Category Archives for "Books"

How to Win Friends and Influence People

by Dale Carnegie

When I was in the ninth grade, I ran for student council and was desperate to win. I had an ulterior motive: I wanted to be as popular in school as my older brother Dennis, because I thought that was why he was my father’s favorite.

As the saying goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” I came upon Carnegie’s book and one of the principles that changed my young life—Principle 3: “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

I memorized the names of all my classmates and began to call them each by name whenever we met in the hallway, in class, or outside school. It worked! I was elected a student council member!

More important, I realized that people’s names are indeed music to their ears—and that you can learn success strategies from books! The latter discovery is responsible for all that I have become or will become.

Many years later, I continue to use this wonderful book as a reference tool. First published in 1936, it remains one of the best books on human relations ever written.

Favorite insight from the book: Always make the other person feel important.

Available at Amazon

The Art of Selfishness

by David Seabury

I bought this book at a garage sale. It was the best 10 cents I ever spent!

Seabury argues that acts of so-called “selflessness” have caused us more suffering over the ages than anything else we do. To counter this, he urges adoption of two principles:

  • The Basic Law of Being Is To Never Compromise Yourself
    Compromising your own fundamental nature and needs to meet the perceived desires of others leads to all sorts of negative consequences. In particular, to do something solely out of a sense of obligation can make you resentful. The best way to “do” for others is in the spirit of joy and with a genuine desire to reach out. This concept is very difficult to grasp, because we’ve been taught that it’s noble to be selfless.
  • The Magic Formula of Human Relations Is To Avoid Feeding Your Ego
    Because we all want to look good and be admired, we sometimes feed our egos by doing things for others that they neither need nor want. The implicit message is that we are strong and good and the person whom we “help” is weak. Who wouldn’t resent receiving our favors when we extend them in such a way?

If you are a “giver,” this is the book to read. It will make you take a long, hard look at yourself and your motives, but once you understand these, you may well feel liberated.

Favorite insight from the book: “Someday we shall learn the part unselfishness plays in hindering us: unselfishness as advocated in our time. We shall see its relation to the flood of mental breakdowns, trace its influence in divorce. We shall know how it drives men to crime and find it a cause of suicide. At their worst, greed and envy have not wrought such havoc.”

Available at Amazon

Learned Optimism – How to Change Your Mind and Your Life

by Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D.

Until I read this book, what I knew about optimists and pessimists was pretty much encapsulated in such jokes as: “An optimist is a 90-year-old who marries and looks for a house near a school.”

Don’t let the title of this book fool you: it’s not “rah-rah” for positive thinking. Seligman paints a balanced picture based on years of research and does not encourage optimism when your circumstances demand pessimism. Nonetheless, his professional study of helplessness and ways to enlarge personal control leads him to argue strongly for the overall benefits of optimism.

Because I focus on fostering happiness in the workplace, I particularly enjoyed the chapter “Success at Work.” In it are real-world examples of the usefulness of both optimism and pessimism on the job. You could argue, for example, that the top executives at Enron were much too optimistic for their own good, not to mention that of their employees and stockholders! On the other hand, who wants to work for a doomsayer boss?

Favorite insight from the book: The genius of evolution lies in the dynamic way that optimism and pessimism constantly correct each other.

Available at Amazon

Change Your Brain, Change Your Life – The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Anger, and Impulsiveness

by Daniel G. Amen, M.D.

My daughter’s ADD therapist recommended this book to me, and I have found it a gold mine of tips and techniques for handling many of life’s larger obstacles. If you or someone you know suffers anxiety, depression, obsession, anger, or impulsivity, this book provides solid tools for soothing the pain.

Some of Dr. Amen’s best recommendations are:

  • Kill The ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts)
  • Focus On What You Like A Lot More Than What You Don’t Like
  • Learn To Deal With Conflict

Favorite insight from the book: Focusing on the negative aspects of others or of your own life makes you more vulnerable to depression and can damage your relationships.

Available at Amazon