Tag Archives: #Selfhelp

Top 5 Books on Self Help

Self-help books are a perfect example of why reading is an investment in yourself.  There’s an inspirational author ready to guide you, whether you want to improve your health, your happiness, your finances or your professional success.  The best ones offer a perfect balance between entertaining stories, intellectual challenge and emotional uplift.  Here are 5 that are guaranteed conversation starters in 2018:

 

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning seems destined for pop-cultural attention – it’s a Scandinavian concept about living well (hygge 2.0?); it’s about decluttering (and shares similar philosophies with Marie “Spark Joy” Kondo); and it grabs our attention with its matter-of-factness about mortality. But more than that, it’s a really good idea! Margareta Magnusson introduces her readers to döstädning – sorting out your stuff before you die, rather than leaving the whole mess to your loved ones. Keep the items you care about, and give away or sell the others.  Such decluttering can reduce stress, and is a good opportunity for reminiscing and curating your legacy.  Margareta Magnusson’s gentle wit and wisdom makes this a surprisingly funny and thoroughly interesting book.

How to be Human: the Manual by Ruby Wax

A comedian, a neuroscientist and a monk meet up and talk…. this may sound like a joke, but instead is the basis of this manual on how our bodies, minds and brains interact to make us “human”.  Ruby Wax is a comedian whose struggle with depression motivated her to gain a Master’s Degree in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.  In How to be Human, she has teamed up with a monk (an expert in our inner lives) and a neuroscientist (an expert on the brain) to explore the tough questions around how to find happiness in the modern world – evolution, thoughts, emotions, relationships, addictions, the future.  Ruby’s wit and anecdotes bring it all together into a funny, readable, insightful and uplifting read – you can also look forward to the stage show version in the works!

Make Your Bed: Small Things that can Change your Life … and maybe the World by William H. McRaven

Make Your Bed started off as a speech given by Admiral William McRaven at his alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, where he reflected on some life lessons he learnt through basic Navy SEAL training. (Making your bed every morning was his first lesson.  Even such a small task can motivate you to complete more tasks, and, at the end of a rough day, a made bed will offer you some solace.) The speech went viral, with many people inspired by his down-to-earth, tough-but-kind approach, particularly within the context of his highly distinguished, 37-year naval career.  Make your Bed expands on the ideas in that speech to present ten life lessons in greater detail – these lessons will serve you well, whether you want to become a better person, succeed in business, or indeed change the world.

Barking Up The Wrong Tree: the Surprising Science Behind why Everything you Know about Success is (Mostly) Wrong by Eric Baker

Barking up the Wrong Tree is a distillation of the enormously entertaining and thought-provoking blog of the same name, by Eric Barker. Here Eric applies the Mythbusters treatment to some age-old advice about success, such as “nice guys finish last” and “winners never quit, and quitters never win”. He argues that these maxims were not based on research, and presents scientific data that disprove or qualify them. With quirky examples ranging from pirates to Albert Einstein to serial killers, Barking up the Wrong Tree encourages us to challenge conventional wisdom, and forge our own paths to awesome lives.

The Happiness Plan by Elise Bialylew

The Happiness Plan is a one-month mindfulness meditation program that aims to help us experience greater happiness, focus and emotional balance.  Its collection of exercises shows us how to incorporate mindfulness practice into our daily routine – even ten minutes’ worth each day can create positive changes in our physical and mental wellbeing.  Elise Bialylew is a meditation teacher and life coach with a background in medicine and psychiatry, and her understanding of the science behind mindfulness informs her approach. The Happiness Plan also aims to support readers beyond the book itself, by offering access to guided meditations available through Elise’s website.

The best books for those wanting to start their own business

Now that the New Year festivities are behind us, it’s the time of year when people are heading back to work with either a spring in their step or with growing anticipation to take the plunge and start their own thing.

It can be daunting to make the decision to work for yourself so we have scoured the world of books and have come up with a list of great titles (some are old time favourites and others new) that can help you follow your dreams.

Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World by Tim Ferriss

When facing life’s questions, who do you turn to for advice? We all need mentors, particularly when the odds seem stacked against us. To find his own, bestselling author and podcast guru Tim Ferriss tracked down more than 100 eclectic experts to help him, and you, navigate life. Through short, action-packed profiles, he shares their secrets for success, happiness, meaning, and more. No matter the challenge or opportunity, something in these pages can help.

You will learn; the three books legendary investor Ray Dalio recommends most often, lessons and tips from elite athletes like Maria Sharapova, Kelly Slater, Tony Hawk and Dan Gable, how and why Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz says ‘no’ to most incoming requests, the meditation and mindfulness practices of David Lynch, Jimmy Fallon, Sharon Salzberg, Rick Rubin, Sarah Elizabeth Lewis and others, why TED curator Chris Anderson thinks ‘pursue your passion’ is terrible advice and why actor Ben Stiller likes to dunk his head in a bucket of ice in the morning.

 

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.

Why do some people achieve so much more than others? Can they lie so far out of the ordinary? In this provocative and inspiring book, Malcolm Gladwell looks at everyone from rock stars to professional athletes, software billionaires to scientific geniuses, to show that the story of success is far more surprising, and far more fascinating, than we could ever have imagined. He reveals that it’s as much about where we’re from and what we do, as who we are – and that no one, not even a genius, ever makes it alone. Outliers will change the way you think about your own life story, and about what makes us all unique.

 

 

 

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.

This book comes with a lot of recommendations…and we mean a lot! ’If you are an entrepreneur, read this book. If you are thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, read this book. If you are just curious about entrepreneurship, read this book.’ Randy Komisar, founding director of TiVo. Most new businesses fail. But many of those failures are preventable. The Lean Startup is a new approach to business that’s being adopted around the world. It is changing the way companies are built and new products are launched. The Lean Startup is about learning what your customers really want. It’s about testing your vision continuously, adapting and adjusting before it’s too late. Now is the time to think Lean.

 

 

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters.

What valuable company is no one building? The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them. It’s easier to copy a model than to make something new: doing what we already know how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. Every new creation goes from 0 to 1. This book is about how to get there. Peter Thiel has built multiple breakthrough companies, and Zero to One shows how. Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg both offer praise for this book with Zuckerberg commenting ‘When a risk taker writes a book, read it. In the case of Peter Thiel, read it twice. Or, to be safe, three times. This is a classic’.

 

 

The Working Woman’s Handbook by Phoebe Lovatt

I’ve been dipping in and out of this book since I bought it and it’s great. It’s the ultimate guide to job satisfaction, filled with practical advice on developing and driving a working life you love. Bursting with actionable tips, this book outlines an agenda for making and managing money, setting goals, and establishing success-oriented routines, with worksheets, exercises, and fool-proof “how-to” sections to help chart your course. From the lowdown on launching your own venture to a bullet-point checklist for an essential self-care regime, it will teach you to manage any dilemmas that crop up, and take the stress out of setting a budget. This no-nonsense manual comes packed with author Phoebe Lovatt’s personal insights from her own career as a successful freelance journalist, moderator, and founder of The WW Club, the leading digital resource and global community for working women worldwide. It also includes words of wisdom from various creatives and industry leaders, such as Teen Vogue editor Elaine Welteroth, WAH Nails founder Sharmadean Reid, The Gentlewoman’s Editor-in-Chief Penny Martin, and rising fashion designer Sandy Liang. Whether a first-time freelancer, budding businesswoman, or dedicated professional looking to enhance your prospects, The Working Woman’s Handbook is a go-to career and lifestyle guide for ambitious young women everywhere.

 

 

Purpose: Find your why and the how will look after itself by Lisa Messenger

I unwrapped this goodie on Christmas morning and it was read by the New Year…one of the joys of buying your own Christmas presents! Imagine if you could wake up every morning feeling energised, vibrant and excited for the work day ahead of you. If you could accept every challenge, hurdle and setback because you knew the end goal would be worth it. If you could walk your career path with courage, faith and determination. Because you know, without a doubt, that you’re going in the right direction. This is what happens when you find your PURPOSE. And that is exactly what I want for you. As the founder of Collective Hub, a multimedia platform that aims to help people unleash their full potential, Lisa Messenger has turned her passion into a profession – and now she’s on a mission to help millions of people across the world find a career with meaning. Her secret? Instead of settling for a play-it-safe career, she delved deep, thought big and disrupted an entire industry. And all because she discovered the magical feeling, the vital reason, the one powerful sentence that made her work-life worth living. Now, it’s your turn. In this soul-searching book Lisa discusses her own path to purpose, mixed with guidance and interviews from inspiring entrepreneurs and creatives who have followed their ‘why’ to a place of joy and fulfilment. Drawing on her own experiences and ground-breaking research that shows a sense of purpose makes us happier, healthier and even live longer, Lisa guides readers to find the illusive ‘why’ in their lives, so they can reinvigorate their ambition, unleash their inner rebel and make a real impact in the world.

 

Enjoy!

How to forge connections with others

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.

 

 

Enjoy!

Books to help you get your act together

Last week we offered some ideas on how to spring clean and declutter your belongings; this week we turn inward to look at how we can declutter our minds.  Do you ever feel exhausted just thinking about change?
It’s easy to procrastinate when we feel anxious about the amount of disruption and effort we’ll need to make lasting change. Decluttering our minds means letting go of these preconceived ideas and anxieties, which can then help us welcome in fresh thinking and opportunities.  These authors are here to guide you towards greater clarity, focus and calm:

 

Declutter Your Mind by S J Scott and Barrie Davenport

Do you feel overwhelmed easily? As if your mind is spinning from too many thoughts?  Do you find it hard to get motivated? Or feel there is too much negativity around you? If you answered YES to any of these then you may be experiencing mind clutter.  Mind clutter gives rise to anxiety, stress and frustrations – issues that can only be solved by changing mindsets and behaviours. S J Scott and Barrie Davenport show how to use mindfulness techniques to declutter our thoughts, obligations, relationships and surroundings.  Declutter Your Mind is concise and readable, packed with ideas and advice.

 

 

Unstuffed: Declutter your Home, Mind and Soul by Ruth Soukup

Unstuffed helps with spring-cleaning of both our physical and mental spaces. Following Ruth Soukup’s bestseller Living Well, Spending Less, Unstuffed continues to help us reduce those cravings for more of everything – possessions, relationships, responsibilities. She encourages us to think deeply, identify our most important values and prioritise accordingly, shedding unimportant stuff in the process. She also advises on how to deal with the guilt associated with letting go! For those interested in faith and spirituality, there is also a unique section on decluttering your spirit. Unstuffed comes with an app that offers further tips and support on this decluttering journey.

 

The Life-changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight

Sarah Knight penned this irreverent but heartfelt anti-self help guide when she realised her perfectionist “good girl” tendencies were the cause of her constant stress and anxiety. So she learned to give fewer f**ks – to feel OK about not being perfect, to say yes only to things she cared about. The result is letting go of everything except the things that actually matter.  With a decluttered mind and fresh focus, Sarah Knight then takes us to the next level in Get Your Sh!t Together, which shows how to “win at life” – start prioritising and doing the things you actually want to do, while still managing all the sh*t you have to do.

 

Let it Out: a Journey through Journaling by Katie Dalebout

Journaling can be as simple as jotting down a To-Do List, or as complex as expressing your innermost feelings.  In either case, it is a powerful way of relieving a load from your mind. Let it Out is both an inspirational story and a how-to guide to Journaling.  Katie Dalebout has been journaling since her teens, discovering that her writing can be a plan, a review, therapy as well as life coach.  She credits journaling in helping her to recover from an eating disorder.  After sharing her life story in the Introduction, Katie sets out a range of journaling topics / exercises to suit different moods and purposes.  Katie’s young age and experiences make this a great book to share with the teens / young adults in your life.

 

Mindset: the New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

When Bill Gates writes a detailed (glowing) review of a book then you know it deserves attention.  Carol Dweck is a psychology professor who popularised the idea of fixed mindset versus growth mindset. A fixed mindset assumes ability is innate and thus success is largely predetermined; while a growth mindset believes that ability is the result of effort and persistence, and thus can be attained by anyone.  A growth mindset makes us more resilient and helps us maximise our potential.  I’ve included Mindset here as inspiration of what can be achieved when our minds are unburdened by anxieties, bad habits and negative self-talk, which tend to contribute to a fixed mindset.

 

Smiling Mind

S J Scott advocated mindfulness in Declutter your Mind, but, if you’re like me, you might prefer to learn mindfulness while listening – this is where Smiling Mind comes in.  Smiling Mind is a non-profit organisation aimed at making mindfulness techniques accessible to all ages.    They have two excellent free apps (one for smart phones and a web-based app for computers) co-developed with psychologists and health professionals.   These apps offer something for everyone – there are guided practices of different lengths, separately aimed at kids, teens as well as adults.  My local school uses Smiling Mind in the classroom and I know many parents who use it in their children’s bedtime routines. The Smiling Mind website also offers tips on how to use mindfulness meditation at schools or in the workplace.

Our Top 5 Books that will make you happier.

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.

Enjoy!

Top 5 Audio Books to listen to when life is busy

Audiobooks are a wonderful  invention for the busy person. Reading actual printed text means sitting down and focusing purely on the words and while that’s our favourite way to consume books, sometimes between work, study, going to the gym, doing the laundry, cooking dinner and putting the children to bed it’s not that easy to find time to actually sit down with a book.

That’s where audiobooks come in. Here are our top 5 to listen to when you’re feeling like life is getting on top of you.

 

Option B by Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg

Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. Even after the most devastating events, it is possible to grow by finding deeper meaning and gaining greater appreciation in our lives. Option B illuminates how to help others in crisis, develop compassion for ourselves, raise strong children, and create resilient families, communities, and workplaces. Many of these lessons can be applied to everyday struggles, allowing us to brave whatever lies ahead. Two weeks after losing her husband, Sheryl was preparing for a father-child activity. I want Dave, she cried. Her friend replied, Option A is not available, and then promised to help her make the most of Option B. We all live some form of Option B. This book will help us all make the most of it.

 

 

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

In studying the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world, Simon Sinek discovered that they all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way and it’s the complete opposite of what everyone else does. Sinek calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle, and it provides a framework upon which organisations can be built, movements can be lead, and people can be inspired. It all starts with WHY. Any organisation can explain what it does; some can explain how they do it; but very few can clearly articulate why. Why is not money or profit as those are always results. Why does your organisation exist? Why does it do the things it does? Why do customers really buy from one company or another? Why are people loyal to some leaders, but not others? Starting with Why works in big business and small business, in the nonprofit world and in politics. Those who start with Why never manipulate, they inspire. And the people who follow them don’t do so because they have to, they follow because they want to. Drawing on a wide range of real life stories, Sinek weaves together a clear vision of what it truly takes to lead and inspire. This book is for anyone who wants to inspire others or who wants to find someone to inspire them.

 

Make your bed: little things that can change your life, then maybe the world by William McRaven

Making your bed is a simple act with powerful consequences. To rise in the morning and complete the first task of the day will give you motivation to do more and to accomplish more. The bed also represents you. Few things in your home are more personal. Making your bed is a reflection of your discipline, your pride and your personal habits. If you can’t get up in the morning and make your bed, what else are you incapable of doing? If you want to change the world, or just make yourself a little better, start off by making your bed.

 

 

 

Stop Saying You’re Fine by Mel Robbins

Many people are becoming increasingly  frustrated and bored with their lives. If you have  come to regard yourself as your own worst enemy, constantly daydream and wonder, is this all there is? If you have a tendency when asked how you’re doing to just say ‘Fine’, you may be one of them. If this sounds familiar, there’s clearly something missing from your life. This book will help you discover what it is, and how to win it back. Written by Mel Robbins, one of America’s top relationship experts, this hands-on guide not only shows you how to put your finger on the problem, it reveals what to do about it. Mel has spent her career teaching people how to push past their self-imposed limits to get what they truly desire. She has an in-depth understanding of the psychological and social factors that repeatedly hold you back, and more importantly, a unique set of tools for getting you where you want to be.

Check out Mel’s inspiring TEDx Talk.

 

Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better: Wise Advice for Leaning into the Unknown by Pema Chodron

When her granddaughter was accepted to Naropa University, the celebrated author Pema Chödrön promised that she’d speak at the commencement ceremony. Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better contains the wisdom shared on that day. “What do we do when life doesn’t go the way we hoped?” begins Pema “We say, ‘I’m a failure.” But what if failing wasn’t just “okay,” but the most direct way to becoming a more complete, loving, and fulfilled human being? Through the insights of her own teachers and life journey, Pema Chödrön offers us her heartfelt advice on how to face the unknown-in ourselves and in the world-and how our missteps can open our eyes to see new possibilities and purpose. For Pema’s millions of readers, prospective graduates, or anyone at a life crossroads, this gem of clarity and reassurance is sure to find a welcome place in many a kitchen, office, and backpack.

 

 

…and finally for those who are really just too busy to sit and read…

 

 

Astrophysics for People in a  Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? Unfortunately, today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day – while you wait for your morning coffee at the cafe, for the bus, the train, or a plane to arrive. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe.

Enjoy!

Books that challenge the status quo – addressing your confirmation bias

Confirmation bias: the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories

Confirmation bias has been around for a long time and is a topic that is currently prevalent in social media with increasing importance for everyone to become aware of and address. If affects us in many facets of our lives, from the books we buy to how we search online. It’s pretty simple to summarise but somewhat harder to change – we want to be right about how we see the world, so we seek out information which confirms our beliefs and avoid contradictory evidence and opinions.

We’ve rounded up a few of our favourite titles that challenge how we think. Brace yourself, you’ll be somewhat pensive at the end of this reading marathon!

Mistakes were made (but not by me) by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson

Why do people dodge responsibility when things fall apart? Why the parade of public figures unable to own up when they make mistakes? Why the endless marital quarrels over who is right? Why can we see hypocrisy in others but not in ourselves? Are we all liars? Or do we really believe the stories we tell? Renowned social psychologists Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson take a compelling look into how the brain is wired for self-justification. When we make mistakes, we must calm the cognitive dissonance that jars our feelings of self-worth. And so we create fictions that absolve us of responsibility, restoring our belief that we are smart, moral, and right – a belief that often keeps us on a course that is dumb, immoral, and wrong. A fascinating explanation of self-deception – how it works, the harm it can cause, and how we can overcome it.

The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking

When and how did the universe begin? Why are we here? What is the nature of reality? Is the apparent ‘grand design’ of our universe evidence for a benevolent creator who set things in motion? Or does science offer another explanation? In The Grand Design, the most recent scientific thinking about the mysteries of the universe is presented, in language marked by both brilliance and simplicity. The Grand Design explains the latest thoughts about model-dependent realism (the idea that there is no one version of reality), and about the multiverse concept of reality in which there are many universes. There are new ideas about the top-down theory of cosmology (the idea that there is no one history of the universe, but that every possible history exists). A succinct, startling and lavishly illustrated guide to discoveries that are altering our understanding and threatening some of our most cherished belief systems, The Grand Design is a book that will inform – and provoke – like no other.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

The renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation. Each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions. Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking, offering practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble.

This Will Make You Smarter by John Brockton

John Brockman has brought together the most influential thinkers of our age to offer their choice of the ideas, strategies and arguments that will help all of us understand our world, and its future. Every year he sets them a question, in 2013 that question was: What Scientific Concept Would Improve Everybody’s Cognitive Toolkit? Their answers are collected in this book and explore philosophy, psychology, economics, and other disciplines – and all share one aim: to provide the most reliable ways of gaining knowledge about anything, whether it be human behaviour, corporate behaviour, the fate of the planet, or the future of the universe.

 

 

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

Acclaimed as one of the most exciting books in history, this modern epic became an instant bestseller upon publication in 1974, transforming a generation and continuing to inspire millions. A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son, the book becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey into fundamental questions of how to live. Resonant with the confusions of existence, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a touching and transcendent book of life.

 

 

 

 

Outliers by Malcom Gladwell

Malcolm Gadwell is one of my favourite authors. I have read and reread two of his other books The Tipping Point and Blink and have recommended them to many others. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers” – the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different?

His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.

Enjoy!

How to be the best ‘you’, you can be.

I don’t know why but part of the process of starting a new year is determining how we can be fitter, smarter and happier individuals.  A new year seems to offer opportunities and potential that the previous 9 or 10 months didn’t.  Whether you are wanting to increase your confidence or work out which career best suits your strengths, here are our recommendations for some of the most popular self help guides on the market.

Create the Style You Crave on a Budget You Can Afford: The Sweet Spot Guide to Home Decor by Desha Peacock

If you are anything like me, you have spent time in friends’ homes and thought ‘how can I get my home to look like this?’

The starting point is, as Peacock explains, understanding and exploring your own unique sense of style.  Then the fun part comes with working out how to bring it to life with a mixture of vintage, modern and op shop finds according to your budget.  This book is a little different to most decorating books – it’s not filled with multi million dollar homes and budgets, but showcases the stories of everyday women with busy lives and limited budgets who have infused personal values, meaning, and style into making their home their own.

 

The Brain Fog Fix : Reclaim Your Focus, Memory and Joy in Just 3 Weeks by Mike Dow

Ever wander into a room and forget why you went in?  No?? Lucky you!

Perhaps it’s a symptom of our lives becoming busier, more stressful and less….fun but many of us are wandering around in a ‘brain fog’.  The good news?  It’s not an irreparable condition and this book contains steps to help you reclaim your focus, memory and joy in under a month.

Want to become more ‘present’ and be able to fully participate in your life?  This is the book for you.

 

Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Timothy Ferriss

This book has been one of our most ‘clicked’ titles on Booko for over a month now.  It’s the output of Ferriss having interviewed nearly 200 world-class performers to determine what makes them successful.

In it, Ferriss discusses the routines, habits and tactics that have made these people so successful and shows you how you can implement these into your life to achieve success.

 

Strengths finder 2.0 by Tim Rath

If you are one of those people who are working at a job they like but don’t feel like it’s their passion or ‘calling’, this book is a great resource.

An updated version of the StrengthsFinder program developed by Gallup experts, Rath’s book helps readers to discover their distinct talents and strengths and how they can be translated into personal and career successes.

Resources include a 2.0 assessment with features that include a personalized Strengths Insight Report, an Action-Planning Guide, and a web-based Strengths Community.

The Confidence Gap by Dr Russ Harris

Sometimes all that separates us from others that are successful in their fields is the self confidence to make the most of opportunities available to us.

This is a hands-on, self-help guide to gaining long-lasting confidence and overcoming fear using mindfulness-based therapy. The author explains how many of us are playing the ‘confidence game’ using the wrong rules, and guides the reader through clear, simple exercises designed to help you manage difficult emotions such as anxiety and build genuine confidence. 

Minimalism by Joshua Fields Millburn

 

The show I have been binge-watching on Netflix has been ‘The Minimalists’.  Essentially, two guys (best friends) turned their backs on highly lucrative careers, reduced their ‘stuff’ to bare requirements and focused on what’s important.

If you find you are living pay-check to pay-check and consumed by what stuff you are going to purchase next, ‘Minimalism’ is a great read and focuses on 5 key themes that make a meaningful life: health, relationships, passion, growth and contribution.  It contains actionable tasks to start creating more meaning and less ‘stuff’ in your life.

Books as a gateway to a simpler and more fulfilling life

The act of reading a book is a time-honoured way to connect us to the simpler things in life. It helps us make sense of the world in which we live. The age-old habit of sitting down in a quiet place, perhaps with a cup of tea or coffee, and opening the pages of a book is in itself conducive to relaxing, learning and, as a result, relieving stress.

But what about going one step further? How about reading books that inspire you to engage in mindfulness and the slow life? Books, ebooks and audio books teach, inspire and help us to find our way to a simpler, more fulfilling life.

One of the surest ways to relieve stress is to opt for a simpler, happier lifestyle; one closer to that led by our previous generations. All of these books help teach us to slow down, to practice stress-relieving activities, such as meditation, minimalism and mindfulness. In other words, to take time out to smell the roses!

Here are a few titles to help you learn and practice methods of reducing stress in your life and reconnect with the simpler things in life.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:dalaiThe Art of Happiness: a Handbook for Living

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is possibly one of the most respected spiritual leaders on our planet. His gentle lifestyle guidance and teachings are directed, not just at practitioners of Buddhism, but the whole world. In The Art of Happiness, His Holiness — in collaboration with psychiatrist Howard Cutler — teaches us there is a path towards happiness. The key is being able to recognise what in our lives causes us to be happy and then, by cultivating the right mental practice, we can achieve a balanced, contented state of mind.

Through stories and meditations, he shows us how to beat daily insecurities, anxieties and stress, leading us gently towards what he describes as “the purpose of life”, that of true happiness.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:mindfulnessThe Miracle of Mindfulness

Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh’s classic guide to mindfulness is still considered one of the classics in its field, over thirty years after its original publication. Originally written as a letter to a fellow brother suffering under atrocities during the Vietnam War, Buddhist monk Thich uses stories and allegories to urge his brothers to continue on the mindfulness path.

The book has served as an instruction manual for the now widespread practice of meditation and has become recognised as a powerful guide to (in His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s words) “show us the connection between personal, inner peace and peace on earth”.

The Miracle of Mindfulness is full of thought exercises, allegories and wonderful examples of how to practice mindfulness in everyday living in commonplace acts such as washing up and drinking tea.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:chickensZen and the Art of Raising Chickens

Clea Danaan’s book Zen and the Art of Raising Chickens is a quirky, entertaining and informative book about how raising chickens in an urban or suburban environment can help get you back to the simpler things in life and reduce stress.

Written to make you smile as much as inform, the author nevertheless points to a few truths about chickens. Namely how their personalities, habits and idiosyncratic ways slow us down to their rhythms. Chapter titles such as “The Sound of One Wing Flapping” and “The Mind of the Chicken is Ungraspable” underline the way their “chickeny” characteristics can make us relax and laugh. Anecdotal evidence is (thankfully) abundantly documented by the author who also shows us the practical, healthy side of raising chickens in your own backyard.

Original and full of wit, yet containing a central truth about how keeping chickens can help ground us in a healthier, less stressful, more mindful lifestyle; Zen and the Art of Raising Chickens inspires and teaches as well as entertains.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:actionMindfulness in Action

Interested in learning more about simplicity and the power of meditation to change lives? Mindfulness in Action takes you to the very core of simplicity and awareness through meditation exercises and teachings. The author uses wisdom and insight to teach us to simply sit still and reconnect with the very concept of being human in our ever faster-paced world.

The book is edited by Carolyn Gimian, a longtime student and expert chronicler of Chogyam Trungpa’s teachings. This remarkable book offers something for everyone, whether a novice or experienced meditator.

 

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:joyThe Joy of Less

The art of minimalism revolves around doing more with less. In this fascinating account, author Francine Jay points to the benefits of decluttering your home or workspace, in a way that brings us back to simpler, more satisfying living.

Not only does the author give tips on how to save money by ridding your space of excess material, she also demonstrates how living with less can be a path to greater happiness and simplicity.

Reading is the ultimate activity in enjoying “quiet moments” that centre our days and help to reduce the stress in our lives. In doing so you are joining the generations of people before you, from mystics, to learned scientists, to poets and professors, to just lovers of a good book, all who have used the written word to learn, relax and relieve stress.

Join them and find out how books can change you to appreciate a slower, more relaxed and fulfilling life.

 

Socially acceptable Self Help books

Self Help books are a growing trend. Similar to ‘hope in a jar’ sold at cosmetics counters, buying Self Help books seems like an easy road to becoming richer, thinner and more successful.  They have always been my guilty pleasure: not something I will take out and read on the train but definitely suitable holiday reading.  This collection of Self Help books is a little different.  They are cooler and have a bit of attitude.  They are less ‘new-agey’ and more authentic and un-apologetic.  Here are our recommendations for socially acceptable Self Help books:

https-::covers.booko.info:300:MAGICThe Life-Changing Magic of not giving a F**k by Sarah Knight

Deserving an award for best book title of the year goes to Sarah Knight for her clever take on Marie Kondo’s book ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying’.  Perfect for people who spend enormous amounts of time and energy worrying about things they need not, this book is an hysterical, practical two-step:  ‘Not Sorry’ method for mental decluttering that enables you to focus your time and energy on things that really matter.

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:ORIGINALSOriginals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

What makes an innovator?  Adam Grant debunks some of the more common myths surrounding entrepreneurs in this book.  Some of these include success in one area does not necessarily mean success is guaranteed in another and that innovators are happy to throw away everything in pursuit of their dream.  Interestingly, Grant also links internet browser choice to success (good news for Chrome and Firefox fans).  A great read for unpicking the brain of the non-conformist.

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:LIVELive the Best Story of your Life by Bob Litwin

Bob Litwin is a leading performance coach on Wall Street and former World Champion tennis player.  Litwin spent thousands of hours researching from the best minds in the field of human potential.  Believing that the mode of storytelling is incredibly strong, Litwin formats the book into 33 personalised coaching sessions, underpinned by powerful stories.  Want a new story?  Litwin shows you how to put your old stories in your past and discover the excitement and energy of your new story.

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:BADASSYou are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

A no-nonsense and practical approach to shifting the mental barriers that prevent success, ‘You are a Badass’ is full of humour, sage advice and inspiring stories.  Touted as the self-help book for people that aren’t huge fans of the genre, this book is a great tool for people to help regain perspective in their lives.  The principles in the book might be basic but its humour and personality make it all the more powerful.

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:hBITThe Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And In Business by Charles Dugigg

Dugigg is an award-winning New York Times business reporter.  In ‘The Power of Habit’, Dugigg examines the scientific principles of how habits are created.  Then, he explains why they exist and how we can change them. Considering much of our lives are based on habits, the premise of the book is incredibly simple, but powerful. The keys to losing weight and performing at our upmost abilities are found in creating high-performing habits.

 

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:yesYear of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

Rhimes is the hugely talented creator of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, and ‘Scandal’, as well as the Executive Producer of ‘How to Get Away with Murder.’  In this book she chronicles how saying yes to everything for one year changed her life.  There have been mixed reviews of this book (some have felt it was self indulgent), however, we liked the stories about balancing work and personal life (Rhimes has three children and an exceptionally busy career).  How can your life benefit from opening yourself up to new experiences?

 

For more Self Help picks, check out our Pinterest board.