The 7 Best Motivational Books of 2022, According to Mental Health Experts

It is not uncommon for someone to feel a lack of motivation from time to time. Most of us will feel this way at some point in our lives. “A lack of motivation is often an indication that you need to rest, recharge, and re-evaluate how you’re expanding your energy,” says Aisha R. Shabazz, therapist and licensed clinical social worker who specializes in the treatment of anxiety disorders. “Our global society is very goal-oriented, so I think many people struggle with motivation because they’re exhausted from constantly striving toward doing everything, all the time, at 110%.”

If you feel a lack of motivation, the good news is that there are a number of tricks you can try to get yourself back on track. One of them is to read a motivational self-help book. “Motivational self-help books can be useful to some people because they can serve as a jump start to someone who needs inspiration to keep going,” says Shabazz. The key is finding the right book.

To help you sort through all the options, here are the best motivational books recommended by mental health experts.

Our Top Picks
Best for Changing Habits:

Atomic Habits at Amazon

Best for Goal Setting:

The One Thing at Amazon

Best for Setting a Routine:

The Power of Habit at Amazon

Best for Overcoming Fear:

You Are a Badass at Amazon

Best for People with Anxiety:

Own Your Anxiety at Amazon

Best for Different Work Styles:

Work Simply at Amazon

Atomic Habits

  • Written by an expert
  • Outlines actionable, small steps towards lasting change
  • Easy to read
  • Non-judgmental

  • Theory-heavy
  • A longer read

Written by one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, this book distills the latest research on the psychology and science behind forming healthy, sustainable habits. Then, the author gives actionable advice for making small changes in your life, so you can achieve your goals.

His message is simple: start with small, manageable changes in order to build towards lasting change.

What Experts Say

“I would recommend a motivational self-help book to someone who is trying to start a new hobbya book like ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear. It offers a nice boost to keep their motivation going because he breaks down his process of forming good habits and speaks to why habits are formed (or not formed) and how to create new habits and resist old ones.” — Aisha R. Shabazz, Therapist and Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in the treatment of anxiety disorders

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

  • Great for readers who feel stuck in old habits
  • 40 million copies sold

  • Some find the writing preachy and dogmatic
  • Advice is not applicable to all readers

Despite being written over 30 years ago, this book has held up over time and is now known as a classic in the self-help space. It is written to be inspirational and motivating, and it uses real-world examples and anecdotes to distill seven basic tips that you can use in your life to achieve success.

It’s easy to read and, more importantly, easy to learn from.

The One Thing

  • Dedicated to goal setting
  • Teaches readers how to focus
  • Uses clear analogies

  • Specific topic
  • Somewhat repetitive
  • A longer read

If you struggle to find motivation because you’re never sure where to start, this is the book for you. It focuses on one subject—goal setting—but it does so in a way that helps you prioritize your ambitions.

After reading it, you’ll know how to set priorities, get started on tasks, and keep your motivation going until you achieve the outcome you desire.

The Power of Habit

  • Explains the science of how habits work
  • Gives actionable advice for changing routines
  • Written by an award-winning business reporter

  • Author is not a psychologist

If you’ve ever tried to create a new routine for yourself, you’re well aware of how difficult that can actually be. New routines are hard to stick to, and before long, we’re slipping back into our old habits.

This book breaks down the latest scientific research on how habits work and what we can do to change them. That way, we can create new routines for our lives and our business.

You Are a Badass

  • Easy to read
  • Engaging exercises
  • Accessible voice

  • Could be more empathetic

Don’t let fear get the best of you with this book by Jen Sincero. The book is easy to read and will remind you to show yourself more self-love and care, so you can find the motivation to go after your goals.

Best of all, this book contains some engaging, motivating end-of-chapter exercises that you’ll come back to time and time again.

Own Your Anxiety: 99 Simple Ways to Channel Your Secret Edge

  • Based on medical research and personal experience
  • Easy to read

  • Some advice feels general

The author uses his personal experiences and medical research to provide readers with actionable tools to help cope with their anxiety. His goal is to help readers harness their anxiety and use it to motivate themselves to live a healthier, happier life.

The chapters are short and easy to read. The tone is compassionate.

What Experts Say

“Reading motivational books when you have anxiety can be helpful because you can learn about someone who has been through a similar situation to yours. Maybe they went through something really difficult in life, like a divorce, and they had to find the light in the middle of the darkness. Reading a book about someone who is going through something very challenging can offer help and inspiration and even make you feel grateful for the good things in your life. Motivational books are helpful when you feel hopeless.” — Katie Ziskind, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Work Simply

  • Targeted tips aimed at different productivity styles
  • Easy to read
  • Encouraging voice

  • Promotes signing up for a class
  • A longer read

When it comes to getting motivated, no two people are exactly alike. That’s because, as this author explains, people have different productivity styles—they’re either arrangers, visualizers, planners, or prioritizers. So if you want to get productive and develop better time management, the first step is to figure out what style you are—and this book can help you do that.

What Experts Say

“Motivation and lack thereof looks considerably different for different people—like for those who are neurotypical, neurodivergent, experiencing depression, challenged by focus, attention, and hyperactivity, or experiencing grief and loss. We have to look at the cultural implications of how we are defining motivation and who is defined as motivated and unmotivated.” — Aisha R. Shabazz, Therapist and Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in the treatment of anxiety disorders.

Ultimately, the best motivational book is one that speaks to you, your personality, and the issues that are causing you to feel unmotivated. That’s why “Work Simply” by Carson Tate (view at Amazon) is a great book for most readers: it starts by acknowledging that people have different productivity styles, before offering targeted tips for getting productive.

Meanwhile, “Atomic Habits” by James Clear (view at Amazon) will help you better understand the science behind good habits so you can take small—but meaningful—steps towards positive change.

What to Look for in a Motivational Book


Do you like the way the author writes? Skim a few pages and try to gauge whether their writing style feels relatable and engaging to you. See if they sound empathetic to the struggles you’re experiencing. If you don’t like the writing style, you won’t want to read the book and might give up on it halfway through.

Author Credentials

Ideally, the author should have some expertise on the topic they’re writing about. This expertise can be academic or personal, but you’ll generally want a book written by someone who has the credentials to write about the psychology of motivation.

“Look for an author that makes you feel empowered,” says Schroeder. “Do a little research. There are self-help books on almost any topic, and finding an author that resonates with you is key.”

Some authors will offer free content on their website or will have done web or podcast interviews. “Look for those interviews, because it can give you a feel for who they are,” says Shabazz.

Actionable Advice

Some books will include exercises to help you learn how to implement their motivational tips. This can help guide you to change your habits and outlook.

“You want to make sure you are being encouraged to take small attainable steps,” says Schroeder. “If your goal is to run a marathon and you currently don’t run, you won’t read this book and suddenly be able to run a marathon. Aim for a book that gives you a goal-setting process.”

Source: Verywell Mind

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