Books Insights

3 Book Picks for Self Improvement

Since I am reading a lot of self improvement books lately, I wanted to make sure that I am practicing the lessons I’ve learned so it wouldn’t go to waste. I didn’t want to read it, totally agree with it, and then just abandon it after a few days. I want to be able to carry it with me and apply it as much as I can. So I decided to go through with them once more and try to summarize what I learned from each book.


This book taught me to be less dependent on technology and it also served as an aid to make me read more because it freed a lot of time for me to pursue activities that are more worthwhile. After practicing the strategies in this book, my screen time drastically changed from 8-9 hours/day to 2-3 hours/day. I can (surprisingly) survive a day without checking Instagram, Messenger and Facebook which was a massive improvement for me.

2. ATOMIC HABITS | James Clear

And since I’m spending less time on social media which resulted to a lot of time reclaimed, I wanted to have some more organization and wanted to make sure that I would spend my time productively. That’s why I decided to read Atomic Habits next. This one helped me cultivate my existing good habits (reading), create other good habits (eating more healthily and exercising) and break the bad ones (procrastinating). I definitely won’t claim that I became the most productive person ever after reading this book. Of course I have my low days. But this book also communicated that slight improvements are okay as long as we’re consistent. It also taught me how to become more patient when I want to improve a habit or if I want to learn a new skill (like learning a new language).

3. THE FOUR AGREEMENTS | Don Miguel Ruiz

Although I only rated this book 2.5 stars out of 5 because of the writing style, this book provided some great insights to be a better human. And we all want that. The teachings in this book is not something that’s entirely new. But it served as a good reminder to be more honest with how I feel and communicate it as necessary, to engage less in gossip, to ask first before assuming something, be more understanding and less selfish, and just try to be better as much as I can, with the energy that I have.

Again, these books are not trying to ask us to be perfect. They are promoting self improvement which I believe everyone needs. I wasn’t a fan of self-help books before to be honest. And I think it’s because of two things. The first one is pride. I guess there was a certain level of arrogance that I just decided I didn’t need any help. That “I can do this all on my own!” (annoying). The second reason is maybe because I was afraid. I was afraid to confront my weaknesses and assumed that I won’t be able to follow their advice anyway. Because it would be too hard. Because I lack discipline. Well, I think I underestimated myself. I know now that I should have more faith in myself.

Books Insights

15 Life Lessons From the Books I Read in 2020

  1. Maintain a strong morning habit. Don’t check your phone the moment you wake up. Take it slow. [Digital Minimalism + Atomic Habits]
  2. Always remind yourself of what and who you value. What are the things that are truly important and bring you happiness? Whose opinions really matter? If it involves people you really don’t care about, let the fuck go. [Digital Minimalism]
  3. Be more intentional in what you consume. What you eat, watch, listen to, read, etc. [Digital Minimalism + Amusing Ourselves to Death]
  4. Engage less in gossip. Instead of assumptions and judgments, let your words be filled with truth and kindness, especially when you’re talking to yourself. [The Four Agreements]
  5. Identify yourself as the type of person you aspire to be. No labeling yourself as “procrastinator” or “bad with directions” or “pessimistic”. Our identities are not set in stone, thus, we can always edit our identities to improve. Cast your votes for the type of person you wish to become. [Atomic Habits]
  6. Instead of seeking wealth, social status and pleasure, focus on building your character. [A Guide to the Good Life]
  7. Doing nothing doesn’t always mean boring. You don’t have to fill every second of your life with something. Practice regular doses of solitude and it will help you process your thoughts and regulate your emotions. [Digital Minimalism]
  8. Optimize your environment to promote good habits and prevent bad habits. Make the good habits attractive, easy and rewarding. [Atomic Habits]
  9. Appreciate what you already have. Don’t fall into mindless consumerism. [A Guide to the Good Life]
  10. Don’t take anything personally (be forgiving, be more understanding) and don’t make assumptions (have the courage to ask how people really think or feel, give them a chance before suspecting the worst). [The Four Agreements]
  11. If you can’t control it, pay it no mind. It’s a waste of time and it’s stupid. [A Guide to the Good Life]
  12. Set internal goals. Instead of, “I want to achieve 1,000 sales before the end of the year.” change it to, “I will continue making great products and promote them whether through social media or paid advertising.” Internal goals are something we have complete control. Once you set these internal goals, do your best to achieve them. [A Guide to the Good Life + The Four Agreements]
  13. Donate. Be more helpful. [A Guide to the Good Life]
  14. Increase your attention span. Let the people from the 50’s who can endure 7 hours of oratory be your inspiration. [Amusing Ourselves to Death]
  15. Reading is the best. [Amusing Ourselves to Death]

Books Insights Non-Fiction

Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman | Book Report


  • You want to be enlightened on the amount of unnecessary information you consume
  • You’re bothered with your short attention span
  • You want to appreciate reading more

This non-fiction book about the negative effects of television was published in 1985. It may seem irrelevant nowadays but not really. The reason why this book is still being read today is because it couldn’t be more relevant.

Books Insights Non-Fiction Personal Development

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine | Book Report

This book was recommended by one of our book club members (Thanks Pearl!). She learned that I have some interest in Stoicism and suggested this book to me. I had a hard time finding a simple definition of what Stoicism is but I think this one is helpful:

STOICISM • a philosophy that helps us direct our thoughts and actions in an unpredictable world. We don’t control and cannot rely on external events, but we can (to a certain extent) control our mind and choose our behavior.

Basically, the book is encouraging us to have some kind of philosophy when dealing with life. And since I don’t have any religion, I think it’s a good plan. Although I’ve always thought that I turned out pretty well without being religious. That I don’t need to have a religion to be a decent person. But having a philosophy, as the book suggested, seemed appealing to me; and personally, a better alternative than religion. And this specific philosophy that the author is advocating for is Stoicism.

The primary concern of philosophy should be the art of living: Just as wood is the medium of the carpenter and bronze is the medium of the sculptor, your life is the medium on which you practice the art of living.

Books Insights Non-Fiction Personal Development

The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz | Book Report

In the beginning part of the book, the author discussed how our society, our culture, our families and relationships shape our beliefs and identities. That we didn’t have a choice when we were little. And now that we’re older, he is challenging us to question these beliefs/practices or these “agreements”.

Another thing he talked about is how sometimes people just go with the flow to gain approval in order to have a sense of belongingness. Which is a natural thing for humans. Sabi nga ni Aristotle, we are social animals. But he also challenges that. Like saying no if we want to say no. Or attempting to ask even if it meant rejection.

Books Insights Non-Fiction Personal Development

Atomic Habits by James Clear | Book Report

The fact na naisip kong basahin ‘to, ibig sabihin andun na yung desire ko na i-improve yung good habits ko and i-eliminate as much as possible yung bad. Pero the beginning part of the book still provides more encouragement to increase your desire to improve. And gusto ko yun kasi once I implement the steps, mas may conviction behind it. Mas mapapangatawanan ko kumbaga.

Madaming tips and strategies yung book para ma-cultivate yung good habits. Madami ring examples pero of course, some or most of the examples wouldn’t apply to my life. So kelangan ng extra effort para makaisip ka ng iba-ibang ways para ma-apply yung strategies na yon sa buhay mo mismo.


  • Link your identity to the good habits

You might start a habit because of motivation, but the only reason you’ll stick with one is that it becomes part of your identity.

I think eto yung pinakang tumatak sakin. Kase everytime na maf-frustrate ako sa sarili ko kasi hindi ko nagagawa yung mga sinasabi kong gagawin ko, yung internal monologue ko lagi is, “Wala, ganito na talaga ako. Procrastinator talaga ako. Sa una lang ako magaling.” I identified myself as lazy. When in truth, our identities are not set in stone sabi nga dun sa book. We can edit our identities. Hindi naman ‘to touch move. We can improve. Hindi pwede yung mags-settle na lang ako dun sa paulit ulit kong sinasabi na tamad ako. May choice akong baguhin yung identity ko for the better and stop making excuses like, “Ganito na kasi talaga ko.”

You may want more money, but if your identity is someone who consumes rather than creates, then you’ll continue to be pulled toward spending rather than earning. You may want better health, but if you continue to prioritize comfort over accomplishment, you’ll be drawn to relaxing rather than training.