Category: Recent picks

New Personal Development Books

The pursuit of happiness is an all-consuming aspiration for a lot of us. Reflections on what is happiness and how to attain it abound. Whether through meditation, mindfulness, exercise, the practice of positive thoughts or the attainement of excellence, you will find a lot of inspiration and enlightenment from the following titles.

Syndetics book coverPractising happiness / Ruth A. Baer.
“Mindfulness is a way of paying attention that originates in Eastern meditation traditions but is increasingly discussed and practised in Western culture. It is usually defined as focusing one’s complete attention on present-moment experiences in a non-judgemental and accepting way. Buddhist traditions suggest that the cultivation of mindfulness through the practice of meditation reduces suffering and cultivates positive qualities, such as insight, wisdom, compassion and equanimity. In recent years, the Western mental health community has adapted mindfulness meditation practices for use in medical and mental health settings, and several interventions based on mindfulness training are now widely available. Those with the best scientific support include mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). These treatments can be applied to a wide range of problems, disorders and populations and the evidence increasingly supports their efficacy. Practising Happiness is the first self-help book to integrate the wisdom, skills and practices available from the four leading evidence-based mindfulness treatments.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe tell : the little clues that reveal big truths about who we are / Matthew Hertenstein.
“Drawing on poker’s concept of the “tell,” a mannerism that can yield clues to an opponent’s cards, and numerous behavioral studies in which he has been involved, psychologist Hertenstein has produced a study that is lively and engaging yet unremarkable in its conclusion that both environment and genes influence our decision-making. For example, he reveals that we’re able to predict ways an adult might behave by looking at early tells; thus, infants that have insecure attachments to their parents are more likely than those with secure attachments to develop some form of psychopathology later. Various studies have found that facial features can be useful in predicting aggression or lying and cheating: “In carefully controlled studies, men with wider faces were three times more willing to lie than slim-faced men.” In dating, women choose men based on facial attractiveness, symmetry, smell, and masculinity, while men choose “women who are attractive, youthful, and display signs of fertility.” Despite the inconclusiveness of evolutionary psychology, Hertenstein offers much material to ponder and suggests that we embrace the power of these tools for helping us predict behavior, though he also cautions against an overly prescriptive use of these approaches, which could lead to harmful cultural stereotypes. 31 b&w figures.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverMaking hope happen : create the future you want for yourself and others / Shane J. Lopez.
“Draws on research to offer strategies for adopting a high-hope attitude and shaping a successful future, and provides real-life examples of people who create hope and have changed the lives of their communities.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSmarter : the new science of building brain power / Dan Hurley.
“With vivid stories of lives transformed, science journalist Dan Hurley delivers practical findings for people of every age and ability. Along the way, he narrates with acid-tongued wit his experiences as a human guinea pig, road-testing commercial brain-training programs, learning to play the Renaissance lute, getting physically fit, even undergoing transcranial direct current stimulation.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe people you are / Rita Carter.
“In The People You Are, Rita Carter – award-winning science writer and international speaker – offers a new and vital understanding of personality. Rita explains that nearly every one of us is a team of personalities, working together, for the most part, to give the impression of a unified self. We are used to thinking of ourselves as one thing or the other – either introvert or extrovert, say – but things are rarely that simple for most of us. That’s why we sometimes feel like a different person depending on mood, company and surroundings, why we sometimes suffer unaccountable memory lapses, why we buy something we then decide we didn’t want in the first place, or why ‘somebody else’ turns off the alarm clock in the morning.Importantly, The People You Are is also a practical guide to building a happy ‘household’ of personalities, explaining how to identify these different versions of ourselves and how to enable them to co-operate so that we can function successfully in life. The People You Are is both an eye-opening and highly practical account of personality.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHardwiring happiness : the new brain science of contentment, calm, and confidence / Rick Hanson, Ph. D.
Why is it easier to ruminate over hurt feelings than it is to bask in the warmth of being appreciated? Your brain was wired this way when it evolved, primed to learn quickly from bad experiences, but not so much from the good ones. It’s an ancient survival mechanism that turned the brain into Velcro for the negative, but Teflon for the positive. Life isn’t easy, and having a brain wired to take in the bad and ignore the good makes us worried, irritated and stressed, instead of confident, secure and happy. Every day is filled with opportunities to build these strengths inside, but the brain is designed to ignore and waste them. This makes you come down harder on yourself than you do other people, feel inadequate even though you get a hundred things done, and lonely even when support is all around. Dr. Rick Hanson, an acclaimed neuropsychologist and internationally bestselling author, shows us what we can do to override the brain’s default programming. Hardwiring Happiness lays out a simple method that uses the hidden power of everyday experiences to build new neural structures that stick to happiness, love, confidence, and peace. Dr. Hanson’s four steps build a brain strong enough to withstand its ancient negativity bias, allowing contentment and a powerful sense of well-being to become the new normal. In mere minutes each day, we can transform our brains into oases of calm and happiness. We can hardwire in happiness.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMeditation made easy : with step-by-step guided meditations to calm mind, body and soul / Stephanie Brookes.Trying to find a work/life balance can be exhausting, and we are always looking for ways to release tension and relax. Meditation is the perfect solution, and yet people often worry that to meditate properly they need to sit for hours in a contorted position! Written in a down-to-earth, accessible style, Stephanie Brookes sweeps aside these outdated stereotypes, and shows us how to incorporate simple meditation techniques into our busy, non-stop lives. Stephanie has outlined bespoke meditations for a wide range of situations, including meditations for self-healing, meditations for relationships and meditations on the go. Packed with engaging and insightful information on meditation’s well-being benefits, this book will show you how even a very short meditation can reduce stress, ease tension and set you on the path to inner peace.” (From inside cover)

Syndetics book coverHow to think about exercise / Damon Young.
“A look at how and why exercise affects the way we think and feel. It can often seem like existence is split in two: body and mind, flesh and spirit, moving and thinking. In the office or at study we are ‘mind workers’, with superfluous bodies. In the gym we stretch, run and lift, but our minds are idle. Damon Young challenges this idea, revealing how fitness can develop our bodies and minds, together. Exploring exercises and sports with the help of ancient and modern philosophy, he uncovers the pleasures, virtues and big ideas of fitness. By exercising intelligently, we are committing to wholeness: enjoying and enhancing our full humanity.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Dude and the Zen master / Jeff Bridges & Bernie Glassman.
“Actor Bridges engages in a philosophical dialogue with friend and Zen master Glassman, an aeronautical engineer and mathematician in his early years, for an easy, fun read that poses some serious questions. The presentation is light-hearted and analogies are frequent; in discussing a fear of taking action, Glassman invokes “Joe, the centipede with a hundred legs, trying to figure out which leg to move first.” Later, Glassman recommends a musical approach to dealing with change: “Bear witness to the voices and the instruments-whether it’s a jazz band or life-and then move with them, flow with them, because in life you’re always in a band and you’re always swinging.” The Zen influence means a lot of nature imagery, with “Leaves turning, flowers popping open, rain falling on a leaf,” but it’s not cheap spirituality. Both men are involved in programs to promote peace and defeat hunger and they share stories of community artists, Holocaust survivors, and even Bridges’s long-time stand-in. Recognizing that frustration results from expectations, they say, “Work with whatever you have and make something beautiful.” Lest it all get too lofty, Glassman recalls his judo master’s advice: “When you get into trouble, the best judo defense is to run.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFocus : the hidden driver of excellence / Daniel Goleman.
“The ubiquitous reality of technological tools and gadgets in contemporary society can seem to impede the development of a conscious awareness of the world. Goleman, author of several works, including the acclaimed Emotional Intelligence (1995) and Social Intelligence (CH, Oct’07, 45-0941), explores here the issues this loss of awareness can create on an individual and global scale. He looks at the physiology of the brain and the way in which information, experiences, and emotions are tracked and processed. A storyteller at heart, Goleman makes complex scientific material accessible and captivating. He moves from personal to organizational to global in evaluating the need to strengthen “systems awareness” through three kinds of focus–inner, other, and outer–all of which are required for “a well-lived life.” Drawing on work with children and adults in multinational corporations and small inner-city schools, Goleman explores the dynamics of attention training. He draws the reader into a dialogue with critical long- and short-term dilemmas that will require a new type of systems focus if they are to be resolved. Realism is tempered by a positive optimism in this engaging work.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMindful learning : reduce stress and improve brain performance for effective learning / Dr Craig Hassed & Dr Richard Chambers.
“Mindfulness is now being used in educational environments to help students learn more effectively, develop personally, enhance their physical and emotional health, and deal with study and exam-related demands. In ‘Mindful Learning’, practical insights and exercises are given on how to successfully apply mindfulness in the educational setting.” (Syndetics summary)

Focus, live fearlessly and find your element

Pause for a moment to find your element, your focus, and your killer emotions - all whilst smiling at strangers along the way!

Syndetics book coverFinding your element : how to discover your talents and passions and transform your life / Ken Robinson, PhD ; with Lou Aronica.“Ken Robinson’s groundbreaking New York Times bestseller, The Element, introduced readers to a new concept of self-fulfillment and has inspired readers around the world. When people find their Element, they tune in to their most authentic selves, can achieve at their highest levels, and live their best lives. Now, in his new book, Robinson answers the fundamental question: How do I find my Element?  With his signature wry wit, Robinson offers a series of practical exercises to help you discover your own talents and passions.  Along the way, he tells the stories of many “ordinary”  people in all walks of life who have overcome obstacles of every sort to find their Element.  And he explores fundamental principles and vital questions to help you find yours.  Your answers to these and many others will provide you with invaluable keys to discovering your Element.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverPause button therapy : pause , think, decide, act / Martin and Marion Shirran with Fiona Graham.“How helpful would it be if we could occasionally just pause, freeze time for a few moments and consider the consequences of the actions we are about to take? Pause Button Therapy® is a proven, innovative and interactive new therapy technique that allows you to do exactly this, empowering you to break out of negative habits and unconscious responses. PBT is based on an incredibly simple idea, but can be used for a whole host of issues. It provides additional thinking time, allowing a person to consider the potential consequences of their actions and adjust their behaviour accordingly.It has been hugely successful in the treatment of everything from addictions and weight issues to depression, anxiety and relationship problems, and this book will show you the many ways in which you can use it to transform your experience of life.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverFocus : use different ways of seeing the world for success and influence / Heidi Grant Halvorson, E. Tory Higgins.“We all want to experience pleasure and avoid pain. But there are really two kinds of pleasure and pain that motivate everything we do. If you are promotion-focused, you want to advance and avoid missed opportunities. If you are prevention-focused, you want to minimize losses and keep things working. And as Tory Higgins has found in his groundbreaking research, if you understand how people focus, you have the power to motivate yourself and everyone around you. Showing how promotion/prevention focus applies across a wide range of situations from selling product to managing employees to raising children to getting a second date, Halvorson and Higgins show us how to identify focus, how to change focus, and how to use focus exactly the right way to get results. Short, punchy, and prescriptive, Focus will help you see not just whats going on around you  - but what’s going on underneath.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverSmile at strangers : and other lessons in the art of living fearlessly / Susan Schorn.“Susan Schorn led an anxious life. For no clear reason, she had become progressively paralyzed by fear. Fed up with feeling powerless, she took up karate. She learned how to say no and how to fight when you have to (even in the dark). Karate taught her how to persuade her husband to wear a helmet, best one bossy Girl Scout troop leader, and set boundaries with an over-sharing boss. Here this double black belt recounts a fighting, biting, laughing woman’s journey on the road to living fearlessly-where enlightenment is as much about embracing absurdity and landing a punch as about finding that perfect method of meditation. Full of hilarious hijinks and tactical wisdom, Schorn’s quest for a more satisfying life features practical – and often counterintuitive – lessons about safety and self defense. Smile at strangers, she says. Question your habits, your fears, your self-criticism: Self-criticism is easy. Self-improvement is hard. And dont forget this essential gem: Everybody wants to have adventures. Whether they know it or not. Join the adventure in these pages, and come through it poised to have more of your own.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverYour killer emotions : the 7 steps to mastering the toxic emotions, urges, and impulses that sabotage you / Ken Lindner.“Have you at one time or another let your feelings of hurt, anger, disappointment, rejection, rage, betrayal, insecurity, or hopelessness cloud your best judgement? Did you make disappointing, self-sabotaging life choices as a result? If the answer is “Yes, many times”, then this book is for you. Emotions can kill your ability to accomplish your plans, fulfill your dreams, and attain the life you so dearly desire. Think of Your Killer Emotions as your emotion-mastery kit, to be used in consistently making positive life choices; it will enable you to beneficially channel the supremely potent energy charges triggered by your potentially sabotaging emotions, impulses, and urges, thereby turning them into your allies so that you can make positive and better life choices.” (Book cover)

Coping, Surviving and Thriving

Whether it’s dealing with the challenges of guilt, how to find solutions, or becoming resilient, here are a few of our latest books that offer a positive way through the big and the everyday things in our lives.

Syndetics book coverBlind spot : why we fail to see the solution right in front of us : how finding a solution to one of the world’s greatest mysteries with the verifier method changes the way we approach success / Gordon Rugg with Joseph D’Agnese.
“What can chess masters teach us about how humans become experts?Why can’t race car drivers explain decisions they’ve made behind the wheel? What does predicting the winner of a soccer match say about our ability to make the right choice?When we talk about experts, we typically have bought into the idea that they have all the answers. Now, in this groundbreaking book, Gordon Rugg exposes the surprising ways in which all people tend to make the same sorts of mistakes, regardless of what field they are in, how smart they are, or even their level of expertise. Focusing on why and how we make decisions, Rugg offers insight into what motivates us, how we fail to find the answers we are looking for, how we can learn to ask the essential questions, and more.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverCoping with guilt / Windy Dryden.
“Do you sometimes wish you could turn back the clock and undo mistakes you might have made in the past? Do you feel it’s your responsibility to make others happy? Are you more worried about hurting others than living your own life? Whether you think you’ve failed to do the right thing or caused harm to someone else, Coping with Guilt will help you to move on. Topics include – differentiating between healthy remorse and destructive guilt; how to deal with episodes of guilt; coping with blame and manipulation; how to accept and value yourself; how to practice healthy self-care. You don’t always have to live up to expectations of yourself that are unrealistically high – tackling the unhelpful beliefs that perpetuate guilt will help you to end the guilt trip now.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverA complaint-free world : the 21-day challenge that will change your life / Will Bowen.
“Have you ever noticed how much we complain about things? Moaning and letting off steam – not only is this a waste of time, it also has a harmful effect on the way you live. So how can you focus on the positive, happy things in life instead? Will Bowen shares the simple, innovative philosophy of staying ‘complaint free’ and reveals how it can change your life. He explains what constitutes a complaint (and what doesn’t), why we complain, what benefits we think we receive from complaining, how complaining is destructive and we can all stop complaining and start thinking and acting in positive ways. With this book’s powerful yet simple message, and a little determination, you too can achieve a positive attitude and improve your life for good.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverResilience / Anne Deveson.
“How is it that some people can be resilient in adversity while others become overwhelmed? Anne Deveson’s distinguished career with the media and social justice organisations grants her rare insight into spirited people who have faced suffering – ordeals of family breakdown, mental illness, human rights abuse, disaster or war. What is it, she wonders that enables individuals, or communities, to rise out of despair? Anne’s exploration into the nature of resilience weaves together research, memoir and reflection into a thought-provoking intellectual and personal story, salted with gritty humour. This book will be an inspiration to victim’s of life’s ‘slings and arrows’, as well as to all who hope to help them.” (Book cover)

Surviving suicide : a mother’s story / [Heather Hapeta].
“This small book addresses the author’s son’s motorbike accident, his suicide and her responses to it all. It also has advice and examples about how to survive the death of someone by suicide – gleaned from personal and counselling experiences. There is a need for this book: here in New Zealand there are about 450 suicides annually, each affecting 6 to 10 people. This means there are over four thousand kiwis who need this information – and that’s just in the first year – these numbers are cumulative and some people may only seek help many years later. Written for the survivor’s of someone’s suicide, and in the hope that their friends will also read it so they can be of help too, this book will also benefit counsellors and social workers.” (from Book Introduction)

From being empowered to being empowering

Empower yourself and those around you – whether it’s being decisive in your decisions and making a difference with your power to influence, or just learning how not to slap or be slapped in the face!

Syndetics book coverThe curse of lovely : how to break free from the demands of others and learn to say no / Jacqui Marson.
“Many people’s lives, relationships, careers and wellbeing are blighted by the belief that to be liked, loved and accepted they have to limit themselves to the behaviours they believe are approved of by others. This might mean some or all of the following: always being polite, nice, helpful, charming, fun, making people feel good about themselves, not letting people down, never saying ‘no’, avoiding conflict and putting others’ needs before their own. In her 15 years of clinical experience as a psychologist Jacqui Marson has coined the phrase ‘the curse of lovely’ to describe this growing trend. Many people would like to be known as lovely, but for a growing number of people it can feel like a curse. They feel unable to put their own needs before those of everyone else, and feel that changing this is not an option. This book shows readers how to break the curse of lovely to live a more complete, fulfilling life.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverThe difference you make : changing your world through the impact of your influence / Pat Williams with Jim Denney.
“Every one of us has influence, whether we realize it or not. In everything we say and do, we are influencing those around us. What if we became more aware, more intentional, and more strategic about our own influence? Well, we might just change the world. True influence, says Pat Williams, isn’t about getting what you want–it’s about serving others. Using personal stories from his own life and the lives of others, Williams shows readers the difference between influence and manipulation, how to influence others through both words and deeds, and ultimately how to change the world for the better, one relationship at a time. This book will inspire readers to build a positive legacy in the lives of others and take the role of influencer to heart. Each chapter includes questions and ideas for personal reflection and practical application, and can be used to guide group discussions as well.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverDecisive : how to make better choices in life and work / Chip Heath and Dan Heath.
“Just making a decision can be hard enough, but how do you begin to judge whether it’s the right one? In Decisive, best-selling authors Chip and Dan Heath draw on decades of psychological research to explain why we so often get it very badly wrong – why our supposedly rational brains are frequently tripped up by powerful biases and wishful thinking. At the same time they demonstrate how relatively easy it is to avoid the pitfalls and find the best answers, offering four simple principles that we can all learn and follow. In the process, they show why it is that experts frequently make mistakes. They demonstrate the perils of getting trapped in a narrow decision frame. And they explore people’s tendency to be over-confident about how their choices will unfold. Drawing on case histories as diverse as the downfall of Kodak and the inspiring account of a cancer survivor, they offer both a fascinating tour through the workings of our minds and an invaluable guide to making smarter decisions.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverA slap in the face : why insults hurt – and why they shouldn’t / William B. Irvine.
“Insults are part of the fabric of daily life. Other people inflict them on us, sometimes blatantly but more often subtly. On some occasions, we are delighted to be on the receiving end of these insults: when the members of a group we have joined start playfully teasing us, for example, it can be a sign of acceptance into the group. On other occasions, though, an insult can cause us pain so intense that even years later, we will find ourselves experiencing insult flashbacks. We are also the source of insults. Some of them are consciously inflicted, but many more are sufficiently subtle that we will not recognize them for what they are unless we replay conversations in our head and try to fathom our motives for having said the things we said. Do this, and we might be astonished by our tendency, in casual conversation, to put people into what we regard as their proper place — namely, somewhere below us on the social hierarchy. In A Slap in the Face, William B. Irvine undertakes a wide-ranging investigation of insults, their history, the role they play in social relationships, and the science behind them. He offers advice, based primarily on the writings of the Stoic philosophers, on how best to curb our own insulting tendencies and how best to respond to the insults that are directed our way.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverBirth order : what your position in the family really tells you about your character / [Linda Blair].
“We’ve all heard the stereotypes – first borns are natural leaders, middle borns are difficult, last borns are spoiled and single children are loners. But how accurate are these snapshots? In this groundbreaking book, clinical psychologist Linda Blair examines what your birth order really tells you about your character, your relationships – even your choice of career. She also considers the factors that skew ‘typical’ birth-order characteristics, such as how you were parented and the sex and spacing of your siblings. Written in a lively, personal style, Birth Order will unlock keys to why you think, feel and behave in the ways that you do.” (Book cover)

With a little help…

From finding to keeping relationships, and what happens when things don’t go quite as you planned – all with a little help from our friends along the way…

Syndetics book coverFriendfluence : the surprising ways friends make us who we are / Carlin Flora.
“Psychology Today features editor Flora coined the term “friendfluence” to suggest that friends provide us with more than just social recreation; with successful friendship comes a range of physical, emotional, and professional benefits. Her interdisciplinary discussion draws on scientific research, philosophy, and anecdotes to examine friendship across a lifespan, from playground pals to adolescent and adult relationships. She also alights on the particular struggles some-like those diagnosed with Asperger’s-face when trying to make friends. Flora shows that friendships are often formed through unconscious strategies (such as the evolutionary impulse to cooperate), and tend to bind individuals together in ways that are in some sense more resilient than marital or familial ties. Yet friendfluence is not without its darker counterpart, and Flora does not shy away from issues like teasing, lying, and betrayal, topics that-perhaps tellingly-segue into a discussion of friendship in the age of Facebook. The book is far-reaching, and the natural consequence of such a massive scope is that some sections feel limited, and unifying themes can be hard to parse. But just as the “dance of disclosure” allows individuals to get to know one another, so too does Flora’s compelling book disclose many of friendship’s secrets.” (Publisher’s Weekly Review)

Syndetics book coverThe new rules : the dating dos and don’ts for the digital generation / Ellen Fein & Sherrie Schneider.
“The Rules taught a generation of women how to successfully play ‘hard to get’ and in the process helped millions of women get their Mr Right. Some called it controversial but it became a movement that helped improve the love lives of women across the world. But that was all before texting, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, BBM, iPhones and online dating. Now there are even more ways to unwittingly mess up your dating life. The Rules Girls are back with the dating bible for the modern age. Rules Girls are savvy women who know how to return texts and emails to a man without seeming desperate, how to maintain a cool Facebook profile without giving away too much and how to spot cheaters and players, and avoid them like the plague.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverMaking couples happy :) / John Aiken & Alison Leigh.
”Making Couples Happy, the companion to the ABC-TV series, uses science to help couples rediscover happiness in their relationships and get them on the path to enduring love. Couples and singles will identify with the raw honesty of common hurts and resentments, disillusionment and despair that plague many relationships. Equally, they will share in the breakthroughs and ultimate triumphs, and learn the four simple steps that will help them better talk, support, connect and dream together. Making Couples Happy readers who follow the easy steps and activities can expect a significant improvement in how they relate to their partners, and learn to communicate more effectively, argue less, be kinder and achieve new levels of trust and intimacy.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSex changes : a memoir of marriage, gender, and moving on / Christine Benvenuto.
“What do you do when the other woman is your husband? Christine Benvenuto and her husband had been married for more than twenty years and were raising their three young children in a beautiful New England town. One night in bed he turned to her and said, “I’m thinking constantly about my gender,” adding that he was unhappy in his body and wanted to become a woman.
Part memoir, part voyeur’s glimpse into a relationship, Sex Changes is a journey through the end of a marriage and out the other side. Christine, desperate to save her family and shelter her children, discovers a well of strength and resilience she never knew she had. She learns what to tell the neighbours when your husband starts accenting his shirts and ties with heels. She discovers how to manage as a single mother. And she opens herself up to a group of friends who travel with her through her darkest times – and who show her the love and support of true friendship. Fiercely funny, self-lacerating, and not entirely politically correct, Sex Changes is a journey of love and anguish told with hilarity, heartbreak and a lot of soul-searching. It is about the mysteries in every marriage, the secrets we choose to keep, and the freedom that the truth can bring.” (Publisher description)

Syndetics book coverTen years later : six people who faced adversity and transformed their lives / Hoda Kotb with Jane Lorenzini.
“Ten Years Later profiles six people who’ve faced a series of life’s game changers and challenges – abuse, illness, addiction, grief, job loss. These people didn’t just fight their way through adversity, they forged better lives because of the battle. Their journeys are measured in the very small steps that painstakingly result in change and the big, bold leaps of faith that launch dreams. The book is meant to inspire you, wow you, motivate you, and move you – and maybe even do all those things within the same chapter. In the pages ahead, the courageous people who share their life stories have done so in hopes of enriching yours – now or ten years later.” (Book cover)

Inspiration for sticking with those New Year goals

New Year’s resolutions to keep and habits you want to change? Have a browse of our picks from the latest new personal development books!

Syndetics book coverMadly in love with me : the daring adventure of becoming your own best friend / Christine Arylo.
“Most of us know that loving ourselves would be a good idea, but we have no clue what that really means. Self-love feels too vast, too esoteric, and frankly like something you should keep under wraps. This breakthrough book on self-love changes all that by taking you beyond the idea of loving, valuing, and caring for yourself into daring acts that will help you experience it. Christine Arylo provides practical, fun ways to explore and embody the ten branches of self-love every day and in every part of your life. Reading this book is like receiving permission to treat yourself as a best friend would.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverChangeology : 5 steps to realizing your goals and resolutions / John C. Norcross, with Kristin Loberg and Jonathon Norcross.
“Change is hard. But not if you know the 5-step formula that works whether you’re trying to stop smoking or start recycling. Dr. John C. Norcross, an internationally recognized expert, has studied how people make transformative, permanent changes in their lives. Over the past thirty years, he and his research team have helped thousands of people overcome dozens of behavioural ailments. Now his cutting-edge, scientific approach to personal improvement is being made available in this indispensable guide. Unlike 95 percent of self-help books, the Changeology plan has a documented track record of success. Whether you want to quit overeating or drinking, or end depression, debt, and relationship distress, Dr. Norcross gives you the tools you need to change what you want within 90 days.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverFearless at work : timeless teachings for awakening confidence, resilience, and creativity in the face of life’s demands / Michael Carroll.
“Work is such a crucial part of our life, and yet we often struggle with-and feel overwhelmed by-the numerous challenges it presents us. Whether it’s job insecurity, making peace with or leaving an unfulfilling job, or dealing with office conflicts, we often experience fear and a sense of groundlessness just at a time when we want to be our most creative and resilient. Drawing on Buddhist philosophy, Michael Carroll, a longtime human-resources executive, meditation teacher, and executive coach, explains how the practice of mindfulness-full awareness of our moment-to-moment experience-can help us become more confident and open to possibility in our work life. He offers a system of potent, inspiring principles that we can use as a practice for helping us work with our insecurities and awakening our natural bravery, resourcefulness, and resilience.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverThe as if principle : the radically new approach to changing your life / Richard Wiseman.
“Change the way you behave and you change the way you feel – that’s the simple and powerful message in this insightful and engaging new book by internationally renowned psychologist Richard Wiseman. Most self-help books encourage you to think differently: to think yourself thin, imagine a richer self or to visualize the perfect you. This is difficult, time consuming, and often doesn’t work. Ripping up the rule book, Professor Richard Wiseman, renowned psychologist with 90,000 Twitter followers and 13 million YouTube viewers, presents a radical new insight into your body and brain: that it’s your actions that have the power to instantly change the way you think and feel. Smile and you’ll become measurably happier. Clench your fist and you will increase your willpower. Put a spring in your step and you will feel instantly younger. Acting, not thinking, is what controls your emotions and allows you to unleash your hidden potential. Drawing on a dazzling array of scientific evidence, Professor Wiseman shows how this simple idea can be used to easily increase motivation, overcome depression, lose weight, stop smoking, and even slow aging. So don’t just think about changing your life. Do it.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverLessons in happiness from the third world : how the West got so depressed and what to do about it / Pete Jensen.
“Everybody seems to know somebody who has been impacted by depression, anxiety or stress. Have you ever felt helpless, not known what to do next, or overwhelmed by self help programs that seem like too much hard work? International author, speaker and transformational expert Pete Jensen, shares his breakthrough book that will reconnect you with proven principles the West has either forgotten, or in our fast paced lives become too distracted to pay attention to. Packed with real, easy to apply advice, this book will change your emotional, spiritual, physical and future wealth. You’ll learn: The 3 core ingredients missing in the Western myth of happiness; How to regain happiness when tragedy strikes; The secret of how to be fully energised, all day, everyday; How to eliminate unnecessary spending on doctors and pills; 12 quick, easy tools to shift your emotions instantly; How to overcome procrastination and indifference; Happiness at work; how to make it happen” (Global Books in Print)

Doing it Differently

Delve into some thought-provoking new books for gaining fresh insights into our thinking and motivations. Whether you’d like to rip up the rule book or you’re just curious, you may want to do some things differently in your own life as a result.

Syndetics book coverThe antidote : happiness for people who can’t stand positive thinking / Oliver Burkeman.
“Self-help books dont seem to work. Few of the many advantages of modern life seem capable of lifting our collective mood. Wealth, even if you can get it doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness. Romance, family life, and work often bring as much stress as joy. We can’t even agree on what happiness means. So are we engaged in a futile pursuit? Or are we just going about it the wrong way? Looking both east and west, in bulletins from the past and from far afield, Oliver Burkeman introduces us to an unusual group of people who share a single, surprising way of thinking about life. Whether experimental psychologists, terrorism experts, Buddhists, hard-headed business consultants, Greek philosophers, or modern-day gurus, they argue that in our personal lives, and in society at large, it’s our constant effort to be happy that is making us miserable. And that there is an alternative path to happiness and success that involves embracing failure, pessimism, insecurity, and uncertainty – the very things we spend our lives trying to avoid. Thought-provoking, counterintuitive, and ultimately uplifting, The Antidote is the intelligent persons guide to understanding the much-misunderstood idea of happiness.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverRip it up : the radically new approach to changing your life / Richard Wiseman.
“Most self-help books encourage you to think differently: to think yourself thin, imagine a richer self or to visualize the perfect you. This is difficult, time consuming and often doesn’t work. Ripping up the rule book, psychologist Richard Wiseman presents a radical new insight into your body and brain: actions are the quickest, easiest and most powerful way to instantly change how you think and feel. Drawing on a dazzling array of scientific evidence, Professor Wiseman shows how this simple idea can be used to increase motivation, overcome depression, lose weight, stop smoking and even slow ageing.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe 5 elements of effective thinking / Edward B. Burger and Michael Starbird.
The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking presents practical, lively, and inspiring ways for you to become more successful through better thinking. The idea is simple: You can learn how to think far better by adopting specific strategies. Brilliant people aren’t a special breed – they just use their minds differently. By using the straightforward and thought-provoking techniques in ‘The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking’, you will regularly find imaginative solutions to difficult challenges, and you will discover new ways of looking at your world and yourself – revealing previously hidden opportunities. Filled with engaging examples that unlock truths about thinking in every walk of life, ‘The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking’ is written for all who want to reach their fullest potential – including students, parents, teachers, businesspeople, professionals, athletes, artists, leaders, and lifelong learners. Whenever you are stuck, need a new idea, or want to learn and grow, The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking will inspire and guide you on your way.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverHold me tight : your guide to the most successful approach to building loving relationships / Sue Johnson.
“In Hold Me Tight, Dr Sue Johnson shares her highly effective therapy programme: Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy. Forget learning how to argue better and making grand romantic gestures. Instead, Johnson teaches that the way to enhance – or save – a relationship is to re-establish a secure emotional attachment and preserve the ‘bond’ between you. This model has achieved an astounding 75 per cent success rate. Through illuminating case studies from her practice, advice and practical exercises, couples will learn how to nurture their relationships and ensure a lifetime of love.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverThe ravenous brain : how the new science of consciousness explains our insatiable search for meaning / Daniel Bor.
“Consciousness is our gateway to experience: it enables us to recognize Van Gogh’s starry skies, be enraptured by Beethoven’s Fifth, and stand in awe of a snow-capped mountain. Yet consciousness is subjective, personal, and famously difficult to examine: philosophers have for centuries declared this mental entity so mysterious as to be impenetrable to science. In The Ravenous Brain, neuroscientist Daniel Bor departs sharply from this historical view, and builds on the latest research to propose a new model for how consciousness works. Bor argues that this brain-based faculty evolved as an accelerated knowledge gathering tool. Consciousness is effectively an idea factory – that choice mental space dedicated to innovation, a key component of which is the discovery of deep structures within the contents of our awareness. This model explains our brains’ ravenous appetite for information – and in particular, its constant search for patterns. Why, for instance, after all our physical needs have been met, do we recreationally solve crossword or Sudoku puzzles? Such behaviour may appear biologically wasteful, but, according to Bor, this search for structure can yield immense evolutionary benefits – it led our ancestors to discover fire and farming, pushed modern society to forge ahead in science and technology, and guides each one of us to understand and control the world around us. But the sheer innovative power of human consciousness carries with it the heavy cost of mental fragility. Bor discusses the medical implications of his theory of consciousness, and what it means for the origins and treatment of psychiatric ailments, including attention-deficit disorder, schizophrenia, manic depression, and autism. All mental illnesses, he argues, can be reformulated as disorders of consciousness – a perspective that opens up new avenues of treatment for alleviating mental suffering. A controversial view of consciousness, The Ravenous Brain links cognition to creativity in an ingenious solution to one of science’s biggest mysteries.” (Global Books in Print)

New ways to help yourself in November

Whether it’s what makes us tick or what makes love last, take a look at some of some of the things driving us in our lives and how you can gain more control to be in the driver’s seat in yours.

Syndetics book coverTake the lead : motivate, inspire, and bring out the best in yourself and everyone around you / Betsy Myers with John David Mann.
“From the Oval Office to the playground, cabinet meetings to kitchen tables, in public life and private, Betsy Myers has seen firsthand the emergence of a new leadership model where having all the answers up front is less important than asking the right questions, where strength is derived less from the power you wield than from how you make the people around you feel. With personal stories from her time in government, in academia, and on the campaign trail, as well as her experiences as a wife, daughter, and mother, Myers helps all of us learn to set the right priorities for ourselves; to connect on a deeper level with the people around us; to uncover problems early when they are still easy to fix; to collaborate with those whose points of view are different from our own; and to push through our fears and live our most authentic lives. Myers demonstrates that more than simply making people feel good, this kind of leadership can have a profound effect on the results achieved: it is how initiatives are launched, profits are made, and work gets done. Provocative, practical, and profoundly inspiring, ‘Take the Lead’ is a book for anyone who wonders where all the great leaders have gone. Betsy Myers helps us see that true leadership is all around us and within us.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverWhat makes love last? : how to build trust and avoid betrayal / John Gottman and Nan Silver.
“Doubts are common in relationships. Partners often worry. Can I trust my partner? Am I being betrayed? How do I know for sure? Based on laboratory findings, this book shows readers how to identify signs, behaviours, and attitudes that indicate betrayal – whether sexual or not – and provides strategies for repairing what may seem lost or broken. With a gift for translating complex scientific ideas into insightful and practical advice, Gottman explains how a couple can protect or recover their greatest gift – their love for one another.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverAdd more ~ing to your life : a hip guide to happiness / Gabrielle Bernstein.
“Lots of people are selling ‘happiness’ these days as if it were a marketable commodity. But in her hip self-transformation book, Add More ~ing to Your Life, motivational speaker and life coach Gabrielle Bernstein truly shows you how to make happiness a way of life. Ms Bernstein is bringing happy back. Designed to bulldoze negative thought patterns and create personal change through positive affirmations, physical activity and visualisation meditations, Gabrielle guides the reader to happiness in 30 days through her dynamic ~ing, a proven method of sharpening one’s intuitive senses and activating untapped inspirations. Gabrielle will prepare you to change your life by accessing a state of flow, helping you connect with your ~ing, your inner guide, and readying you to release your limiting beliefs and to choose happiness.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverSelf-therapy made easy / Marian Van Eyk McCain.
“This book is written for ordinary, well-adjusted people who like to solve their own problems and deal with their own issues and who are fully capable of doing so. Written by a highly qualified psychotherapist and based on many years of clinical experience and personal practice, it is an informative, inspirational and easy-to-read guide to understanding how the normal, human mind works and how we can all take charge of our own psychological, emotional and spiritual health. By trying out the various practices and techniques in this book you will soon find the ones that suit them best. Most people, once they have been introduced to these methods of ‘inner work’, go on using some or all of them for the rest of their lives to keep themselves inwardly healthy and to further their personal and spiritual growth.” (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverWhat makes us tick? : the ten desires that drive us / Hugh Mackay.
“Why do we talk as if we’re rational, but act as if we’re not? Why do some people always want to take control? What is the true role of religion? Why do we seek change, yet resist it? Why do we want more of the things that have failed to satisfy us? Why are we so passionate about sport? Why do we fall out of love? As Australia’s leading social researcher, Hugh Mackay has spent a lifetime of listening to people talk about their dreams, their fears, their hopes, their disappointments and their passions. In a series of bestselling books, he has documented the impact of the changes that have been radically reshaping our society. Now, he reflects on some of the things that don’t change and identitifies ten desires that drive us all. Insightful and engaging, WHAT MAKES US TICK? reveals Mackay’s formidable skills as a chronicler and interpreter of our motivations. In his exploration of why we do the things we do, he goes to the heart of some of life’s big questions.” (Book cover)

Looking within

From creativity and happiness, to assertiveness and moving beyond suffering, take a look at these latest books for ideas and tools you can use in your life.

Syndetics book coverHappier at home : kiss more, jump more, abandon a project, read Samuel Johnson, and my other experiments in the practice of everyday life / Gretchen Rubin.
“In the spirit of the #1New York Timesbestseller ‘The Happiness Project’, Gretchen Rubin embarks on a new project to make home a happier place. In The Happiness Project, she worked out general theories of happiness. Here she goes deeper on factors that matter for home, such as possessions, marriage, time and parenthood. Also, while Rubin wants to be happier at home, she wants to appreciate how much happiness is there already. So, starting in September (the new January), Rubin dedicates a school year – September through May – to making her home a place of greater simplicity, comfort and love. Each month, Rubin tackles a different theme as she experiments with concrete, manageable resolutions – and this time, she coaxes her family to try some resolutions, as well. With her signature blend of memoir, science, philosophy and experimentation, Rubin’s passion for her subject jumps off the page, and reading just a few chapters of this book will inspire readers to find more happiness in their own lives.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverAssertiveness : what the most assertive people know, do and say / Dannie Lu Carr.
“Being assertive means that you are self-assured know what you want from life, are happy to stand up for yourself and have the respect of those around you. Do you want to be like this? This book will show you how! Practical and easy to read, it looks at what it means to be assertive in today’s world. As well as containing plenty of exercises and case studies, it also includes a personal plan which can be adapted by you to suit the issues you are facing.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverA thousand days of wonder : a scientist’s chronicle of his daughter’s developing mind / Charles Fernyhough.
“Unlike any other time in our lives, we remember almost nothing from our first three years. As infants, not only are we like the proverbial blank slate but our memories are like teflon: nothing sticks. In this beautifully written account of his daughter’s first three years, Charles Fernyhough combines his vivid observations with a synthesis of developmental theory, re-creating what that time, lost to the memory of adults, is like from a child’s perspective. In A Thousand Days of Wonder, Fernyhough, a psychologist and novelist, attempts to get inside his daughter’s head as she acquires all the faculties that make us human, including social skills, language, morality, and a sense of self. Written with a father’s tenderness and a novelist’s empathy and style, this unique book taps into a parent’s wonder at the processes of psychological development.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverThe creativity cure : a do-it-yourself prescription for happiness / Carrie Barron and Alton Barron.
“Find a happy person, and you will find a project” wrote author and research psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky. In this insightful book, husband-and-wife physicians Carrie and Alton Barron draw upon the latest psychological research, a combined forty years of medical practice, and personal experience to demonstrate the truth of that statement, revealing that creative action is integral to long-term happiness and wellbeing. The five steps of The Creativity Cure – Insight, Movement, Mind Rest, Using Your Own Two Hands, and Mind Shift lead the way to a more meaningful, fulfilling life by simultaneously developing self-understanding and self-expression. With the Barrons’ detailed tools and strategies for cultivating creative outlets, overcoming unconscious fears and barriers to happiness, and linking internal thought to external action, readers will build the mindset and habits for happiness and positive change. They will experience and learn how to sustain the deep satisfaction that accompanies creating something by hand. The perfect self-help book for our handmade, homemade, crafting culture, ‘The Creativity Cure’ has a simple yet profoundly inspirational message: that you can find the authentic, contented life you crave by taking happiness into your own two hands.” (Global Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverNo storm lasts forever : transforming suffering into insight / Terry A. Gordon.
“As a cardiologist, Dr Terry Gordon dealt with life-and-death circumstances on a daily basis. He learned that life is precious and tenuous; it can change in an instant. Such a dramatic shift occurred when his son, Tyler, was involved in a car accident, sustaining a severe spinal-cord injury that left him paralyzed. Leading his family through the experience, Terry’s journey resulted in a spiritual awakening to a clearer understanding of life and the truths it has to offer. Terry has learned that our experiences become calamities only if we make the conscious decision to make tragedies out of them. Rather than lamenting adversities, we can choose to be grateful for them, embracing them as gifts from the Divine. These gifts provide fertile soil for growth and enlightenment, offering us the opportunity to transform turmoil, disappointment and suffering into understanding, insight and resolve. These gifts, and how to bring them into your own life, are offered to you in No Storm Lasts Forever.” (Global Books in Print)

New self-help books

Whether it’s helping yourself or helping others close to you, take ideas and inspiration from these new items this month.

Syndetics book coverTransforming negative self-talk : practical, effective exercises / Steve Andreas.
“Hearing critical or disapproving internal chatter is a common frustration. It can follow us around daily, calling into question our self-confidence, making us anxious or obsessive, and generally wreaking havoc on our sense of balance and well-being. In this user-friendly guide, an experienced clinician presents an array of original, take-charge exercises, which don’t suggest simply ignoring your ruminations. On the contrary, by learning how to change the way the words are spoken, the location of the voice, its tempo, tone, and volume, and stamp out generalizations, evaluations, and presuppositions, we can gain control of the downbeat voices and use them to our advantage.” – (adapted from Book cover summary)

Syndetics book coverBeyond words : grieving when your child has died / by Andrew Thompson and Tricia Irving Hendry.
“The death of a child is a heartfelt experience like no other.It is a deep grief experience that goes beyond words.The loss affects bereaved parents emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually and socially. It makes more demands on them than most others ever realise. Many bereaved parents say that the only people who can ever genuinely begin to understand what it’s like for them are other bereaved parents. Hearing from others who have ‘been there’ can make all the difference. For this reason, Beyond Words is a handbook that features the honest words, perspectives and suggestions of many bereaved parents. It also offers useful information about managing grief, support options and ideas that may be helpful on the grief journey. It is comforting, encouraging, informative and practical. It will also provide understanding and insights to professionals and others seeking to effectively support bereaved parents.” – (adapted from Global Books in Print summary)

Syndetics book coverThe guide to compassionate assertiveness : how to express your needs & deal with conflict while keeping a kind heart / Sherrie M. Vavrichek.
“Many people who struggle with assertiveness are paralyzed by worries that they’ll seem mean, petty, or that they will hurt the other person’s feelings. Even though they want to speak up, they may keep their true needs and opinions to themselves because of these fears – eventually building stress, resentment, and alienation. The Guide to Compassionate Assertiveness does not require that readers ignore the needs of others and focus solely on their own desires. Rather, this unique blend of cognitive behavioral therapy-based assertiveness training and Buddhist psychology helps readers practice assertiveness skills while caring deeply about the welfare of others. This book helps readers develop a form of assertiveness that emphasizes collaboration, negotiation, and compromise. It focuses on speaking up for the benefit of others and speaking up for the relationship, not just one’s own needs. In this way, readers learn to assert their needs in ways that match their compassionate value systems. This book is the ideal assertiveness guide for those who are afraid of rejection, have a deep concern for how others perceive them, often feel judged by others, or have difficulty expressing their feelings and needs. Readers learn to apply assertiveness skills in all domains of their lives, including in romantic relationships, as parents, at work, and in social settings.” – (adapted from Global Books in Print summary)

Syndetics book coverThe parent’s guide to self-harm : what parents need to know / Jane Smith.
“Written by parents for parents, this handy guide book shows both how to deal with and help when a child is engaging in self-harm. An ever-increasing number of young people are turning to self-harm in order to cope with the pressures of modern living, and this poses a huge problem for parents and others who care for them. This book provides the answers needed to the pressing questions these parents struggle with daily, and shows that there is hope in these distressing situations. Questions addressed include: How do I know for sure whether my child is self-harming? How should I approach my child? What help and treatment is available to us? What can I do to help my child? and How have other parents coped? Full of the real-life experiences of parents who have been there, this is a practical book that will both inform and equip parents to help their children and themselves get through this difficult time.” – (adapted from Global Books in Print summary)

Syndetics book coverThe diviner : the inspiring true story of a man with uncanny insight and the ability to heal / Joe Cassidy.
“Though many of us suspect that there is more to the physical world than meets the eye, reading diviner Joe Cassidy’s story, simply called The Diviner, is still both amazing and inspiring In The Diviner, Joe explains the ancient art he practices. He describes how he discovered his gift and why he resisted it for many years, suffering the consequences in stress and ill-health. Over a decade ago he realised he had to accept his destiny and despite having a young family, he began working as a diviner. Since then he has worked on over five thousand cases. Joe does not advertise but somehow people find him. Everyone from housewives and lorry drivers, to lawyers and record company executives, turns up at his door. What they each sense is that Joe’s timeless insights can help with a problem that appears insoluble.The Diviner is a story of listening, divining and healing that throws a light on a side of life that is both ancient and still very much part of modern life. And it is a fascinating and uplifting story of a life less ordinary.” – (adapted from Global Books in Print summary)


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