The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control


Walter Mischel - 2014
    What will she do? And what are the implications for her behavior later in life?The world's leading expert on self-control, Walter Mischel has proven that the ability to delay gratification is critical for a successful life, predicting higher SAT scores, better social and cognitive functioning, a healthier lifestyle and a greater sense of self-worth. But is willpower prewired, or can it be taught?In The Marshmallow Test, Mischel explains how self-control can be mastered and applied to challenges in everyday life—from weight control to quitting smoking, overcoming heartbreak, making major decisions, and planning for retirement. With profound implications for the choices we make in parenting, education, public policy and self-care, The Marshmallow Test will change the way you think about who we are and what we can be.

Farsighted: How We Make the Decisions That Matter the Most


Steven Johnson - 2018
    So why do we know so little about how to get them right?Big, life-altering decisions matter so much more than the decisions we make every day, and they're also the most difficult: where to live, whom to marry, what to believe, whether to start a company, how to end a war. There's no one-size-fits-all approach for addressing these kinds of conundrums. Steven Johnson's classic Where Good Ideas Come From inspired creative people all over the world with new ways of thinking about innovation. In Farsighted, he uncovers powerful tools for honing the important skill of complex decision-making. While you can't model a once-in-a-lifetime choice, you can model the deliberative tactics of expert decision-makers. These experts aren't just the master strategists running major companies or negotiating high-level diplomacy. They're the novelists who draw out the complexity of their characters' inner lives, the city officials who secure long-term water supplies, and the scientists who reckon with future challenges most of us haven't even imagined. The smartest decision-makers don't go with their guts. Their success relies on having a future-oriented approach and the ability to consider all their options in a creative, productive way. Through compelling stories that reveal surprising insights, Johnson explains how we can most effectively approach the choices that can chart the course of a life, an organization, or a civilization. Farsighted will help you imagine your possible futures and appreciate the subtle intelligence of the choices that shaped our broader social history.

The Memory Illusion: Remembering, Forgetting, and the Science of False Memory


Julia Shaw - 2016
    We rely on them every day of our lives. They make us who we are. And yet the truth is they are far from being the accurate record of the past we like to think they are. True, we can all admit to having suffered occasional memory lapses, such as entering a room and immediately forgetting why, or suddenly being unable to recall the name of someone we've met dozens of times. But what if our minds have the potential for more profound errors, that enable the manipulation or even outright fabrication of our memories?In The Memory Illusion, forensic psychologist and memory expert Dr Julia Shaw uses the latest research to show the astonishing variety of ways in which our brains can indeed be led astray. She shows why we can sometimes misappropriate other people's memories, subsequently believing them to be our own. She explains how police officers can imprison an innocent man for life on the basis of many denials and just one confession. She demonstrates the way radically false memories can be deliberately implanted, leading people to believe they had tea with Prince Charles, or committed crimes that never happened. And she reveals how, in spite of all this, we can improve our memory through simple awareness of its fallibility. Fascinating and unnerving in equal measure, The Memory Illusion offers a unique insight into the human brain, challenging you to question how much you can ever truly know about yourself.

Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance


Atul Gawande - 2007
    But nowhere is this drive to do better more important than in medicine, where lives are on the line with every decision. In his new book, Atul Gawande explores how doctors strive to close the gap between best intentions and best performance in the face of obstacles that sometimes seem insurmountable. Gawande's gripping stories of diligence, ingenuity, and what it means to do right by people take us to battlefield surgical tents in Iraq, to labor and delivery rooms in Boston, to a polio outbreak in India, and to malpractice courtrooms around the country. He discusses the ethical dilemmas of doctors participation in lethal injections, examines the influence of money on modern medicine, and recounts the astoundingly contentious history of hand washing. And as in all his writing, Gawande gives us an inside look at his own life as a practicing surgeon, offering a searingly honest firsthand account of work in a field where mistakes are both unavoidable and unthinkable. At once unflinching and compassionate, Better is an exhilarating journey narrated by arguably the best nonfiction doctor-writer around (Salon). Gawande's investigation into medical professionals and how they progress from merely good to great provides rare insight into the elements of success, illuminating every area of human endeavor.

In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind


Eric R. Kandel - 2006
    Nobel Prize winner Kandel intertwines cogntive psychology, neuroscience, and molecular biology with his own quest to understand memory.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business


Charles Duhigg - 2012
    Over the past two years, she has transformed almost every aspect of her life. She has quit smoking, run a marathon, and been promoted at work. The patterns inside her brain, neurologists discover, have fundamentally changed.Marketers at Procter & Gamble study videos of people making their beds. They are desperately trying to figure out how to sell a new product called Febreze, on track to be one of the biggest flops in company history. Suddenly, one of them detects a nearly imperceptible pattern—and with a slight shift in advertising, Febreze goes on to earn a billion dollars a year.An untested CEO takes over one of the largest companies in America. His first order of business is attacking a single pattern among his employees—how they approach worker safety—and soon the firm, Alcoa, becomes the top performer in the Dow Jones.What do all these people have in common? They achieved success by focusing on the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives. They succeeded by transforming habits.In The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. With penetrating intelligence and an ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives, Duhigg brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation. Along the way we learn why some people and companies struggle to change, despite years of trying, while others seem to remake themselves overnight. We visit laboratories where neuroscientists explore how habits work and where, exactly, they reside in our brains. We discover how the right habits were crucial to the success of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and civil-rights hero Martin Luther King, Jr. We go inside Procter & Gamble, Target superstores, Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, NFL locker rooms, and the nation’s largest hospitals and see how implementing so-called keystone habits can earn billions and mean the difference between failure and success, life and death.At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. Habits aren’t destiny. As Charles Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

Imagine: How Creativity Works


Jonah Lehrer - 2012
    Shattering the myth of muses, higher powers, even creative “types,” Jonah Lehrer demonstrates that creativity is not a single gift possessed by the lucky few. It’s a variety of distinct thought processes that we can all learn to use more effectively.Lehrer reveals the importance of embracing the rut, thinking like a child, daydreaming productively, and adopting an outsider’s perspective (travel helps). He unveils the optimal mix of old and new partners in any creative collaboration, and explains why criticism is essential to the process. Then he zooms out to show how we can make our neighborhoods more vibrant, our companies more productive, and our schools more effective.You’ll learn about Bob Dylan’s writing habits and the drug addictions of poets. You’ll meet a Manhattan bartender who thinks like a chemist, and an autistic surfer who invented an entirely new surfing move. You’ll see why Elizabethan England experienced a creative explosion, and how Pixar’s office space is designed to spark the next big leap in animation.Collapsing the layers separating the neuron from the finished symphony, Imagine reveals the deep inventiveness of the human mind, and its essential role in our increasingly complex world. http://www.jonahlehrer.com/

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds


Michael Lewis - 2016
    One of the greatest partnerships in the history of science, Kahneman and Tversky’s extraordinary friendship incited a revolution in Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Michael Lewis’s own work possible. In The Undoing Project, Lewis shows how their Nobel Prize–winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality.

You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself


David McRaney - 2011
    Whether you’re deciding which smart phone to purchase or which politician to believe, you think you are a rational being whose every decision is based on cool, detached logic, but here’s the truth: You are not so smart. You’re just as deluded as the rest of us--but that’s okay, because being deluded is part of being human. Growing out of David McRaney’s popular blog, You Are Not So Smart reveals that every decision we make, every thought we contemplate, and every emotion we feel comes with a story we tell ourselves to explain them, but often these stories aren’t true. Each short chapter--covering topics such as Learned Helplessness, Selling Out, and the Illusion of Transparency--is like a psychology course with all the boring parts taken out.Bringing together popular science and psychology with humor and wit, You Are Not So Smart is a celebration of our irrational, thoroughly human behavior.

Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength


Roy F. Baumeister - 2011
    Baumeister, teams with New York Times science writer John Tierney to reveal the secrets of self-control and how to master it. In Willpower, the pioneering researcher Roy F. Baumeister collaborates with renowned New York Times science writer John Tierney to revolutionize our understanding of the most coveted human virtue: self-control.In what became one of the most cited papers in social science literature, Baumeister discovered that willpower actually operates like a muscle: it can be strengthened with practice and fatigued by overuse. Willpower is fueled by glucose, and it can be bolstered simply by replenishing the brain's store of fuel. That's why eating and sleeping- and especially failing to do either of those-have such dramatic effects on self-control (and why dieters have such a hard time resisting temptation).Baumeister's latest research shows that we typically spend four hours every day resisting temptation. No wonder people around the world rank a lack of self-control as their biggest weakness. Willpower looks to the lives of entrepreneurs, parents, entertainers, and artists-including David Blaine, Eric Clapton, and others-who have flourished by improving their self-control.The lessons from their stories and psychologists' experiments can help anyone. You learn not only how to build willpower but also how to conserve it for crucial moments by setting the right goals and using the best new techniques for monitoring your progress. Once you master these techniques and establish the right habits, willpower gets easier: you'll need less conscious mental energy to avoid temptation. That's neither magic nor empty self-help sloganeering, but rather a solid path to a better life.Combining the best of modern social science with practical wisdom, Baumeister and Tierney here share the definitive compendium of modern lessons in willpower. As our society has moved away from the virtues of thrift and self-denial, it often feels helpless because we face more temptations than ever. But we also have more knowledge and better tools for taking control of our lives. However we define happiness-a close- knit family, a satisfying career, financial security-we won't reach it without mastering self-control.

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think


Hans Rosling - 2018
    When asked simple questions about global trends - why the world's population is increasing; how many young women go to school; how many of us live in poverty - we systematically get the answers wrong. So wrong that a chimpanzee choosing answers at random will consistently outguess journalists, Nobel laureates, and investment bankers.In Factfulness, Professor of International Health and a man who can make data sing, Hans Rosling, together with his two long-time collaborators Anna and Ola, offers a radical new explanation of why this happens, and reveals the ten instincts that distort our perspective. It turns out that the world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think. But when we worry about everything all the time instead of embracing a worldview based on facts, we can lose our ability to focus on the things that threaten us most. Inspiring and revelatory, filled with lively anecdotes and moving stories, Factfulness is an urgent and essential book that will change the way you see the world.

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains


Nicholas Carr - 2010
    He also crystallized one of the most important debates of our time: As we enjoy the Net’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply?Now, Carr expands his argument into the most compelling exploration of the Internet’s intellectual and cultural consequences yet published. As he describes how human thought has been shaped through the centuries by “tools of the mind”—from the alphabet to maps, to the printing press, the clock, and the computer—Carr interweaves a fascinating account of recent discoveries in neuroscience by such pioneers as Michael Merzenich and Eric Kandel. Our brains, the historical and scientific evidence reveals, change in response to our experiences. The technologies we use to find, store, and share information can literally reroute our neural pathways.Building on the insights of thinkers from Plato to McLuhan, Carr makes a convincing case that every information technology carries an intellectual ethic—a set of assumptions about the nature of knowledge and intelligence. He explains how the printed book served to focus our attention, promoting deep and creative thought. In stark contrast, the Internet encourages the rapid, distracted sampling of small bits of information from many sources. Its ethic is that of the industrialist, an ethic of speed and efficiency, of optimized production and consumption—and now the Net is remaking us in its own image. We are becoming ever more adept at scanning and skimming, but what we are losing is our capacity for concentration, contemplation, and reflection.Part intellectual history, part popular science, and part cultural criticism, The Shallows sparkles with memorable vignettes—Friedrich Nietzsche wrestling with a typewriter, Sigmund Freud dissecting the brains of sea creatures, Nathaniel Hawthorne contemplating the thunderous approach of a steam locomotive—even as it plumbs profound questions about the state of our modern psyche. This is a book that will forever alter the way we think about media and our minds.

Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


K. Anders Ericsson - 2016
    Rest assured that the book is not mere theory. Ericsson's research focuses on the real world, and he explains in detail, with examples, how all of us can apply the principles of great performance in our work or in any other part of our lives."-- Fortune Anders Ericsson has made a career studying chess champions, violin virtuosos, star athletes, and memory mavens. Peak distills three decades of myth-shattering research into a powerful learning strategy that is fundamentally different from the way people traditionally think about acquiring new abilities. Whether you want to stand out at work, improve your athletic or musical performance, or help your child achieve academic goals, Ericsson's revolutionary methods will show you how to improve at almost any skill that matters to you."The science of excellence can be divided into two eras: before Ericsson and after Ericsson. His groundbreaking work, captured in this brilliantly useful book, provides us with a blueprint for achieving the most important and life-changing work possible: to become a little bit better each day."--Dan Coyle, author of The Talent Code "Ericsson's research has revolutionized how we think about human achievement. If everyone would take the lessons of this book to heart, it could truly change the world."--Joshua Foer, author of Moonwalking with Einstein

The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun


Gretchen Rubin - 2009
    “The days are long, but the years are short,” she realized. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.In this lively and compelling account, Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.

Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction


Judith Grisel - 2019
    With more than one in every five people over the age of fourteen addicted, drug abuse has been called the most formidable health problem worldwide. If we are not victims ourselves, we all know someone struggling with the merciless compulsion to alter their experience by changing how their brain functions.Drawing on years of research--as well as personal experience as a recovered addict--researcher and professor Judy Grisel has reached a fundamental conclusion: for the addict, there will never be enough drugs. The brain's capacity to learn and adapt is seemingly infinite, allowing it to counteract any regular disruption, including that caused by drugs. What begins as a normal state punctuated by periods of being high transforms over time into a state of desperate craving that is only temporarily subdued by a fix, explaining why addicts are unable to live either with or without their drug. One by one, Grisel shows how different drugs act on the brain, the kind of experiential effects they generate, and the specific reasons why each is so hard to kick.Grisel's insights lead to a better understanding of the brain's critical contributions to addictive behavior, and will help inform a more rational, coherent, and compassionate response to the epidemic in our homes and communities.