Books to Inspire You for a Productive, Happy 2018

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It's reading season!

Holidays and books make the perfect pair. Travel to the very northern reaches of our planet and you'll enjoy Jólabókaflóðið - the Icelandic 'book flood' of Christmas. Books are a traditional Christmas gift to be enjoyed snuggled under blankets or by the fire while it's dark and icy outside.

Contrast this with Australian summer reading.  We're stretched out on towels by the ocean or pool, adorned with sunscreen and sunglasses, a cold drink by our side and a book in our hands. 

I love summer reading. It's one of the few periods of the year that slows down enough for me to pick up a book. These holidays I have an array of novels stacked by my bed but I also have some inspiring and insightful non-fiction to devour in readiness for a big, productive and satisfying 2018!

Already underway are...

The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace by Ron Friedman.

Making workplaces great is a passion of mine and this book by psychologist Ron Friedman is a treasure trove of scientifically-proven techniques to promote smarter thinking, greater innovation, stronger performance and happier workplaces.

Did you know that placing a fish bowl near your desk can elevate your thinking? Or that people seated on hard chairs are less likely to compromise than those on soft seats? I can now pepper my workplace workshops with these fascinating facts and help clients to create productive, thriving workplaces thanks to this book.

Welcome to Your World: How the Built Environment Shapes Our Lives by Sarah Williams Goldhagen.

This one draws from research in cognitive neuroscience and psychology to demonstrate how people’s experiences of the places they build are central to their well-being, their physical health, their communal and social lives, and even their very sense of themselves. It follows on from the theme of The Best Place to Work and is doubly useful to me in my plans for 2018 as I continue to work with a client designing a new workplace while we as a family embark on building a new home!


On my 'Please Someone Buy Me These for Christmas' list...

Culture is Everything by Tristan White.

I've just discovered this book and as workplace culture and how it shapes our behaviour and happiness at work is one of my favourite topics, it has gone straight to the number one spot.

Tristan is the CEO (Chief Enthusiasm Officer) of The Physio Co. He is obsessed with creating an inspiring place to work for himself and others. This has resulted in a decade of learning, testing and refining to create and sustain a thriving company culture. His 19 Steps To Build A Great Place to Work checklist reflects what I know about positive workplaces perfectly so I can't wait to get a hold of the book for further investigation.

Big Potential by Shawn Achor.

I would have read this already except that it's not published until late January 2018. I tried to get a pre-order copy but they couldn't ship to Australia *sad face*.

Shawn Achor is a positive psychologist, New York Times bestseller (The Happiness Advantage) and my all time favourite TED Talker

Big Potential explores why our potential is not limited by what we can achieve on our own. In fact our focus on individual success is deeply flawed, according to Achor. This book draws on his original research as well as his work with executives, educators and leaders around the globe. He contends that when we help those around us succeed, we not only raise the performance of the group, but we also create a virtuous cycle by which we in turn become more successful ourselves. It's all about how we can lift the ceiling on our potential by helping others realise theirs.

Well if that's not my whole purpose in life then I don't know what is. 

Broadcasting Happiness by Michelle Gielan

'Just a few minutes watching negative news in the morning can affect the entire emotional trajectory of your day.' This is the finding of researcher Michelle Gielan.

Gielan is a former CBS news anchor turned positive psychologist. She tired of bad news stories and wanted to understand how broadcasting positive stories - or the same stories in more positive ways - might change the world. 

In Broadcasting Happiness she shares research that shows that small shifts in the way we communicate can create big ripple effects on business and educational outcomes as well as our everyday happiness.

I've heard Michelle interviewed (you can see her speak here) and loved the practical examples she gives about how the words we use when we talk to others makes a huge difference to their - and our own - mindset, self belief, well being and happiness.

The Blue Zone of Happiness by Dan Beuttner

Want to visit the happiest place on Earth? It's not Disneyland.

Denmark, Costa Rica and Singapore all make it to the list of the world's happiest places. In this book, National Geographic Explorer and writer Dan Beuttner introduces us to inspiring individuals born in places around the world that nurture happiness as well as some Americans boosting well-being in their own communities.

These are people who have shaped their lives, one piece at a time, to increase and enhance their happiness. It's not about money, jobs or location. It's about three strands of happiness—joy, purpose, and satisfaction— and how these weave together to create better lives and better communities.

This book is a 'how to' manual. You can use the Blue Zones Happiness Test to pinpoint areas in your life where change could bring more happiness—and then find practical steps to make those changes. You'll also learn the Top 10 ways to create happiness, as revealed by a panel of the world's leading experts convened specifically for this project.

Watch Dan Beuttner's TED Talk: How to live to be 100. It gives you a taste of the book and it's premise - how to live longer, better.

Not By Chance Alone: My Life as a Social Psychologist by Elliot Aronson

I remember snippets of my undergraduate social psychology classes. The topic didn't grab me at 19. I was inexperienced in life and the complexities of social relationships. I didn't appreciate how the mere presence of others can make life better - or worse. Nor did I understand how big an impact our interactions with other people have on our feelings, thoughts, beliefs, intentions and goals.

With twenty years of workplace experience under my belt (not to mention family, friendships and other social groups) I am enthralled by social psych. Understanding human behaviour within a social context explains so much about why we do what we do - for better and worse.

I recently listened to an interview with Elliot Aronson - a legendary social psychologist - on The Psychology Podcast and loved his humour, his wisdom and his take on the world. Part biography and part history of the field of social psych, Not By Change Alone is described as 'a lifelong story of human potential and the power of social change.'

Now that is some poolside reading. 

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