5 books that will make you happier and more productive

A good book will get you thinking. A great book will change your life. Reading is what gives us life, helps us grow and inspires us to influence the world around us positively. Every significant venture I’ve ever started came from the wisdom and inspiration from a truly great book. As an author of two books, I consider myself blessed to have added to the library of books out there.

During this life-changing moment in history, where we’re spending an excessive amount of time inside, I encourage you to dive into some great literature and read books that genuinely move you. I’ve handpicked five of the best books I’ve ever read. These are all available on Amazon. I hope they change your life in the same way they have mine.

1. ‘Think and Grow Rich’ by Napoleon Hill

I found this book by doing research several years ago on finance and investing books. Incredibly, despite the deceiving title, this book has very, very little to do with investing or making “riches” in the form of money. Quite the opposite. Instead, what Napoleon Hill talks about is the power to harness our faith, focus on desire, to plan appropriately and adopt a positive attitude.

He spent many years of his life interviewing some of the titans of the 20th Century, people like Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford. He developed a foundation of positive thinking, principles and values that lead to long-term goal planning and success.

He discusses the need to rise above our circumstances by harnessing the power of our minds with an idea. How faith, desire, imagination, persistence and the help of others serve as a critical foundation that will get us to where we want to be in life.

From there, initiative and action must take over. The book is partly a personal success story, partly a self-help guide and partly a philosophical account. It is no slight exaggeration to say that this book completely altered the course of my life. Look no further than this classic tome.

2. ‘Sacred Hoops’ by Phil Jackson and author Hugh Delehanty

I read this book during my final year of graduate school, and it inspired me to become a high school basketball coach. From there, I’ve become an executive coach, author and professional speaker. This book, in many respects, has much less to do with basketball, and much more to do with living.

Phil Jackson is possibly the most celebrated professional basketball coach in history. He has won more NBA titles than any head coach, and he has coached the likes of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Scottie Pippen.

This book is about his spiritual and emotional journey through playing and coaching the game of basketball. But it’s so much more than that. It’s art. It provides a golden insight into the mind of one of the most brilliant professionals I’ve ever observed. It’s candid, real, bare-bones and filled with guidance that will help you construct your own narrative.

This book shaped my philosophy for how I develop and design my approach to life. It’s invaluable for anyone in the coaching and teaching professions, as well as those who aspire to lead. It taught me that we need to be grounded in values and principles that stand the test of time if we hope to shape the minds of others.

3. ‘JFK and the Unspeakable — Why He Died and Why It Matters’ by James Douglass

I grew up in an Irish-Catholic family in the northeastern part of the United States. Yet amazingly, it took me a while to read about the life of President John F. Kennedy. It took me longer to delve into the details surrounding his assassination. In the interest of time, I cannot possibly explain all of the reasons why you should read this book.

In so many ways, from the outside, this book seems like just another “JFK assassination” conspiracy theory book. Trust me. It’s not. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read.

While I am not sure I agree with every account told in the story, I believe with a particular degree of certainty that many of the author’s facts, findings, research and primary statements are valid — and extraordinarily compelling.

This book is much more of a history book than merely an account for what happened on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas. It’s much more concerned with the ‘Why’ (hence the subtitle) than the, ‘Who did it?’ The book tells about much of what was going on in the U.S. leading up to JFK’s murder.

It tells about many of the key political players, as well as astonishing insights into the life of Lee Harvey Oswald and many others. Douglass’ book forever changed the way I view the U.S. government, our power structure and the motivations of those in charge. Good God, please read this book. Then let me know your thoughts.

4. ‘Interior Freedom’ by Fr. Jacques Philippe

Given to me by a close friend during a time of emotional pain and distress, I come back to read this book more than any other I own. It’s a swift read — though then again, it’s not. Only 134 pages long, it would seem that you can rip through this book in an hour. And maybe you can.

Though every time I try, I find myself turning back and re-reading the same page that I just read about 55 times-over.

Interior Freedom is a treatise on emotional intelligence, trust, inner-peace, transformation, faith in God, faith in ourselves, hope and love. It’s so full of wisdom, I get the chills and shake my head with a grin each time I think about it. There are no wasted words or pulled punches. It’s all value and no filler.

Mainly geared for those who believe in God and are Christians, I’d opine that this book still puts forth personal development content intended for anyone looking to learn more about themselves. It’s a truly beautiful journey in personal discovery and soul-searching that will change your life. It most certainly did mine.

5. ‘Unbroken’ by Laura Hillenbrand

This is perhaps the most unrealistic true story that I have ever read. There’s no way it’s real. Except it is. There’s no way everything in this book really happened. Except, it did. I cannot possibly spoil any of the details of this book if you have never read it. It’s spine-tingling and mesmerizing.

This is one of the most remarkable biographies you will ever read.

Read about the life of one Louis Zamperini. Then, tell me what you think.

I hope these books bring tremendous value, happiness and joy to your life. I have every confidence they will also make you more productive to go and do the things you’ve always dreamed of doing. Dive into the deep end. Pick up one of these books and start reading. May you stand on the shoulders of giants.

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