books that will change your life

I wasn’t always this brave. In fact, until about five years ago, I always made the responsible decision and lived in a blanket of fear. Well, maybe responsible is the wrong word, because if you ask me, this unconventional lifestyle that I’ve created to raise my five kids in is way more responsible. But yeah, not many years ago I pretty much followed conventionalism and didn’t have any interest in rocking the boat or standing out too much.

And I was always scared. I’d worry when my kids had a cold, I’d worry when my child didn’t get equal or more playing time on the soccer field, I’d worry my house wasn’t clean enough for company, I’d worry about scarcity, I’d worry about saying the right thing. Over the past 5 years I’ve learned to let a lot of things go.

That is why it is so important to let certain things go. To release them. To cut loose. People need to understand that no one is playing with marked cards; sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Don’t expect to get anything back, don’t expect recognition for your efforts, don’t expect your genius to be discovered or your love to be understood. Complete the circle. Not out of pride, inability or arrogance, but simply because whatever it is no longer fits in your life. Close the door, change the record, clean the house, get rid of the dust. Stop being who you were and become who you are.”

Paulo Coehlo

It’s crazy when I think about the amount of time I spent doing these things that I really didn’t care about and they certainly weren’t making me feel more fulfilled. I really only ended up feeling more lost and confused.

My disclosure: Just because those things weren’t important to me, doesn’t mean they can’t bring you happiness. The goal is to make decisions that align with what you need to feel fulfilled, to have a purpose, and to achive a life that is meaningful to YOU. I don’t expect you to necessarily travel or do adventuroous sports, but you can (they are pretty rad if you ask me). No, my goal is to inspire you to question everything. Even me πŸ˜‰

So here I was back in 2012. I had 5 kids, a husband who was (and still is) crazy about me, a 3000 sq ft house with a pool, but I was also always in my car driving to work, to someone’s sports practice, or to run errands.

The kids at Hedge creek falls in 2012

Fun was not part of my vocabulary!

I remember stopping one day and looking around thinking Is This It? Is This The Goal? Is This My Dream?

Well, having a big family was certainly the dream, but I wanted to really enjoy them. I wanted to have fun with them. I wanted them to be my friends who I hung out with, not to trap them, but because we shared common interests and just enjoyed life together so much.

Side note: If you don’t agree with me for wanting my kids to be my best friends that’s cool. Remember, it’s about what works for you and this just happens to work for us.

Fast forward over the next seven years and a lot has changed. I use the words rad and stoked a lot in my writing but they really are the best words to describe how great it feels to live life on the terms you want. To wake up excited to start each day. To have accumulated more memories with my kids than I could ever count. I hope I don’t die tomorrow, but if I did, I’d have no regrets. And best of all, I have huge plans for where I see myself and my family in the next decade.

Helen Lake Adventure: Why RV Living With kids Is Freaking Awesome

But none of this happened overnight. It’s all been a slow accumulation of reflection, setting intentions, making hard decisions, and the worst, pissing a lot of people off (unintentionally) along the way.

How dare you change the status quo and live a life of fulfillment?!

I read a lot of books over the last 5 years. Keep in mind, before we took the jump, social media wasn’t as huge as it is nowadays and there weren’t all these couples and families living the RVing/full time travel life and you had to search out books on to find inspiration. Luckily, I love to read and I love mindset books.

From all those books, I’ve taken bits and pieces from all of them to help guide me to this point. I’ve even written a few books myself and let the published copies sit in my car waiting until I am ready to market them (feel free to email me if you’d like a free copy).

All the books I read inspired me to start living bolder and actively chase my dreams, aspiration, and fulfillments. They told me it was okay to be selfish and misunderstood. They encouraged me to draw my awareness inward when I had to make tough decisions and the value that self care can make in creating a happier world. They inspired me to travel and to get goose bumps on a regular basis because we live on such an amazing planet!

Grinnell Glacier, Best Hikes in Glacier National Park, Strenuous
Doing one of the things I’ve always dreamed of doing: hiking in Glacier National Park

These are my favorite 22 books that I think changed my life the most. I’ve included the main lesson I took from each one to help put my dreams into motion. You might get something totally different from them and that’s good too.

If you ask me, change is good. It’s not easy, sometimes it hurts a lot. But it can also make the most beautiful memories and keep you excited to jump out of bed each day.

It’s okay to want more out of life and in order to achieve that, you have to start by bringing awareness to those desires and the focus and dedication needed. That’s why I write so much on badassery, mindset, and purpose. They are the cornerstone of happiness.

If you love this list and want more inspiration to live healthier and happier, join my free course and I’ll send you 30 days of inspiration to help you get on the path you want to be on.

reset your life in 30 days

Without further ado, here is the list…

Top 25 Books to Change Your life

1 |Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment by Tal Ben-Shahar

I am pretty sure this book started it all. I read this way back when I was in the midst of diapers and toddler meltdowns, way before positive psychology became such a popular movement. As much as I loved being a mom, it felt like there would never be a light at the end of the tunnel.

I loved how Ben-Sharar words spoke to my questioning and over analyzing nature. His principles are so simple. Look at your life now. What do you want to do more of and less of? What are you going to let go of to make that happen.

Like he says, we need very little money after we take care of food and shelter, for us to be happy. I know this is true. At one point my spending power was really big and I was content. I then went on to live three years as frugally as possible in order to do everything I wanted to do and I was so very happy.

Life is a balance and we need people in our lives to be happy, so balancing your happiness with the happiness of those you love dearly is a challenge worth taking on and something these other books have helped me with.

2 | The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo

I was reluctant to add this book to the list since it (and Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris) tends to be on every life changing list and clearly I don’t like following the crowd.

While I did read it and enjoy it, I can’t say it was a game changer, but it was a solid warm up. It was certainly the first book that got me thinking about purpose and fulfilling my destiny. More importantly, it led me to a lot of other Coehlo books that did change my life, like the next one on this list that really pushed me deeper into this new life choice. 

3 | The Zahir: A Novel of Obsession by Paulo Coehlo

You aren’t going to find this one on many life changing books list but this one gave me insight into my marriage and how I wanted it to feel. I think it also helped me let go of past emotions I was carrying, as well as, societal standards I was still gripping onto. It’s actually my all time favorite book and when I need some inspiration, I look to some of my favorite quotes from the book to keep me on my chosen path.

According to the tradition of the steppes – which is known as the Tengri – in order to live fully, it is necessary to be in constant movement; When they passed through cities, the nomads would think: the poor people who live here, for them everything is always the same. The people in the cities probably looked at the nomads and thought: Poor things, they have nowhere to live. The nomads had no past, only the present, and that is why they were always happy, until the communist governors made them stop travelling and forced them to live on collective farms. From then on, little by little, they came to believe that the story society told them was true. Consequently they have lost all their strength.
No one nowadays can spend their whole life travelling.

The Zahir, Paulo Coelho

4 | Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

I taught a homeschooling class to Danny, Gabi, and Isabelle when they were 14, 13, and 11 respectively. I called it “Out-of-the-Box” class because the goal was to look at life from a fresh perspective. We read different books together and one of those was Stargirl.

I loved how she owned her weirdness and that she got up early every morning to meditate and be in nature. Her self awareness and kind nature spoke to me.

Also, as a part of that “Out-of-the-box” class, they had to complete this book, How To Be An Explorer of the World which i’d highly recomend as a worbook to go along with all these life changing books.

5 | Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts

I found this right about the same time that we moved into our RV and it triggered my wanderlust. When we first moved into the RV, the idea was to just cut expenses in order to take longer vacations, but once I read this, a whole new world of possibilities opened up for me and I was certain that I would start traveling the world. Up until this, I had only ever been to Mexico and Costa Rica. Now, only four years later, I’ve been to 26 and counting.

The thing that makes Vagabonding so great isn’t the idea of travel for the sake of checking off bucket list worth destinations, it’s that travel should be a means of self awareness and self growth. That’s what I was drawn to. How could I create experiences that would help me understand who I was and not only make sense of the world, but find a way to contribute to making the world better.

6 | Live a Thousand Years: Have the Time of Your Life by Giovanni Livera

This one did what the Alchemist and The Zahir did, but with a different angle in the delivery. Like Coehlo’s books, this one reinforces self awareness, discovering purpose, and letting go of baggage in an entertaining story.

I think for a lot of people this book is easier to digest than a lot of self help books and is a good starting point if you just want to be inspired to make the most of your life, but not necessarily completely restructure your entire life.

7 | Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

I don’t think I saw myself as creative before I read this book. But I remember reading it on a flight to Hawaii a few years back and it struck a cord on owning my weirdness and being okay with expressing who I was.

Being a blogger and getting to express myself creativity through writing has changed who I am and how I feel about myself and life so much.  The thing with owning your weirdness is that in order to do that, you have to not be scared of being judged and that was exactly what I needed to hear to make the jump I knew I needed to.

8 | In Movement There Is Peace: Stumbling 500 Miles Along the Way to the Spirit by Elaine and Joseph Foster

I think this one first caught my attention because I alway feel more myself when I’m moving. But I read this waayyy before we started traveling.

It’s about a couple hiking the Camino de Santiago and I feel in love with the idea of escaping my ordinary life and getting to wake up each day to a new challenge in a new setting. With this in mind, The Pilgrimage by Coehlo is also a great read, but I liked this one because it was non-ficton.

9 | 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam

This one was a wake up call to stop wasting time. I’ve never really been one to sit around or be unproductive but it reminded me to be very aware of exactly how I use each one of my 168 hours a week.

I always encourage students in my courses or my coaching clients to take a look at how they spend each hour. It’s changed my time from wasting too much time cleaning and reorganizing stuff to setting aside time to plan trips, write blogs, and build a new business. 

10 | You Are A Badass: How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living An Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

This one was the nail in the coffin. It completely sealed my path to freedom. It was the last piece of confidence I needed to abandon the security of a house, sell almost everything I had worked so hard to own including all the cute wall decorations and fancy pillows that made up my perfectly decorated home so that I could just go be me and make the type of memories with my family that most people only see in movies.

I am grateful that Jen wrote this book and that I didn’t shy away from it when it’s bold yellow cover stared into my soul saying You Need This

11 | The Celestine Prophecy: An Adventure by James Redfield

You will never look at leaves rustling in the breeze the same again. This is a great book in building your self awareness as well as awareness of the life force that surrounds all of us.

The biggest lesson from this book that I use every day is the energy exchange in conversation. You’ll have to read it to understand what I’m talking about, but basically it’s about finding a balance of energy when you interact with people.

Go ahead and voice your opinions, brag about yourself, talk about what matters to you for half the conversation, then, spend half the time listening and trying to understand what the other is saying. This can be quite the challenge!

12 | Motivational Manifesto by Brendon Burchard

I don’t know if any other book does a better job of bringing self awareness and self accountabilty to the forefront of your being. I mean, think about the power those two thing have the ability to change. Imagine every second of the day we acted from our truest self by removing fear, hurt, anger, resentment and were able to achieve our desires by being fully accountable to our purpose and fully present in the moment.

I highly recommend Brendon Burchard’s The High Performance Planner also.

13 | The Rock Warrior’s Way: Mental Training for Climbers by Arno Ilgner

You don’t need to be a rock climber to appreciate this book. Sure, some of the climbing lingo might be confusing but that is not the point of the book.

This is another great lesson of self awareness and self accountabilty. he takes the analogy of risk assessment when climbing and transfers it to how we act in life.

What is keeping you from making that move both on the wall and in your life’s purpose? Why are you not slowing down and calculating your next move? What are you in a hurry for? What fulfillment will come from finishing the climb or getting that promotion do for you? Is it about the destination or the journey?

I always recommend this book to my clients because it is just so darn good. Now, if the climbing lingo bothers you, his book was based on the teachings of Dan Millman’s book Way of the Peaceful Warriorwhich I also enjoyed.

In all honesty, I find that I can take Ilgner’s lessons to my life way better than I can to my climbing, but a lot of that has to do with not commiting the time to my climbing like I do to the time I spend focusing on being a present mom, writer, and person.

14 | Who Moved My Cheese?: An A-Mazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Spencer Johnson

If you haven’t read this, just stop and go download it right now. This should be a requirement for all high schoolers to graduate high school.

This book is a fast read and quite entertaining. Change is inevitable, you can’t stop it. And when we live life in fear of change or devaluing its necessity, we handcuff ourself. To break free of these shackles, we must embrace change.

15 | You Are A Badass At Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero

Don’t let the title deceive you. This book is about so much more than wealth. This book is a lesson in manifestation and taking a hard look at the lies you tell yourself.

I was reading this book when we were living on a forest road in Oregon and we were just about to empty out our bank accounts (again). Two days later, we were rear ended (everyone was safe thankfully) and we ended up with an insurance payout that allowed us time and space to figure out what we wanted next in life. Coincidence??? I don’t think so.

While I am far from mastering manifestation, I re-read parts of this book often to help me when I feel low, when I need to make hard decisions, and sometimes just when I don’t want to lose my momentum.

16 | School of Greatness A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper, and Leaving a Legacy by Lewis Howes

Like Tim Ferris’s book The 4 Hour Workweek, the School of Greatness inspired me to find a way. That if I know my passions and what I want my life to look and feel like, I absolutey can go make it happen, but it’s going to take work and dedication.

It’s another book that made me understand the power of owning your weirdness and putting it out to the world in a way that can support you financially and fulfill you personally.

17 | The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz

I just finished reading this one and the premise behind the four agreements makes complete sense to me, actually living them on a day to day basis is hard.

It’s all the things we know we should do and how we should act, but there are so many forces at work trying to make you react in the opposite manner.

I like now that I have __ ‘s message in my mind as a moral compass and when I catch myself not sticking with these it’s usually an indicator that I’m spread too thin and I need to practice some self care.

18 | Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon

A lot of what holds us back in life is that we put an obscene pressure on ourselves to be original while also fitting in. The fact is, were all thiefs copying one another and we are all Picasso’s by putting our own twist on what someone else has already done.

This book inspired me that to look to others for inspiration and then make it original by adding “me” to the equation.

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

I had to save the best for last. This one is the game changer right here.

~Robyn πŸ™‚

By the time this book fell in my lap I had already changed in the sense of living unconventionally and travel, but this one just made all the others fall into place at least in my mind. I know a lot of people don’t agree with everything in this book or maybe it’s just too in your face, but here’s what it does for me.

We don’t know what’s next for us. We don’t know if there is a heaven, a hell, a paradise, another life, etc. We may have faith, but it’s not fact. All we have is this moment right now. This breath. All we can do is live fully, kindly, passionately, and with purpose. That last thing, though, that’s the game changer. Making the accumulation of moments stack up to be your life’s work so that it gives you reason to get up and try your best and a reason to lift your glass at night with the people you love and smile with gratitude for giving your best. Nothing more. Nothing less.

It’s the Aparigraha of the last book- take only what you need.

20 |Rising Strong by Brené Brown

This was a recent book I’ve read, after all my dramatic life changes, but is helping me to currently change the way I react to expectations and dig into what the real emotional triggers that are at play when I am in the mist of failure or conflict. It’s a great book if you are ready to explore your own vulnerability and want to dig deep into the core emotions of what makes you you.

21 | Surfing and Health by Doc Paskowitz

I watched the documentary Surfwise years ago, way before I considered actually living like the Paskowitz family. I was intrigued by the idea of the simple life and also craved a level of wellness and enjoyment of life that Doc portrayed in the movie. So I ordered Surfing and Health and sure enough two weeks later it arrived in the mail with a hand written note on the inside cover from him. I thoroughly enjoyed the teachings in his book and a lot of what I write in my own books and blogs about heatlh, nutrition, and waking up excited to start each day was inspired from this book.

22 | The $100 Start Up: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau

This book is a great inspiration for anyone with a dream to start a new career. I read it a few years ago, right about the time we moved into our RV, and it was the perfect motivation to get me to start this website and become a blogger.

23 | Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

This book was one of my first introductions to manifestation. While I remember some of the book being a bit of drab reading, many of the quotes in the book I look to for motivation and inspiration when I’m feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or helpless.

24 | Talking To Truth: An Intuition Workbook: Learn to Hear, Speak, and Trust Your UNIQUE Intuitive Language by Annika Spencer

The best guidance you can get when it comes time to change is YOU. Learning to hone in to your inner voice is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. In Talking to Truth, Annika does a great job of walking you through meditation and learning to listen to what that inner voice is nudging you to do. I’m constantly amazed at the paths this has led me down and grateful that my inner voice has often feels like a megaphone in my brain, ordering me down roads less traveled and towards so many personal fulfillment goals that at one time I was blind to.

25 | Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M Pirsig

I had no idea when I first read this how close my life would eventually mirror this book. If you follow our Instagram account, I talk a lot about how our journey is redefining how we are raising our children and the importance the values of self awareness, self reflection, and self accountability are.

So those were my 25 book suggestions to start changing your life. Pick one an get started! For many of us, motivation doesn’t like to stick around long when we’re caught up in the grind. Pick a book and start reading or listening. Get an Audible membership and listen to your book to/from work, find a hammock and turn the page, and fianlly start feeding your brain the knowledge you need to live your dream life.

If you want more inspiration to live your life to the fullest and accomplish your dreams, sign up for my free 30 day challenge. Every day I send you a motivational email inviting you to question everything and inspiring you to live out your life’s purpose.. The tools are all here for you, all you have to do is take action.

reset your life in 30 days

Did I miss your favorite book? Share it in the comments section below!

Like this blog? Share it or pin these: