I enjoy showcasing 3 books in this monthly series apart from all the book reviews I do through the month.

3 Books In September 2015

3 books in September 2015

The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life
Chris Guillebeau

A remarkable book that will both guide and inspire, The Happiness of Pursuit reveals how anyone can bring meaning into their life by undertaking a quest.

When he set out to visit all of the planet’s countries by age thirty-five, compulsive goal seeker Chris Guillebeau never imagined that his journey’s biggest revelation would be how many people like himself exist – each pursuing a challenging quest. And, interestingly, these quests aren’t just travel-oriented. On the contrary, they’re as diverse as humanity itself. Some involve exploration; others the pursuit of athletic or artistic excellence; still others a battle against injustice or poverty or threats to the environment.

Everywhere that Chris visited he found ordinary people working toward extraordinary goals, making daily down payments on their dream. These “questers” included a suburban mom pursuing a wildly ambitious culinary project, a DJ producing the world’s largest symphony, a young widower completing the tasks his wife would never accomplish, and a teenager crossing an entire ocean alone – as well as a do-it-yourselfer tackling M.I.T.’s computer-science course, a nerd turning himself into real-life James Bond, and scores of others writing themselves into the record books.

The more Chris spoke with these strivers, the more he began to appreciate the direct link between questing and long-term happiness — how going after something in a methodical way enriches our lives — and he was compelled to complete a comprehensive study of the phenomenon and extract the best advice. In The Happiness of Pursuit he draws on interviews with hundreds of questers, revealing their secret motivations, their selection criteria, the role played by friends and family, their tricks for solving logistics, and the importance of documentation.

Equally fascinating is Chris’ examination of questing’s other side, including questers’ acute awareness of mortality, their struggle against monotony, and their wistful feelings once a quest has succeeded. What happens after the summit is climbed, the painting hung, the endurance record broken, the “at risk” community saved?

A book that challenges each of us to take control – to make our lives be about something while at the same time remaining clear-eyed about the commitment — The Happiness of Pursuit will inspire readers of every age and aspiration. It’s a playbook for making your life count.

You must believe that your quest can be successful, even if no one else does. You can deal with setbacks, misadventures, and even disasters as long as you still believe you can overcome the hardships and see your way to the end…

Whatever your quest, you, too, must believe…

A desire for ownership and accomplishment, the fierce desire for control over one’s life—these are powerful forces. Being told you can’t do something is supremely motivating. There is joy in retelling of the stories. At one point in my research I talked with someone who ran fifty marathons in a year. “According to conventional wisdom,” he said, “You’re just not supposed to run a marathon every week. But that’s why it’s so satisfying.”

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The Power of Mindful Learning
Ellen Langer

Radical in its implications, this original and important work may change forever the views we hold about the nature of learning. In The Power of Mindful Learning, Ellen Langer uses her innovative theory of mindulness, introduced in her influential earlier book, to dramatically enhance the way we learn. In business, sports, laboratories, or at home, our learning is hobbled by certain antiquated and pervasive misconceptions. In this pithy, liberating, and delightful book she gives us a fresh, new view of learning in the broadest sense. Such familiar notions as delayed gratification, ”the basics”, or even ”right answers”, are all incapacitating myths which Langer explodes one by one. She replaces them with her concept of mindful or conditional learning which she demonstrates, with fascinating examples from her research, to be extraordinarily effective. Mindful learning takes place with an awareness of context and of the ever-changing nature of information. Learning without this awareness, as Langer shows convincingly, has severely limited uses and often sets on up for failure.With stunning applications to skills as diverse as paying attention, CPR, investment analysis, psychotherapy, or playing a musical instrument, The Power of Mindful Learning is for all who are curious and intellectually adventurous.

People who dwell on this perceived instability are likely to experience greater uncertainty than those who dwell on fixed categories. For some, such uncertainty represents an absence of personal control. From a mindful perspective, however, uncertainty creates the freedom to discover meaning. If there are meaningful choices, there is uncertainty. If there is no choice, there is no uncertainty and no opportunity for control. The theory of mindfulness insists that uncertainty and the experience of personal control are inseparable.

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Awaken Your Strongest Self
Neil Fiore

Introduces a four-step program that shows how to break self-destructive habits, increase productivity and creativity, and draw on innate strengths. This book shows how to stimulate the brain’s organizing and regulating capabilities, located in the prefrontal cortex, in order to maximize efficiency and enjoy a sense of confidence and ease.

Calling up the stress response to deal with dangers that are not happening now is similar to pulling a fire alarm for a fire that happened twenty years ago or to fearing a fire that may happen next year. It would be unfair to the fire department and a misuse of its time and energy to ask firefighters to respond to such an alarm, just as it’s unfair to demand that your body continually respond to threats of danger from events that cannot be tackled now. As I say in my seminars, anxiety is energy that cannot be used now. When you focus that trapped energy on action in the present moment, you release it and experience excitement and effectiveness.

Have you read any of these?