Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill
by Matthieu Ricard
Matthieu Ricard gave up a career in cellular genetics at the Institut Pasteur to study Buddhism in the Himalayas. In this book he shares his wisdom about happiness drawing from thirty-five years of studying Buddhism and psychology.
“A change, even a tiny one, in the way we manage our thoughts and perceive and interpret the world can significantly change our existence. Changing the way we experience transitory emotions leads to a change in our moods and to a lasting transformation of our way of being.” Continue reading →
Psychologist Daniel Crosby tells it like it is in this book about the numerous ways human nature can work against us, not the least of which is egoistic self-absorption (solipsism).
“The biggest finding to emerge from the self-esteem movement was that praise did not predict self-esteem, accomplishment did… Many of the theories about self-esteem that had impacted policy were simply junk science.” Continue reading →
The Prophet offers wisdom on 26 topics—about three pages on each. Gibran writes in poetic prose with a liberal use of archaic words, presumably to sound biblical. Some of the meaning is immediately clear, while other parts require some reflection to decipher the deeper meaning.
On Work. The author stresses the importance of finding work you enjoy. “For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger. And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.”
On Marriage. Gibran observes that marriage is a union between individuals, not a merger. “Let there be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of the heavens dance between you… The oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.” Continue reading →
The Tao of Pooh is about “how to stay happy and calm in all circumstances.” Benjamin Hoff uses the characters and stories from Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner to explain basic concepts of Taoism. He also brilliantly integrates his own brief dialogue with the characters as segues into explanations of Taoist principles. Tao (pronounced DAO) means “the way.” Continue reading →
Lama Marut, aka Brian K. Smith, was a professor of comparative religion, he studied Hinduism and Sanskrit in India, he was a Buddhist monk, and he is the son of a Baptist preacher. So he presents a well-informed viewpoint rather than a myopic dogma. Fortunately, you don’t need to climb a mountain to be enlightened by this wise man; he imparts wisdom in his book, Be Nobody.
Marut writes about living in the iEra. “Our contemporary culture of consumerism, materialism, narcissism, and the worship of fame encourages the idea that we will be happy only when we become exceptional. But maybe we’ve got it wrong—exactly wrong. Maybe our deepest and most authentic happiness will be found only when we finally lay down this heavy burden of trying to be a somebody… Maybe true fulfillment in life requires an emptying, not a filling.” Continue reading →
Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears
by Pema Chӧdrӧn
Pema Chӧdrӧn is a Buddhist nun. She writes about “unhooking” ourselves from negative thoughts and emotions.
She tells a story about a Native American grandfather who explains to his grandson the catalyst for violence and cruelty in the world. “He said it was as if two wolves were fighting in his heart. One wolf was vengeful and angry, and the other wolf was understanding and kind. The young man asked his grandfather which wolf would win the fight in his heart. And the grandfather answered, ‘The one that wins will be the one I choose to feed.’” The author explains that emotions have very short natural lifespan, but we extend that “by feeding it with an internal conversation about how another person is the source of our discomfort… This is a very ancient habit.” Continue reading →
Quiet Influence: The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference
by Jennifer B. Kahnweiler
Jennifer Kahnweiler observes “that introverts can be highly effective influencers when they stop trying to act like extroverts and instead make the most of their natural, quiet strengths.” She points out some noteworthy introverted influencers, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Charles Darwin, Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Warren Buffet, Condoleezza Rice, Steven Spielberg, and J.K. Rowling. “Quiet influence is not about talking a great game to win the deal. It is a less understood approach to influence and differs from more ‘out there’ talkative methods.” Continue reading →