Careers

Every lifelong learner should read these high-impact books

A pile of books on Portobello Road Market, a flea market in Notting Hill, London.
Markus Kolletzky | Getty Images
A pile of books on Portobello Road Market, a flea market in Notting Hill, London.

Lifelong learning is the "ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated" pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. The pursuit of knowledge is easier than it has ever been before.

Cultivating the mind is essential for your personal growth. Digging deeper will separate you from the crowd and allow you to become a better version of yourself.

More from Thomas Oppong:
It's OK to start over
Make art. You are an artist.
You can't get away with staying comfortable

If you have ever wondered what you can do to become a well-rounded person and increase your rate of success, you will find these books useful. If you are constantly striving to know, learn and do more, these books will give you an edge in life.

Boston Public Library reading room
Betty Wiley | Getty Images
Boston Public Library reading room

1. The practical and inspiring ways for you to become more successful through better thinking

The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward B. Burger

"Fail nine times. The next time you face a daunting challenge, think to yourself, "In order for me to resolve this issue, I will have to fail nine times, but on the tenth attempt, I will be successful." This attitude frees you and allows you to think creatively without fear of failure, because you understand that learning from failure is a forward step toward success."

"Take a risk and when you fail, no longer think, 'Oh, no, what a frustrating waste of time and effort,' but instead extract a new insight from that misstep and correctly think, 'Great: one down, nine to go — I'm making forward progress!' And indeed you are. After your first failure, think, 'Terrific, I'm 10 percent done!' Mistakes, loss and failure are all flashing lights clearly pointing the way to deeper understanding and creative solutions."

2. The tools to unleash the secret of peak performance

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

"Contrary to what we usually believe, moments like these, the best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times —  although such experiences can also be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. "

"Optimal experience is thus something that we make happen. For a child, it could be placing with trembling fingers the last block on a tower she has built, higher than any she has built so far; for a swimmer, it could be trying to beat his own record; for a violinist, mastering an intricate musical passage. For each person there are thousands of opportunities, challenges to expand ourselves."

3. An exploration of how extreme athletes break the limits of ultimate human performance

The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance by Steven Kotler

"If we are hunting the highest version of ourselves, then we need to turn work into play and not the other way round. Unless we invert this equation, much of our capacity for intrinsic motivation starts to shut down. We lose touch with our passion and become less than what we could be and that feeling never really goes away."

"To really achieve anything, you have to be able to tolerate and enjoy risk. It has to become a challenge to look forward to. In all fields, to make exceptional discoveries you need risk  —  you're just never going to have a breakthrough without it."

4. An unconventional book of inspiration and wisdom for achieving a fulfilling life

How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen

"In your life, there are going to be constant demands for your time and attention. How are you going to decide which of those demands gets resources? The trap many people fall into is to allocate their time to whoever screams loudest, and their talent to whatever offers them the fastest reward. That's a dangerous way to build a strategy."

"In order to really find happiness, you need to continue looking for opportunities that you believe are meaningful, in which you will be able to learn new things, to succeed, and be given more and more responsibility to shoulder."

5. A set of powerful practices to help break the cycle of unhappiness, stress, anxiety and mental exhaustion

Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams

"Pure awareness transcends thinking. It allows you to step outside the chattering negative self-talk and your reactive impulses and emotions. It allows you to look at the world once again with open eyes. And when you do so, a sense of wonder and quiet contentment begins to reappear in your life."

"Gradually, moment by moment, you may have come to realize that although you can't stop the unsettling thoughts from arising in your mind, you can stop what happens next. You can stop the vicious circle from feeding off itself."

6. The KonMari approach to tidying and decluttering

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

"The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life."

"Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle."

"The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life."

7. Mark shows you how to stop trying to be "positive" all the time so that you can truly become better and happier

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

"Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience. Any attempt to escape the negative, to avoid it or quash it or silence it, only backfires. The avoidance of suffering is a form of suffering. The avoidance of struggle is a struggle. The denial of failure is a failure. Hiding what is shameful is itself a form of shame."

"Pain is an inextricable thread in the fabric of life, and to tear it out is not only impossible, but destructive: Attempting to tear it out unravels everything else with it. To try to avoid pain is to give too many f---s about pain. In contrast, if you're able to not give a f--- about the pain, you become unstoppable." "

8. This book unveils the principle of "Massive Action"

The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone

"As long as you are alive, you will either live to accomplish your own goals and dreams or be used as a resource to accomplish someone else's. "

"Until you become completely obsessed with your mission, no one will take you seriously. Until the world understands that you're not going away — that you are 100 percent committed and have complete and utter conviction and will persist in pursuing your project — you will not get the attention you need and the support you want."

"I suggest that you become obsessed about the things you want; otherwise, you are going to spend a lifetime being obsessed with making up excuses as to why you didn't get the life you wanted."

9. The importance of living your life with purpose

The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen Covey

"But until a person can say deeply and honestly, 'I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,' that person cannot say, 'I choose otherwise.'"

"Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply."

"Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be."

This article originally appeared on Medium.com

Thomas Oppong is the founder and editor of Alltopstartups.com, a resource site for young entrepreneurs starting and growing businesses today.