These are the 8 books I've read over the last four months, I hope you enjoy this as much as I've enjoyed reading them and making this for you.
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The Greatest Salesman in the World
by Og Mandino
|I loved this book.
One of the most challenging parts of this book's prescription for success is that they say you should give 50% of your money away. Now, this book was written in 1968, but it's supposed to take place in ancient times right around the life of Jesus Christ. So, I have modified this view to include your tax payments as part of your contributions, since they are supposed to serve the public good.
According to this book's fictional storyline, there are secret scrolls containing ancient wisdom on how to become the best salesperson in the world. They must be entrusted to only 1 worthy person at a time, until they have been passed down 3 times, then they can be shared with the world. The first few chapters are just the story building up to the main character receiving the scrolls. The majority of the chapters thereafter are the affirmation-like content of each scroll. The instructions are to read one scroll in the morning, the afternoon, and once out loud at nighttime each day for 30 days. So, it takes 9 months to read all 10 scrolls, since the first scroll just contains the instructions and does not need to be read more than once.
I have been reading the "scrolls" in this fashion live on my Periscope channel and it has been amazing. It's really helping to change my mindset and make me more confident in the tenets.
Check out my live YouTube review at https://youtu.be/nktnX4xjDpI
The Happiness Advantage
by Shawn Achor
|I loved this book! The author of this book, Shawn Achor, did one of my all-time favorite TED Talks - which contains advice that I still suggest to my live-stream audiences on a near daily basis. The link to that talk is here - https://bit.ly/36wL2cI
In this book, he breaks down the concept of positive psychology into 7 principles:
1) The Happiness Advantage (also the title of the book)
- Contrary to popular belief, happiness comes BEFORE success - not after it! If you aren't happy now, becoming successful is no guarantee that you will be happy then. You must take action NOW to achieve happiness despite your circumstances.
- Find something to look forward to - incentivize yourself with things you like after you get something done that you're tempted to procrastinate - like watching your favorite movie. Once you get the task done (say, exercise), then you're free to enjoy the movie! This is a powerful way to motivate yourself and to stay positive about the future.
- Conscious acts of kindness
- Infuse positivity into your surroundings - set a picture of your loved ones as the background of your phone - put things you love around your workspace to keep your spirits up.
- Spend money! BUT - on experiences, not things. Material, extrinsic things do not bring us happiness even though we think they may.
- The Losada Line - 2.9013:1 - the ratio of influence negative things have on your psyche versus positive things. This means you must consciously increase the amount of positive experiences you have to at least 3:1 in order to keep the scales tipped in the favor of positivity. Your best work results at a ratio of 6:1!
2) The Fulcrum & The Lever
- The power of mindset. He gives an example of a group of 75 year old men who experienced psychological (memory, intelligence) & physiological (eyesight) improvements in their health simply by acting like they were 20 years younger for just one week! Remarkable.
- Realize that "productivity" is not just hard work. Getting good sleep is productive. Spending time with your loved ones is productive. Change the way you think about productivity and results.
- Increase your growth mindset and shrink your fixed mindset (recommended read: Mindset by Carol S. Dweck - https://bit.ly/2XAOyP0)
- Ask yourself "What can I learn?" and "What meaning can I find?" in all situations
- What you think will be. (The future, others' perceptions, strengths, etc) - similar to the concept of the Law of Attraction.
3) The Tetris Effect
- The more you do/practice something, the better you get at it. Your brain will actually "grow" in that area by establishing more neural pathways in the associated area. Do you want to be good at complaining? If not, then stop practicing it.
- 99% of the information we receive is filtered out and ceases to exist to us.
- Every day - write down something good that happened, or something you're grateful for, or compliment someone
4) Falling Up
- Post-traumatic growth - crisis as a catalyst
- Things don't always happen for the best, but we can make the best of what happens.
- Be proud of failures and mistakes because it shows that you weren't afraid to try and fail! Success is built from failures.
- Avoid learned helplessness
- Start viewing yourself as lucky
5) The Zorro Circle Effect
- What's within your circle of control? It might start out tiny, but it will grow.
- Believing you are in control is linked to success (interal locus of control v. external locus)
- The dueling/chimp brain - it's difficult to be rational when you're emotionally hijacked. The best way to combat this is to increase your self-awareness - identify how you feel and put it into words. Verbal information immediately diminishes the negative effects.
- You can't sprint your way to a marathon, be patient and don't rely on instant gratification.
6) The 20 Second Rule
- Availability bias - make good habits easier and more available (putting the treadmill in the living room) and make bad habits harder and less available (don't have junk food in the house). Things that take 20 seconds or more to start immediately decrease our motivation to do them. We tend to take the path of least resistance.
- Common sense is not common action
- We are bundles of habits, as William James discovered long ago.
- Daily effort strengthens your brain in that area.
- Willpower is limited - decrease the number of choices you need to make to get through your day
7) Social Investment
- Your social network is like your offensive line in football. The better they are, the better of a play you can pull off as the quarterback of your life.
- Oxytocin, the bonding hormone, is released even from just a brief connection
- Harvard did a study that proved the most important indicator of longevity is having at least one strong relationship with someone who you believe has your back, and you have theirs - even if you bicker all the live long day.
- Social connections are a major stress reliever! Don't avoid them when you're stressed! (Common mistake is to isolate yourself, which just exacerbates your problems)
- Make time for socializing - or die.
Check out my YouTube review of this at https://youtu.be/DeNpdb6TEoo
Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Wit & Wisdom of Charles T. Munger
by Charles T. Munger & Peter E. Kaufman
This book is humongous! I enjoyed it a lot though. I found Charlie's life and insights quite fascinating and helpful. He followed the footsteps of his father and became a lawyer, but upon meeting Warren Buffett, he rapidly decided to change careers and focus instead on investment management. He is now Buffett's "right-hand man" at Berkshire Hathaway, one of the most successful investing firms of all time.
Layout - first, the book gives a lot of background information about Charlie, his personal life, and how he and Buffett came to work together. The last half or so is a compilation of 11 talks he's given over the years with his personal notes following each one. I especially love the recommended reading list at the end of the book - I love when authors/editors include those at the end. It's really well put together.
One of the biggest take-aways I gained from it was to always use a multi-displinary approach to problem solving and decision making. Don't just apply one line of thought or field of expertise to any one thing. How do other concepts affect it? I really like his summation of the important cognitive biases (he calls them tendencies) of psychology. He encourages economists to incorporate more psychological teachings into their work. He's never taken a course in psychology, but through self-education, he's learned highly valuable information - and integrated it in an extremely useful, practical checklist format. He's a big fan of checklists - mental and physical. This is an area I could use improvement in.
For a more concise description of the cognitive biases and the way they affect investing as laid out by Munger, I recommend "The Complete Investor." It's a short book that focuses almost exclusively on that subject - which isn't in this whopper of a book until the last 40 pages or so (talk #11)
I now look forward to reading "The Snowball" about Warren Buffet even more! I'm already reading "The Intelligent Investor" by Benjamin Graham - the father of value investing - and loving it!
Check out my live YouTube review at https://youtu.be/3vieD41Eu2Q
by Jane Nelsen, Ed.D.
|This book contains a lot of lists that are jam-packed with information. Brace yourselves, parents!
The Significant 7 Perceptions & Skills (that we want to help our kids to develop)
1) Strong perceptions of personal capabilities - "I am capable."
2) Strong perceptions of significance in primary relationships - "I contribute in meaningful ways and I am genuinely needed."
3) Strong perceptions of personal power or influence over life - "I can influence what happens to me."
4) Strong intrapersonal skills: the ability to understand personal emotions and to use that understanding to develop self-discipline and self-control.
5) Strong interpersonal skills: the ability to work with others and develop friendships through communicating, cooperating, negotiating, sharing, empathizing, and listening.
6) Strong systemic skills: - the ability to respond to the limits and consequences of everyday life with responsibility, adaptability, flexibility, and integrity.
7) Strong judgmental skills: the ability to use wisdom and to evaluate situations according to appropriate values.
The 4 R's of Punishment (Blame, shame, and pain):
1) Resentment - "This is unfair. I can't trust adults."
2) Revenge - "They are winning now, but I'll get even."
3) Rebellion - "I'll do just the opposite to prove I don't have to do it their way."
a) Sneakiness - "I won't get caught next time."
b) Reduced self-esteem - "I am a bad person."
The 4 Criteria for Effective Discipline:
1) Is it kind and firm at the same time? (Respectful and encouraging)
2) Does it help children feel a sense of belonging and significance? (Connection)
3) Is it effective long-term? (Punishment works in the short term, but has negative long-term results.)
4) Does it teach valuable social and life skills for good character? (Respect, concern for others, problem solving, accountability, contribution, cooperation)
4 Steps for Winning Cooperation:
1) Express understanding for the child's feelings. Be sure to check with them to see if you're right.
2) Show empathy without condoning. Empathy does not mean you agree or condone. It simply means that you understand the child's perception. A nice touch here is to share times when you have felt or behaved similarly.
3) Share your feelings and perceptions. If the first two steps have been done in a sincere and friendly manner, the child will be ready to listen to you.
4) Invite the child to focus on a solution. Ask if they have any ideas on what to do in the future to avoid the problem. If they don't, offer some suggestions until you can reach an agreement.
Basic Adlerian Concepts (Alfred Adler, psychologist):
1) Children are social beings
2) Behavior is goal oriented
3) A child's primary goal is to belong and to feel significant
4) A misbehaving child is a discouraged child
5) Social responsibility or community feeling
7) Mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn
3 R's of Recovery from Mistakes:
1) Recognize - "Wow, I made a mistake."
2) Reconcile - "I'm sorry."
3) Resolve - "Let's work on a solution together."
3 R's and an H for Focusing on Solutions:
4 Mistaken Beliefs/Goals of Behavior (of children):
1) Undue attention - I belong only when I have your attention.
2) Misguided power - I belong only when I'm the boss, or at least when I don't let you boss me.
3) Revenge - I don't belong, but at least I can hurt back.
4) Assumed Inadequacy - It is impossible to belong. I give up.
4 Lifestyle Priorities (of parents):
1) Comfort - Seeks comfort, takes the easiest way
2) Control - Seeks to control self/others/situations
3) Pleasing - Seeks to please others
4) Superiority - Seeks to do more, be better than others, be right, etc.
Rather than make demands all the time, try to ask curiosity questions and remain calm.
Positive time outs - explain to your children that we ALL need to take a time out sometimes to calm down and change up our energy. They should be able to read a book, listen to music, play with toys, etc so that when they come out of their "chill zone" (or whatever you/they want to call it) Sometimes, YOU can take the time out - go into your "chill zone" and only come back when you've calmed down and feel ready to solve the problem helpfully.
My single favorite take-away from this book is having regular family meetings (about 1/week). As problems arise throughout the week, offer the child to put the problem on the agenda for the next family meeting. By the time the meeting comes around, everyone has likely calmed down and can best solve the problem together.
Family Meeting Process:
First, each person goes around the table giving at least one compliment to each person present.
-You can also practice gratitude instead of compliments - or alternate the two.
Then, you go down the agenda, tackling each problem one at a time.
-Whoever puts the problem on the agenda also puts their name next to the problem so they can explain why it's a problem for them. You can also ask "Why might this be a problem?" to help children with taking others' perspectives (a skill which typically begins to develop around age 7-8).
Then, everyone brainstorms potential solutions to the problem.
-Allow the children to come up with most of the solutions, because they'll take more ownership of it.
Then, the best solution is chosen, typically by consensus, but in some cases it may just be the one person in charge of solving the problem.
-At the next family meeting, if the problem has been resolved, it can be crossed off from the list.
-If not, it remains on the list until the next meeting, with maybe another brainstorming session and choosing a different solution from the list.
-I personally like to allow the person who solved the problem to cross it off the agenda, so they can feel that sense of accomplishment and dopamine release.
-Problem solving is connected to the prefrontal cortex, the slowest developing part of the brain. It's not usually fully developed until the mid-to-late 20s, so be patient with your children as they practice this!
Finally, plan something fun to do together as a family in the upcoming week.
The only reason I didn't give this book a full 5 stars is because it has so much information and no super easy way to remember it all. There are multiple lists of different concepts, so the practical application of it becomes somewhat limited. If the most important concepts were summarized into some type of acronym, I think that would have earned it the full 5 star rating. It was an excellent book, I learned a ton from it, and I immediately started implementing a lot of the practices with great success.
I like that the book has a review at the end of each chapter along with questions to solidify your knowledge and understanding.
Check out my live book review on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JukB6oTYbT4
Mindset: The Psychology of Success
by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.
|This book has the potential to change lives. In it, she discusses the concepts of fixed mindsets v. growth mindsets. The reality is that we all have both mindsets, especially in different subjects that we think of. Perhaps you have a growth mindset with learning an instrument and you know that when you're first starting out you won't be very good, but if you stay diligent with learning and practicing, that you will improve. Maybe you have a fixed mindset when it comes to intelligence, believing that people are either smart or they're not and there is nothing anyone could do to significantly improve their IQ.
I challenge you to explore your mindset, practicing high levels of awareness and analysis of your thoughts - where can you flip the switch from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset and how can you stop yourself when you start to go down the fixed mindset path? One idea she shares in this book is to give your fixed mindset a name - say, Gertrude. Whenever Gertrude starts going off on how it's hopeless and things will never change and what has always been will always be, you can gently acknowledge that you understand she's trying to help and protect you, but that you'd appreciate it if she'd come along with you on an adventure to explore some different possibilities. Nothing is permanent. Expand your mind (and Gertrude's, too!)
Check out my live YouTube review at https://youtu.be/S11zwhPXfFE
Trump: The Art of the Deal
by Donald J. Trump with Tony Schwartz
|This book was an interesting read, but the reaction to the fact that I read it was even more interesting to me. Donald Trump has become such an amazingly divisive name. As I was doing my live stream review of this (check it out on YouTube at https://youtu.be/o3brIUdXv_0 ), some people were so upset that I had even so much as read a book about this man (and not hated it), and others were so proud of me. It's just a book. I had gotten asked enough times if I'd read this book by our President (long before he was the president - this book is from the 80's) that I decided I needed to read it just so I could have some kind of opinion on it.
The book is almost entirely anecdotal - it starts with a step-by-step breakdown of the business activities he engaged in for a week, and ends with the results of that same week of tasks. It was fun to think about the world before the Internet when everything was done over the phone or face to face - such a different world than we have today. Almost every chapter is a project that he worked on and how he pulled it off. It wasn't really written as a "how-to" book, only one chapter actually defines the 11 elements of the deal:
- Think big
- Protect the downside and the upside will take care of itself
- Maximize your options
- Know your market
- Use your leverage
- Enhance your location
- Get the word out
- Fight back
- Deliver the goods
- Contain the costs
- Have fun
He even says he's not sure other people will have the same level of success by doing the same things, because he simply loves to do what he does. You can't really teach people to love what they do - it's something you have or you don't. The key lesson there is to find something you love to do!
Two takeaways that stood out for me, personally, was to
1) Give your best customers "special treatment" and
2) Never appear desperate, even if you feel that way.
Make Your Bed
by Admiral William H. McRaven
|This was a nice, short book about simple things that can have a big impact on your life and the world around you. Anyone with an interest in the military will enjoy this even more, as most of the concepts are demonstrated to have served the author well when he served as a Navy SEAL. Each chapter is one concept and they are as follows:
- Start your day with a task completed (by making your bed)
- You can't go it alone (it's okay to ask for help, we all need it)
- Only the size of your heart matters (not your height, or weight, or anything else!)
- Life's not fair - drive on! (be fair, but don't expect life to)
- Failure can make you stronger (what doesn't kill you...)
- You must dare greatly (get out of your comfort zone, no regrets)
- Stand up to the bullies (don't be afraid)
- Rise to the occasion (always do your best)
- Give people hope (be inspirational)
- Never, ever quit (persist until you succeed)
Check out my live YouTube review at https://youtu.be/YnQe2xRYUJs
Girl, Wash Your Face
by Rachel Hollis
This book was okay. It was mostly anecdotal information about the author's life, which is never my favorite type of book to read, unless I happen to know the author personally. The advice contained in its pages is all sound and good, solid advice. I've read many personal development books such as this, and didn't find anything herein to be wildly profound or mind altering. It's not a bad book, it's just not my cup of tea.
I'm happy she prioritized her own orgasms in her sex life. I like what she has to say about parenting and not comparing yourself to other parents or your children to other children. I like how she says that you don't need to accept no as a final answer when there is an obstacle between you and your dreams/goals. She says something along the lines of, "If you can't get in the front door, try the back. Try a window. Slide down the damn chimney if you need to, just make it happen." I admire that level of persistence and I highly agree with that advice. I think it's awesome that she is doing work to inspire women to increase their confidence and attain their goals. I wish her all the success in life!
I feel bad giving this book a 2 star rating because she specifically mentions in the book how bad it makes her feel when her books receive low ratings. Everyone's opinion is different, and this book came highly recommended to me by someone who just loved it!
Check out my live YouTube review at https://youtu.be/7NeZls6x9cU