7 Timeless Books That Radically Changed My Mindset, Beliefs, Vision…and Life
Tl;dr: the 7 books that changed my life are: The game, by Neil Strauss; No More Mr. Nice Guy, by Dr. Danny Glover; Why we sleep, by Matthew Walker, Ph.D.; Think for Yourself, by Vikram Mansharamani, Ph.D.; Your brain on porn, by Gary Wilson; The carnivore diet, by Shawn Baker, M.D.; The Millionaire Fastlane, by MJ DeMarco.
It is safe to say that books had an extremely positive impact on my life. I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t read the books I have read. The power of knowledge really is unlimited.
All books are not equal though. Some were bad, some were ok, some were good, some were awesome and some were life-changing. In this article, I outline 7 books that had the latter effect on me.
How can a book be life-changing though? It depends on why you read books. Some read them for entertainment. I read them for the knowledge they provide me with. Books are all about problem-solving and the value they can bring into my life. That is the choice that I made.
As such, the books that changed my life changed it by shattering some old limiting beliefs I had and that prevented me from reaching my goals.
These books showed me a solution I didn’t know existed. If I had been stranded on a deserted island, these books would have been the equivalent of a life-boat. I’d go as far as to compare some of them as luxury yachts, with waiters, Champaign, and lobsters.
The books that had an impact on me won’t necessarily have an impact on you. To quote MJ DeMarco, “a good book is a book that solves your current problem”. It’s a book that fulfills its intended purpose, whatever it may be.
For some, it is entertainment. For others, it is knowledge. For me, it was solutions to problems.
The books you are about to discover have all had a profound impact on my life when the situation seemed hopeless or when I was rigged with anxiety and distress.
They changed my life because they showed me something I had not seen, something I didn’t even think could even exist.
If they seem to be dealing with a problem you are currently experiencing, I can only recommend them to you.
1. The Game, by Neil Strauss
The game is a semi-autobiographical book written by Rolling Stones Magazine author Neil Strauss. It tells the story of the transformation of Neil from a geeky writer barely able to talk to girls, to be one of the most skilled seducers in the world.
The game is number 1 on this list because it is (and always will be) the book that has had the most profound impact on my life.
I read the book at a time in my life when I was really struggling with girls. I didn’t know any better than the American movies that always showed the girl kissing the guy (and not the other way around ) which somehow didn’t seem to apply in real life (I have since labeled movies that do not depict real social situations as “psycho-social-cultural terrorism”).
The game showed me something else. It taught me that whatever I lacked in life, whatever I needed, I could teach myself the skills to get what I wanted.
That was a revolutionary idea.
At the time, I thought the only knowledge that was suited to be learned was what was taught at school. I thought we were destined to be the slaves of our original condition. I thought that those that were born poor, would remain poor; that those that were born rich, would remain rich. I thought the world was frozen into the state it had originally come to be in.
It was obvious bs.
There isn’t anything that you cannot teach yourself. The game taught me this lesson when it told me I could improve myself in the area of my life I was struggling the most with: girls.
“If I can learn to effectively communicate with girls, I can learn anything”, I thought. And so I did.
When came the time to learn everything I didn’t know, from foreign languages to computer code or stock trading, I was ready.
The game taught me that there is no such thing as a hopeless situation.
If you can learn, you can learn anything. If you can learn anything, you can do everything.
2. No More Mr. Nice Guy, by Dr. Danny Glover
While the game taught me I could learn to become attractive to girls, No More Mr. Nice Guy taught me I’d have to go through therapy to do so.
Psychologists estimate that about 80% of families in Western society are dysfunctional. Unfortunately, humans learn by example so when parents struggle with mental health issues, there are high chances that their kids will do so too.
If you struggle with unhealthy thoughts, dysfunctional relationships, and deep-rooted fears, you need someone telling you so to realize it is not normal, and that you need help.
That’s what No More Mr. Nice Guy did for me. It showed that if I hoped to fix the issues and glitches that had slid into my childhood and had grown to the size of important propensity, I’d have to talk to a psychologist.
I did check myself into therapy, and that changed my life for the better.
3. Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker
I was recommended Why we sleep by a friend of mine (Jellis Vaes, founder of the awesome blog Inner Picture Stories). The only thing I regretted upon reading it was…not having read it sooner.
When I realized in my journey that time was not infinite, I started trying to get the most out of my time, squeezing every minute out of my day to read or write more. And what greater time-consuming activity than sleep, I thought.
I quickly found out how wrong I was when I read Why we sleep. Sleep is not a trivial biological activity, but a ritual our body and brain need to function properly. The lack of sleep worsens pretty much every disease and condition and science is currently investigating if mental degenerations such as Alzheimer’s aren’t caused primarily…by the lack of sleep.
When I found out that sleep was far from being an obstacle to my performances but in fact, an enhancer, my mindset about sleep shifted radically.
I went from being stressed to “waste” 8 hours of my life to be happy to go to sleep. I started respecting and enjoying my sleep much more and gained a lot of quality of life. From a clearer mind to a more stable mood, embracing something as basic as sleep changed my life for the better.
If it hadn’t been for this book, it wouldn’t have happened.
4. Think for Yourself, by Vikram Mansharamani
When I was a kid, I grew up in an environment where everyone, day and night, told me that I didn’t know what I was talking about.
My parents, siblings, friends, and teachers hammered this message so strongly into my head that it became engraved. If I didn’t know what I was talking about, I thought, it probably meant that others knew better than I did, right?
Needless to say, this destructive thought pattern inflicted a great deal of damage to my life. Whenever I had an intuition about something, I dared not saying it (even though most of the time, it was a correct intuition). Whenever I claimed my desires, anyone could easily talk me out of it by telling me that whatever I desired was “not something to be desired”. The default setting was that others knew better than I did, and I had more to gain believing their ideas over believing mine.
I quickly lost confidence in my capacity to make decisions by myself, so I put this burden on the shoulders of others. I sought to absolve myself from the negative consequences they could yield.
But I was dreaming. Whoever was deciding for me, the person that eventually paid the price of it…was myself.
Starting my journey of self-teaching enabled me to gain a bit of confidence back. Nonetheless, I remained extremely influenceable.
Then one day, I read this book.
I found it fascinating and mind-blowing for several reasons, but I’ll only list two here.
Firstly, experts make mistakes more often than generalists because, being knowledgeable in their domain only, they overestimate the importance of their field as the cause of a problem while underestimating other causes due to their incapability of understanding the bigger picture.
Secondly, most people have no clue what they are talking about.
The conclusion I came to was rather horrific: no one can be trusted.
One person could still be trusted: myself.
By presenting experts under the light that made them appear as who they really are, “Think for yourself” changed my life in the sense that it gave me the confidence to make my own decisions myself because no one knew more than I did.
While it may not seem like a big deal, changing deep-rooted beliefs you have been fed with for over 20 years is far from easy.
“How to think for yourself” was a significant step in this endeavor.
5. Your Brain on Porn, by Gary Wilson
Like all bad habits, it is only after you stop them that you realize how nefarious they have been to you. Your brain on porn takes a scientific approach and details how porn influences the architecture of our brains, the rapport we have with each other (particularly from men to women) and the relationship we have with ourselves.
Porn is so addictive that it is consumed by 99.99% of people that have access to it. Trust me, there are more carnivores in this world than non-porn-consumers.
I read Your brain on porn when I experienced my first no-fap. Moving out of porn considerably helped with self-esteem and social capital. I felt more confident and I was more attracted to girls than I was in the past.
Your brain on porn is the book that sent me on my quest to discover how dopamine worked on the brain, and how it influenced our daily behaviors, which eventually led me to quit altogether sugar, porn, fapping, social media, news media content, movies, and phone usage.
Quite an influential book, to say the least.
6. The Carnivore Diet, by Shawn Baker, M.D.
I can’t put all of the reasons behind my decision to go all carnivore into Shawn Baker’s book as I had already done most of the research when it came out, but The carnivore diet is certainly an influential book of mine since it helped me understand better the mechanics behind the diet, why it works, and why Western society has gotten nutrition all wrong since the end of WWII.
I also think we should accord a special mention to Sacred Cow by Robb Wolf and Diana Rogers, for the scientific work they have done to blast common misconceptions about human’s optimal nutrition.
7. The Millionaire Fastlane, by MJ DeMarco
The Millionaire Fastlane is weird. It is one of the most valuable books on building wealth and yet…it’s far from being mainstream.
I became acquainted with TMF in a video made by an influencer I was a huge fan of at the time. I picked up the book in November 2019 as I was looking for knowledge about business and entrepreneurship.
What was outlined in TMF was not the information I was looking for, yet, it transformed my mindset forever.
The views I had about business, about money, and about the economy completely shifted. Suddenly, the mere idea of being an employee generated ineffable anxieties and conflicts in my mind. All I was thinking about was starting a business.
What followed was a really dumb decision that I made after I read TMF, and I need to tell the story here to highlight the transformative, almost transcendental effect the book had on me.
At the time, I was studying for a master’s in political science in Brussels and knew that even though I didn’t want to, I’d have to find a job and work for someone at some point…eventually in the future.
I had therefore spammed companies with my resume and gotten into two hiring processes at two very good companies.
Then, I read TMF.
And everything changed.
In his book, MJ DeMarco takes an honest look at what’s life looks like for the middle class. He outlines the challenges of looking for a job, enduring a disagreeable boss, and working one’s whole life for a company only to get fired at the first economic downturn.
As I read somewhere a short time ago, “corporations remind you you’re a part of the family until they have books to balance”.
To avoid such a fate, DeMarco provides a framework for entrepreneurship based on the CENTS commandments: Control; Entry; Need; Time; Scale. According to him, building a company that respects these five criteria ensures its founder a rapid road towards wealth, enabling the entrepreneur to become a millionaire in 10 years or less.
TMF is not for everyone as MJ’s style of writing is…somewhat particular. However, I can only recommend it for up and coming entrepreneurs that are looking for a first book to start with.
May it change your life as much as it changed mine.