Our Favorite Personal Development Books, April 2017
SUCCESS magazine’s monthly Reading List features the best books in business, personal development and well-being. Here are the top titles from The Toughness Issue.
Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential
A mindshift, writes Barbara Oakley, Ph.D., is “a deep change in life that occurs thanks to learning.” A professor of engineering at Oakland University, her whole life seems to have led to this insight. Her first degree was in Slavic languages and literature. Oakley has written books about life as a translator aboard a Russian trawler, the genetic and neurological sources of evil, some unintended effects of altruism, and how to learn math even if you’re a humanities major.
The secret to success in a fast-changing world, Oakley suggests, is not so much lifelong learning as it is learning how to learn. Drawing on a course she developed with neuroscientist Terry Sejnowski, Oakley convincingly argues that a few conscious changes in the way people learn activates an astounding new capacity for personal change. Previously entrenched habits can be overcome, and traits once considered handicaps—poor memory, impostor syndrome and age—can be turned into advantages.
2. Maybe It’s You
Cut the Crap. Face Your Fears. Love Your Life.
Veteran life coach Lauren Handel Zander is strong on personal responsibility. Of course, what else could be expected from a life coach who uses Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead as a textbook for her trainees? If Zander’s own career is any indication, it must work. She left a cushy corporate job to strike out on her own at 28. Seven years later Zander started a consulting firm, Handel Group, with her sister in 2004, landing clients at companies such as Sony BMG, Dropbox, The New York Times and LinkedIn.
In Maybe It’s You, Zander shares her secrets, branded as “The Handel Method.” Emphasizing personal accountability, it leaves nowhere to hide. Clients who brave the program, Zander writes, have overcome a variety of debilitating misconceptions or bad habits. Practical and inspiring, Zander’s book shows how owning up to setbacks and shortcomings can turn them into strengths.
3. The Future of Happiness
5 Modern Strategies for Balancing Productivity and Well-Being in the Digital Era
Technology makes us more productive, but it comes with a cost: multitasking, 24-hour-availability and the incessant sensation that we are falling further behind. Amy Blankson says there’s good news. Technology also gives us the tools we need to find balance and even happiness amid the distractions of the digital age.
Blankson proposes five strategies for managing a coherent 21st-century life: Stay grounded, distraction is a choice; Think smaller, use technology to understand the world; Train your brain, use emerging technologies to cultivate a positive mindset; Create a habitat for happiness, declutter your space and declutter your mind; Be a conscious innovator, make today’s technology shape the future you want. The wise use of technology can help us achieve happiness right now, she says, not in some distant future.
4. The Sleep Solution
Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How to Fix It
It’s tempting to subscribe to the maxim, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” All that gets you, though, is an earlier death. As neurologist and sleep expert W. Chris Winter reveals in The Sleep Solution, slumber is critical to physical and mental health, happiness, and performance. A consultant to the military, as well as sports franchises such as the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Francisco Giants, Winter makes the science accessible as he shares his secrets to good sleep. April; NAL; $26
5. Taking My Life Back
My Story of Faith, Determination, and Surviving the Boston Marathon Bombing
Rebekah Gregory stood only 3 feet from one of the bombs that went off at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. After 17 surgeries and more than 65 medical procedures, she agreed to the amputation of her left leg. A devout Christian, Gregory refused to let such hardships ruin her life. Two years after the bombing, she returned to Boston to run in the marathon. This is her story of faith and resilience.
6. Extreme You:
Stand Up. Step Out. Kick Ass.Repeat.
Sarah Robb O’Hagan’s bio is extreme—a failed childhood champion, executive at Virgin Atlantic and Nike, fired twice before 30, global president of Gatorade and Equinox, wife, mother and endurance athlete. Not a fan of moderation, she draws on her own life to illustrate how inner greatness can be achieved only by boldly committing to the extreme; it’s sustained effort that brings extreme success. That doesn’t mean a life of relentless grinding, though. O’Hagan’s outlook is more humane and psychologically nuanced than that.
Related: 25 Books for Success
This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.
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Chauncey Mabe is a freelance writer, book critic, and blogger in Miami, Fla. For 23 years he served as Book Editor and Senior Entertainment Writer at the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. He was Book Blogger for the Florida Center for the Literary Arts, the parent organization of Miami Book Fair International, from 2009 to 2012. He also blogs for the Betsy Hotel South Beach hotel, which sponsors literary events year round. His reviews and feature stories have appeared in publications such as the Toronto Globe & Mail, the Serving House Journal, Inspicio, the Palm Beach Arts Paper, the Baltimore Sun, the Juneau Empire, and the Chicago Tribune.
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