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 →
Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct
by P.M. Forni
Choosing Civility is about counteracting the “coarsening of America.” It was published in 2002, but is more relevant than ever.
“Being civil means being constantly aware of others and weaving restraint, respect, and consideration into the fabric of this awareness… When we approach others assuming that they are good, honest, and sensitive, we often encourage them to be just that.”
“Every act of kindness is, first of all, an act of attention… When we relate to the world as if we were on automatic pilot, we can hardly be at our best in our encounters with our fellow human beings.”
“Restraint is our inner designated driver. We all have it, and we all can learn to summon it whenever we need it… Restraint is an infusion of thinking—and thoughtfulness—into everything we do.”
The Decision Makeover: An Intentional Approach to Living the Life You Want
by Mike Whitaker
The Decision Makeover is about replacing haphazard decision making with a mindful approach based on advancing our priorities. “Trial and error does not focus upon why each of our options makes sense in the big picture. The question should be: Does this choice best support my personal definition of success? … It takes discipline to ignore the noise and focus on only a few key goals. When we focus, things get done.”
Whitaker says that that we gain success momentum from a series of interdependent decisions. He describes the success formula waterfall: awareness, prime goals, decisions, dividends, momentum, success. “Good decision making allows you to pick up speed and make faster progress.”
Each year we make thousands of minor decisions, dozens of medium decisions, and perhaps one big decision. “Medium decisions are best illustrated as ‘course corrections’—like a boat captain. Since the boat’s destination is one of our big decisions… These medium decisions assure progress toward our success.” Continue reading →
The Laws of Wealth: Psychology and the Secret to Investing Success
by Daniel Crosby
Psychologist Daniel Crosby works in the field of behavioral finance. “Given that you, as a member of the human family, have tendencies toward impatience, arrogance and a fetish for complexity, it is very likely that you will screw this up… At my last count, psychologists and economists had documented 117 biases capable of obscuring lucid financial decision-making.”
Crosby presents 10 rules of behavioral self-management.
Rule #1 – You Control What Matters Most. “The behavior gap measures the loss that the average investor incurs as a result of emotional responses to market conditions.” As an example, the author notes that the best performing mutual fund during the period 2000-2010 was CGM Focus, with an 18.2% annualized return; however the average investor in the fund had a negative return! The reason is that they tended to buy when the fund was soaring and sell in a panic when the price dipped. More on volatility later… 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 Art of Seeing: An Interpretation of the Aesthetic Encounter
by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Rick E. Robinson
This book explores the enjoyment of viewing art within the framework of flow, the psychology of optimal experience. Flow is an intrinsically rewarding feeling of total involvement in an activity. To be fully engaged in a state of flow, one must be skilled and challenged. The author studied museum professionals as a proxy for the more general art viewing population.
“The experience is one of an initial perceptual hook followed by a more detached, intellectual appreciation that returns the viewer to the work with a deeper understanding.”
“The best examples of objects containing such challenges are works whose meaning appears to be inexhaustible.” As one respondent put it, “‘A good painting will never be used up.’”
Four dimensions of aesthetic experience are explored: cognitive, perceptual, emotional, and communicative.
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 →