By Theo Winter
These are the best personal development blogs—in my highly subjective opinion.
1. Tim Ferriss Blog Tim Ferriss
You could throw out all other self-development blogs and live by this one alone. Tim Ferriss, who is sometimes called the “godfather of lifestyle design,” became a household name in business after publication of The 4-Hour Work Week. His podcast The Tim Ferriss Show has exceeded 100 million downloads and is often ranked #1 across all of iTunes. Tim is a self-described “compulsive note-taker” and a human guinea pig, who loves to do crazy experiments on himself. The New York Times calls him "a cross between Jack Welch and a Buddhist monk." His blog has well-researched, high quality information on an extensive range of topics including entrepreneurship, business, productivity, psychology, motivation, happiness, exercise, nutrition, technology, and general life hacks. Ferriss has also published The 4-Hour Body, The 4-Hour Chef, and (most recently) Tools of Titans.
2. Farnam Street Blog Shane Parrish
With over 100,000 subscribers, Farnam Street Blog is a brilliant synthesis of mental models and decision-making tools for smarter thinking—both personally and professionally. The blog was initially borne out of the author’s frustration with his MBA program, which had “knowledge gaps” that he believed could be solved by bringing across key ideas from other disciplines. Inspired by billionaire Charlie Munger’s concept of having a “latticework of mental models” and Maslow’s famous caution that “to the man with only a hammer, every problem looks like a nail,” Shane decided to go after the big ideas across a range of areas including cognitive science, logic, statistics, business, economics, psychology, and philosophy to equip readers with a superior mental toolkit.
3. Barking Up the Wrong Tree Eric Barker
With nearly 300,000 subscribers, Eric Barker is a popular and prolific writer who is regularly featured on Time Magazine Online. From humble beginnings as a philosophy student and screenwriter, Eric, although he doesn’t claim to be an expert, has evidently established himself as one of the foremost authorities in lifestyle design. With a HUGE archive that seems to stretch towards infinity, his articles cover all aspects of being an awesome human: success, motivation, psychology, neuroscience, happiness, well-being, health, relationships, productivity, negotiation, persuasion, habits, emotions, and thinking. Eric’s articles have an extremely sharable quality. He is known for his scientific focus, beautifully succinct writing style, and fun sense of humour.
4. Brain Pickings Maria Popova
Maria is the artists’ artist; the muses’ muse. Brain Pickings is an extremely popular website that began in 2006 as a weekly email to 7 friends, and now receives over 1.2 million visitors a month. The blog is described by its author as “a cross-disciplinary LEGO treasure chest, full of pieces spanning art, science, psychology, design, philosophy, history, politics, anthropology, and more.” Maria says that her entries take hundreds of hours a month to research and write—and it shows. Brain Pickings is distinctive for its quality: articulate, introspective, thought-provoking articles that reflect on the great works of literature, highlight quotes that arouse awe and inspiration, and dissect the works of people throughout history that are best poised to expand your mind, deliver timeless wisdom, and generally help you to live well.
5. The Art of Manliness Brett and Kate McKay
With over 2 million monthly page views, The Art of Manliness is one of the most popular blogs in the whole blogosphere. The blog was originally founded by Brett McKay in 2008. After the project unexpectedly took off, he petitioned the help of his wife (Kate) who, together with their many contributors, have created something immensely likeable and utterly needed: “a blog dedicated to uncovering the lost art of being a man.” The site is well-designed, the archive is extensive, and the content is not only well thought out, helpful, and informative, but also genuinely enjoyable and often times very funny. The writers share thoughts, research, and tips on the topics of virtue, health, career, finance, style, relationships, and more.
Check out: 100 Skills Every Man Should Know
6. Marieforleo.com Marie Forleo
Marie Forleo started as “a webcam in a kitchen” and turned her show into one of the most professional, visually attractive, well-produced personal development sites you’ll ever encounter, having been named one of Forbes.com’s Top 100 Websites for Entrepreneurs. Marie is the host of Marie TV, author of Make Every Man Want You: How To Be So Irresistible You’ll Barely Keep from Dating Yourself, and has appeared on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. Marie’s simple, straightforward advice centres on creating a business and a life that you love—delivered with pizzazz!
7. Zen Habits Leo Babauta
Zen Habits appears in “top 10”-style lists for personal development more than any other blog. Leo, its creator, is one of the most well-respected bloggers in the world and his creation has been previously recognised by Time Magazine as one of the Top 25 Blogs (2009, 2010). If you want thoughtful, well-written, practical advice about living and loving a minimalist lifestyle, you simply can’t get better than Zen Habits.
Check out: 21 Easy Hacks to Simplify Your Life
8. The Happiness Project Gretchen Rubin
For Gretchen, the Happiness Project began as a 1-year project test-driving advice—ancient, modern, and everything in between, “from Aristotle to St. Therese to Benjamin Franklin to Martin Seligman to Oprah”—on how to be happier. If you’re in search of someone with a sharp mind to cut through the clutter of happiness literature to discover what really works, the former Editor-in-Chief of The Yale Law Journal is your woman.
9. The School of Life Alain de Botton
Alain de Botton is arguably the most well known modern philosopher. You may have come across his work through one of his many bestselling books, including How Proust Can Change Your Life, or you may have been exposed to one of his popular animated videos developed by The School of Life. As well as providing awesome introductions to some of the most important philosophers in history, Alain—in his splendidly soothing British accent—is ready and waiting with the bus doors wide open to take you on a philosopher’s guided tour through all of life’s most important topics. The goal or “telos” (as Aristotle would say) of The School of Life is all about improving people’s emotional intelligence.
10. Tiny Buddha Lori Deschene
With around 3 million monthly views, there aren’t many other websites in the PD space with a bigger fan base than Tiny Buddha. Both a blog and a forum for sharing stories and advice, the site has a strong anchoring in Buddhist principles, though the vast majority of articles are not religious in nature, nor does its creator have any apparent interest in “selling” a particular ideology. Founded in 2009, Tiny Buddha has accumulated hundreds of posts around happiness, psychology, love, relationships, mindfulness, yoga, minimalism, and a whole lot more. It's easy to get lost on this site for hours.
Check out: 19 Simple Daily Habits for a Happier Life