In this thoughtful Ted Talk Hasan Kwame Jeffries emphasises the need to weave historical context, no matter how painful, into our understanding of modern society so we can disrupt the continuum of inequality massively affecting marginalised communities. Sometimes to move forward society must look back and confront the difficult history that has shaped widespread injustice.
Gretchen Rubin is changing the world..and teaching us to be happy along the way.
With four New York Times bestsellers, a podcast, speaker engagements, and being the creator of the Four Tendencies framework…she’s a real life happiness expert!
Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany: “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to a happiness project. With humour and insight, she chronicles her adventures during the year she spent test driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Rubin didn’t have the option to uproot herself -nor did she want to- instead, she focused on improving her life as it was. Each month she tackled a new set of resolutions. She immersed herself in principles set forth by all manner of experts, from Epicurus to Thoreau to Oprah to Martin Seligman to the Dalai Lama to see what worked for her and what didn’t.
Tackling the critical question “How do we change?”. Gretchen Rubin’s answer is simple; through habits. Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life. It takes work to make a habit, but once that habit is set, we can harness the energy of habits to build happier, stronger, more productive lives. So if habits are a key to change, then what we really need to know is: How do we change our habits? Better than Before answers that question. It presents a practical, concrete framework to allow readers to understand their habits and to change them for good. Infused with Rubin’s compelling voice, rigorous research, and easy humour, and packed with vivid stories of lives transformed, Better than Before explains the (sometimes counter-intuitive) core principles of habit formation. Along the way, Rubin uses herself as guinea pig, tests her theories on family and friends, and answers readers’ most pressing questions.
One Sunday afternoon, as she unloaded the dishwasher, Gretchen Rubin felt hit by a wave of homesickness. Homesick why? She was standing right in her own kitchen. She felt homesick, she realised, with love for home itself. Of all the elements of a happy life, she thought, my home is the most important. In a flash, she decided to undertake a new happiness project, and this time, to focus on home. And what did she want from her home? A place that calmed her, and energised her. A place that, by making her feel safe, would free her to take risks. Also, while Rubin wanted to be happier at home, she wanted to appreciate how much happiness was there already. So, starting in September (the new January), Rubin dedicated a school year September through May to making her home a place of greater simplicity, comfort, and love. In The Happiness Project, she worked out general theories of happiness. Here she goes deeper on factors that matter for home, such as possessions, marriage, time, and parenthood. Each month, Rubin tackled a different theme as she experimented with concrete, manageable resolutions and this time, she coaxed her family to try some resolutions as well.
Gretchen Rubin realised that by asking the seemingly dry question ‘How do I respond to expectations?’ we gain explosive self-knowledge. She discovered that based on their answer, people fit into four Tendencies: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels. Our Tendency shapes every aspect of our behaviour, so using this framework allows us to make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress, and engage more effectively. More than 800,000 people have taken her online quiz (here’s the link), and managers, doctors, teachers, spouses, and parents already use the framework to help people make significant, lasting change. With sharp insight, compelling research, and hilarious examples, The Four Tendencies will help you get happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative.
It can be pretty intimidating to try to find a way to bond with other people, whether it is connecting socially, making a great first impression, or simply wanting to build stronger connections for your career.
However, when you show that you genuinely care about the person you’re talking to, work on making people feel comfortable, or really listening to them, you’ll find that you are already halfway there.
Here’s a few titles that we’ve been flicking through recently that will help you forge connections with others…
The Social Skills Guidebook by Chris MacLeod
You think your social life could be better. You’ve felt shy as long as you can remember. Your conversations have more awkward moments than you’d like. Maybe you don’t need a ton of friends, but you’d like to have some people to hang out with on occasion. You want to make changes, but you don’t know where to start. Lots of people have been in your shoes, so you’re hardly a lost cause, and it’s never too late to turn things around. The Social Skills Guidebook gives you insights into your interpersonal struggles and behaviours, and offers hands on advice for developing and improving your people skills.
Frientimacy by Shasta Nelson
With the constant connectivity of today’s world, it s never been easier to meet people and make new friends but it’s never been harder to form meaningful friendships. In Frientimacy, award-winning speaker Shasta Nelson shows how anyone can form stronger, more meaningful friendships, marked by a level of trust she calls frientimacy. Shasta explores the most common complaints and conflicts facing female friendships today, and lays out strategies for overcoming these pitfalls to create deeper, supportive relationships that last for the long term. In Frientimacy, readers are taught to reject the impulse to pull away from friendships that aren’t instantly and constantly gratifying. With a warm, engaging, and inspiring voice, Nelson shows how friendships built on dedication and commitment can lead to enriched relationships, stronger and more meaningful ties, and an overall increase in mental health. Frientimacy is more than just a call for deeper connection between friends; it’s a blueprint for turning simple friendships into true bonds and for the meaningful and satisfying relationships that come with them.
How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes
What is that magic quality that makes some people instantly loved and respected? Everyone wants to be their friend (or, if single, their lover!) In business, they rise swiftly to the top of the corporate ladder. What is their “Midas touch?”. What it boils down to is a more skilful way of dealing with people. Lowndes has spent her career teaching people how to communicate for success and offers 92 easy and effective sure-fire success techniques – from first meeting all the way up to sophisticated techniques used by the big winners in life.
The Lost Art of Listening by Michael Nichols
One person talks; the other listens. It’s so basic that we take it for granted. Unfortunately, most of us think of ourselves as better listeners than we actually are. Why do we so often fail to connect when speaking with family members, romantic partners, colleagues, or friends? How do emotional reactions get in the way of real communication? This thoughtful, witty, and empathic book has already helped over 100,000 readers break through conflicts and transform their personal and professional relationships. Experienced therapist Mike Nichols provides vivid examples, easy to learn techniques, and practical exercises for becoming a better listener and making yourself heard and understood, even in difficult situations.
Click: The Power of Instant Connections by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman
In a book that combines psychology and sociology with an insightful understanding of human interactions, Ori and Rom Brafman have written a compelling narrative that helps us to understand the magic behind those moments when we form an incredible connection with other people, or which cause us to become fully engaged in whatever we are doing. Drawing from recent research in psychology and sociology Click takes us on a roller coaster journey of discovery into those moments in our lives when we are ‘in the zone’ when the rest of the world drops away and everything seems to fall into place.
There’s something amazing about opening a book and leaving the real world behind. Reading can bring us to tears, make us stop and think, bring out our anger and make us snort out loud with laughter.
When times are difficult and you just want to escape, the magical world inside a book is always waiting for you. We’ve found 5 of our favourite books that can help you take care of yourself.
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. “The days are long, but the years are short,” she realised. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.
In this lively and compelling account Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness that money can help buy happiness, and when spent wisely the outer order contributes to inner calm and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.
The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu
Nobel Peace Prize Laureates His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have survived more than fifty years of exile and the soul-crushing violence of oppression. Despite their hardships they are two of the most joyful people on the planet. In this book, they look back on their long lives to answer a single burning question: how do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering? After spending a week together trading intimate stories, teasing each other continually, and sharing their spiritual practices these two global heroes had stared into the abyss and despair of our times and revealed how to live a life brimming with joy. This book offers us a rare opportunity to experience their astonishing and unprecedented week together, from the first embrace to the final goodbye.
I’m Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi
With over 500,000 readers a month at her enormously popular blog, AwesomelyLuvvie.com, Luvvie Ajayi has become a go-to source for smart takes on pop culture. I’m Judging You is her debut book of humorous essays that dissects our cultural obsessions and calls out bad behaviour in our increasingly digital, connected lives, from the cultural importance of the newest Shonda Rhimes television drama to serious discussions of race and media representation to what to do about your fool cousin sharing casket pictures from Grandma’s wake on Facebook. With a lighthearted, rapier wit and a unique perspective, I’m Judging You is the handbook the world needs, doling out the hard truths and a road map for bringing some “act right” into our lives, social media, and popular culture.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson PhD
It’s an oldie but a goodie. A book that shows you how to prevent the little things in life driving you crazy. In thoughtful and insightful language, author Richard Carlson reveals ways to calm down in the midst of your hurried, stress-filled life. Learn how to put things in perspective by making the small daily changes he suggests, including advice such as “Think of your problems as potential teachers” and “remember that when you die, your ‘in’ box won’t be empty”. You should also try to live in the present moment, let others have the glory at times, and lower your tolerance to stress. You can write down your most stubborn positions and see if you can soften them, learn to trust your intuitions, and live each day as if it might be your last.
Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
We’ve showcased this book here but it’s so great we’re sharing it again. In this poignant, hilarious and deeply intimate call to arms, Hollywood’s most powerful woman, the mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder, reveals how saying YES changed her life and how it can change yours too.
Pop on over to our Pinterest page where we have a huge selection of self help titles.
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.”
Charles William Eliot
Turning to books when we are in need of a lift is often what we do in order to pause and calm our racing minds. If you’re in a rut and are looking for a little inspiration or just a good laugh, check out these great titles.
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny Lawson does best. As Jenny says: ‘You can’t experience pain without also experiencing the baffling and ridiculous moments of being fiercely, unapologetically, intensely and (above all) furiously happy.’ It’s a philosophy that has quite literally saved her life. Jenny’s first book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, was ostensibly about family, but deep down it was about celebrating your own weirdness. Furiously Happy is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it’s about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways. And who doesn’t need a bit more of that?
10% Happier by Dan Harris
After having a nationally televised panic attack, Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes. A lifelong nonbeliever, he found himself on a bizarre adventure involving a disgraced pastor, a mysterious self-help guru, and a gaggle of brain scientists. Eventually, Harris realised that the source of his problems was the very thing he always thought was his greatest asset: the incessant, insatiable voice in his head, which had propelled him through the ranks of a hyper competitive business, but had also led him to make the profoundly stupid decisions that provoked his on-air freak-out. Eventually Harris stumbled upon an effective way to rein in that voice, something he always assumed to be either impossible or useless: meditation, a tool that research suggests can do everything from lower your blood pressure to essentially rewire your brain. 10% Happier takes readers on a ride from the outer reaches of neuroscience to the inner sanctum of network news to the bizarre fringes of America’s spiritual scene, and leaves them with a takeaway that could actually change their lives.
The Council of Dads by Bruce Feiler
Bruce Feiler, bestselling author and award-winning journalist, was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. On learning this, he decided to approach six friends who could each provide advice and support to his young twin daughters through their lives should he die. This book is the inspiring story of what happened next. Mixing the highly personal diary of his treatment with the uplifting lessons of these men, Feiler’s account is a touching, funny, and ultimately deeply moving tale of parenthood, loss, and love, and will be a blueprint for how others can take his experience and use it to deepen their own relationships with friends and family.
Like the wildly popular festivals that have taken the yoga world by storm, Wanderlust is a road map for the millions of people engaged in cultivating their best selves. Wanderlust helps readers navigate their personal path and find their own true north, curating principles that embody the brand and lifestyle, authentic yoga practices, provocative thinking, music, art, good food, eco-friendly activities, and more. Each chapter includes expert yoga instruction by renowned teachers; inspiring music playlists to motivate readers to practice; thought-provoking art; awesome recipes for delicious, healthy foods to sustain a yoga regimen; and fun, unexpected detours. This wide array of ideas and beautiful visuals is designed to be hyper-stimulating whether a reader follows the arc of the book from beginning to end or dips into chapters at random.
Rewire by Richard O’Connor
We humans tend to get in our own way time and time again, whether it comes to not speaking up for ourselves, going back to bad romantic partners, dieting for the umpteenth try, or acting on any of a range of bad habits we just can’t seem to shake. In Rewire, renowned psychotherapist Richard O’Connor, PhD, reveals exactly why our bad habits die so hard. We have two brains; one a thoughtful, conscious, deliberative self, and the other an automatic self that makes most of our decisions without our attention.
Bringing together many different fields in psychology and brain science, Dr. O’Connor gives you a road map to overcoming whatever self-destructive habits are plaguing you, with exercises throughout the book. We can rewire our brains to develop healthier circuitry, training the automatic self to make wiser decisions without having to think about it. Offering a valuable science-based new paradigm for rewiring our brains, Rewire is a refreshing guide to becoming a healthier, happier self.