This Ted Talk is super inspiring. When it comes to big life problems, we often stand at a crossroads: either believe we’re powerless against great change, or we rise to meet the challenge. In an urgent call to action, political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac makes the case for adopting a mindset of “stubborn optimism” to confront climate change, or whatever crisis may come our way, and sustain the action needed to build a regenerative future. As he puts it: “Stubborn optimism can fill our lives with meaning and purpose.” Click below to watch.
“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.
Reading has always been one of the world’s favourite pastimes and books have always had the power to entertain, enlighten, entrance, inform and delight. But what about those books that change the way we think?
While the power of positive thinking has been a familiar subject in recent decades, it is by no means a recent phenomenon. Texts that emphasise the power of positive thinking — and the harm of giving in to negative thought — have been a popular part of our history. Indeed it was the 1st century Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus who is credited with saying “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters”.
However, the most effective style of works may depend on your personality and preferences. What may work for one, may not for another. With this in mind, we’ve pulled together a divergent list of books that feature the cultivation of positive thought as their theme.
The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Peale
The grandaddy of the positive thinking books, Norman Peale’s ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ set the tone for a raft of positive thinking, self-help books throughout the years. First published in 1953, the book conveys a simple, yet powerful, message: that you can overcome negativity and obstacles in your life by changing the way you think. Peale shows that obstacles in our lives are only there because we allow them to be so.
The teachings set out clearly by Peale in this remarkable book give readers the tools to overcome negative thinking and regain control over their lives. A committed and practising Christian pastor during his life, Peale’s ideas reflect that meditation, positive thought and acceptance of God pave the way to a satisfying and joyful life.
The Power of Sustainable Thinking by Bob Doppelt
But why stop at just positive thinking? Why not channel this way of thinking into sustainability, both in individuals and organisations? Bob Doppelt’s remarkable book achieves just that, equating a need for positive minds to help transform the way we think about our environment and therefore change the way we act to develop sustainable solutions to protect our planet.
Divided into two parts, the first outlines the need and reasons for change. The second presents a description of how human minds work, how change can be made and how individuals can change others’ thinking. The author’s compelling argument is that a radical shift in thinking is key to building sustainable energy policies and protecting the environment. He promotes a “Borrow-Use-Replenish” mode of thought, which reflects the fundamental truth that we are just stewards of this precious planet and the need to recycle is paramount for the benefit of future generations.
Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ by Daniel Goleman
What is emotional intelligence and how does it relate to positive thinking? The book introduces the term “emotional intelligence”, a term designed to show the power of harnessing our emotions and conversely, the damage that can be done by not doing so.
The third in his widely-popular series on Emotional Intelligence, the author sums up the question of using our brains to manage our emotions in a more effective way by quoting Aristotle: “Anyone can become angry — that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way — this is not easy.”
The author’s view on self-discipline, character and control show those who have mastered these qualities tend to excel in life. His point that early intervention to teach emotional literacy is a key point of the book.
Change Your Thinking by Sarah Edelman
Sydney-based university lecturer and psychologist Dr Sarah Edelman sets out to provide readers with “positive and practical ways” to overcome damaging emotions such as anger, anxiety, frustration and depression.
Integrating mindfulness and CBT in an original and helpful way, the book shows how we can move away from these thoughts and types of behaviour that are, in essence, self-defeating.
The author uses the positive approach of cognitive behaviour therapy to demonstrate how we can develop the right thought patterns to better manage negative emotions, boost self-esteem and help find happiness.
The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman
A sideways and offbeat look at the pursuit of happiness, this original and quirky text is full of wisdom, gentle laughs and bright ideas. Burkeman uses a very British, self-deprecating style of humour to cloak a radical view of the “right” way to go about positive thinking. The sub title “Happiness for people who can’t stand positive thinking,” sums up the book’s tongue-in-cheek approach.
Burkeman writes in an arch, clever and absorbing way that has you smiling one minute, then nodding your head in agreement the next. In essence, he takes on the frantic pursuit of positive thinking and shows there’s another easier way to a more content mind, body and soul.
Horses for courses?
These books also show that it’s not a case of “one size fits all” in the approach to positive thought. Different methods will suit different personality types. However, whether you want to change your life, beat the daily stress and grind or just to learn a little more about how positive thinking can help improve your life, maybe it’s time to challenge the way you think. Slow down, relax and learn with one (or more) of these books!