It’s kind of crazy how when we find out about personal development, getting better with women, and the like, how much of our conditioned behaviors and patterns we just end up ignoring. Going out and gathering experiences is great and it will change a lot, if you do it enough times. However, it’s also quite a haphazard way of trying to change, and many times you’re simply covering up your deeper issues instead of grabbing them by the root.
This is what happened to me, years ago. I built up an edifice, a ‘new self’, so to speak. I felt more confident, looked better, started breaking out of my shell, got lots of girls…but it was all a facade. Underneath all of that external success, nothing had really changed, and an epic collapse would eventually come and have me needing to start back from square one. I relayed that whole story and how it specifically transformed my interactions with women subsequently, in my first book.
Since then, it’s been a long journey of learning to let go, breaking free of thought patterns, not chasing external pleasure/validation, realizing how little control I actually have over life, experimenting with living in the moment, pushing boundaries, etc. It’s been completely worth it. No more depression, no more ‘woe is me’ feelings, plenty of supreme excitement about life and exploring this world, and creating an awesome lifestyle.
On the Book List and How to Use It
Why is this list so long? Well, it’s important to understand just how deep our conditioning goes. We’ve been bombarded by outside influences our entire lives. Reading one book that inspires you or having a so-called spiritual experience can of course push you towards the right path. However, these glimpses into what is possible are short-lived, and if you don’t work to change things long-term, all of those conditioned patterns will come right back.
What I did, was to read one book after another. That way, it began to change the default way I would approach life and any perceived problems. Plus, different authors will give you different takes on a subject, sometimes the way it’s explained by one just clicks better with you in a given moment.
Secondly, each day I would inquire into feelings or thoughts and ask why they were happening? Why did I feel a certain way? Did I have to feel that way? Is an emotion even ‘me’ or am I simply the awareness of the emotion? I also meditated to help clear these thoughts and bring myself into the present moment, again and again. This trains your brain to stop doing the same old shit and moves you into presence.
Then, there is the exploratory phase. Going to new places, experiencing new things, pushing the boundaries of what I used to think was comfortable.
1. Reading-Theory- Internalizing concepts to sweep away the old conditioning
2. Training- Self-inquiry and meditation. Getting used to seeing through the illusions of thought and ego.
3. Exploration- Being able to stay present in a wide variety of environments, moods, and any other circumstance you may face. It’s useless, if you can’t become present and aware while out in public, and can only feel centered while meditating alone in a quiet room.
It is also important to understand that these books can often contain contradictions between one another and some authors occasionally slip into some ‘woo-woo’ quasi-religious stuff. Again, focus on core concepts, take what works and discard what doesn’t. The goal isn’t to renounce all your possessions, move to some monastery, and meditate for 12 hours a day. Live your life, just get rid of all the bull shit you’ve been saddled with for most of it.
If you aren’t a big reader, learn to become one. Here’s a post I wrote on reading more books.
Mental Game/Life’s Philosophy
Note: I tried to put the shortest books in this first set to make it easier to not get bogged down in some long ass read and gather some momentum towards reading more of the list. That being said, the further down the list a book is has nothing to do with length.
1. On The Shortness of Life by Seneca
A very quick read in which Roman philosopher, Seneca, discusses exactly what the title says…how short life is. This is a timeless piece that can help you get perspective.
2. That is That: Essays About True Nature by Nirmala
Mindfulness and other topics. Very similar to Eckhart Tolle but Nirmala explains concepts differently which can help them stick and take root within your own mind.
3. Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle
Basically a condensed version of his writings and teachings. I’ve gone back and reread parts of this countless times.
4. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
One of the most important books that I’ve ever read. Meditations started to change the way I thought when I was 19. When I read it again, 3 or 4 years later it helped pull me out of severe depression. I always come back to this every few years and it hits me in a new way.
5. The Moral Sayings of Publius Syrus
Lots of famous sayings and quotes to mine from Publius Syrus.
6. Discourses, Fragments, Handbook by Epictetus
If Marcus Aurelius sparked my interest in Stoic philosophy, Epictetus cemented it. Was one of the books I read after Meditations that continued my climb out of that depressed state and my life hasn’t been the same since.
7. The Miracle of Mindfulness Thich Nhat Hahn
A short read on mindfulness. Helped me revisit some of the concepts I already knew but it doesn’t hurt to get a different perspective.
8. The 50th Law by Robert Greene and 50 Cent
I love all of the books by Robert Greene but this shorter one he did with 50 Cent was fantastic. It’s all about fear and coming to terms with it in life.
9. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
I’ve read this multiple times over the past few years. It was the next phase of my mental transformation after I read the Stoics and really increased my level of awareness about ‘the self’, thought patterns, ego, etc.
10. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
Read it to round out my readings of Tolle, in some ways I actually like this better than The Power of Now. Rehashed in many ways, but goes more in depth in other areas.
11. 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
Bought this one probably a decade or so ago and thought it was amazing. This was one of the books that made me start to dig deeper and read more, as all of the excerpts and interesting stories had me researching so much stuff. Helps awareness of social games and how to avoid potentially hazardous people.
12. 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene
Strategic thinking is not just for war. Haven’t read this in a few years but I have read it like three times. Helped immensely with how I approach problems and situations in which finding the right move will pay off big time.
13. The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene
Yes, obviously this one as a treatise on seduction. However, I love how it introduced me to so many more books including two of my favorites, The Memoirs of Casanova and My, Wicked, Wicked Ways by Errol Flynn.
14. Mastery by Robert Greene
Inspirational and thought provoking. Breaks down the process of finding your passion in life and how to become great at whatever that might be.
15. Letting Go: The Pathway to Surrender by David Hawkins
Ending human suffering that is caused by our own minds. Lots of Eastern thought and similarities to Eckhart Tolle. Learning how to let go of negative thought patterns that we have held for many years or which pop up in the moment is a very powerful tool to have.
16. I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstader
An interesting take on consciousness which was both entertaining and made me think.
17. Nature, Man and Woman by Alan Watts
Man’s relation to nature, Taoism, and how we relate to women. Alan Watts was amazing. There are also plenty of YouTube videos of his talks which can be very useful to absorb.
18. Think on These Things by Jiddu Krishnamurti
I went on a binge of reading Krishnamurti a while ago. He seems to talk in circles at times, but I always felt more aware of my place in the universe after reading. If you’re going to check his work out, probably start with this one, and see if it resonates with you.
19. Transcending the Levels of Consciousness: The Stairway to Enlightenment by David Hawkins
This book and Letting Go are his best works. He gets mired in plenty of pseudo-science at times, especially in his book Power vs Force…however, there is enough good material in Transcending the Levels of Consciousness to make it a worthwhile read.
20. Osho- Living Dangerously: Ordinary Enlightenment for Extraordinary Times by Osho
Insightful and interesting takes on various life topics.
21. The Undefeated Mind: The Science of Constructing and Indestructible Self by Alex Lickerman
Creating self-discipline and inner strength to follow through in life and not let setbacks become permanent derailments.
22. Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman
A good, if flawed take on letting go told in a mix of autobiography and fiction.
23. The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety by Alan Watts
Watts, again! He does such a good job a distilling concepts and explaining things clearly that he has to be on the list twice.
24. Personal Development for Smart People by Steve Pavlina
I used to read Steve Pavlina’s blog a lot and while he does get into some weird shit on his website, there is a lot of useful stuff to learn about personal development. This book is an inexpensive and cheap road map to help figure out life and how to accomplish goals.
25. The Wisdom of Life by Arthur Schopenhauer
Some thoughts on how to live life by a pessimist. Some of the ideas presented are rather stoic and also advises you not to get caught up in the day to day BS that we all have to experience.
26. The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday
A practical guide of stoic philosophy concepts which deal with overcoming problematic situations in life using historical and contemporary examples.
27. A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy
Another really good and practical distillation of Stoicism. I always feel like its a good idea to read the primary sources as well as getting an outside perspective on ideas.
28. Letters from a Stoic by Seneca
The writings of Seneca (who was tutor to Emperor Nero) in the form of letters to one of his disciples. He covers so much territory in these letters, that you will pick up so much valuable information on how to live and approach problems that arise.
Other Books On Mental/Life’s Philosophy that are Kind of Out There
These titles are pretty damn esoteric/pseudoscience but they present some interesting ways to think…I’d definitely start elsewhere though.
29. Reality Transurfing
30. My Big T.O.E. Trilogy
Books by Osho
Osho was an interesting guy and his books are usually pretty entertaining reads. He’s not always correct with the things he says, but I did get a lot out of some of his titles. Here’s my favorites:
31. The Empty Boat: Encounters with Nothingness
32. Living on Your Own Terms: What is Real Rebellion?
33. Freedom: The Courage to Be Yourself
34. Courage: The Joy of Living Dangerously
Sex and Relationships
We are fed so much nonsense regarding women and our relations with them, that I think it becomes necessary to undergo a period of deprogramming of some potentially false beliefs we were raised on. These books offer different ways to think about sex and relationships which can help you figure out what you want, even if you don’t implement all of their ideas in active practice.
35. She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s guide to Pleasuring a Woman
36. More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory
37. Sex At Dawn
38. The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Adventures
39. Sperm Wars: Infidelity, Sexual Conflict, and Other Bedroom Battles
40. The Rational Male by Rollo Tomassi