By working hard on your own character, you can truly make the world a better place.
If you’re reading this article, then I assume you’re about to start paying more attention to who you are, and I couldn’t be more happy with that.
My journey with discovering myself began with a fine dose of literature. There are numerous benefits of reading. Through books, you can discover yourself, since people (like ogres) have layers.
The following list is an outline of books that resonated most with my young soul at the beginning of my journey within. As my mustachioed role-model, Ernest Hemingway, would say:
There is no friend like a book.
At the very beginning, you can give a try to these few:
Siddhartha, written by Herman Hesse, is a story set in the times of Gautama Buddha, the enlightened Indian philosopher. It tells a journey of man who wanted to learn. The main protagonist, the titular Siddhartha, goes through ups and downs, seeking knowledge and striving for wisdom.
It’s the only fiction novel on this list. To my mind it seems to be the perfect choice to begin your journey. Despite being published a hundred years ago, it’s a Gen Zer’s pick. Not too long, not too difficult – even if you’re new to reading, it won’t scare you off.
We’re living in the digital era, and Siddhartha still teaches about things relevant today: composure, determination, love. Whether you’re going to university or preparing for your first job interview, you can learn a lot from the Buddhist philosophy from this story (which is more similar to stoicism than you think).
You can find it here.
The autobiography of Arnlod Schwarzenegger is just as good as any Terminator movie.
On the other hand, it’s going to take a lot of your time, for this one is a behemoth. Still, the story of a boy from Austria who left for California, and ended up as a bodybuilder/actor/governor can’t have been any shorter.
Reading it was like watching an action film. Arnold’s story proves that if you set your mind to something, you can do whatever you want.
You can even have a donkey:
If you want to lay your hands on this inspiring book, check it out here.
Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography
The face of the hundred dollar bills would surely have an interesting resume.
In his autobiography, which is definitely shorter than Arnold’s Total Recall, he unveils some of the methods he used to achieve greatness. Born as one of his seventeen (!) siblings, he grew up to become a writer, a businessman, an inventor, and one of America’s Founding Fathers.
Franklin describes how he talked to people and controlled his behavior so that he could do good. While still young, he set himself a list of thirteen virtues to follow. Benjamin knew that through the development of the self, he was able to make the lives of people around him better. A smart guy he was.
Plus, he’s got cool glasses.
You’ll find his autobiography here.
Tools of Titans
Again, you’ll have to spend more than a few hours to get through this one, but it’s worth it.
Tools of Titans is a compilation of interviews carried out by Tim Ferriss, an American podcaster and entrepreneur. Be it sports, cooking, or business – you’ll find a myriad of advice on a variety of topics.
In this massive collection of great ideas, you’ll find tips, quotes, strategies, and systems. Those are ready-made recipes for success. As a Gen Zer, I bet your head is full of startup ideas and breakthroughs. Follow your own path, but use the advice of the go-getters.
You’ll be able to find out what Peter Thiel’s favorite book is, or learn about Tony Robbins’ morning routine. To me, Tools of Titans was a source of inspiration. There was one chapter in particular that resonated with me and had an impact on my life, but that’s a story for another time…
You can purchase it right here. Tim also runs a podcast, you can listen to it on Spotify and other streaming platforms:
12 Rules for Life
I only got my hand on it in 2020, and at the beginning I was skeptical.
12 Rules for Life by a Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan B. Peterson is by far the most controversial position on this list. Ever since it got published, Jordan traveled overseas to give interviews, oftentimes elaborating on the ideas presented in his book.
You might know him for debating feminists, but I ask you to look deeper than that.
His ideas might be just what Generation Z needs. For me it was like a father’s slap on the face – it wasn’t suppose to hurt, but to wake me up.
The most important lesson I derived from it was critical thinking. I started to question my own beliefs and values. It got me thinking, which is one of the reasons why I decided to activize my life (since I used to be a part of the Fridays For Future movement), take responsibility for my actions, and start working on myself.
Written in an academic style, it reaches deep into the roots of our culture. To all young people – Gen Zers, digital natives, however you call yourself – read it, but do it with mind clear of presumptions.
Because it helped me a lot.
To buy it, check here. You can watch this TED talk to get the gist of what this guy talks about:
In his Meditations, Marcus Aurelius said:
Look within; within is the fountain of all good. Such fountain, where springing waters can never fail, so thou dig deeper and deeper.
Keep digging. Don’t ever stop working on yourself, and you’ll do more good than you can imagine. For any Gen Zer, this is the time for existential questions. Now, it’s high time you stopped to think.
Don’t become a self-help fanatic though. To warn yourself, you can watch this video:
The title’s kinda clickbaity, but who cares. There’s value in it.
But enough of YouTube. Back to literature.
Go on and grab that book. Discover yourself.