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Always Be Learning

14 Compelling Books to Strengthen Your Mental Prowess
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Author- Lashaun Dale

You’ve done the work and put the time in on your physical practice. Now you are starting to feel and see the results of your training. Consistent effort reaps consistent rewards and as a result, you are getting stronger, and your capacity for movement is increasing. This is true for our mental development as well.

And there is nothing like reading to strengthen your capacity for knowledge, but the benefits don’t stop there. It has been said that readers are leaders, and now we understand why. A regular daily habit of reading has been proven to support mental fitness resulting in better memory, improved sleep quality, prevention of cognitive decline, and even increased life span.

So let this be an invitation for continuous learning on every level. For many of us, personal development and continuous learning are in our DNA. Lean into it, make it a daily habit. To get you started, here is a list of the latest reads from our Animal Flow Master Instructors and Regional Leaders to entertain your mind, expand your knowledge and help you through the season ahead.

Ready to go all-in? Consider a reading challenge: commit to reading an hour a day for the rest of your life. That typically will lead to one book a week. Imagine all you can learn if you read and absorb with that type of consistency. You will be stunned by how this core habit will transform your life experience. Like movement, there is magic in the practice of reading.

 
Simran Hotchandani

Bookseller’s Description

From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.” One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?
Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.

Alisha Smith

Bookseller’s Description

While everything appears to be collapsing around us – ecodamage, genetic engineering, virulent diseases, the end of cheap oil, water shortages, global famine, wars – we can still do something about it and create a world that will work for us and for our children’s children. The inspiration for Leonardo DiCaprio’s feature documentary movie The Eleventh Hour and soon to be released HBO special Ice on Fire, Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight details what is happening to our planet, the reasons for our culture’s blind behavior, and how we can fix the problem. Thom Hartmann’s comprehensive book is one of the fundamental handbooks of the environmental activist movement. Now with fresh, updated material on our Earth’s rapid climate change and a focus on political activism and its effect on corporate behavior, The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight helps us understand – and heal – our relationship to the world, to each other, and to our natural resources.

Trish Buhat

Bookseller’s Description

Written in Greek by an intellectual Roman emperor without any intention of publication, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius offer a wide range of fascinating spiritual reflections and exercises developed as the leader struggled to understand himself and make sense of the universe. Spanning from doubt and despair to conviction and exaltation, they cover such diverse topics as the question of virtue, human rationality, the nature of the gods and the values of leadership. But while the Meditations were composed to provide personal consolation, in developing his beliefs Marcus also created one of the greatest of all works of philosophy: a series of wise and practical aphorisms that have been consulted and admired by statesmen, thinkers and ordinary readers for almost two thousand years.

Devrath Vijay

Bookseller’s Description

Transform your life with tiny changes in behaviour, starting now. People think that when you want to change your life, you need to think big. But world-renowned habits expert James Clear has discovered another way. He knows that real change comes from the compound effect of hundreds of small decisions: doing two push-ups a day, waking up five minutes early, or holding a single short phone call. He calls them atomic habits. In this ground-breaking book, Clears reveals exactly how these minuscule changes can grow into such life-altering outcomes. He uncovers a handful of simple life hacks (the forgotten art of Habit Stacking, the unexpected power of the Two Minute Rule, or the trick to entering the Goldilocks Zone), and delves into cutting-edge psychology and neuroscience to explain why they matter. These small changes will have a revolutionary effect on your career, your relationships, and your life.

Caroline Taylor

Bookseller’s Description

This seminal book, which has been called “one of the outstanding contributions to psychological thought” by Carl Rogers and “one of the great books of our time” by Harold Kushner, has been translated into more than fifty languages and sold over sixteen million copies. “An enduring work of survival literature,” according to the New York Times, Viktor Frankl’s riveting account of his time in the Nazi concentration camps, and his insightful exploration of the human will to find meaning in spite of the worst adversity, has offered solace and guidance to generations of readers since it was first published in 1946. At the heart of Frankl’s theory of logotherapy (from the Greek word for “meaning”) is a conviction that the primary human drive is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but rather the discovery and pursuit of what the individual finds meaningful. Today, as new generations face new challenges and an ever more complex and uncertain world, Frankl’s classic work continues to inspire us all to find significance in the very act of living, in spite of all obstacles.

Bryan Wither

Bookseller’s Description

Today’s extremist violence surges into our lives from what seems like every direction — vehicles hurtling down city sidewalks; cyber-threats levied against political leaders and backed up with violence; automatic weapons unleashed on mall shoppers, students, and the faithful in houses of worship. Told with startling honesty and intimacy, Breaking Hate is both the inside story of how extremists lure the unwitting to their causes and a guide for how everyday Americans can win them-and our civil democracy-back. Former extremist Christian Picciolini unravels this sobering narrative from the frontlines, where he has worked for two decades as a peace advocate and “hate breaker.” He draws from the firsthand experiences of extremists he has helped to disengage, revealing how violent movements target the vulnerable and exploit their essential human desires, and how the right interventions can save lives. Piercing, empathetic, and unrestrained, Breaking Hate tells the sweeping story of the challenge of our time and provides a roadmap to overcoming it.

Christopher Flores

Bookseller’s Description

Robert Greene is a master guide for millions of readers, distilling ancient wisdom and philosophy into essential texts for seekers of power, understanding, and mastery. Now he turns to the most important subject of all – understanding people’s drives and motivations, even when they are unconscious of them themselves. We are social animals. Our very lives depend on our relationships with people. Knowing why people do what they do is the most important tool we can possess, without which our other talents can only take us so far. Drawing from the ideas and examples of Pericles, Queen Elizabeth I, Martin Luther King Jr, and many others, Greene teaches us how to detach ourselves from our own emotions and master self-control, how to develop the empathy that leads to insight, how to look behind people’s masks, and how to resist conformity to develop your singular sense of purpose. Whether at work, in relationships, or in shaping the world around you, The Laws of Human Nature offers brilliant tactics for success, self-improvement, and self-defense.

Tim Sandeman

Bookseller’s Description

Could you be getting in your way of producing great work? Have you started a project but never finished? Would you like to do work that matters, but don’t know where to start? The answer is Do the Work, a manifesto by bestselling author Steven Pressfield, that will show you that it’s not about better ideas, it’s about actually doing the work. Do the Work is a weapon against Resistance – a tool that will help you take action and successfully ship projects out the door. “There is an enemy. There is an intelligent, active, malign force working against us. Step one is to recognize this. This recognition alone is enormously powerful. It saved my life, and it will save yours.” Do the Work may be just what you need to get out of your own way.

Victor Reyes

Bookseller’s Description

Do you want to get ahead in life? Climb the ladder to personal success? The secret, master networker Keith Ferrazzi claims, is in reaching out to other people. As Ferrazzi discovered in early life, what distinguishes highly successful people from everyone else is the way they use the power of relationships—so that everyone wins. In the course of this book, Ferrazzi outlines the timeless strategies shared by the world’s most connected individuals, from Winston Churchill to Bill Clinton, Vernon Jordan to the Dalai Lama. In Never Eat Alone, Ferrazzi lays out the specific steps—and inner mindset—he uses to reach out to connect with the thousands of colleagues, friends, and associates on his contacts list, people he has helped and who have helped him.

Pedro Ferrando

Bookseller’s Description

Yung Pueblo reminds us that the journey to unconditional love begins with self-love. When we truly discover that the power of letting go is possible and begins with self-inquiry and understanding, we discover a less harsh, less jarring, and less disappointing outer world. Inward is a healing collection of poetry, quotes, and prose that serve as a reminder to the listener that healing, transformation, and freedom are possible.

Evgenia Kabanova

Bookseller’s Description

Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. He explores innovative treatments—from neurofeedback and meditation to sports, drama, and yoga—that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score exposes the tremendous power of our relationships both to hurt and to heal—and offers new hope for reclaiming lives.

Paulo Fernandes

Bookseller’s Description

In this inspiring, empowering book, Shetty draws on his time as a monk in the Vedic tradition to show us how we can clear the roadblocks to our potential and power. Drawing on ancient wisdom and his own rich experiences in the ashram, Think Like a Monk reveals how to overcome negative thoughts and habits, and access the calm and purpose that lie within all of us. The lessons monks learn are profound but often abstract. Shetty transforms them into advice and exercises we can all apply to reduce stress, improve focus, improve relationships, identify our hidden abilities, increase self-discipline and give the gifts we find in ourselves to the world. Shetty proves that everyone can and should think like a monk.

Parveez Saligh

Bookseller’s Description

Essentialism is more than a time-management strategy or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution toward the things that really matter. By forcing us to apply more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy—instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us. Essentialism is not one more thing—it’s a whole new way of doing everything. It’s about doing less, but better, in every area of our lives. Essentialism is a movement whose time has come.

Richard Scrivener

Bookseller’s Description

Try to recall the best coach you’ve ever had. Consider what differentiated them from other coaches; what made them so effective? Was it their knowledge and programming, or did it come down to the way they communicated with you and the way they made you feel? While the former are critical, it is a coach’s words that set them apart from the rest. The Language of Coaching focuses on the impact that communication has on an individual’s ability to learn and perform a movement. Written by performance coach Nick Winkelman, the book examines how instruction, feedback, and cueing can significantly affect training outcomes. Grounded in motor learning and the science of attentional focus, Winkelman takes you on a journey, guiding you through practical coaching frameworks that will help you adapt your language to the learning needs of those you support.

Disclosure: Animal Flow receives a commission for any purchases made through the book links above.