3 books that will make you a better person

If you want to be your best self, you have to have your views challenged. Here’s my top three books to make you a better person.

1. Resilience- Eric Greitens

“If you take responsibility for anything in your life, know that you’ll feel fear. That fear will manifest itself in many ways: fear of embarrassment, fear of failure, fear of hurt. Such fears are entirely natural and healthy, and you should recognize them as proof that you’ve chosen work worth doing. Every worthy challenge will inspire some fear.”

This is a deeply personal series of letters from Eric Greitens to a ex-navy seal buddy of his who is struggling with PTSD. In these letters Greitens explores themes of recovery, mental health, duty, honor and personal responsibility in a deeply intimate way. He draws on his own experiences as a navy seal, humanitarian and human being to provide a path to someone who is deeply lost in their own suffering.

Why it will make you a better person: This book, if written as a self help book would be just so-so, but the format of letters from the author to someone struggling to survive acts as a call to arms to engage with the world in a new way, and to be move forward with things as they are, rather than as we wish they were.

2. Crucial Conversations –Kerry Patterson and Joseph Grenny

“When under attack, our heart can take a similarly sudden and unconscious turn. When faced with pressure and strong opinions, we often stop worrying about the goal of adding to the pool of meaning and start looking for ways to win, punish, or keep the peace..”

This is a guide book to having difficult conversations when the stakes are high. It serves as a step by step walkthrough to having it out in a productive way for everyone involved. It also tackles why conversations are hard, and how we can be honest and minimise harm at the same time. This is not about skirting around the issues, or preserving peoples feelings at the expense of resolution, but understanding why feelings are on the line to begin with and how we all tell ourselves stories that may have unintended consequences.

Why it will make you a better person: When examining why people tell stories, put up walls, and otherwise resist the truth, it’s hard not see that we do that ourselves all the time. In examining how to get past other peoples resistance and bring them into the conversation, we can easily see how we too are guilty of the same things when we feel threatened.

3. The Gift of Fear- Gavin deBecker.

“Every day, people engaged in the clever defiance of their own intuition become, in mid-thought, victims of violence and accidents. So when we wonder why we are victims so often, the answer is clear: It is because we are so good at it. A woman could offer no greater cooperation to her soon-to-be attacker than to spend her time telling herself, “But he seems like such a nice man.” Yet this is exactly what many people do. A woman is waiting for an elevator, and when the doors open she sees a man inside who causes her apprehension. Since she is not usually afraid, it may be the late hour, his size, the way he looks at her, the rate of attacks in the neighborhood, an article she read a year ago—it doesn’t matter why. The point is, she gets a feeling of fear. How does she respond to nature’s strongest survival signal? She suppresses it, telling herself: “I’m not going to live like that, I’m not going to insult this guy by letting the door close in his face.” When the fear doesn’t go away, she tells herself not to be so silly, and she gets into the elevator. Now, which is sillier: waiting a moment for the next elevator, or getting into a soundproofed steel chamber with a stranger she is afraid of? The inner voice is wise, and part of my purpose in writing this book is to give people permission to listen to it.” 

This book examines the root of our most basic animal survival instincts, and how day by day we learn to ignore our gut feelings and the danger we can end up because of this. This book is particularly poignant if you identify as male, as it deals with a lot of the ways women in particular are put in danger by societies insistence that we put politeness ahead of safety.

Why it will make you a better person:
Sometimes you get a bad feeling about someone, and you should listen to that, but more than that you should respect when people get a bad feeling about you. Understanding our instincts and why we respond the way we do makes your more appreciate of other peoples boundaries and why it’s important to respect them.

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