Ready to upgrade your vision of love? Then you’re in for a treat with this fantastic book by Barbara Fredrickson. Barbara is one of the world’s leading positive psychologists. The book is incredibly well-written, deeply inspiring and incredibly practical as well. In fact, I just told Alexandra that this book might be the one that most positively impacts my life. Big Ideas we explore include: Love 1.0 vs. Love 2.0, taking a trip to Vagus, identifying our prevailing desire, #1 tip: create 3 loving moments today, exiting our cocoon of self-absorption via loving-kindness meditation, and Love 2.0 x 2: compassionate + celebratory love.
A former U.S. Navy SEAL Commander, Mark Divine integrates the ancient warrior traditions with grounded, practical virtue and 21st century get-it-done effectiveness in a way that I find incredibly inspiring. Big Ideas we cover include the power of front-sight focus, how to DIRECT your mind, going Yoda on your commitments and creating micro goals when things are tough.
Patrick McKeown is one of the world’s leading teachers of the Buteyko Breathing Method which was created in the 1950s by a Russian doctor named Dr. Konstantin Buteyko. McKeown suffered from asthma for decades until he found the Buteyko Method. At which point, he reversed his asthma symptoms and then dedicated his life to helping others optimize their breathing. In this book, he extends the Buteyko Method into an approach he calls the Oxygen Advantage. Big Ideas we cover include the #1 obstacle to optimal breathing, Oxygen Delivery 101, the #1 breathing tip, and how to dial in your sleep.
Dr. Craig Malkin is an author, clinical psychologist, and Instructor of Psychology for Harvard Medical School. He’s also one of the world’s leading authorities on the science of narcissism. In this book, he shares “The bad—and surprising good—about feeling special.” The short story? Narcissism is a lot more nuanced than we might have been led to believe. Big Ideas we explore: the Myth of Narcissus, the Spectrum of Narcissism, healthy narcissism (no, that isn’t an oxymoron), how to bring it forth in our lives, and the passionate life (passion + compassion = magic!).
Harvey Dorfman was one of the world’s leading mental training experts. Major League Baseball described him as a “pioneering sports psychologist.” He earned World Series rings as the mental skills coach for both the Oakland A’s and Florida Marlins. In this book, he covers the A to Z of mental discipline. Big Ideas we explore include Carpe momentum (seize the task at hand!), the peak performance cycle (approach + results + response), the blind men (and their elephant), and Percussus Resurgo (“Struck down. I rise again!”).
Irresistible. That’s the perfect word to describe the growing array of addictive technologies that are capturing so much of our attention these days. And, it’s the perfect name for the book. Adam Alter is an associate professor of marketing at NYU’s Stern School of Business. This is a great book on, as the sub-title suggests, “The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.” Big Ideas we explore include the fact Steve Jobs didn’t let his own kids use an iPad (why?), why addiction is about more than just personality (and what matters), how to add 11 years back to your life, what happens when your brain gets pickled and the simple question you can ask to Optimize.
Teresa Amabile is the Director of Research at Harvard Business School. It’s pretty much impossible to read a book on business, creativity, or happiness at work and not run into her research. She wrote this book with her husband, leading developmental psychologist Steven Kramer. In it, we learn the secret of joy, engagement and creativity at work. Hint: Small wins! On (important distinction) meaningful stuff. Big Ideas we explore include the power of our “inner work life,” the 3 key influences to optimizing it (progress, catalysts, nourishers) and how to get on the progress loop and stay on it!
Atul Gawande is a surgeon, writer, and public health researcher. He’s also an extraordinary, best-selling author of a number of books. Short story: Want to get things right? Use a checklist. Sounds too silly to work but… It does. Period. Big Ideas we explore include two reasons we err (ignorance + ineptitude), what to do about it (checklists!), how to reduce your Masterpiece Day mortality rate by at least 47% (checklists!), why Van Halen doesn’t like brown M&M’s (checklists!), and your Big 3 Keystone Initiative (checklist!).
Brad Stulberg is a writer focused on health and the science of human performance. (Amy Cuddy calls him her favorite health and science writer.) Steve Magness is a coach to some of the top distance runners in the world. Together, they’ve written a super-engaging, quick-reading book on how to pursue growth in a healthy, sustainable way—aka, without burning out. Big Ideas we explore include the secret equation of sustainable awesome (Stress + Rest = Growth), just-manageable challenges, the iPhone Effect Part 3 (aka how to decrease your productivity in one step!), the optimal work/rest ratio, and the paradoxical twist of fulfillment.
Here are 5 of my favorite Big Ideas from "The Art of Learning" by Josh Waitzkin. Hope you enjoy!
Josh Waitzkin is an extraordinary human. Ever heard of the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer? That’s the story of Josh life. Literally. After a childhood and young adulthood spent dominating chess, Josh then went on to master Tai Chi and became a World Champion. But what he REALLY became was a master of learning and peak performance. Big Ideas we explore include the two approaches to leaning, the downward spiral (what it is and how to avoid it), honoring your unique disposition, investing in loss, knowing your goal (decent, good, great, among best!), the power of stress and recovery and the ultimate secret of mastery.
I’m a HUGE fan of Phil and Barry's first book, The Tools. Coming Alive is kinda like The Tools Part 2. In this book, we get four new tools to go along with the original five tools. Big Ideas we explore include how to connect to our Life Force, defeat Part X (their name for that part of each of us that gets in the way), build our confidence and learn to see problems as gifts as we live a GREAT life.
Robin Sharma is one of the world’s top leadership experts. He’s also an extraordinarily inspiring guy. This is an inspiring fable about a disillusioned former veteran (Blake) who meets a mysterious mentor (Tommy) who introduces him to four exceptional leaders who change his life. Via this fun cast of characters, Robin downloads his ENORMOUS array of wisdom on leadership + personal greatness. Big Ideas we explore: the four keys to leading without a title, how to flip the leadership switch, the power of moving thru fear and embracing adversity, a simple way to optimize your relationships, and training like an athlete to achieve your personal greatness.
Jean-Paul Sartre was a French philosopher, novelist, playwright, and critic. He was a leading intellectual of the 20th century and the leading proponent of existentialism. This short book is a transcript of a speech Sartre gave in 1945 to address many of the critics of existentialism. It’s a *remarkably* lucid, concise exposition on the primary tenets of existentialism—even more remarkable given the fact that Sartre gave this lecture without notes. Big Ideas we explore: Anguish + its antidote, passion vs. choice, quietism vs. commitment, the stern optimism of existentialism and moral choices as a work of art.
This is the classic text on the psychology of persuasion. Robert Cialdini is a professor of both psychology and marketing at Arizona State University. He’s one of the world’s leading experts on the psychology of persuasion. The book is simultaneously kind of a consumer protection guide (how not to be duped) AND a manual for marketers (how to sell your stuff!). Cialdini has identified six core psychological principles of persuasion. We take a quick look at each, how they can be used for good or ill and how to apply the wisdom to our lives today.
Epictetus is known as one of the world’s leading Stoic philosophers. (Along with Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, the three make up a very interesting bunch.) Epictetus was a former slave turned philosopher who lived from 55-135 (a little later than Seneca and before Aurelius). This book is a transcription of the informal lectures Epictetus gave to his students. It’s awesome. Big Ideas we explore: why Hercules needed challenges (and so do you), what figs can teach us about greatness, the good + the bad + the indifferent and how to tell the difference, “impressions” and the tricks they play, and the fact NOW is the time to live this stuff.
Wonder what the iconoclast’s brain looks like? Well, that’s what this book is all about. Our guide is Gregory Berns, one of the world’s leading pioneers (iconoclasts?) in the field of neuroeconomics. Berns is a professor in the department of Psychiatry and Economics and at the Goizeta Business School at Emory University. This book is a fascinating look at the three primary facets of the iconoclast’s brain (perception + courage + social skills), brought to life via research studies and biographical sketches of modern iconoclasts. Big Ideas we cover: how to change the way you see the world, how to control your fear and how to build your social skills (hint: be a good human).
Warren Bennis is one of the world’s leading authorities on leadership. This is, as Peter Drucker puts it, his “most important book.” Big Ideas we explore include the basic ingredients of leadership (#1 = Guiding Vision!), the importance of self-invention (hint: write your own story!), the power of trusting ourselves, choosing to express ourselves rather than prove ourselves, how to cultivate trust, and becoming a world-class leader.
Vice Admiral James Stockdale is an American hero. Stockdale spent nearly eight years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. He spent four of those years in solitary confinement and was repeatedly tortured. He was the commanding officer of hundreds of other U.S. soldiers and received the Medal of Honor for his service beyond the call of duty. This is an incredibly inspiring look at the powerful mind and equally powerful moral commitment of a hero. Big Ideas we explore: Being our brother’s keeper, chiseling our integrity to achieve delight with life, courage as endurance of the soul and heroes vs. bums.
Phil Knight created Nike. This book is a *phenomenally* well-written, funny, tear-jerking, inspiring look at how he and his eclectic team of misfit geniuses made Nike one of the most iconic brands in the world. If you’re into sports, business and hero’s journeys, you’ll love it. I highly recommend it. Big Ideas we explore include: Crazy Ideas, victory, billionaires getting their credit cards declined (before they’re billionaires), optimal business, gratitude, luck and answering your calling.
This is a *super* popular book in the Paleo movement that, as the sub-title suggests, introduces us to the Whole30 and can change your life in unexpected ways. Dallas Hartwig and Melissa Hartwig created the Whole30 that has inspired tens of thousands of people to follow their plan and change their life. I’m one of those people. I talk more about how my life changed as a result in the Note. Big Ideas we explore include +1 or -1 bite by bite, the experiment of ONE, the four tests of Good Food, are grains necessary? and your personal health equation.
Joe De Sena is the founder of the Spartan Race. He’s also, as Angela Duckworth, author of Grit, tells us: “a paragon of grit” who “shows you how you’re capable of so much more than you think.” A paragon of grit. That’s the perfect description. After inspiring us with stories of real-life heroes and ancient Spartan lore, De Sena walks us through the seven pillars of Spartan training + a 30-day plan to get Spartan Fit. Big Ideas we explore include getting to the starting line, developing obstacle immunity, making thousands of small decisions and your gritty oath.
Michael Pollan is one of the world’s leading thinkers on nutrition. Time magazine voted him one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He’s also a Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley. One of the things I most love about him and his work is that, as a journalist, he takes a much wider, more objective view of the nutritional landscape—which can often be dominated by (and muddled by) individuals with *very* strong, dogmatic, inflexible ideologies. Big Ideas we explore: Nutritionism (vs. food), the big experiment (that failed), the Aborigine in all of us, the 5 fundamental transformations of industrializing food and Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puff and Trix cereals as health foods as per the American Heart Association. (<— Can you believe that? Crazy. And true.)
What if happiness began at the end of your fork? The latest research on neuroscience and nutrition tells us that’s a VERY wise place to start. And, of course, that’s what this book is all about: A Nutritional Prescription for a Sharp Brain, Balanced Mood, and Lean, Energized Body. It’s a really well-written, eye-opening look at how we got into the nutritional mess we’re in and the extremely damaging effects of the modern American diet. And, of course, more importantly, how we can optimize our nutrition so we can dial in the three facets of happiness: our focus, our mood, and our energy.