Most Meaningful & Useful Books of 2015

In no particular order, the books that have been the biggest part of my work and interest in the last year include

The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal

She includes science that proves that your beliefs about stress have a direct impact on how stress impacts your life and health.  See her great TEDtalk here.

Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone & Sheila Heed

They were the authors of Difficult Conversations, a bestseller that I read in my master’s program about how to engage in healthier conflict.  The distinctions between triggers and different forms of feedback are helpful for building self-awareness and social awareness.  The triggers identified include truth, relationship and identity triggers, and different forms of feedback include appreciation, coaching and evaluation.  The following slide share gives a great overview.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert  

The best part of this book is where she talks about passion and our overblown cultural invitation to find your “passion” that can create inertia for some.  She encourages what I have consistently encouraged instead—follow your curiosity and let it inspire you to places that are resonant. See her Ted Talk here.

Rising Strong by Brene Brown

My favorite part of Brene Brown’s latest book is the overview she included of her two other bestsellers, The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly.  Her work continues to resonate and no matter how many times I watch her “most viewed” TEDtalk on vulnerability, it still evokes that emotion about whether “I am enough.”  She is a gifted storyteller with a Texan drawl that makes it sassy and fun to read and/or listen to.  If you haven’t already viewed it, this one is a must see. 

Before Happiness by Shawn Achor

This one was published in 2013 and is one that I re-listened to recently and discovered some new insights.  The five strategies Achor suggests that will get you to “positive genius” include:

  • Choose the most valuable reality
  • Map paths to success by connecting to your meaning markers
  • Create boost with success accelerants--this is about making your goal seem closer
  • Cancel the noise—usually this is the internal noise of our limiting beliefs or fears
  • Positive inception—communicate your positive visions and viewpoints to get support

Achor’s TEDtalk is also one of the most viewed and one of my personal favorites because he is fun and funny.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Another one that I reread this year as I work on myself and with my clients to create and maintain healthy, vital habits and to rid myself of self-defeating behaviors.  One of the compelling messages in the book is that 40% of our actions are not based on decisions.  They are habits that happen automatically.  He offers the science that show how and why habits are created and techniques for building proactive behaviors.

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Gawande looks at how the medical system treats the “problems” in healthcare as people face their own mortality, and misses some of the emotional/relational human elements.  It may help you consider conversations that you want to have with your loved ones.  He also has a TEDtalk here.