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10 Phenomenal Books Recommended by Mark Manson that Will Challenge Your Beliefs

Learn to unlock your mind’s potential

10 Phenomenal Books Recommended by Mark Manson that Will Challenge Your Beliefs

A quest to understand the human mind and behavior.

If there is one person, whose advice I find non-condescending, honest, and practical, it’s Mark Manson. He just talks sense, unlike some self-help podcast bros who try to sound sophisticated but have nothing of substance to offer.

Today’s list will help you use your mind efficiently. It will also help you understand other people.

Let’s dig in!

10 Phenomenal Books Recommended by Mark Manson that Will Challenge Your Beliefs

Understanding the psychology of trauma.

Kolk uses 30 years of research to bring us the true face of trauma.

The author tells us about how trauma affects a victim’s mind, body, memory, power to focus, and more. It causes a person to constantly exist in a hyper-alert state.

“In our studies we keep seeing how difficult it is for traumatized people to feel completely relaxed and physically safe in their bodies.”

The traumatic event leaves its long-term marks. To help victims heal and move on, Kolk discusses several treatments.

Modern treatments make use of the neuroplastic nature of the brain. They help to rewire the neural pathways.

“Being traumatized means continuing to organize your life as if the trauma were still going on — unchanged and immutable — as every new encounter or event is contaminated by the past.”

Similarly, yoga also helps to connect one with his mind and body. This is exactly what trauma victims need to do so that they can move forward in their healing journey.

This book should be read by all mental health professionals or those serving in counseling roles.

10 Phenomenal Books Recommended by Mark Manson that Will Challenge Your Beliefs

Time to settle for ‘good enough’.

This book was published in 2004.

In this book Barry Schwartz, a psychologist, makes us confront one of the common misunderstandings.

Whether it is a paint color for your bedroom or the best pair of shoes, we feel the abundance of options will help us make a better decision.

The reality can’t be any more different.

“Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still…”

The more options we have, the harder it is to decide, and the less happy we are.

Barry also tells us about different personalities when it comes to decision-making.

“We are surrounded by modern, time-saving devices, but we never seem to have enough time.”

What’s the right way to make a decision?

Decide what attributes you want in your purchase. Then pick the first choice that matches your list. Settle with a ‘good enough’ choice because the perfect one is an illusion.

This book will help you make the right decision quickly.

10 Phenomenal Books Recommended by Mark Manson that Will Challenge Your Beliefs

Genes or society, who makes us?

‘Tabula rasa’ idea states that humans are born blank slates and later experiences make them who they are.

Steven Pinker vigorously challenges this idea. He points towards evolutionary psychology.

“Behavioral science is not for sissies.”

Pinker makes the argument that our genes are largely responsible for our behavior. We cannot ignore their role in how a human turns out to be.

The author not only challenges the ‘blank slate’ theory but many modern-day beliefs.

Pinker claims that while men and women are equal, we cannot say their minds are the same. Similarly, he opposes the understanding that rape is not about sex.

“We are all members of the same flawed species.”

The author gives us many favorable outcomes that can be achieved in social environments and politics if we start to accept the innateness of human behavior and psychology.

This book will give you a very interesting outlook on the why and how of human behavior.

10 Phenomenal Books Recommended by Mark Manson that Will Challenge Your Beliefs

Heal your childhood, heal your marriage.

Harville Hendrix has an M.A. and Ph.D. in religion and psychology.

In his 1988 book, he explores the foundations of romantic relationships. He also informs the readers on how to inculcate a healthy and loving relationship.

His ‘Imago’ theory states that using the positive and negative traits of our early childhood carers (which are usually a mom and a dad), we create a mental image of a perfect partner.

Ultimately, we are drawn to the one who exhibits those traits.

“We have learned over the years of helping couples that just spending quality time talking about each other’s pasts can be very helpful.”

In his book, the author discusses a technique called ‘Imago dialogues’ to help couples connect better.

He also stresses the importance of empathy, active listening, and mirroring.

“A conscious partnership is a relationship that fosters maximum psychological and spiritual growth…”

Hendrix focuses on healing our childhood wounds and as a result, improving the adult romantic relationship that we are in.

Many will find the insights in this book fascinating and close to reality.

10 Phenomenal Books Recommended by Mark Manson that Will Challenge Your Beliefs

View of death throughout history.

Ernest Becker was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer. His diagnosis inspired this book.

Sometimes I wonder, what will I do if I ever face a reality like that.

Will I be heartbroken that I didn’t get to have the adventures I wanted? Will I go into depression? Will I lose the drive to enjoy whatever days I have left?

“Guilt results from unused life, from the unlived in us.”

Or maybe, I’ll be strong like Ernest Becker and choose to leave a good legacy behind. Something that will benefit other people.

Becker discusses how death has been viewed by different cultures and religions, allowing humans to cope with this ultimate reality. He theorizes that modern science has been unable to give the kind of solace that traditional religion provides.

“Man cannot endure his own littleness unless he can translate it into meaningfulness on the largest possible level.”

The author suggests a combination of modern understanding with the old rituals for a new way to understand and make peace with death.

This book will help you understand death from a variety of perspectives.

10 Phenomenal Books Recommended by Mark Manson that Will Challenge Your Beliefs

Why do we say yes?

With real-life examples, many of which we can relate to, Caldini shows us the truth behind our willingness to comply.

We are influenced by our elders, marketers, and our kids. But, how?

There are seven ways through which we are made to say yes.

  1. Reciprocation

  2. Commitment

  3. Consistency

  4. Social proof

  5. Liking

  6. Authority

  7. Scarcity

“Embarrassment is a villain to be crushed.”

In social proof, we let the actions of others or those of the majority guide us. A very common example is the canned laughter in TV shows.

It is an obvious action to influence us. And it does. The audience laughs more and for longer when the canned laughter track is used.

“Often we don’t realize that our attitude toward something has been influenced by the number of times we have been exposed to it in the past.”

‘Limited stock’, says the sale banner. Here, the concept of scarcity is at work. When something is scarce, it makes us want it even more.

A fascinating book, which will make you analyze the pitfalls of your decisions.

10 Phenomenal Books Recommended by Mark Manson that Will Challenge Your Beliefs

Climb the ladder, one rung at a time.

Change doesn’t have to be hard.

James Clear tells us a very practical way to become the person that we want to be.

Through habits.

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.”

Clear likens a habit to a tiny seed that grows. When we repeat the habit over and over again, it becomes a strong tree. Its branches grow out. Its roots go deeper.

The author doesn’t ask much of us. He tells us to improve 1% every day.

The key is not to make an enormous change. It is to make small consistent changes. For example, if you want to be healthy, start by eating one apple every day.

“All big things come from small beginnings.”

I find this book a ray of hope for anyone who wants to change but doesn’t know how to start.

10 Phenomenal Books Recommended by Mark Manson that Will Challenge Your Beliefs

Let’s open the secret attic in your brain.

The authors inform us that human behavior is not made for rationality or logic. Instead, it evolved to allow us to assimilate and live in groups.

The first part of the book deals with the reasons why we hide our motives. Many times, even we ourselves are not aware of the real reasons behind our behavior.

“The less we know of our own ugly motives, the easier they are to hide from others.”

The second part of the book takes 10 different aspects and discusses each of them against the backdrop of self-deception.

We think we do charity to help others. But do we really? Or do we want to signal our compassion and generosity through the act of donation?

Similarly, people claim they are religious because they hold certain beliefs. But, the main purpose of religion is community. And the ritualistic practices signal the loyalty of the followers.

“Our brains are built to act in our self-interest while at the same time trying hard not to appear selfish in front of other people.”

This book will teach you so much that it will make your brain swirl.

10 Phenomenal Books Recommended by Mark Manson that Will Challenge Your Beliefs

This book is a weapon against hate.

We make moralistic judgments against people that we don’t agree with, says Rosenberg. As a result, we don’t listen openly or compassionately.

“All violence is the result of people tricking themselves into believing that their pain derives from other people and that consequently those people deserve to be punished.”

What is the solution?

Nonviolent communication.

It requires us to observe without passing an evaluation first. It also makes us listen compassionately and empathetically.

In addition, we have to separate our feelings and take responsibility for them.

“…peace cannot be built on the foundations of fear.”

The NVC (nonviolent communication) is not only a tool for others but for ourselves too. When we make a mistake instead of morally judging ourselves, we can use NVC to forgive ourselves and grow further.

The author provides a very healthy view of praise as well. He asks us to appreciate in order to celebrate, not to get a personal benefit.

And he also tells us to receive praise with the same empathy that we give it.

This book will help you communicate and understand people in an improved way.

10 Phenomenal Books Recommended by Mark Manson that Will Challenge Your Beliefs

Too much safety is a hazard.

This book is sure to ruffle some feathers.

In today’s culture, it has become easy to offend another person. Just pronounce their name wrong. Congratulations! Now you are an elitist with no regard for other people’s cultures.

“…teaching kids that failures, insults, and painful experiences will do lasting damage is harmful in and of itself.”

This is precisely the mindset that the authors set out to combat.

Following is an excerpt that provides a very good overview.

“A culture that allows the concept of “safety” to creep so far that it equates emotional discomfort with physical danger is a culture that encourages people to systematically protect one another from the very experiences embedded in daily life that they need in order to become strong and healthy.”

We cannot just claim to be offended if we dislike something or feel uncomfortable.

This puts a hamper on society’s growth, especially college education. The authors claim that colleges are so bent on keeping their students ‘safe’. It stops the back-and-forth of opposing viewpoints and ideologies.

And such arguments and discussions are important for true education.

“Human beings need physical and mental challenges and stressors or we deteriorate.”

According to this book, the key to living happier, healthier, and stronger is to:

  • Seek out challenges

  • Free yourself from cognitive distortions

  • Look for nuance

This book is indeed the need of the hour.


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If you enjoyed these book recommendations, check out the rest of my book lists on my blog-

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