If you are a geek–as I am–then you love learning more about the latest science. I love it so much I decided to make a career out of learning and teaching the science of happiness and the mind!
Despite my passion for new knowledge on this subject, I find it challenging to find the time to do as much reading as I would like. So I always appreciate recommendations and reviews; they help me focus my limited time on the most important books.
In this post, I’d like to share just three of my own brief reviews of books I’ve read recently, so you can use them to decide which ones you might want to pick up next. You can find my complete list of reviews in my recommended reading list. If you’ve read any of the books below, I am curious to hear what you think of them. Please share your thoughts or your own reviews in the comments below, or you can post them on my Facebook page.
The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom
By Jonathan Haidt
This book features a wonderful analogy of rider and elephant for the prefrontal cortex and the rest of the brain. If you want a good mix of science and ancient wisdom complete with practical suggestions this is an excellent book. Although it was published in 2006 and therefore is missing the very latest science, this is well worth reading.
Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard
By Chip and Dan Heath
Many books are about change. This is one of the best. It extends the elephant and rider analogy used in The Happiness Hypothesis to come up with a succinct summary of the research: “Direct the rider. Motivate the elephant. Shape the path.” These amount to: give clear instructions to your prefrontal cortex, so there’s no room for analysis paralysis. Motivate the rest of your brain that is in control at least as much as your prefrontal cortex. And change the environmental factors so that change is easier. If you want to make hard changes in your life or your business, I highly recommend this book.
By Charles Duhigg
In all likelihood you didn’t decide how to get ready for the day today, you just acted out of habits. You showered, got dressed, and ate breakfast in whatever way and order you always do. This book is very helpful for getting us to examine which habits we have, how they are made, and how they can be changed. This book is well-written and practical, especially for the first half. When the book later turns its attention to social habits and societal change, the connections and evidence are less strong. Still a recommended book, especially for those looking to build new habits or change old habits.
One more book I recommend doesn’t exist yet: my own! But I’ve started it. If anyone wants to learn more about what’s planned for my book, or has suggestions on what to include, I’d love to hear from you.
Happy reading, or listening. One of the ways I find time to read books like these is to download audio books and listen to them when I go running. (For those who have heard me lecture against multi-tasking, please note that running is a task automated by my basal ganglia and cerebellum, so my prefrontal cortex can focus on listening while other parts of my brain put one foot in front of the other.)
I look forward to your comments.