BR 121: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Priority: 2 – BUY It!  (All Categories are 1) Read ASAP! 2) BUY it! 3) SHELF it 4) SOMEDAY it)

Comments: Great research put together by an excellent writer. It is the equivalent of a Dan Brown-esque page turner for the psychology genre.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. We are creatures of habit – every one of us – much more than we realize. Habits are the “efficiency” unit of our brains and almost everything we do comes down to the habits we have in place. Luckily, these habits can be shaped and broken. Great people are just by-products of great habits.

2. A habit is a combination of a cue, an routine and a reward. e.g. To form an exercise habit, the cue could be leaving your clothes near your bed, the routine is exercise of course and the reward could be a cup of coffee!

3. There are some habits that are critical – called keystone habits. These are habits that influence almost all other habits. For manufacturing companies like Alcoa, safety was found to be the keystone habit. For humans, it has been found to be exercise.. (this has inspired me to no end to change exercise routines from 2-3 times a week to 5 times a week).

BR 120: Authentic Happiness by Martin E.P. Seligman

Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: Martin E.P. Seligman is the father of positive psychology and his book lived up to expectations. I didn’t find it “ground breaking” and that’s thanks to having read many a happiness book that builds on Seligman’s ground break findings.

The only miss is the lack of a “framework” in the book. I remember it as a collection of great anecdotes, many of which I’m sure to write about. I’ve always maintained that great books give you a framework in which to remember the key learnings – e.g. the 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen Covey.

Top 3 Learnings

1. Two groups of school kids were studied for their happiness level. Group I involved the geeky kids who studied hard, attended various classes after school and played hard. Group II involved the “cool” kids who hung out in the mall. It was found that the geeky kids tested happier on every aspect except one – they thought the kids in the mall were happier.

What an awesome story.

2. Optimism is an acquired trait based on the 3 P’s – Permanence, Pervasiveness and Personalization. Optimists don’t believe a bad event is permanent, pervasive and that the world is “out to get them.”

3. Expressing anger and negative emotions does NOT help – contrary to popular belief.

BR 119: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor.E.Frankl

Category: 1 – Read ASAP! (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: Man’s search for meaning is as sincere and heartfelt a book you will find. It’s one of those books that is a must read simply because it teaches us what it means to be human.

The story details the experiences of Dr Frankl in Nazi concentration camps and his observations about life and the importance of meaning.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. We are often told that the essence of life is the pursuit of happiness. Frankl’s experiences taught him otherwise. In his experience, it’s meaning that makes life worth living..

2. There is an incredible paragraph on love by Viktor Frankl. It’s one of those that reminds us of the importance of love in this world, and the special place it holds in our life.

3. Success and happiness will ensue if we keep doing the right things. At the end of the day, we will be successful only because we forgot to think about it. Here’s the link to that incredible paragraph.