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Personal Development Gift Ideas for Cyber Monday

Posted Dec 03 2008 12:00am

Happy Cyber Monday, everyone! According to major news outlets everywhere, you are supposed to be doing online Christmas shopping today instead of working. There are many, many places that you can find great deals on all kinds of stuff that no one needs. If time permits, I definitely encourage you to take an hour or five out of your busy work day to browse. However, if you need to get down to business and actually purchase some presents that people will enjoy, I decided to put together a guide to help you choose a gift for the personal development junkie in your life.

If you know a personal development junkie, you know that they can’t ever learn enough, do enough, or improve enough. I have read/listened to/used all of these products myself over the years and found them extremely helpful in my own journey. I hope that they are helpful to you and your loved ones as well.


There are literally thousands of self-help and self improvement books in print right now. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the choices, especially when so many of them are pretty low quality. Lucky for you, I have suffered through a lot of the craptacular stuff to find the good offerings in the market. Here are a few that I have found especially good.

Art of HappinessThe Art of Happiness. When the Dalai Lama decided to write a book, I usually pay attention. This one, which was actually written by Howard Cutler based on a series of interviews with His Holiness, contains many valuable insights on achieving greater happiness in your life. What I like most about it are the really practical meditations and other exercises designed to increase the happiness you feel on a daily basis. Also available as an audio book.

Complaint Free WorldA Complaint Free World. This book challenges you to change your language and eliminate complaining. I tried the challenge for a weekend (listen to my before and after posts), and found out that I really need this book! Chances are, you need it too! Also available as an audio book.

Change Without PainChange Without Pain. Change management is a broad and varied topic, and I’ve read tons of books about it. This is one of the best. Author Eric Abrahamson uses real world examples from his work with actual companies to discover ways that companies (and individuals) can make major changes with the smallest possible disruptions and pain. If you or your organization are in a transition right now, this is a great read.

FlowFlow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. We all want to be able to get more done with less effort and enjoy ourselves in the process. Flow is a great book for helping you discover the conditions under which you can achieve peak states, where you feel the most creative, get the most work done, and enjoy yourself the most. It’s a concept I’ve been experimenting with lately and I’m finding it extremely helpful in doing all of the writing that I put out here and in other places.

Mind Map Book The Mind Map Book. Author Tony Buzan is widely credited with being the father of mind-mapping, a powerful tool for brainstorming, organizing ideas, and even doing a weekly review. This book is the bible of mind mapping, teaching you how to use simple paper and pencil to explore the visual side of your brain and tap into previously unknown levels of creativity.

Joy Diet The Joy Diet: 10 Daily Practices for a Happier Life. Martha Beck may have sold out to Oprah, and she’s probably a bit too touchy-feely for some of you, but I have to admit that I *love* this book. The Joy Diet is a really simple series of practices that will help you take a deep breath, focus in yourself for a few minutes a day, de-stress, and ultimately become a better friend, partner, parent, and worker. I highly recommend it for people who are feeling overwhelmed by life right now. Also available as an audio book.

Electronic Products

Let’s say you’re a bit of a procrastinator and you’re not reading this guide until 11:59 on December 24. Or perhaps your the eco-friendly type and you don’t want to give out a bunch of dead trees and plastic. If so, there are many great electronic resources available for self improvement. In fact, there are so many that it’s pretty hard to figure out what is garbage (most of it, frankly) and what is genuinely helpful. For the most part, I try to stick with trusted names from either the blogosphere or the self development space in general when choosing products. Here is a sampling of items that I have found most helpful.

  • Zen to Done. Blogger Leo Babauta of Zen Habits has developed his own productivity system and I’m a huge fan. It’s more streamlined than the uber-popular Getting Things Done and focuses more on execution. This ebook sells for a very reasonable $9.95.
  • Anything from Web Warrior Tools. This site is a collection of high quality, low priced ebooks dealing with several self improvement products. They have ebooks that focus on finances, others that help you get organized or work more efficiently, and still others that help you get healthy. Anything they put out is great and cheap!
  • Never Procrastinate Again. Another very popular blogger, Dave Navarro of Rock Your Day (love that name) has a great audio/video/text coaching course that helps you fend off procrastination when it strikes. Dave can be *very* motivating and he’s sure to deliver the swift kick in the butt that you or your loved one needs to get going. The entire course is a mere $37.
  • Quantum Mind Power. I have been using the Quantum Mind Power meditation tracks for over a year now and continue to find them valuable. Essentially, this product is a package of audio tracks that put your mind into a meditative state without having to go through the years of training that Zen monks and others go through to train their minds. If you’re interested in learning more about the system, I encourage you to read my review. There are two versions of this product, the regular versions which sells for $147 or a premium package with 2 additional tracks (I don’t have these, so I haven’t reviewed them) for $197. It’s a bit expensive (and you have to suffer through a cheesy sales letter to order!), but I think it is well worth the price considering how much you can spend on meditation books, classes, and audio tracks. Also, I’m told that the system is now available as a physical product with real CDs.

Free Stuff

I know that money is tight for many people this holiday season, but that doesn’t have to get in the way of giving meaningful gifts to people who want to improve themselves. With so many excellent free resources available, it’s very simple to download some high quality free ebooks, print them out on some nice paper and put them into a binder. Or, you can download some podcasts and burn them to a CD. Here are a few high quality, free ebooks that you or your loved ones might appreciate. Note that some of these require a newsletter sign-up. Don’t sign anyone up without their permission, but I am subscribed to all of these newsletters and I love them, so don’t hesitate to sign yourself up.

  • A Year of Change. As a change blogger, you can’t blame me for loving The Change Blog. Blog author Peter Clements has bundled some of his best posts into this fabulous looking and very interesting ebook.
  • How to Practice the Art of Life Balance. We could all use some tips for improving the balance in our lives, and this ebook has plenty of them. This ebook is the result of the Life Balance Group Writing Project at the Create a Balance blog. Many great bloggers contributed to it - including me :) - and I thank blogger Stacey Weckstein for hosting it.
  • Secrets to Creating More Inner Peace. Okay, I had to pimp my own stuff here a bit. But seriously, I think this is a pretty good quality free ebook all on the theme of increasing your inner peace. At this hectic time of the year, I know that I need to follow my own advice a little more closely!

If there are other resources (especially free ones!) you can recommend as high quality personal development gifts, please share them below in the comments! Happy shopping, everyone.

Full Disclosure: This post is blatantly self promotional and designed to make a little extra holiday cash for Never the Same River Twice. I earn a (very) small amount of money per sale for most of these items. However, I never promote anything on this site that I haven’t used myself and don’t stand behind completely. If you have a bad experience with any of these products, send an email to maria (at) neverthesamerivertwice (dot) com explaining the problem and I’ll reconsider my endorsement.

If you would like to support this blog, why not buy me a coffee? $1 for regular brew, $5 for a vanilla latte.

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