Can reading be used to promote personal development? (19)

What is personal development?

Personal development covers a wide range of topics. The main focus is on how to develop one’s best potential as an individual and how to turn crises into opportunities.

Due to the frequent use of the term personal development, one could conclude that this is a lifestyle trend. From my point of view, personal development has been an important topic for the entire human race since at least ancient times. Every human being goes through a personal development. Through our experiences we get to know ourselves. Once we have learned to accept ourselves as we are, we can begin to critically question ourselves. Once we have overcome this hurdle, we can change according to our wishes.

Today, people dare to define this process as personal development. With the focus on personal development, one sets oneself the goal to change faster according to one’s wishes. However, you should not put yourself under pressure and accept that this is a lifelong process.

With reading you can accelerate your personal development and steer it in the right direction. I will now present you five areas where it is worthwhile for you to read a book about it.

First topic for personal development

General Psychology

General psychology is a human science that deals with the internal processes and the subsequent behavior. External circumstances are also taken into account. Here, for example, one tries to understand the cause of a toxic behavior in order to find a remedy for the suffering person.

General psychology can help you understand yourself better. Psychology has its influence on us in many areas. The subject area that psychology covers is very large. Therefore, first of all, try to understand the basic principles of psychology. Personally, I found the comprehensive book Big Ideas- The Psychology Book: Important Theories Explained Simply, by authors Nigel Benson, Joannah Ginsburg Ganz and Voula Grand to be a good overview. The well-color coordinated designs with the very nice illustrations and pictures convey the topic with a lot of excitement. However, there are of course other good foundation books on the subject.

personal development
Bild von John Hain auf Pixabay

Once you have an overview, you can deepen your knowledge in more specific topics. It is important that you link your new knowledge as well as possible with your interests and wealth of experience.

You can do this in your professional as well as in your private life. For example, you could work out for yourself how to motivate yourself more for your work. Every person has different motivations. If you know the psychological background of motivation, it will be easier for you to motivate yourself and your colleagues.

In the private sphere you could work out the psychological background of a habit for yourself. If you understand how to consciously introduce good habits into your life, then your inner pig-dog bear no longer has a chance. Regular exercise, getting up early, healthy eating, etc. do not need discipline if you have made them a habit.

Second theme for personal development


A good self-assessment keeps you from overestimating your skills. On the other hand, it also helps you to classify your abilities correctly. If you know your abilities, you do not need to underestimate yourself. Do not be afraid of tasks that challenge you! Don’t hide behind tasks that hardly challenge you. This would only lead you to underchallenge. In extreme cases it leads to a boreout. It is the opposite extreme to burnout.

Self-assessment ideally increases with growing life experience. Some people tend to underestimate themselves (mostly women) and some people tend to overestimate themselves (mostly men).

Bild von Prettysleepy auf Pixabay

Which books can promote your self-assessment skills?

First and foremost, novels with stories from everyday life. It’s especially beneficial if you can identify well with one of the main characters. As you live through and empathize with that character, you are reminded of your own life from time to time. When the character makes a mistake, you remember your own mistakes. The character’s insight can be transferred to you.

Maybe you are going through a crisis, like this character. Well-intentioned advice from a person who, from your point of view, has never had to endure such a fate, rarely extinguishes the fire burning inside you. A character who is perhaps only fictitiously going through the same thing can. She does not give you advice from above. She lives her advice. You listen (read) more because you feel understood.

In those moments, a book helps you get to know yourself honestly. Your weaknesses can no longer hurt you so much. You accept them and start to work on yourself.

No human being consists only of weaknesses and bad qualities. You also recognize your own strengths. Let the character in the novel inspire you. Watch (read) carefully what this character makes of himself. You can too. Finally accept your strengths and promote them so that the potential that lies dormant in you can unfold.

Third theme for personal development

3-Empathy and body language

Empaths manage to see the world in another person’s shoes. How much empathy a person possesses is mostly innate. A big influence has also the environment, (family, friends, culture…) in which one grew up and currently still is.

If you have a lot of empathy, you can quickly read the body language of other people and steer a situation in the right direction in time. Empathy is one of the most important success factors in private as well as in business life.

Empathy basically develops with a strong interest in the well-being of other people. If you have no interest in other people, you will also ignore their body language. Don’t judge yourself if you are not empathic by nature. Rather, reflect on the reasons for your attitude.

Bild von truthseeker08 auf Pixabay

Empathy is not a skill that you can learn by heart. It is the result of your attitude towards other people. So before you can become a successful salesman, politician, heartthrob, etc. with the help of empathy, you need to become aware of your attitude towards other people.

Your attitude will show up relatively quickly when you are confronted with other attitudes in life. If you are a FC Barcelona fan and you happen to meet another FC Barcelona fan, it will not be difficult for you to put yourself in his shoes when he talks about his best experience at the stadium. It will be different if you talk to a marathon runner, boxer or surfer. The more similar interests and attitudes you share with someone, the easier it will be for you to develop empathy for them.

What books help you develop more empathy for other people?

Particularly suitable here are books that represent an attitude to life that differs from yours. Books that authentically reflect the life of other cultures and other social classes. In addition to classic novels such as Moby Dick and Uncle Tom’s Cabin, philosophical works from other cultures are also suitable. In such books you learn the value of different attitudes to life. You automatically develop more sympathy and honest interest in other people.

Fourth theme for personal development


Responsibility is a big word. Managers usually justify their earnings for large salaries with the pressure of the great responsibility they have to bear. As long as they do not delegate this responsibility downwards, this is also a good argument. Better to have a very well paid CEO who offers a future to company employees than a poorly paid CEO who drives the company into the wall.

If you harbor an unhealthy envy against successful people, then you have abdicated responsibility for your destiny. Comparing yourself to other people only benefits you if they spur you on. Comparisons with your past self show you best if you are developing in the right direction. Don’t make yourself small by comparing yourself to people who are currently further along than you. Don’t rest on your laurels by comparing yourself to people you’ve long since left behind.

personal development
Bild von Gerd Altmann auf Pixabay

What does responsibility mean to you?

It is important that you form a concrete picture of responsibility for yourself.

How would you define responsibility? Feel free to write your personal definition in the comments 😉

In the the german word Verantwortung (responsibility) there is the word antwort (answer). In keeping with this, I have 9 questions for you to answer for yourself in your mind.

Am I responsible for myself?

For which other people am I responsible? – Maybe family, friends, partner, children,…?

For which objects am I responsible? – Maybe some machines at work or your car.

What tasks and systems am I responsible for? -Orders at work or simply separating garbage.

What was I responsible for in the past?- Bringing up my children, …?

What will I be responsible for in the future?

What am I responsible for NOW, in this moment?

You can also deepen your personal definition with the Pizza Model. It’s a little help from me on how to break a topic into subtopics to find out the most important core of your viewpoints. However, it can also be used as a brainstorming tool.

My definition of responsibility:

The answer to a problem is within me.

What books help you develop a sense of responsibility?

Biographies are fabulous. There is a very large selection here. Depending on your life situation and interests, there is always a suitable life story that gives you advice and support.

As an enthusiastic sportsman, you might be interested in the biography of Lionel Messi, Roger Federer, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Michael Schuhmacher.

As a self-employed entrepreneur or aspiring entrepreneur, you might be inspired by the biography of Walter Götz (the drugstore chain founder of dm), Rheinhold Würth (screw trader), Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla and Space X) or Henry Ford (pioneer for the car industry at that time).

If you’re in a crisis of purpose, you might find the biographies of Nobel Peace Prize winners like Albert Schweitzer or Nelsen Mandela helpful.

The right biography is already waiting for you.

Bild von kalhh auf Pixabay

Fifth theme for personal development

5-Independent thinking

How do you describe independent thinking?

From my point of view, I would say: Think for yourself all the time.

It sharpens your ability to critically question yourself and your environment. This way you don’t allow frauds and incompetent advisors to think for you.

Independent thinking does not necessarily mean that our thinking is uninfluenced. We all live in our individual information bubble. This bubble is formed by our background, our parents, our social status, our job, the media we consume daily and all other experiences we have had so far.

Bild von Joseph Mucira auf Pixabay

We can’t leave this bubble so easily. Most of the time, we don’t want to leave our bubble either. If the bubble bursts unexpectedly, a world view collapses. Just like the stock market crash in 2000 at the turn of the millennium.

Bild von Gerd Altmann auf Pixabay

You don’t cling to an unhealthy worldview if you’re constantly thinking for yourself.

When you completely let go of your worldview, or at least stop clutching it so tightly, you become freer. You gain more space in your mind. This new space allows for new ideas with different approaches.

When it comes to new technologies, unconventional people are often the pioneers. If you want to become one of them, start thinking for yourself all the time.

Bild von kalhh auf Pixabay

Are there any books at all that educate me to think independently?

In today’s society, we are educated not to think independently. So the most important thing is to practice independent thinking. One way would be to write down your inner thoughts.

Knowing how thought processes work inside you helps you understand when you are thinking for yourself and when you are thinking on preconceived tracks. I recommend all of Vera Birkenbihl’s books. I find her books encourage independent thinking with their association exercises.

Also, look into the origin and nature of our language. Our language has a very big influence on our thinking. I found the book Wörter machen Leute by Wolf Schneider very exciting and informative.

Did you know that Eskimos have at least 24 names for snow? Did you ever notice how many different words we use for money? Dough, coal, money, barrels, stones, toads … .

When you read a variety of books on different subjects, it automatically stimulates you to think for yourself.

Now you are asked

Your thoughts are welcome in the comments section

What is your opinion?

Please write your opinion in the comments

Thanks a lot

Which personal development topic do you deal with?
Do you think it is good or bad that more and more people are dealing with personal development?


A very good motivation speech from Tony Robbins.

This video is from the youtube channel
Business & Self Development Resources

Veröffentlicht von Chris

Monthly one blog articel about reading, growth or inspiring ideas (in english and german).

11 Kommentare zu „Can reading be used to promote personal development? (19)

  1. A very comprehensive article. As an indie author with two novels published about everyday life and filled with flawed characters, I was especially heartened by your recommendation that reading “novels with stories from everyday life” can promote our self-assessment skills.

      1. My novels, both set in my native land of Guyana, are The Twisted Circle (2021) and Under the Tamarind Tree (2019). You can learn more at my author website at
        Thanks for the follow 🙂

  2. Now a day personal development is very necessary to remain sound . You have written very beautifully all the aspects. Thank you for sharing 🙂🎉💓

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