Anna Katharina Schaffner Website



The Art of Self-Improvement


01 about

Human beings have always been striving to improve themselves. We have much to learn about the art of self-improvement both from our ancestors and from other cultures. In my new book The Art of Self-Improvement: Ten Timeless Truths, I share ten ideas about self-improvement that remain the same across time and space. Bringing ancient insights into dialogue with the latest psychological research, I show how these ideas can help us to address the many challenges we are facing today.


I discuss the most effective and sustainable strategies for becoming our best selves. Promoting timeless, tried and tested methods for self-improvement, my findings also encourage us to look more critically at our current self-help trends.

When it comes to self-improvement, we do not constantly have to reinvent the wheel. New is not always better. Most self-help trends come and go because they do not work. It is the ancients who have the best advice to offer, and it is time to revive the powerful psycho-technologies of the past that have survived the crucial test of time.

Anna K Schaffner.jpg

02 books


A "revelatory book."

— Kathryn Huges, Times Literary Supplement


"In a world where cynicism is too easy and 'self-help' can be pejorative, this erudite historical analysis is truly precious, affirming the intellectual dignity of the human desire to become better versions of ourselves.”

— Jonathan Rowson, author of The Moves That Matter: A Chess Grandmaster on the Game of Life

“Through her keen and sensitive reading of everything from Lao Tzu to Frozen, Schaffner demonstrates that the heart of human wisdom is the faith that we can improve. This book is erudite, engaging, and elegant—a wonderful read.”

— Jonathan Malesic, author of The End of Burnout

“With astonishing and entertaining excerpts from the literature of self-improvement and virtue from Western and Eastern systems of philosophy, and with fine pacing throughout, this book is a formidable contribution to the literature on self-improvement practices. The breadth and depth of the research is staggering.”

— Micki McGee, Fordham University


“This book is informative, comprehensive, and entertaining; while including history and research, Schaffner adds terrific interpretations of Disney and Nietzsche! It’s a necessary book for our Zeitgeist, adding ‘why’ and ‘how’ to Rilke’s poetic line: ‘You must change your life.’”

— Scott Haas, author of Why Be Happy?: The Japanese Way of Acceptance

“With remarkable range, this fascinating book brings alive new worlds of self-relations. It is inspiring both academically and personally.”

— Greta Wagner, Technical University of Darmstadt


03 blogs & journalism

Want to see all of my blogs and journalism?


04 coaching

Pure knowledge is not enough to change the way we feel and act. Often, rational insights can remain sterile and without consequences. We may know very well what we should do in order to live better lives. But we often fail to take the first steps, or to make positive behaviour changes sustainable. In order truly to transform the way we view ourselves and others, we need to learn how to translate insight into feeling and action. 

Would you like to find out more? Get in touch for a free 20-minute exploration chat.


05 speaking


06 contact

2 (1).jpg