (Essay Books) Hardcover

    Details Select delivery location Used: Good | Details Sold by Goldstone-Books Add to Basket Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon See all 5 images Follow the Authors Alain De Botton The School of Life Self-Knowledge (Essay Books) Hardcover - 21 Sept. 2017 by The School of Life (Author) 4.6 889 ratings See all formats and editions Kindle Edition

  11. Quest for Self-Knowledge : An Essay in Lonergan's Philosophy

    The theme of self-knowledge, introduced by classical philosophers, was taken up and extended by Bernard Lonergan in his major work, Insight. In this innovative and complex study, Lonergan developed a systematic method for understanding the development of self-knowledge. Joseph Flanagan shares with Lonergan the premise that the problem of self-knowledge can be resolved methodically.

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    Self-Knowledge Essay Books. By: The School of Life . 5.0 1 Review. Write a Review. Hardcover Edition Number: 1 Published: 24th April 2018 ISBN: 9780995753501 Number Of Pages: 96. Share This Book: Hardcover RRP $22.99. $19.80. 14% OFF. BUY NOW. Add to Wish List . Add to Wish List . In Stock ...

  13. Self-Knowledge

    Description About the Book An examination of the importance of self-knowledge, providing practical exercises to aid self-discovery. Book Synopsis A practical guide to knowing yourself. Socrates summed up all philosophical commandments with one directive: "Know yourself."

  14. What Is Self-Knowledge in Psychology? 8 Examples & Theories

    Introspection is interwoven with and integrally connected to self-knowledge. 5. Self-perception. In this category of self-knowledge, we learn about ourselves through observing and examining our own behavior. Schaffner (2020) includes two additional sources of self-knowledge: 6. CBT-style approaches.

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    Self-Knowledge (Essay Books) Kindle Edition. A practical guide to knowing yourself. Socrates summed up all philosophical commandments with one directive: "Know yourself." Self-knowledge informs not only our identity, but how we make decisions in life, work, and love. Society has no shortage of people and organizations offering to guide us to ...

  16. 10 self-help books that even therapists read

    Here is a list of 10 self-help books therapists read and recommend. Affiliate Links. ... The book, which includes multiple essays organized by theme, helps individuals discover how their lives can be enriched by finding joy in loving and being loved without conditions. Each chapter shares Boyle's insightful wisdom about universal connection ...

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    avg rating 4.25 — 189,384 ratings — published 2010. Want to Read. Rate this book. 1 of 5 stars 2 of 5 stars 3 of 5 stars 4 of 5 stars 5 of 5 stars. Man's Search for Meaning (Paperback) by. Viktor E. Frankl. (shelved 10 times as self-knowledge) avg rating 4.37 — 699,060 ratings — published 1959.

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    Through our range of books, gifts and stationery we aim to prompt more thoughtful natures and help everyone to find fulfillment. The School of Life is a resource for exploring self-knowledge, relationships, work, socializing, finding calm, and enjoying culture through content, community, and conversation.

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    This essay book takes us on a journey into our deepest, most elusive selves and arms us with a set of tools to understand our characters properly. We come away with a newly clarified sense of who we are, what we need to watch out for when making decisions, and what our priorities and potential might be. Hardcover 4.5"

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  21. 6 Self-Help Books That Therapists Read Themselves

    5. Homecoming: Healing Trauma to Reclaim Your Authentic Self, by Thema Bryant. Thema Bryant is a trauma therapist, ordained minister and professor who offers a "distinctive lens on health, hope ...

  22. Self-Knowledge : An Essay in Autobiography

    Self-Knowledge: An Essay in Autobiography Nikolaĭ Berdi︠a︡ev Semantron Press, 2009 - Philosophers - 360 pages The great Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev (1874-1948) believed that the dawn...

  23. Self-Knowledge (Essay Books)

    Self-Knowledge (Essay Books) The School of Life 5.0 / 5.0 0 comments In Ancient Greece, when the philosopher Socrates was asked to sum up what all philosophical commandments could be reduced to, he replied: 'Know yourself'.

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