Sunday, December 14, 2008

So what should I read? Part I

If you are interested in what all the evidence-based findings are on how to live a more fulfilled and engaged life, I wanted to put them all in one place:

1. The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom – Jonathan Haidt
One of the best books you can read on what really constitutes a life of fulfillment. Haidt sifts through science & philosophy. He shows which bits the Stoics had right, where the Buddhism is spot on, why its dangerous to trust your feelings, why we desparely seek prestige and how we fail to appreciate why commuting to work makes us miserable.

2. Authentic Happiness – Martin Seligman
Seligman is a heavyweight in the world of psychology. This is the bestseller. Goes deeper into Pleasure, Engagement & Meaning. Also lots of learned optimism – training your mind to be less pessimistic.

3. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
This is the definitive work on Challenge / Engagement: who achieves peak experiences in life and how. A flow state ensues when one is engaged in self-controlled, goal-related, meaningful actions. A serious but rewarding read (it's a compelling academic book, not self-help). It’s been a classic since it was first published in 1970s

4. The Paradox of Choice – Barry Schwartz
The problems of consumer choice. Why we make bad decisions when faced with a huge array of choices. Very accessible. It will help you understand why we fail to make adequate 401K / pension plans or would prefer to walk out of a supermarket rather than decide what variety of jam to buy

5. Stumbling upon happiness – Daniel Gilbert
Why we mis-remember the part, mis-interpret the present and mis-predict the future. Very accessible tour of counterintuitive findings from Psychology & Behavioral Economics. There's less here on what you can do about all the findings but it's a fast, fun read

1 comment:

Pipps said...

Hi Alan, I have found your blog very helpful. Especially your post on the 10:40:50 ratio for being successful. I am a junior professional services consultant and I have a question about your opinion on book recommendations. I recently read 'True Professionalism' by David H Maister, and found it illuminating. Can you recommended anything else along these lines which might be helpful on the 'hows' of providing quality consultancy services?