These books are FANTASTIC! I cannot recommend them enough. There are special books out there that will forever change the way you look at life and process your daily experience. These books fulfill that promise.
The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence. By Josh Waitzkin. Free Press, 2007.
Josh Waitzkin, the author of this book, is best known for being the subject of the book and motion picture Searching for Bobby Fischer Not only did Waitzkin rise to top in the world of chess, he also took on the martial art of Tai Chi Chuan and ultimately won the title of World Champion. The story of his life makes for a total page-turner, replete with insight into what Waitkin proclaims is his greatest strength—the art of learning. This book teaches the reader about the art of mastering performance psychology, about how to embrace defeat and learn from one’s mistakes. I felt like this book was a perfect combination of riveting life stories with lessons on what it takes to refine the art of learning.
The Pursuit of Perfect: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Start Living a Richer, Happier Life. By Tal Ben-Shahar. McGraw-Hill Books, 2009.
In this book, Ben-Shahar shows us how pursuing perfection, ironically, is most likely our number one obstacle to actually finding true joy in our lives. Ben-Shahar is a Harvard University professor who teaches courses on positive psychology and is renowned for his great wisdom. In this book, he explains how we can experience great freedom and liberation by being open to failure and to painful emotions, instead of shutting ourself off to such profound human experiences. He offers an optimal way of thinking about failure and success that helps us redefine our lives. This book is quite earth-shattering.
Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment. By Tal Ben-Shahar. McGraw-Hill Books 2007.
This is another book by Ben-Shahar that covers the fundamentals of his philosophy in the field of positive psychology. This book reads like a personal wookbook with insights and exercises to help prod you into reaching a higher state of self-awareness and meaningful action. The premise of this book is that happiness is not elusive–a gift granted to the lucky–but instead is a state of mind and emotional experience that can be learned. This book is a fantastic resource to help everyone learn how to transform their lives.
Stumbling on Happiness. By Daniel Gilbert. Vintage Books, 2007.
Although the title of this book makes it sound like a self-help book, it definitely does not fit into that genre. Instead this book–to quote Malcolm Gladwell–is a psychological detective story about one of the great mysteries of our lives. Gilbert delves into the question of why we are so bad at predicting what would make us happy or unhappy in the future. Just as our sense of sight can be tricked into thinking two lines are the same size, our cognitive abilities have similar blind spots. It is these blind spots that trip us up in our assessments of the future. This book is completely fascinating and the science is very accessible. It is a very illuminating expose on the human condition.
The Open Mind: Exploring the 6 Patterns of Natural Intelligence. By Dawn Markova. Red Wheel/Weiser, 1996.
This brilliant book theorizes that everyone has a natural inclination to learn through one of six learning styles. The learning style you adopt is determined by the ways your conscious and unconscious mind respond to auditory, visual, and kinesthetic stimuli. This book extensively covers each learning style and helps you recognize which style is your own, as well as the styles of your loved ones and co-workers. The author offers great insight on how to better access your creative and intuitive abilities, depending on your unique learning style. Importantly, the book also explains how to better communicate with people who have learning styles different from your own. All in all, this book is an excellent resource for learning more about yourself and the unqiue ways you interact with and learn from the world around you.
Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness. By Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein. Penguin Books, 2008.
This book can fundamentally change the way you think about the world and is a delight to read. Born out of the field of behavioral economics, this books covers the research that has been done to discover what cognitive weaknesses and blindspots we have when it comes to making decisions, both mundane and important. Importantly, this books shows us what we can all do to make better decisions, from governments, to corporations, to people in their everday life. Since we all have a tendency to go into auto-pilot mode when overwhelmed with choices, a world in which there is better “choice architecture” will nudge us to choose the better, healthier option. This book is extremely compelling and I highly recommend it to everyone.
The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, & Miracles. By Bruce Lipton. Mountain of Love Productions, 2005.
This book has the most uplifting message possible. It overturns so many assumptions and inside-the-box bottom-up ideas. This book asserts that instead of genes and DNA controlling our biology and who we are, DNA is controlled by signals coming from outside the cell–including our own positive and negative thoughts. We can literally change which genes are expressed from a top-down approach by changing our thought processes. This book is so fascinating and the biological aspects are discussed in a very accesible way that is easy to understand and digest.
Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships. By Daniel Goleman. Bantam Dell, 2006.
I cannot say enough good things about this book—it is so fascinating. Daniel Goleman combines the latest findings from the fields of biology and brain science to explain how we are constantly engaged in a “neural ballet” with those around us. This neural ballet has far-reaching biological impacts, sending out hormones that affect everything from our hearts to our immune systems. These effects can be a tonic if our relationships are positive and healthy, and a poison if we are engaged in bad relationships. Goleman discusses the broad implications of these findings, looking into issues like the complexity of sexual attraction and how we detect when people are lying. A fabulous read!
5 Minds for the Future. By Howard Gardner. Howard Gardner, 2008.
This book is an interesting look at the “five minds” we will need to master if we are to succeed at the new challenges we will face in the future. Although we can’t envision exactly what the future holds, we know we are moving towards an era of unprecedented information overload and this book argues that mastering the “five minds” is essential if we are to manage this information overload effectively. The book demonstrates how the five minds will help us extract the essential information we need, synthesize it, and communicate the complexity of our ideas.
Mutliple Intelligences. By Howard Gardner. Howard Gardner, 2006.
Multiple Intelligences is very powerful and argues that there exists many types of intelligences including musical intelligence, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, spatial intelligence, etc. This book is written by the brilliant Howard Gardner, a Harvard professor in the Graduate School of Education. His book has had a profound impact on educators and parents and continues to resonate with educators around the world. My favorite review of the book is one by Isaac Asimov who states “For those of us who suspect that intelligence is too complex a phenomenon to be measured by the single number of I.Q. derived from an “intelligence test,” Gardner’s book is a refreshing experience and an open door into a whole new way of looking at human beings.” I couldn’t agree more!
Train Your Mind Change Your Brain. By Sharon Begley. Mind and Life Institute 2007.
This book covers the exciting possibilities of neuroplasticity—the ability of the brain to undergo radical changes previously thought impossible. The author, Sharon Begley, covers the collaboration of neuroscientists with Buddhists, including the Dalai Lama, to show how we all literally have the power to effect wholesale changes in our brain by tapping into our ability to focus our attention. We can actually break the dangerous cycles of depression and OCD, overcome paralysis of our limbs, and rejuvenate the age of our brains by applying the lessons in this book. It’s completely incredible that we have these resources at our disposal and I highly recommend this book to everyone.
The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book. By Travis Bradberry, Jean Greaves, & Patrick Lencioni. Fireside. 2005.
This is a great and easy-to-read book that covers emotional intelligence and its far-ranging impact on your life. Before reading this book, I did not realize how much of an impact your emotional intelligence has on your health, your happiness, and your performance in the workplace. As the book claims, “it’s the single biggest predictor of performance in the workplace and the strongest driver of leadership and personal excellence.” This book allows you to test your own level of emotional intelligence and then provides straight-forward strategies on how to boost your emotional intelligence and apply it to your life. One of the most important lessons from this book is how to use emotionally intelligent parenting to raise a happy child, something we all take for granted and just assume will happen on its own.
Outliers. By Malcolm Gladwell. Little, Brown and Company. 2008.
Malcolm Gladwell is one of my favorite all-time writers. In this book, Gladwell explains how the path to success is much more complicated and interesting than we all assume. He is a fabulously interesting writer, great story-teller, and his thesis are laid out in very convincing and accessible manner. His analysis of success allows us as the reader to understand how to best cultivate our potential in life.
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2008.
This book is incredible and deals with how to enhance the quality of your life experiences. The author, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, studies states of “optimal experience” in which people experience feelings of deep concentration, absorption in an activity, and genuine satisfaction in the moment. The book demonstrates how this state of optimal experience can be cultivated in our everyday lives. While other self-help books deal more narrowly with specific issues—like developing confidence or lowing weight—this book digs much deeper and deals with the ultimate question of how to actually experience life in a much richer and more enjoyable way.
Please Understand Me. By David Keirsey & Marilyn Bates. Prometheus Nemesis Book Company, 1984.
This book is all about learning to appreciate the ways in which you differ from others. It celebrates difference–in how you developed and when you reached different maturation points, in what you value, in how you behave towards others. It teaches us how to not only appreciate our differences, but the differences we see in people all around us, including our closest family and friends. It discusses the four different temperament types and how they play a role in mating, in childhood, and in leadership. You begin the book (and your journey) by taking a questionnaire that will elucidate your temperament and begin your exploration of all you have to celebrate about yourself. This book is a classic!
Learning From The Heart: Lessons on Living, Loving, and Listening. By Daniel Gottlieb. Sterling Publishing Co., 2008
This book reflects my ongoing passion for discovering the meaning of being human and creating happiness and then sharing the resources I have found the most helpful with others. Learning From The Heart is a book about transcending loss into well being through overcoming unforeseen and sudden unwelcome events in one’s life. The more the author connects with the meaning of being human, the more joy he experiences in his life.
In his gentle and wise voice, Dan Gottlieb, an acclaimed psychologist and author who became a quadriplegic 30 years ago at the age of 33, tells us about his personal experience of dealing with the many challenges he has encountered since he was involved in a devastating accident that has left him paralyzed and with a young family to take care of. He writes about his painful losses and the lessons he has learned about himself and his relationships with his children, wife, parents, friends, and work. Dan’s experiences are an affirmation of the notion that very often our greatest joys and feeling of well being come through understanding and accepting the things that hurt us the most. Only when we come to terms with our pain and loss we transcend suffering and are reborn to the possibility of balance and joy.
In the old orient, the myth of the magnificent phoenix rising from the ashes symbolizes this transformation of rebirth form the ruins of one’s life. We all experience loss, defeat, failure and difficulties in some form over the course of our lives. We have various choices of dealing with these negative events and experiences. Dan’s story is how he overcame his losses by facing his emotions and becoming increasingly human – forgiving of self and others, letting go of the need to be perfect, being loving and compassionate, and making a positive difference in other people’s lives.
I love this book as it is an inspiring and affirming description of Dan’s finding personal meaning in his losses and being able to say from the bottom of his heart: “I love being alive and cherish every day”.
The Timeless Way of Building. By Christopher Alexander. Oxford University Press, 1979.
Linked: How Everything is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life. By Albert-Laszlo Barabasi. Plume/Penguin Group, 2003.
Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility. By James Carse. Random House, 1987.
Change Your Thoughts-Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao. By Wayne W. Dyer. Hay House, 2007.
Blink. By Malcolm Gladwell. Back Bay Books, Little Brown, 2005.
Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. By Daniel Goleman. Bantam Books, 2005.
Douglas McGregor, Revisited: Managing the Human Side of Enterprise. By Gary Heil, Warren G. Bennis, and Deborah C. Stephens. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1999.
Same Game Different Rules. By Jean Hollands. The McGraw-Hill Companies, 2002.
The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning in Midlife. By James Hollis. Inner City Books, 1993.
Waking the Global Heart: Humanity’s Rite of Passage from the Love of Power to the Power of Love. By Anodea Judith. Elite Books, 2006.
A Path With Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life. By Jack Kornfield. Bantam Books, 1993.
Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets Out of Control. By Allan Mallinger and Jeanette DeWyze. . Ballantine Books, 1993.
A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age. By Daniel Pink. Penguin Group (USA), 2005.
Wonderful global book about the new world of work!
Real Boys: Rescuing our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood. By William S. Pollack. Henry Holt & Company, Inc., 1999.
The Diamond Cutter: The Buddha on Managing Your Business and Your Life. By Geshe MichaelRoach. Doubleday, 2000.
Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future. By Peter M.Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, & Betty Sue Flowers. Doubleday, 2008.
The Book of Success: Time-Tested Thoughts on How to Enjoy a Rich and Fulfilling Life. By Richard Shea. Ed. Rutledge Hill Press, 1993.
The Inner Edge: How to Integrate Your Life, Your Work, and Your Spirituality for Greater Effectiveness and Fulfillment. By Richard A. Wedemeyer & Ronald W. Jue. McGraw-Hill, 2002.
When Friendship Hurts: How to Deal with Friends Who Betray, Abandon or Wound You. By Jan Yager. Simon & Schuster, 2002.
Gross National Happiness: Why Happiness Matters for America–and How We Can Get More of It. By Arthur Brooks. New York: Basic Books, 2008.
Capitalism and Freedom, 40th Anniversary Edition. By Milton Friedman. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.