Book Review – Stumbling on Happiness

Did I stumble on happiness after reading the book?

The author mentions in the beginning of the book that this book is not a guide for how to be more happy in life. But when I am writing a review of this book after a year, I can tell you that all other books on happiness tell you what to do and what not to do. This is the only book which talks about how brain works when it comes to happiness. You cannot find clearly laid out guidelines in the book on happiness but if you can connect the message to your own life, you will get insights which can change your life.
 
After reading this book, I started mood tracker and wrote my diary as and when I felt an emotion. Because the way I look at my emotion after a certain time lag distorts my view of it. I also started sticking to the same variety but changing the gap between two times I do the same task to increase my joy. Because, variety decreases the happiness levels when time difference is a lot. When you read the book, you will find your own ways to increase happiness in your life.


A few nuggets from the book:

 
Experience stretching hypothesis
 
Once we have experience we can’t exclude them and look at the world.People are wrong when they talk about the past because they are viewing it based on present experience but based on past experience they were correct then.
 
An experience which once caused pleasure no longer does.We become outsiders to our own experiences
What are you feeling inside?
 
People don’t know what they are feeling inside. They can be mistaken about what they feel inside. This happens because most critical functions of brain were designed first and later the other parts were added. Brain first reacts and then thinks about what the object is


Why do you choose the wrong future?
 
We choose the wrong future because we imagine out of nothing.Brain does not store the entire experience in detail. It just stores the emotion related to that. The act of remembering just fills the details. You can try this by reading a set of words and try recalling them. You will realise that you just remember the theme. Because brain remembers the gist of the words and not just the words. Blind spot in eye makes the brain create a scene based on what it sees around the blind spot. Brain creates an image out of its imagination and not just what is actually there. So when we imagine a future,it happens in the blind spot of eye.


Why you should not do grocery shopping on a full stomach or empty stomach?


When you go with a full stomach, brain tricks you that you have enough now and makes your requirement to be less. This is called as prefeeling.It stimulates the event before hand and makes you predict the future. But prefeeling can’t be trusted because brain has reality first policy. We can’t feel hunger while we feel full.


You will discover more such interesting stories in the book.
Happy stumbling on Happiness!

Book Review – The Happiness Project

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The book, as the name suggests, was a project took up by Gretchen Rubin, the author, to increase happiness in her life. I came across this book because even I was working on a similar project in my life and I wanted all possible guidance. I started this book almost a year ago but it took me a lot of time to complete because it was more like a guide than a read it over night book.


A lot of people asked me if I was depressed when I told them about the books I was reading and the courses I was doing on happiness. As the author rightly states, “Opposite of happiness is unhappiness and not depression”. You can be happy in life but there is still a lot of scope to improve your happiness. That was what author’s aim was too.


Person’s basic level of happiness doesn’t fluctuate much. But some people are more naturally melancholic. It depends on Genetics 50%, Life circumstances 20-10% and remaining is actions.


The author divided her project into 12 parts. A few goals for each month. All through the journey, there were times she could not keep with her goals. But she was not too hard on herself because that ruins the happiness.


At the end of 12 months, a lot of people questioned her if her happiness project was a success. She simply replied that “ I feel happier. Feeling happier itself means that I am happier”. Even though she did not measure her happiness using a mood tracker, she was happier. Her changed habits made her home more happy. This book is a perfect example of how big things can be achieved by changing a few small things in life.


I liked the book because I was similar to the author in a few things. I understood what were the things I needed to change to feel more happy. Before I came to a few chapters, I had already been doing what the author suggested. I felt confident that I was working on the right projects.


Action points


  • Books
    • Wise blood
    • The Happiness Hypothesis
    • Plan B
    • biographies of Tolstoy
    • Lesley Lewis’s The Private Life
    • William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair,
    • Charlotte Yonge’s The Heir of Redclyffe
    • Laura Ingalls Wilder
    • Power Money Fame Sex
    • Profane Waste
    • Dalai Lama’s The Art of Happines
  • My true rules – I have written a draft version of it. But it will require some iterations to get the right version of it.
  • Food tracker: I tried it for a month previously. I will want to do it from today again.
  • Write a novel in a month: It is tough. And I am not a good writer. But I want to try it with 500 words a day next month.
  • Remove clutter: You can take guidance from this article and remove clutter from your life


If you want to know that everyone is imperfect and can still be happy and improve the amount of happiness too, then this book is for you. You will be able to relate to a lot of areas in your life. Your happiness project might be totally different but the book definitely tickles your creativity mind.


Happy working on your happiness project!

Book review – The gifts of Imperfection

By Brene Brown
We are all imperfect. We cover those imperfections and struggle towards being perfect everyday.
 
“ I need to look beautiful to feel loved”
“ I should be a billionaire to be worthy of love”
 
Whatever might be your version of that statement, you struggle with this. You are under the assumption that you need to be someone to be loved. The author calls this emotion as shame. Yeah! Even I was shocked to know that aiming for perfection and not loving what you already are is shame.


The author talks about whole- hearted living. She talks about why we should not be too hard on ourselves and how we can love ourselves for we are already.


After a long time, this was a book which kept me up at night. I was so surprised and intrigued for what was to come in the next chapters of the book. It helped me understand myself a little better. It showed me the path I needed to walk on. I don’t know the right adjectives to describe what I felt the night I could not go back to sleep.


I don’t know if the book actually talks about imperfections. But the book definitely gives you the definitions of a few emotions and reactions which you deal with daily but could never define the,m. The obscurity which was in my mind which I could not put down in words, have been defined by her.


A few favourite quotes:

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through the process is the bravest thing we will ever do.”
“It is tough to see a pattern and then unsee it.Humans are meaning making species.”
“Asking for what you need is one of the bravest things you will ever do.”
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
“The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.”
“Make a list of the work that inspires you. Don’t be practical. Don’t think about making a living; think about doing something you love.”

Action Points:

 
As I discussed in my 30-day challenge of reading books, for every book I create an action list. Here is mine:
 
– Do some form of art daily
– Down time
– Dance daily for 5 minutes
– Sing a song
– Find a list of videos which can make me laugh
– Learn more about grounded theory
– Visit the website www.brenebrown.com

Books to read:

 
The following are a few books mentioned in this book which might interest you if you like this book.
 
-Play- How it shapes the brain, opens imagination and invigorates the soul
-Daniel pink – a whole new mind
-One person / multiple careers : new model for work life success
You can get the Print Copy here
Happy reading!



12 Books which made me a better person

Books leave an imprint on our lives. When you don’t have direct access to mentors, they take up that role and do a wonderful job. The following books have been a mentor for me:
 
1) Thinking fast and slow:

By Daniel Kahneman

It exposes you to all the cognitive biases. Even though you think you are right about a decision, you don’t realise that it is the cognitive bias which is making you go for it. You end up spending more when you swipe credit card than in cash. You tend to buy an item on discount because of anchoring effect. You don’t stop investing even if you are losing because of sunken cost fallacy. And there are many more biases which you are not aware of.

2)Last lecture:


This is one such book which I did not want it to end. I liked the amazing attitude of the author and the life lessons he has written. If you are not as awesome as he is, you will learn from him. If you are already awesome, you will love yourself more.

3)Never split the difference:


If not for this book, I would have never understood that I was about to fall into a negotiation trap. You might also save yourself from a trap some time in the future if you understand the basics of negotiation.

4)Art of learning:


College is not just meant to mug up the subject and present it during tests. Learning should be deep and ever lasting. Josh Waitzkin writes about what learning is all about through his stories on learning chess. It made me feel nostalgic.

5)How to win friends and influence people:


It is never late to start making friends. I read this book in the first year of my college. It helped a lot in socializing.

6)Grit:


You are in the eternal conflict of pursuing things you are good at versus passion. This book gives you clarity on what really matters in the long term.

7)The one thing:


There might be 100 things you want to do in life. This book tells you that one thing if done in right way can become a substitute for the remaining 99.
8)13 things mentally strong people don’t do:


You might be the smartest person in your circle, but if you are not mentally strong. you will not be able to reap the benefits of your smartness.

9)Power of habit:


You are a product of your habits. This book tells you the science behind breaking and making a habit.

10)The art of thinking clearly:


In our daily decisions, we make a lot of cognitive mistakes. This book tells you which ones to avoid and which ones to stick with.

11)Reawaken the giant within:


This book makes you think about your values and how you can use them to live life to the fullest.

12)Fountain Head by Ayn Rand:
It gave me a totally different perspective about life. This book will make you think about yourself and ponder on life. Even though Ayn Rand is difficult to read, it is worth the efforts.
 
Happy reading!

Book Review: 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do

Image result for 13 things mentally strong people dont do

Author: Amy Morin

It is one of the most useful books I ever read. I get a few questions on Quora on how to become mentally strong. But I never had clarity on it. I did not know what constitutes mental strength. When I observed people, I found a few kids who are mentally strong already and I noticed adults who have struggled all their life but are still mentally weak. So I knew somewhere that it had to do with attitude of adults towards their lives but that theory did not fit in when it came to kids. This book gave me clarity that mental strength comes naturally to a few and others can learn it too.

The author was not naturally blessed with mental strength. She had been hit by life over and again. That is when she learnt how to be mentally strong. If she could do it, it gave me confidence that I can do it too.

Before starting off with the 13 things to avoid, she mentions the common myths people have about mental strength. I cleared the misconceptions I had about mental strength.

Each chapter is structured in a perfect way to drive the point home. It starts with an example to set context. Then you find a list of characteristics of the person who possesses that bad habit. And then through examples, she explains why they are bad. Finally, she summarizes the solutions. If you think you don’t have enough time, just identify the bad habits with the help of first list and correct them using the concluding list of each chapter of the book.


13 things mentally strong people don’t do:

1.       They don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves
2.      They don’t give away their power
3.      They don’t shy away from change
4.      They don’t focus on things they can’t control
5.      They don’t worry about pleasing everyone
6.      They don’t fear taking calculated risks
7.      They don’t dwell on the past
8.     They don’t make the same mistakes over and over
9.      They don’t resent other people’s success
10.  They don’t give up after the first failure
11.   They don’t fear alone time
12.  They don’t feel the world owes them anything
13.  They don’t expect immediate results

How to use this book?


You can give it a reading to understand what mental strength is all about. I had the misconception that mental strength was a rocket science and it is not possible for everyone to achieve the same. If you also have any such wrong notions, you will get clarity. At the start of each chapter, there is a list of characteristics mentioned to know if you are doing those mistakes. During the first reading itself, you can tick the bad habits you possess. After assessing yourself on the 13 habits, look at the one where you have maximum score. That is the habit you are going to target first. Now re-read that chapter and make a list of things which you can implement to be stronger. Follow those steps religiously for a month. There you are one step closer to being mentally strong. Do the same exercise for the remaining 12 habits too. In 13 months, you are mentally stronger than what you were before. In case you find yourself relapsing, repeat the exercise till it becomes a natural thing for you.

Happy becoming mentally stronger!

Book Review: The one thing

Image result for one thing book 
Author: Gary Keller, Jay Papasan
‘The one thing’ is the one book you read to know all that is required to be successful. When I saw the chapters I thought it was going to be just another book with the same old stuff. The content is same. Not denying it. But every page in the book is meant to motivate the reader. The chapters are in perfect order to set the context. There are a few perfect examples to etch the concept in readers minds. And there are also exercises for you to think about your one thing. Overall, it was interesting. I didn’t feel like putting down the book at all.
 
The book starts with this wonderful quote:

“If you chase two rabbits you will not catch even one.”

And each chapter starts with a quote. 
 
Some of my favourites:

“Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one till you get there.”

“Success demands singleness of purpose.”

And there are many more in the book.
 
To make it easy for the readers, the book has been classified into 3 parts. He tells you the lies which derail you. The truth which helps you get back to focus. Finally, the extraordinary results which are got by ditching the lies and embracing the truth.
Summary
Ch1: The one thing
 
If you have 10 things to fix, think about the one thing which is going to make everything else easy. Go to the smallest thing.
 
Ch2:Domino effect 
 
Success builds on one thing at a time. Prioritize things for the day. And the one thing is going to get dominoes started.
 
Ch3: Success leaves clues
 
He gives a lot of examples to show how people or organizations who followed one thing were successful. Identify your one thing. If you don’t know the one thing, that itself is the one thing you need to do. No one is self made. Passion and skill can be made into one.
 
Part 1: Lies : They mislead and derail us
 
Ch 4: Everything Matters Equally

  • ·        Activity doesn’t mean productivity.
  • ·        The things which are important don’t always shout the loudest
  • ·        The dark side of to-do lists are the trivial things which catch our    attention. There is no sequence in general.
  • ·        Success lists help you build the stones for your success
  • ·        A to-do list becomes success list only when you prioritize it
  • ·        Thing big, go small

Ch 5: Multitasking
 
          Multitasking is about screwing up more than one activity at a time.
 
Ch 6: Discipline
  • ·        Success is about doing the right thing and not everything right
  • ·        You can’t be disciplined in everything. Just select the one which matters      for you and make habits around it
  • ·        Hard stuff becomes habit and habit makes the hard stuff easy
  • ·        On an average it takes 66 days to make a habit
  • ·        Selective discipline is what is required
  • ·        Build one habit at a time, habits are sequential not simultaneous
Ch 7: Will power
 
  • ·        Will power is not on will call
  • ·        It’s a limited renewable resource
  • ·        Food for thought- complex carbs and protein
  • ·        Taxes on will power
  • ·        Time your task

Ch 8:A balanced life
  • ·        Unattainable pipe dream
  • ·        Purpose, significance and meaning make life successful
  • ·        Magic never happens in the middle. Magic happens at the extremes
  • ·        Counter balancing done well gives illusion of balance

Ch 9: Big is bad
 
We are kept from our goal not because of obstacles but a clear path to less important goal
 
Part 2: The truth –Simple path to productivity
Be careful how you interpret the world. It is like that.
 
Ch 10: Focusing question
  • ·       What is the one thing I can do
  • ·        Such that by doing it
  • ·        Everything will be easy or unnecessary

Ch 11: The success habit
      
     Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time.
 
Ch 12:The path to great answers
Image result for great question matrix
Part 3: Extraordinary results- Unlocking the possibilities within you
 
Ch 13: Live with purpose
 
Life isn’t about finding yourself it is about creating yourself.
 
Ch 14: Live by priority
 
·        Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now
·        Live with purpose then you know where to go
·        Live by priority you know what to do to get there
·        Hyperbolic discounting
·        Lining up your dominoes – goal setting to the now
 
Ch 15: Live for productivity
 
·        Block your calendar first for vacations and then for one thing
·        Protect your time block
 
Ch 16: The three commitments
·        Nobody whoever gave his best regretted it
·        The commitments
1.      Seek mastery
2.    Seek best ways of doing it
3.    Willing to be held accountable
 
Ch 17: The four thieves
 
·        Focus is a matter of what things you are not going to do
·        The four thieves are
1.      Inability to Say “No”
2.    Fear of Chaos
3.    Poor Health Habits
4.    Environment Doesn’t Support Your Goals
·        Don’t be a victim of your circumstances
 
Ch 18: The journey
 
·        Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go
·        There are two wolves inside you – the one you feed is what grows
Ch 19: Putting the one thing to work
 
       Start thinking about the one thing which helps you in different aspects of life. 
 
    
    Happy discovering your one thing !
 

Book Review: The Last Lecture

Image result for last lecture
Randy Pausch wrote this book based on the last lecture he delivered in Carnegie Melon University. I don’t want to identify him with his profession but with the life he lived. There are many others who had lived a life like him but he left a book for us to learn a lot from how he lived. The author talks about head fakes in the book. He said that last lecture was a head fake and the book was actually meant for his children. His children might have already been brought up that way. And I am sure they don’t need a book to know it all. The head fake for me was he was being a mentor and personal coach for a lot of people even after his death. The book was not a self-help book where there are pointers on how to live life. It was about how he lived a beautiful life and why it is possible for others too. I felt so connected to it that I had goose bumps while reading a few sentences. I wish I knew a person like him in real life.
Even if some of the lessons mentioned in the book are clichés, they are useful ones written in an interesting way.

Childhood:

Randy Pausch said that he won the parent lottery. Their family hardly went for movies or dinner. Instead, he was asked to watch TV or better pick a book from library. I could instantly relate to it and till this day I don’t understand the happiness of going out for movies or dinner.

Offering advice:

Once a friend was giving me feedback on the mistakes I made but I was not paying proper attention. He said that when I read the same from a book, I come back and tell him that whatever he said was true. Randy has mentioned the same.

If you offer wisdom from third party it seems less arrogant

Being in a powerful position:

Most of us crave for an upper hand. Once we get that we forget from we came and exploit the present situation to our needs which is against ethics.
Randy says

If you had strength in any position you have to play fair

Parents and kids:

Kids need to know that their parents love them. Parents need not be alive for that. He had done whatever he could for his kids to feel his love after he was gone.
His parents allowed him to paint his room with symbols which were close to him.Allow your children to unleash their creativity. Children have their own dreams. It is okay to let your children stay awake past their bed times.
Rules he had with his nephew and niece:
  • No whining
  • Don’t tell mom

Learning a sport:


He says that

We should send our kids to learn some sport – because it teaches perseverance, team work, sportsmanship, value of hard-work, ability to deal with adversity.

My parents used to say the same. They sent me for summer camps not out of the expectations that I will be learning a new skill there. They just wanted me to learn how to mingle with people and work with them.

Dreams:

  • Balance in life between aspiration and pragmatism.
  • Money spent on going to moon helps in making scientists dream big. You are inspiring even poor people to dream big.
  • If you want something bad enough, never give up on it
  • Brick walls are there for a reason: they show us how badly we want something

Apologizing: 

Many times when we apologize, it will make us look like an emotional slave or it might even turn out that we are asking for an apology in return. According to him,
Proper apologies have 3 parts:
1.      What I did was wrong
2.    I feel badly that I hurt you
3.    How do I make this better

Self-esteem : 


These days parents are so protective of their children. He has a very important advice for such parents. He says

Self esteem can’t be given, it is something you have to build.Give them something they can’t do, they work hard for it and earn it. 

Tough love:

A Dutch uncle is a person who gives you honest feedback. Every one should have such a person in their life.At times, my mentor is hard on me. He initially told me that tough love will make go a long way in life. I sometimes feel bad when he is too harsh with me even though I know it is for my good. Randy says

If someone is not being hard on you, it means they have given up on you

So next time someone is harsh with you, remember that it is out of love.

Team work:

A few nuggets:
  • Have something to bring to the table. It will make you more welcome.
  • Fancy stuff is not going to work without the fundamentals
  • Meet people properly
  • Make sure that you can pronounce their names
  • Find things in common. If there is nothing, weather is an all time common topic.
  • Have optimal meeting conditions
  • Let everyone talk. Don’t cut off people. Don’t talk faster or longer
  • Praise each other
  • Phrase alternatives as questions and not statements
  • Sit with groups and not friends in the classroom.
  • How closely people are standing tells how close they are
  • Team work is very important for the success of the project
  • Rate each other through constructive feedback
  • Optimism is thinking you are at 25 when you are in the bottom quartile

People relations:

People are more important than things.


You can tell a lot about the person just by this statement.

 When we are connected to others we become better people.

Human beings are social beings. Connections only make us better.

Sometimes all you have to do is ask


I found this statement highly useful. I have used it in multiple situations and learnt that how we look at situations changes a lot just by asking instead of assuming.

When you can’t pay back, pay it forward.


I don’t know a way to pay the people who induced wisdom in me. I pay forward by sharing that wisdom with others.

Minimalism

  • You don’t repair things if they still do what they are supposed to do
  • Automobiles are there to get you from point A to point B.
  • You buy new clothes when your old clothes wear out.

Time and Productivity:

  • Time is more valuable than money
  • Time is all what you have. And you may find one day that you have less than what you think
  • File everything in alphabetical order
  • Delegate tasks
  • Keep phone calls short

Teaching: 


A professor’s job is teach students how to see their minds growing like how they can notice their muscles growing.

Success and failure

  • Luck is indeed when preparation meets opportunity
  • It’s how hard you get hit and keep moving forward
  • Experience is what we get when we don’t get what we wanted
  • First penguin is the one who knows how to fail galoriously
  • Failures know how to not fail again.Successful people don’t know the pitfalls.

A few more interesting lessons:

  • Treat the disease and not the symptoms. 
  • Stop thinking about what others think of you.It makes you 33% more effective.
  • When it comes to men who are romantically interested in you, just look at their actions and not on what they say.
  • Find unique ways to get things done
  • Always carry sufficient amount of money
  • Be over prepared
  • Be an optimist but think of worst case scenario too
  • Your patience will be both appreciated and rewarded
  • You can’t get away with lies
  • Institutions should and can have a heart
  • If you find your footing in two worlds you can have best of both
  • Rights and responsibities go hand in hand
In short, it is a book to be read over and again, till we internalize the lessons. It is a great feeling to live to the fullest. It proves again that it is not always the length of the life but quality of life which matters.
Happy Reading!