Hardwiring Happiness Summary

Hardwiring Happiness SummaryThe New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence

What if you were not meant to be happy? What if your brain was programmed by evolution to be sad so that you have a better chance to survive the jungle of modernity?

Rick Hanson says: well, then we’ll just reprogram your brain. And our “Hardwiring Happiness” Summary features both his theories and his practical tips and tricks.

Who Should Read “Hardwiring Happiness”? And Why?

Most people see the glass as half empty – even when it’s full.

Why?

Because we’re all alike: we tend to focus on the negative. Neuroscience students can read “Hardwiring Happiness” to find out why. Regular folks should read it to find out how they can counter it. The optimists and the overall happy few out there – don’t really need any of our advice.

About Rick Hanson

Rick HansonRick Hanson, Ph.D., is an American psychologist and a New York Times bestselling author. He graduated summa cum laude from UCLA, and he is currently a regular speaker at few major universities and NASA. He is also a senior fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at University of California, Berkeley.

Hanson’s books have sold millions of copies and have been translated into more than thirty languages. In addition to “Hardwiring Happiness,” he is also the author of “Buddha’s Brain” and “The Neurodharma of Love.”

You can read more at http://www.rickhanson.net/.

“Hardwiring Happiness Summary”

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to spend a whole day without having at least one negative thought?

No? Really?!

Well, then, probably you have what scientists unscientifically call “the happy amygdala.” In other words, that part of your brain which deals with emotional responses and decision-making processes is practically hardwired to focus on the good stuff.

Your computer breaks down while you’re working on your thesis and you lose a couple of hundred pages – hell, you say, repetition is the mother of learning! Your team loses in the NBA final after its opponents’ superstar drains a half-court shot in the last second – that was a great shot, you exclaim! And you are not even wondering whether a glass is half full or half empty! To you, the most important thing is that any glass is always fillable.

Needless to add, if you have a “happy amygdala,” you don’t need “Hardwiring Happiness”; you have biology on your side, and no book would ever beat that.

However – and unfortunately – most people have a “sad amygdala.” Which isn’t too kind to our bodies, releasing cortisol and adrenaline and other unhappy chemicals presumably at will. If you’re feeling anxious and edgy, well, take a number: you are just one among billions of unfortunate people hoodwinked by evolution.

And you do need “Hardwiring Happiness” to make things better.

Because, the good news is, your brain develops with every passing year – and you can steer its development in the direction you want the most. Biology and your early life didn’t result in your amygdala stimulating the nucleus accumbens?

Well, why don’t you start learning how you can do it yourself?

Take a lesson from the London cab drivers. According to a 2000 study by Eleanor Maguire, most of them have an overdeveloped area in their hippocampus. You’ve guessed it – it is the one most related to spatial memory.

So, the reason they remember streets much better than you is simple: they have unconsciously trained that part of the brain for years and years. What do you think will happen with your abs if you made at least a hundred sit-ups day in day out for twenty years straight?

Well, the same is true for your brain as well!

Then, why are so many people so sad and stressed out nowadays? How did they all manage to train their brains in such a misguided manner?

Once again, it’s got a lot to do with evolution. We – and we can’t overemphasize this fact – are the last in a long line of survivors. Basically, we are here because our ancestors were stressed out of their socks! And because if they hadn’t consistently focused on the bad stuff, they might have gotten the dirty end of evolution’s stick.

In other words, it wasn’t a good idea to be relaxed if there was a saber-toothed tiger in the cave a hundred meters away from you and your family! It was much better to be stirred up by even the slightest rustling of a leaf.

The problem?

Even though the danger is no more a tiger, but a deadline – your reaction has remained basically the same. That’s right: you are overreacting. By definition.

So what should you do to face this and put an end to your evolution-based inherent negativity bias?

What else: counter it with positivity. A lot and lot of positivity. As powerful as it is, “positive thinking is very superficial,” says Rick Hanson. You need to “take in the good,” that is internalize it deliberately in your implicit memory.

Really – almost anything will do. A nice dinner, a walk in the park, a discussion with a friend, a memory Experience it once again with all your senses. Savor it. Think about it every time you’re feeling bad.

Let’s just say that a few years from now, your amygdala will have a lot to thank you for.

Key Lessons from “Hardwiring Happiness”

1.      It’s Not You: It’s Your Amygdala Which Is Sad
2.      Internalize Positivity and Counter Your Negativity Bias
3.      Take in the Good and Transform Your States into Traits

It’s Not You: It’s Your Amygdala Which Is Sad

It seems that at least few modern scientists believe that your sadness isn’t psychological, but biological. Namely, the amygdala – the part of your brain which deals with emotional responses, decision-making, and memory processing – has been trained by evolution to be negatively biased.

In other words: it stimulates you to think of the worst. That way, the worst can’t surprise you. This worked well in the early days of the homo sapiens when there were a lot of bad things that could happen to our ancestors basically each and every day. However, it doesn’t work well now when the worst thing that could happen to you is not anymore an attack by a mammoth, but a missed deadline.

The problem is that you and your Neanderthal great-great-great-granddaddy (yes – we know that we need to include few more of those “greats”…) are reacting in exactly the same way.

Who would have thought: you may be sad by design!

Internalize Positivity and Counter Your Negativity Bias

Let’s face it – it’s not a good thing to learn that evolution built you sad. And we don’t need scientists who tell us that, right? We may have been better off without knowing this.

Well, Rick Hanson doesn’t think that way. In fact, he claims that once we learn this, we can finally start being happy. Because we just need to retrain our brain.

And the best way to counter the negativity bias we’ve inherited from our distant ancestors?

Happy thoughts. And not just positive thinking – Hanson says it’s too superficial. You need to act much more profoundly and internalize the positive thinking, transforming it into an inherent part of your memory.

How?

Just remember this acronym and stick blindly to it: HEAL. It stands for: having positive experiences; then enriching them; next absorbing them; and, finally, linking them with the negative material so that you can overwrite the latter.

Take in the Good and Transform Your States into Traits

What we just described above is Hanson’s elaboration on the idea of “taking in the good.”

Its central element is actually quite simple: take some time to enjoy the happy moments of your life. Experience them. Savor them. Don’t let them pass by you just because that’s in their nature.

Remember: your goal is to transform these “fleeting mental events to lasting neural structure;” or, in layman’s terms, to go from the few brief happy states of your existence into permanent traits of your character.

It takes a lot of work to do this. But, you can do it.

After all, it’s your happiness we’re talking about.

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“Hardwiring Happiness” Quotes

By taking just a few extra seconds to stay with a positive experience—even the comfort in a single breath—you’ll help turn a passing mental state into lasting neural structure. Click To Tweet Neurons that fire together wire together. Mental states become neural traits. Day after day, your mind is building your brain. This is what scientists call experience-dependent neuroplasticity. Click To Tweet The brain is good at learning from bad experiences, but bad at learning from good ones. Click To Tweet Mammals, including us, become friendly, playful, curious, and creative when they feel safe, satisfied, and connected. Click To Tweet Even if you, like me, have done things worthy of remorse, they do not wipe out your good qualities; you are still a fundamentally good person. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

After remarking that “if we understand the brain a little, we can take care of our lives a lot,” Mark Hanson, a Professor at the University of Oxford, wrote that “Hardwiring Happiness” is “a book to savor, to practice, and to take to heart.”

And, obviously, a lot is happening here: few interesting scientific theories, some even more fascinating studies, and numerous practical advices which may make a real difference to your wellbeing. However, the book feels a bit repetitive, and we feel that we agree completely with one Amazon reviewer who describes it succinctly as “40 pages of good info stretched out to 300.”

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The Power of Starting Something Stupid Summary

The Power of Starting Something Stupid SummaryHow to Crush Fear, Make Dreams Happen, and Live Without Regret

Sometimes the sense of fear can overwhelm us, but not even that can be an alibi for not taking action.

You no longer need to bite your fingernails, stay with us and learn how to make your knowledge count.

We summarize the fundamental details of Norton’s vision which explain the path to success.

Who Should Read “The Power of Starting Something Stupid”? And Why?

Honestly, not many people dare to follow their dreams.

Even though it sounds a bit cliché, it is an unavoidable reality we all live in.

The Power of Starting Something Stupid” is a book that breaks all the chains and prompts a new attitude that will help you to trust in your “stupidity.”

We recommend it to all people, due to its broad use.

About Richie Norton

Richie NortonRichie Norton is renowned for his ability to conduct comprehensive research in the realm of entrepreneurship and find the gaps that are causing trouble.

He is the owner of a blog called Start Staff, and the author of the bestseller Resumes are Dead and What To Do About It.

“The Power of Starting Something Stupid Summary”

Are you one of those who abandoned its idea because of other people’s opinions? Don’t let your dream disappear and your hopes vanish due to lack of self-esteem.

A “stupid” plan or incentive can make you wealthy, so allowing others to affect your decision-making is something you wouldn’t want to embrace.    

When you become an old man/woman, how would you turn back and see that you discarded the thing that could have been the start of something big? You could have been the star of the night!

Let’s create a situation: you’ve got your Eureka Moment, and out of sheer curiosity and passion, you share it with your friends, only to find out that they are not really supportive.

Comments such as “it’s stupid,” “no one needs that” “don’t fool around” derive from disappointing life, and they are subtly sucking you in!

What’s even more surprising – the wealthiest people launched their “stupid” idea, despite all the warnings, and made a fortune.

This seemingly silly concept brought many innovations to the top of worldly influence and domination – so, think twice before you give up on your “craziness.”

Find that courage to follow your intuition and rely on your instincts. Out of those who do graduate with flying colors, only a small percentage is aware that good grades are not the embodiment of success.

As much as we want to be labeled as successful, you cannot sidestep any stage.

You’ll need strong determination in order to take the hits placed down the road leading to ultimate prosperity.

Sadly, we always find an excuse to justify our incompetence and lack of conviction in the vision. What’s even more misleading is people’s idea of a perfect life.

So, the idea of firstly becoming rich and then enjoying life with all its pleasures is not a very convenient strategy for the wise ones.

Imagine yourself living in a small house, 50 years from now, and recalling all those things you could have done differently. Is there anything more painful than that?

The pain of regret is far greater than the one triggered by failure.  

You don’t need us reminding you of the bridge an “unknown” person named Jeff Bezos had to cross to indulge in success.

As he explains, a simple mantra allowed him to understand the big picture and leave the Wall Street job in order to embark on a new adventure.

Don’t be afraid to question the inventiveness of others and go beyond the borderline! Investigate your ideas daily, find a way to improve your service and hope for a masterpiece to kick in!!

How to cross the self-imposed restrictions? Successful innovation can be best described as a process that broke the boundaries of an old standard.

This novelty is continuously challenged by brand-new “stupid” ideas, which by all means, stimulate economic expansion.

One can never be too sure of its possibilities, and the risk of failure is an unpleasant but a realistic scenario. How to avoid it?

Have you heard that attack is the best form of defense? Courage and eagerness to crush all signs of failure should be your first step!

How to be all “Tom Cruise”?

From very young age, we’ve developed a habit of procrastinating, and most people are not capable of finally putting an end to that! So, what can be done?

  • First and foremost, if you are stuck in a busy trap don’t try to find more free time by sleeping less or do something in-between other commitments. Simply, cancel everything that is irrelevant.
  • Secondly, don’t make it harder on yourself, just cut off all those meaningless tasks that are producing little or no results at all.

So, should you ask for professional assistance or go on your own from start to finish? – Don’t forget that people with the necessary expertise can make things a lot easier.

Once the safety net is torn apart, there’s not much that can be done at that point.

Therefore, build a network or base of individuals who possess the know-how and are passionate about your intentions.

Give them the freedom to express themselves, and they’ll repay with sweat and ingenuity to an unmeasurable extent.

The bottom line is, one must stop finding excuses and start chasing its dreams with no intention of stopping.

Key Lessons from “The Power of Starting Something Stupid

1.      Trust in your co-workers, make them feel valuable
2.      Find support and professional help
3.      Discover your real fears and incentives

Trust in your co-workers, make them feel valuable

Throughout history and even today people were driven by an idea, and if that vision applies to their mindset, they will undoubtedly be on their best behavior and act correctly.

The power of trust can trigger a new set of productivity that can ever surpass the defined expectations.

Find support and professional help

One way to do it is by approaching a person who can provide guidance in times of crisis.

How to do it? – You want to borrow some money to invest in your business, but you lack the funds, and you need to find a group of investors.

Find the one who has already been in a similar position and ask for directions.

Discover your real fears and incentives

Set a reminder to tell you what is hiding behind your actions.

Don’t forget to meditate, keep your mind calm and sharp so that new energy can burst in and fill the air with hope.

Control your fears by conducting an in-depth preparation for what is to come.

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“The Power of Starting Something Stupid” Quotes

Opportunities will come and go, but if you do nothing about them, so will you. Click To Tweet Your life should consist of more than commuting, working, eating, surfing the Internet, sleeping and watching TV. Your life should be filled with purpose-driven experiences and projects that bring excitement, passion, energy, and… Click To Tweet To crush fear doesn't mean you eliminate it; crushing fear means you literally crush it down into smaller, more manageable parts and tackle one piece at a time. Click To Tweet It all starts with a tiny, stupid idea, then one thing leads to another, and suddenly, you find something amazing: yourself. Click To Tweet Don't allow life to pass you by because you are afraid of looking stupid. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

We want to remain impartial, and we’ll continue to follow the same practice.

This book has made us believe in ourselves and showed us that every journey starts with a stupid idea.

It may sound silly, but that’s how it is. We encourage to apply Norton’s tips and enjoy life without regret.

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Spartan Up! Summary

Spartan Up! SummaryA Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life

You read this title and probably asked yourself: what does an ancient state have to do with the modern world?

Well, the image of the strong, persistent and the motivated Spartan soldier can be used as an inspiration for us to get out of our comfort zones and create more than just mediocre lives!

How?

Read on to find out.

Who Should Read “Spartan Up!” and Why?

“Spartan Up!” shows you why you need to become stronger in order to lead a meaningful life.

It allows you to see that the purpose of your life depends solely on you and that you have to push yourself if you want to create meaning.

We recommend it to all young people whose lives are full of distractions, as well as to all the people that feel as if their lives have lost meaning and are looking for a sense of purpose.

About Joe de Sena

Joe de SenaJoe De Sena is a child of a family that lost all of the possessions in the market crash of the 80s and has worked from rock bottom all the way to the top.

He is a co-founder and CEO of Spartan race.

“Spartan Up! Summary”

You have heard about Sparta, right?

It has been the strongest military force, among all of the ancient Greek states, known for the mentality and strength of its soldiers.

What we want for you to achieve is to become a Spartan yourself in this modern world.

People need to become strong more than ever.

Life has never been as comfortable as it is nowadays, which makes our everyday predictable and boring.

The pressures to make a living make us work jobs we do not enjoy doing, and the fast lifestyle makes us forget about our passions and fill our heads with excuses why we cannot do what we really want to do.

To live a fulfilling life, you have to change something in your life!

You may say that you have tried but never did make the actual change.

Well, that is because whenever we decide to take control over our lives and change our habits for better ones, we feel an instant rush of motivation.

The problem is that this motivation lasts for only a few moments, a few days, and after that, it wears off.

An even bigger issue that “kills” the remaining of our motivation, is our need for immediate results.

If we do not see the results at the moment – we give up.

Also, we trade the results we want, but we need to wait for, for much smaller ones in the present.

However, you need to realize that instant gratification is a trap and should be avoided.

Avoiding it is a significant aspect of personal development and creating a strong and persistent mentality.

Next, you have to take the reigns of your own life.

You cannot control the external events and pressures which make life either easy or challenging, but you do control how fulfilling your life is.

Not only you control it – but fulfillment depends solely on you.

So, keep your dreams high, and prepare to achieve them.

On your road to your dreams, strengthen your endurance. You will need it!

The best way to persist in hard times is to prepare for them.

First, plan your goals and the steps you are going to take towards them. Also, create a worst case scenario which will help you put things into perspective, and shield you from disappointment.

When you start following your plan keep a journal of successes and failures, where you will record your achievements and applaud yourself, or where you will study your failures and see their roots.

So far we talked about goals and how you can achieve them, although “Spartan Up” focuses on achieving a strong physique.

However, the path you need to follow is the same.

Set a goal, plan for it and log in your successes and failures on the way.

Finally, do not worry about all the things you cannot control, and instead of wasting your time and energy on complaining, act in the areas you can change.

Key Lessons from “Spartan Up”

1.      Prove How Fit You Are
2.      Delay Gratification
3.      Find Your Own Happiness and Purpose

Prove How Fit You Are

The author of “Spartan Up!”, Joe de Sena has created the Spartan Race to challenge the participants of it and make them tough.

Through his own experience, he concluded that participating in such races makes him happier and healthier, and most importantly pushes him to delay gratification, which he considers very significant.

Delay Gratification

Maybe you have heard of the marshmallow experiment, which was first conducted by Walter Mischel.

She studied kids, their behaviors, and abilities to resist a marshmallow, and followed their lives later on.

The conclusion of the experiment, after all the kids have grown up, was that those who were able to delay gratification ended up living much better lives.

Find Your Own Happiness and Purpose

Life can either be easy or hard and many times that will not be something that depends on you.

However, how fulfilling your life is is solely your responsibility.

So make sure that you take up challenges and force yourself to do things that will enrich your life experience.

Do not complicate things, and make a simple plan that will yield big results.

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“Spartan Up” Quotes

It’s not that we’re trying to avoid death; we’re trying to enjoy our lives fully, to wring every wonderful drop out of life that we possibly can. Click To Tweet The easiest way to convince your body that sitting in traffic is not worthy of a stress-induced freak-out is by showing your body what real stress feels like, in the controlled setting of your daily workout. Click To Tweet The embrace of consumerism and convenience tends to lead to the emptiness of the spirit and sickness of the mind and body. Click To Tweet In fact, living with the mindset I’ll sleep when I’m dead” may get you there quite a bit faster! Click To Tweet You can either go to bed satisfied with your efforts today or stressed with what you left for tomorrow. You can either work hard to take on the hill or never know what it is that people see at the top. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Although this book seems to promise a lot, it is more constructed as beginners manual for those who are just finding out that their lives need to have meaning, and that it is up to them to create it.

Although we have to note that it seems that the book is a way that the author promotes his races and business. However, that does not mean that the scientific facts he includes in it are untrue – it just means that for the more practical approach to changing your life, you will need to look elsewhere.

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Happier at Home Summary

Happier at Home SummaryKiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life

Do you feel happy? If not, you probably think that you’re pretty far from feeling even an ounce of happiness.

Well, Gretchen Rubin says that you’re wrong. Because all you need is some small changes and no more than nine months to be “Happier at Home.”

Who Should Read “Happier at Home”? And Why?

There are two types of people: those who like adventures, and those who want peace. “Happier at Home” is for the latter: it claims that you don’t really need anything more than a nicely organized home and a loving family to be happy.

By the end of this book, even the adventurers may concur.

About Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen RubinGretchen Rubin is an American author and blogger, usually writing about the three h-s of happiness: human nature, home, and habits. And she writes with a lot of humor.

Her books have sold more than 3 million copies, and her personal website – https://gretchenrubin.com/ – has more than 700,000 subscribers and is one of the most popular of its kind.

She is the author of many books, among them “The Four Tendencies,” “The Happiness Project,” and “Better Than Before.”

“Happier at Home Summary”

By now, we’ve featured Gretchen Rubin quite about enough times so that you can remember her as the author of few books whose subtitles are longer than some of Hemingway’s short stories.

This one’s no exception: “Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life.”

OK. Now, do I really need to read the book? Or is this everything I need to do so as to be, as its title states, “happier at home”?

Of course you should – and of course it isn’t. But, it gives you a glimpse of what the book is all about. Namely, the small stuff. You know, the stuff which makes life world living.

Because that’s what the happier-at-home project is most interested in. It’s a nine-month program which, by the end of it, should make you feel happy about yourself, your home, and your everyday routines.

But, let’s not get carried away – if your home was as it was supposed to be, you wouldn’t need a nine-month project. So, before starting with it, let’s make a list of what is good and what is bad about it.

In other words, ask yourself four fundamental questions:

1. What makes you feel good when you are at home?
2. What makes you feel bad when you are at home?
3. What do you need to do in order to feel more as in 1 than as in 2?
4. What do you need to do in order to continually grow even though staying at home?

Now that you know where you’re heading, it’s time for the essential spring-cleaning exercise. “A messy room equals a messy mind,” Marie Kondo wrote in “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” And Gretchen Rubin did the experiment to find out it is true.

Decluttering your home from the stuff you don’t need will result in freeing your home for the stuff which makes you feel happy and satisfied. And the bonus is – that the same happens in your mind as well.

Now, you’re ready to fill it with the stuff that really matters: your family.

You see, Gandhi’s idea that you need to be the change you want to see in the world matters nowhere as definitely as in your house. You want to have an affectionate and caring partner who will rarely get stressed and nervous? Then – be one yourself. Until you inspire him or her to become one.

Because, you see, in families, people learn from each other. If you give up smoking, there are 67 percent chance that your partner will too. That means about 7 in 10 couples!

Now, if that doesn’t motivate you to become nicer and more thoughtful – nothing will!

Of course, being happy is related by definition to protecting yourself from unhappiness. Which, in other words, means at least three things.

First of all, avoiding unhappy people who drain your energy. Secondly, using different stimuli in the present to bring back past memories to get you up when you are down. And finally, resisting temptations which, turn you into an instant gratification monkey, i.e., someone who sacrifices his future more permanent happiness for a brief moment of satisfaction in the present.

Key Lessons from “Happier at Home”

1.      Declutter Your House, Declutter Your Mind
2.      Avoid the Unhappiness Leeches
3.      Remember the Pareto Principle – and Act Accordingly

Declutter Your House, Declutter Your Mind

Your brain is a mighty organ. So powerful, in fact, that it’s almost impossible to control it. In other words, it notices things at least few hundred milliseconds before you (yes, that’s quite about right). Free will? Nah – it may be just an illusion.

Anyway, if your brain is capable of noticing things all around you and react accordingly, you may help him at least at the place where you spend most of your day, i.e., your home.

Declutter it!

If there are some things which remind you of chaos or unfinished business – throw them away. Get some headspace. And fill your room – and your brain – with the things that matter the most.

Avoid the Unhappiness Leeches

Now, as hard as you try, there’s a high chance that all your effort will go down the drain the very minute you meet a person who seems immune to your cheerfulness and, in fact, tries to infect you with his dark energy.

There are three types of these unhappiness leeches, says Gretchen Rubin. The first kind is the slackers who feign helplessness in order to get your attention. The second ones are the gossipers who have no lives of their own, so they try to make laugh of the ones who do. And the third kind is the grouches, the needy and the pessimistic folks who counter your joy at seeing a rainbow with a “Meh, it’s just a natural phenomenon…”

Do we need to say more?

It’s pointless to spend time with people who make you unhappy.

Just avoid them.

Remember the Pareto Principle – and Act Accordingly

A positive attitude is the right attitude – no matter what the initial stimulus is. So says Dalai Lama. So says Gretchen Rubin as well. Because only 20 percent of your happiness is the result of the things which happen to you. The other 80 are decided by your reactions.

For example, once Rubin’s daughter spilled some nail polish on the floor. Gretchen could have raged all day about it – but that wouldn’t have changed anything. So, she just asked her nicely to quickly research the best ways they can deal with the stain. In the end, Gretchen’s daughter found a solution.

The results?

No stain, no anger, no remorse.

And a newly acquired skill. (Which, by the way, we should learn too).

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“Happier at Home” Quotes

I am living my real life, this is it. Now is now, and if I waited to be happier, waited to have fun, waited to do the things that I know I ought to do, I might never get the chance. Click To Tweet It's so easy to wish that we'd made an effort in the past, so that we'd happily be enjoying the benefit now, but when now is the time when that effort must be made, as it always is, that prospect is much less inviting. Click To Tweet While some more passive forms of leisure, such as watching TV or surfing the Internet, are fun in the short term, over time, they don't offer nearly the same happiness as more challenging activities. Click To Tweet I'm not tempted by things I've decided are off-limits, but once I've started something, I have trouble stopping. If I never do something, it requires no self-control for me; if I do something sometimes, it requires enormous self-control. Click To Tweet As I turned the key and pushed open the front door, as I crossed the threshold, I thought how breathtaking, how fleeting, how precious was my ordinary day Now is now. Here is my treasure. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

There are few things you can never get enough of. Happiness is certainly on the top of this list. And, consequently, books which help you be happier as well.

“Happier at Home” is one such book. It may not be the best one – but it is both wittily written and applicable. So – you can’t ask much more, can you?

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Habits of a Happy Brain Summary

Habits of a Happy Brain SummaryRefrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, & Endorphin Levels

You probably think that happiness is all about singing in the morning and cleaning your closets, right? Well, it may be so, indeed! But, the underlying truth is much less poetic: it’s all down to chemicals. And not too many of them, either.

You’ve read many books on the philosophy of happiness. “Habits of a Happy Brain” is one of the few books dedicated on the biology of happiness. And while there are always alternatives in philosophy, there is surely no escape from biology.

Who Should Read “Habits of a Happy Brain”? And Why?

Since it deals with happiness, “Habits of a Happy Brain” is a book which should interest most people; since it also deals with mammalian biology, it’s a book which should tickle the fancy of specialists who are trying to find out the biological explanation of happiness.

Finally, since it’s one of the more exciting books to stem from the positive psychology movement, it’s undoubtedly an essential read for those who have read and liked the writings of Martin E. P. Seligman, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi or even Jonathan Haidt.

About Loretta Graziano Breuning

Loretta Graziano BreuningLoretta Graziano Breuning is the Founder of the Inner Mammal Institute and Professor Emerita of Management at California State University.

She obtained her BA from Cornell and her Ph.D. from Tufts University. Interested in the biological foundation of happiness, she has developed an original set of theories and exercises which have helped many people. As a result, she has been featured (among many other places) on “Forbes,” “the Wall Street Journal,” Fox, and NBC.

Breuning has authored few other books, among them: “I, Mammal,” and “The Science of Positivity.” “Habits of a Happy Brain” is an update od “Meet Your Happy Chemicals.”

“Habits of a Happy Brain Summary”

True, you are the pinnacle of evolution – and that lovely little sapiens in your taxonomic name is all the evidence you’ll ever need to prove it.

However, two things you may have forgotten!

First of all, “homo sapiens” is your species, and there are few other more inclusive taxonomic ranks to which you belong as well. For example, you are in the order of primates, which are in the class of mammals, which, in turn, belong to the kingdom of animals.

That’s right – you, as smart as you like to think you are, are still an animal, just like the lion or the rabbit is.

The second thing is even more interesting. Consider it evolution’s cruel little joke. Namely, the organ which has granted you the privilege of that “sapiens” in your taxonomic name is the very same organ which makes you less happy than, say, mice or lizards.

Why is that?

Well, because, when it comes to happiness, your brain essentially functions the same way a mouse’s does (after all, you are in the same order). With one big difference, that is.

True, you both have the same hormones for happiness, but your regulatory system is all messed up. Because, well, you have millions of additional neurons which don’t really know what to do – so they invent themselves tasks.

Try to understand them: they got the way that they are by alarming you whether running away from lions is good for you. And now – there are no lions to run away from.

But, which are these happy brain chemicals?

Well, there are four.

First of all – dopamine. Or – the “I can get it” hormone. In the animal’s world, this is the chemical released when a tiger sees an eland it can catch. In your world – it’s the excitement you feel when you reward yourself a chocolate bar for dieting few hours.

Next – endorphin. Or – the “I’m feeling no pain” hormone. It’s the chemical which masks pain. So, when a gazelle is bitten by a lion, she is still capable of fighting back, because her brain releases endorphin, telling her “that bite mark’s not so serious now…” Of course it’s going to hurt afterward.

The third one – oxytocin. Or – the “I trust you” hormone. This one’s released when an animal is among its own kind. It feels protected – and knows that it can rely on those around it. But, you know this: you’ve felt its effect best that time your mother patiently took care of you when you were sick as a child.

Serotonin is the final chemical on our list. It’s the “I’m top dog” hormone. Or, in other words, the one which makes the gorilla alpha male strut so proudly!

As is probably already apparent from these descriptions, all of these chemicals come with a caveat. For example, serotonin may make you feel isolated and result in frustration about your own uniqueness; oxytocin may result in herd behavior, and that helps no one.

Even if you’re an endorphin-addict and you are in a “50 Shades of Grey” mood all the time, causing yourself pain may debilitate you in a much more physical sense. (Remember that “Black Mirror” scene?) Finally, dopamine is habituated pretty quickly, leaving you with a “been there/done that” feeling even about things you really like.

And that – right there: that’s what makes “permanent happiness” a biological myth. It’s unattainable since your brain cares about your selfish genes and happiness is its way of doing it. Namely – if it’s good for your survival, it says “do it”; if it’s bad “don’t do it.”

However, once it teaches you that something is good, it doesn’t bother to release the hormones anymore. Leaving you with a habit – but taking away the happiness from it.

Your only way out?

Try to force your brain into rewiring by going against the stream and boldly taking up new habits every 45 days or so.

As its title implies, “Habits of a Happy Brain” has many exercises inside to help you!

Key Lessons from “Habits of a Happy Brain”

1.      There Are Unhappy Chemicals as Well
2.      How Your Favorite Song Starts to Irritate You
3.      You Can’t Be Happy All the Time – Be from Time to Time

There Are Unhappy Chemicals as Well

We went over the four happy chemicals which your brain releases to tell you what’s good for you. A quick reminder, these are dopamine (related to rewards), oxytocin (associated with your social life), endorphin (pushing you through physical pain), and serotonin (making you feel special).

Now, there are unhappy chemicals as well. For example, cortisol. It’s a sweet little chemical which has helped you survive, by telling you what you shouldn’t do. However, nowadays, there are no risks – so it’s basically obsolete. But, it still transforms into stress – over utterly irrelevant matters.

Learn how to use it to your favor from this summary.

How Your Favorite Song Starts to Irritate You

“Music gives pleasure because your mind keeps predicting what comes next,” writes Loretta Graziano Breuning.

And it’s simple: each correct prediction triggers dopamine. If the music is unfamiliar, you don’t get the chemical. When it is somewhat familiar – you feel as if you want to dance. However, when it is too familiar, your brain predicts what happens next effortlessly. And this doesn’t get you dopamine either.

So, as Loretta Graziano Breuning says, “to make you happy, music must be at the sweet spot of novelty and familiarity.” We’ll put it a bit differently: stop playing that song on the repeat! You’ll start hating it in few days.

You Can’t Be Happy All the Time – Be from Time to Time

What Breuning says about music – applies to almost everything else in life.

Want to enjoy some food the same way for the rest of your life? Eat it from time to time – not every day. Want to be longer in love? Don’t spend every waking minute of your day with your beloved.

However, in either case, don’t expect to be happy all the time. Because that just won’t work. Your brain won’t allow you. It’s just the way it functions: every time it remembers something well – it actually takes away a lot of the happiness related to it.

And it needs to remember many things so that you can survive.

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“Habits of a Happy Brain” Quotes

When a monkey loses a banana to a rival, he feels bad, but he doesn't expand the problem by thinking about it over and over. He looks for another banana. He ends up feeling rewarded rather than harmed. Click To Tweet We seek evidence of threats to feel safe, and we get a dopamine boost when we find what we seek. You can also get a serotonin boost from the feeling of being right, and an oxytocin boost from bonding with those who sense the same threat. Click To Tweet Consider this: when things do go wrong, ask yourself whether you could have prevented it by being unhappy. Click To Tweet You don’t notice your neural guidance system because you built it without conscious intent. That’s why it’s hard to build new trails: You don’t know how you built the old ones. Click To Tweet Love is a huge surge of happy chemicals because it's highly relevant to the survival of your genes. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Perhaps the best thing about “Habits of a Happy Brain” is the fact that it delves deep into the biology of happiness, but in a manner which helps the reader attain the information with ease. And that’s only the first half of the book.

The second half is a list of step-by-step instructions for few exercises which should help you rewire your brain. So, you get the best of both worlds – theory, and practice.

And you can’t ask for more from a book which talks about your happiness.

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The Big Leap Summary

The Big Leap SummaryConquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level 

Everyone has dreams, but not everyone lives them.

We tell you why, and show you how you can go from being a dreamer to being a doer.

Who Should Read “The Big Leap” and Why?

“The Big Leap” is a book about dreams and fears, and how beating the fears and self-imposed limits can make all of those dreams come true.

We recommend this read to people who are trying to find the direction of their lives, or who are not satisfied with how life plays out so far, and want to transform their reality.

About Gay Hendricks

Gay HendricksGay Hendricks is a bestselling self-help author and a psychologist who specializes in couple’s therapy.

“The Big Leap Summary”

Our lives are determined by our behaviors, the challenges we take, and the excuses we make.

Sadly, we all have a dream which we never got to make real because of the excuses we constantly come up with.

We are driven and limited by fear of the unknown and fear of change.

To live a truly exceptional life you need to understand that no one ever promised you or told you that life is going to be easy.

The beauty of life is in fighting for what you want and the enjoyment you get after making a significant effort.

All of this time you are the one that is keeping away from a life of happiness.

Oddly, many humans resist happiness, self-imposing imaginary limits to how happy life should be.

And once they come close to their imaginary limit, they tend to sabotage themselves.

This is also connected to the fear of realizing your dreams and achieving your full potential, or what the author calls the upper limit mindset.

First, people tend to be afraid that when they become the best that they can be, there will run out of excuses to make their dreams come true.

Second, they think that once they realize their dreams, there will be nothing left to strive for.

If you want to truly experience success and be happy, you have to “cure” all of these unhealthy behaviors and beliefs.

And then, you have to take the big leap into the life of happiness.

This leap will not be easy to do – it requires a lot of confidence.

However, there are ways to overcome the fears and gain this confidence and finally, arrive at the place of bliss.

The first technique is breathing.

You have probably heard about the calming effects of breathing since it is used as a technique in meditation.

The breathing we are talking about is focused one, and lets you take control of your thoughts and fears and transform them into strengths.

Then, another problem is the upper limit mindset, which we already mentioned shortly above, which you can fix by not letting your guard down.

In fact, the problems arise only when you get the illusion that you have what you want, you let your guard down, and then become vulnerable to disappointments if things do not go as planned or wished.

To cure this mindset it is also important to recognize it, and you can do it by catching yourself when you start worrying.

So, the next time you feel worried, stop for a second and question the source that fuels these worries.

Finding the source will help you find the solution.

There are two types of worries you may have: the ones connected to issues you have control over, and the ones relating to issues you do not have control over.

If you are worried about something you can change, then stop worrying and start acting.

However, most of the times when you start questioning your worries, you will realize that they are not connected to something that depends on your actions, some of them are about issues and situations that have not yet arrived, and may never happen, and most of them are not even actual problems.

When you realize it is that kind of worry that is burdening you, accept that you cannot do anything to change it, and promise yourself to resolve the problem when it actually happens (if it does).

Life is too short to spend it worrying, wishing and questioning.

Instead of doing that, why don’t you just live it?

Key Lessons from “The Big Leap”

1.      We Are Imposing the Limits to Our Own Happiness
2.      Do not Become a Victim of Fear and Self-Sabotage
3.      Strive to Get to the Zone of Genius

We Are Imposing the Limits to Our Own Happiness

Our possibilities are limited only by our minds.

Everything that we are doing nowadays was once believed to be impossible.

The same goes for happiness: believing that happy moments are rare and short will lead you to live a life lacking happiness.

Changing your mindset is the most crucial step in changing your reality.

Do not Become a Victim of Fear and Self-Sabotage

Many people sabotage themselves because of their fear of either failure or success.

We all have a belief of how much we deserve, and if we think we may get more than that, we tend to sabotage ourselves.

Why?

Because we believe that things that seem too good to be “true” certainly are.

This is called the upper limit mindset, which makes us complicate our lives and create unnecessary problems.

Strive to Get to the Zone of Genius

Four zones of work exist zone of incompetence, zone of competence, a zone of excellence and zone of genius. Of course, you should strive to work in the last one.

Do not think that being the best in what you do is something impossible – just remember the first lesson!

Challenge yourself and watch how your life transforms.

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“The Big Leap” Quotes

Fear is excitement without the breath. Here’s what this intriguing statement means: the very same mechanisms that produce excitement also produce fear, and any fear can be transformed into excitement by breathing fully with it. Click To Tweet Letting yourself savor natural good feelings is a direct way to transcend your Upper Limit Problem. By extending your ability to feel positive feelings, you expand your tolerance for things going well in your life. Click To Tweet In my life, I’ve discovered that if I cling to the notion that something’s not possible, I’m arguing in favor of limitation. And if I argue for my limitations, I get to keep them. Click To Tweet Criticism and blame are addictions. They are costly addictions because they are the number-one destroyer of intimacy in close relationships. Click To Tweet I expand in abundance, success, and love every day, as I inspire those around me to do the same. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“The Big Leap” is a book about taking chances in life and finally making relevant decisions, instead of just wishing for things to change.

It is a book which is highly motivational but sadly lacks practical advice, although there are some exercises which you can do.

In any case, if you do not feel motivated, we recommend you start here.

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Flourish Summary

Flourish SummaryWho Should Read “Flourish”? And Why?

Let’s face it: you’ve been a while on this planet, and you still haven’t found an answer to the most important question you can ever ask. Namely: how can you live your life as a happy person?

Martin E. P. Seligman has dedicated his whole life trying to answer that question for you. And he thinks that he went the furthest in his last book, aptly titled “Flourish.”

About Martin E. P. Seligman

Martin E. P. “Marty” SeligmanMartin E.P. Seligman is the Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, a former president of the American Psychological Association, and the 31st most cited psychologist in the 20th century.

He has written over twenty books, most of them in the field of positive psychology, of which he is the foremost promoter in the scientific community. The most celebrated among them are “Learned Optimism,” “Child’s Play,” and “The Optimistic Child.”

“Flourish Summary”

There are many self-help books on the market. And as much as some of them have an effect on you, rarely are these books written by real scientists.

Martin E. P. Seligman is an exception. A revered psychologist, he turned to writing self-help books only after coming up with few highly cited scientific theories which endorse the promotion and use of self-help methods.

The one he’s most associated with?

Positive psychology, a scientific field he named and basically founded, together with Christopher Peterson, and a certain Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Its goal?

To scientifically study what makes life worth living.

Its results?

Nothing short of fantastic!

Here’s just one comparison to back that adjective up.

As many people suffering from anxiety and depression already know, “Prozac,” “Zoloft” and “Lexapro” are not just a myth – they actually help. However, what they don’t know is that it helps just a bit more than placebo. In numbers: two-thirds of patients got better after taking prescription drugs, but half of them experienced similar effects even though what they basically took was Tic Tacs!

As for positive psychology?

One week of specially developed treatments and exercises resulted in an almost unanimously confirmed six-month-lasting happiness! No prescription, no pills – just a good ol’ dose of gratitude and kindness.

But why should you believe Seligman?

Well, for one, as we said above, he is a scientist. And scientists are not allowed to suppose things like, say, philosophers are. By definition, they are skeptical and try to falsify their hypotheses until they are sure they are not lying.

Aristotle, Plato, Nietzsche – none of them had any idea if their ideas concerning human life and happiness are based in reality. They didn’t conduct experiments; they didn’t test their philosophies on real people.

Others have tried doing that but have chosen the wrong method. For example, life satisfaction questionnaires don’t work – because your answer will reflect your current mood in about 70 percent of the cases.

So, what does?

According to Seligman, it all starts with defining the elements of well-being. And in order for anything to be considered an element of human happiness, it needs to have three properties.

First of all – obviously – it needs to contribute to well-being. Secondly, the majority of people should pursue it for its own sake – not merely to get some other element. Finally, it can be defined and measured independently, not just in relation to other elements.

The outcome?

Seligman’s “Well-Being Theory,” which says that well-being consists of five elements. And you can easily remember them: you just need to remember the mnemonic, PERMA.

P stands for Positive Emotion. Warmth, comfort, pleasure – you name it, you know it.

E stands for Engagement. This is present only when we are entirely dedicated to doing something, so much so that we don’t even notice the time flying by. Csikszentmihalyi has named this state – the state of flow.

R stands for Relationships. Nobody can be happy if alone. You need a family, some friends, a partner; in other words – social connection and intimacy.

M stands for Meaning. This is why you hate your job. You want to belong to something you actually believe in, something which has a meaning bigger than you. And how does answering calls from 9 to 5 does this for anyone?

A stands for Accomplishment. Not accomplishment as in “I want to accomplish winning the lottery.” But an accomplishment as in “Hey, I didn’t understand this passage in the summary, but now I do. And that makes me happy!”

Key Lessons from “Flourish”

1.      Leave Science to Deal with Your Well-Being
2.      Human Well-Being Consists of Five Elements: Pursue Them!
3.      When It Comes to Happiness, IQ and Wealth Mean Nothing

Leave Science to Deal with Your Well-Being

A long time ago, Aristotle wrote in the “Nicomachean Ethics” that the happy life is the good life. Because happiness, in his opinion, was the only thing humans wanted for its own sake. Money, beauty, friends, honor – humans want them so that they can be happy. And nothing more: they can’t be goals in themselves.

Most philosophers agreed with Aristotle and, consequently, spent their lives trying to find the equation for happiness. Their problem? They didn’t test their hypotheses. So, they were allowed to say absolutely anything – and be equally right.

Scientists can’t do this. Thus, their conclusions make much more sense.

Human Well-Being Consists of Five Elements: Pursue Them!

Positive psychologists have spent the last two decades trying to find out the definition of human happiness. Only recently, they successfully did. “Flourish” is the first book to present this new theory of human well-being, adding two more elements to the original three.

The result is a neat acronym, PERMA. In other words, well-being consists of five elements.

First of all, positive emotions. Excitement, awe, satisfaction, warmth, pride, joy – these all fall under this category. Secondly, it involves engagement – the state of deep, effortless involvement. The third element – relationships – is a no-brainer.

Meaning is all about purpose, i.e., finding your why. Finally, accomplishment means the pursuit of mastery and the joy of overcoming obstacles.

When It Comes to Happiness, IQ and Wealth Mean Nothing

What about intelligence? – you ask. Or money?

Surely, I can’t be happy if I don’t have a high IQ to understand happiness. Less so if I don’t have money to buy myself a helicopter – because, you see, I always wanted to fly one!

Well, IQ and money, it seems, have too little to do with well-being to be an element of its definition. In other words, if you have the five things stated above, you have enough IQ and money to be happy. If you lack just one, then – be an Einstein or a Tesla, if you will – all the money in the world won’t make you happy still!

We know it sounds cliché. But it’s true.

Science says so.

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“Flourish” Quotes

To enable us to hear criticism nondefensively and to act creatively on it, we need to feel secure. Click To Tweet One never knows if basic research is truly basic until one knows what it is basic to. Modern physics came into its own not because of its theories… but because physicists built the atomic bomb and modern nuclear power plants. Click To Tweet The topic of positive psychology is well-being… the gold standard for measuring well-being is flourishing, and… the goal of positive psychology is to increase flourishing. Click To Tweet The mood you are in determines more than 70 percent of how much life satisfaction you report and how well you judge your life to be going at that moment determines less than 30 percent. Click To Tweet I’m trying to broaden the scope of positive psychology well beyond the smiley face. Happiness is just one-fifth of what human beings choose to do. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Just like the two elements to the original theory proposed in “Authentic Happiness,” “Flourish” is a great addition to the positive psychology canon.

However, Seligman goes to great lengths to sell the main idea of the book – the PERMA-theory – and spends less time backing up his sale. This is not what we’ve grown accustomed to expect from Seligman.

But, nevertheless, it’s him – so there’s just about enough value in this book to add it to your next month’s to-read list.

 

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First Bite Summary

First Bite Summary

How We Learn to Eat

You’re on a strict diet for the seventh time this year, but, for some reason, you have to try that new pizza at your favorite restaurant. Also, a tiny piece of cake: what’s the point in having lunch and not a dessert after? And why do these dishes ape your willpower over and over again?

What if – Bee Wilson asks – you like certain foods because they remind you of your childhood? And what if there’s a way to circumvent the power of your “First Bite”?

Who Should Read “First Bite”? And Why?

Unfortunately, a small percentage of people today eat healthily.

Even though most of us are aware that sugar and fast food are not exactly the right choice for anybody. Even worse, the majority of parents would rather allow their children to eat once a week at “McDonalds” and convince themselves that it’s not that bad than experience another apocalyptic tantrum from them?

First Bite” is for parents who want to change that. Both for themselves, but, more importantly, for their children. So, if you are a parent and want to learn what you can do better regarding your child’s eating habits – read this book. Do the same if you yourself want to have a healthier diet.

It’s never too late to start doing the right thing.

About Bee Wilson

Bee WilsonBee Wilson is a bestselling British writer on food and food-related matters.

She worked as a food critic for the “New Statesman” magazine for five years, before starting the “Kitchen Thinker” column in “Stella.” In addition, she has written for “The Guardian,” “The Times Literary Supplement,” and “The Sunday Times.”

She published her first book, “The Hive,” in 2004. Since then, she has published four more: “Swindled,” “Sandwich,” “Consider the Fork,” and “First Bite.”

“First Bite Summary”

If you are a parent, you already know how it is: every second meal of your child is a battle on the scale of the Second World War.  And, you know what, we get it: after a while, it’s easier to surrender. Even if that means feeding your child cereals instead of vegetables for breakfast!

But, what if what he or she eats as a child is a one-way portal to his adult eating habits?

Think about it!

Much of our worldview is built by way of comparison. If you haven’t been to – or even seen a picture of – Vienna and Prague, your hometown may be the best place you’ll ever visit. The same holds true for food: if you hadn’t eaten a lot of sugar as a child, apples might taste to you sweeter than chocolate.

Don’t believe us?

A 2012 study revealed that, to some people, a cob of corn or a ball of mozzarella is sweeter than cereals!

The reason?

You’ve guessed it: they didn’t consume a lot of sugar as children!

But, how do you do that? How do you teach your children to eat healthy food? How do you prevent the inevitable: them throwing away the broccoli and stealing a bar of chocolate instead? After all, don’t most children have only one thought on their minds for the first decade of their lives: “Get candy!”?

In 1939, in the September edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), Clara Marie Davies published an article titled “The Self-Selection of Diets by Young Children,” which presented the results of a study examining the behavior of children’s food habits.

At four pages, you wouldn’t expect the article to be called, seven decades later, “a fountainhead of argument, discussion and reinterpretation for everyone hoping to untangle the modern gnarl where children’s appetites, food choices and health collide.”

The experiment – that is, “the world’s longest, most detailed and most ambitious dietary experiment” – was relatively simple. Namely: give few children a selection of 33 foodstuffs every day for four and a half years, and never even hint to them what is the better choice or the proper amount to eat.

The results were staggering!

First of all, every single one of the 15 examined children tried each and every one of the dishes available! Secondly, no two followed the same diet pattern. Thirdly – not one child settled for the now-predominant cereal-and-milk diet. And finally – they all grew up to be healthy, well-nourished children!

But, how did they do it? How were they capable of balancing their diets so neatly and correctly?

“Such successful juggling and balancing,” concluded Davis, “of the more than 30 nutritional essentials that exist in mixed and different proportions in the foods from which they must be derived suggests at once the existence of some innate, automatic mechanism for its accomplishment.”

What does this mean in laymen’s terms?

Just make a selection of foods for your child – and let him or her choose the one he or she would like to eat the most. Each day. For an extended period of time. And when he/she chooses a Hershey’s bar over a carrot, don’t worry: that doesn’t mean that your child has stopped eating vegetables!

After all, evolution works for both of you: you wouldn’t have been here if you didn’t have an innate mechanism to choose the right food!

What parents are actually doing when forcing their children to eat something they don’t like at a particular moment is activating another mechanism which has much more to do with psychology than eating habits.

Namely, humans don’t like to be forced into doing anything. And, more often than not, they tend to develop an intrinsic revulsion towards what they had been pressed to do contrary to their wishes. It doesn’t matter if it is piano classes or a beetroot. Forcing won’t work.

Unfortunately, parents nowadays deal with an even more severe problem.

Namely: TV. And large corporations.

Did you know, for example, that about three-fourths of the food marketed to children has disgracefully low nutritional value?

We asked before and here we ask one more time: how is this allowed?

Key Lessons from “First Bite”

1.      Children Will Usually Choose the Healthy Snack – If You Let Them
2.      Learn to Distinguish Appetite from Hunger
3.      Countries – Be More Like Japan!

Children Will Usually Choose the Healthy Snack – If You Let Them

Over 80 years ago, a Canadian scientist decided to conduct an experiment – which, nowadays, may even seem a bit unethical. Namely, to make a selection of 33 different foods for 15 children and carefully examine their food behaviors for a long period of time.

The trick?

She wasn’t allowed to tell them what to eat and when to eat at no point in the experiment.

The result?

Fascinatingly enough, all children tried each of the foods selected for them. Moreover, not one of them opted for a cereal-and-milk diet. And yes – they all grew up well-nourished and healthy.

The moral?

Don’t force your child into eating things she/he doesn’t want to. Make a selection of foods and let him/her choose.

Learn to Distinguish Appetite from Hunger

As the experiment with the children’s dietary habits shows, our distant relatives – and by distant, we mean the ones who first put the “sapiens” in our taxonomical status – had internal regulating mechanism when it comes to food.

That’s why, they were rarely – if ever – fat. Because of all those marketing campaigns and multinational fast food chains, that mechanism is messed up nowadays. Namely, most people can’t make a distinction between appetite and hunger. And confuse the first with the latter.

However, the first leads to obesity; the second is the last spark of our ancestors’ dietary regulatory mechanisms.

How can you distinguish them?

Start skipping meals. You’ll see that it’s not that bad. When it does get bad – that’s hunger. It’s a state of the body – believe us! – you’ve probably never experienced before.

Countries – Be More Like Japan!

Japan is both a small island country and the third largest economy in the world, so we suppose the title applies to many areas. However, for the time being, we’re interested in no more than one. Namely, food habits.

You see, even though the words rhyme, there are almost no obese Japanese! And the Japanese nation is, on average, the fifth longest-living in the world – with all those above her, some of the smallest countries and least populated countries in the world (Monaco, Macau, San Marino, Andorra).

And in Japan, there are more than 120 million people living!

So, how did they do it?

Well, obviously – with a nationwide campaign. You’ll be surprised to learn that today’s Japanese diet is no more than few decades old.

So, why shouldn’t we do the same in the U.S.?

After all, we have a serious, serious problem with obesity!

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“First Bite” Quotes

The way you teach a child to eat well is through example, enthusiasm, and patient exposure to good food. And when that fails, you lie. Click To Tweet No one is doomed by genes to eat badly. Pickiness is governed more by environment than biology. Click To Tweet Eating well is a skill. We learn it. Or not. It’s something we can work on at any age. Sugar is not love. But it can feel like it. Click To Tweet A few decades from now, the current laissez-faire attitudes to sugar - now present in 80 per cent of supermarket foods - may seems as reckless and strange as permitting cars without seatbelts or smoking on aeroplanes. Click To Tweet When eating becomes a matter of life or death, and each new bite is a celebration, you may discover that none of the other stuff was quite as important as sitting and breaking bread together. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“First Bite” – as a review in the “Wall Street Journal” noted – is a real treat!

Described as a book “about the pleasure of eating and how we can reconnect with this,” “First Bite” won several awards, including Food Book of the Year. Scientifically sound and applicable, the book is a joy to read. Do yourself a favor and read it.

After all, you’ll be doing your children an even bigger one.

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Stumbling on Happiness Summary | FREE PDF |

Stumbling on Happiness PDFDon’t let your fears stop you from taking chances.

Read on and get motivated to act.

Who Should Read “Stumbling on Happiness” and Why?

“Stumbling on Happiness” discusses bad decisions and the impact they have on our lives.

However, the book focuses on not doing anything as the worst decision of all, so we recommend this book to all readers who are afraid to take action afraid of the consequences.

About Daniel Gilbert

Daniel GilbertDaniel Gilbert is an award-winning researcher, author and a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University.

Apart from books, his writing has appeared in a handful of publications like TIME and the New York Times.

“Stumbling on Happiness PDF Summary”

The brain works interestingly.

Did you know that our visions have a blind spot, an angle which the eye does not catch and cannot see images?

However, whenever you look at a surrounding or a picture, you do not notice your blind spot – what you see is a whole image.

How does that happen?

Well, your brain has the ability to fill up the details by scanning the area around your blind spot.

And you are not even aware of it.

Why are we telling you this?

Because it is essential for you to understand the power of our brains.

Similarly, as with pictures and vision, our mind can also fill up the missing details of reality. In other words, what we see is not a reflection of the world, but partly an image created by our mind.

Our brain also plays a big part in the details we add to our memories.

Whenever you think of a past event, it is impossible that you remember everything that has happened to detail, since your life is filled with too many information to store.

However, your brain picks up key emotions and details of events and uses them to recreate the memory when you “need it.”

This means that even past events that we are confident that occurred are not entirely facts, but are a mixture of reality and our brain’s fictive imaging.

Also, our brain is wired in a way that it stores more information about the unusual than about the common and mundane.

Now, the problem arises when the brain uses the same kind of power for creating images of our future.

How many times has it happened to you that you only know that you will do one thing for a fact, but you already have a scenario in had of how that thing is going to play out?

The brain may know just one information – for example, that you have a date tonight, and create a whole story around that one piece of information.

What is the problem then?

Well, once you create an image of a future event, you cannot imagine it playing out another way.

In other words, you create an expectation.

And we all know how disappointing it is when your expectations do not get met.

But disappointment is not the danger here. Belief in predictions about the future is.

Sometimes we mistake our own mental images with facts about the future, which can affect our behavior and decisions.

You need to remember that your current emotions have a large impact on the image you create about the future.

However, we are not saying that you should not take chances.

Most of the time you will regret all the things that you did not try to do than those you did and made a mistake.

The truth is, mistakes can be great teachers, while idleness will bring you nothing.

However, accept that there are and there always will be unpleasant events and situations and life and prepare to face them.

Interestingly enough, our brains are made in such a way that we distress more about small and trivial misfortunes than about significant matters.

How come?

Well, our brains protect us from big and really stressful events.

When it comes to minor shocks, on the other hand, they leave the ball in our court.

But our brains also allow us to induce positive worldview.

The only thing you need to do to become more positive is to surround yourself with people and information that backs up your perspective.

In other words, you need to control the information that you are letting get to you and limit it just to information that is positive.

Yes, it is time you look at the direction of happiness and ignore everything else!

Key Lessons from “Stumbling on Happiness”

1.      Your Brain Creates Whole Images Out of Pieces of Information
2.      Compare Products Based on Their Value
3.      Take Chances

Your Brain Creates Whole Images Out of Pieces of Information

Our brains are capable of creating a whole image out of a few, or sometimes even out of just one piece of information.

Often, when it does that, it is wrong.

This means that your memories are not completely factual, and that indulging in predicting the future can prove destructive to the choices you make, since what you think of as predicting based on facts, is actually daydreaming.

Compare Products Based on Their Value

Whenever you compare products, do not compare them based on their past princes.

Prices will go up, and if you allow yourself to think like this, you will always get frustrated.

Instead, compare products based on their value. Just think about what else you can get for the price you are paying.

Take Chances

It is essential you take chances, make choices, and simply act.

Do not get worried about making mistakes, since you are more likely to regret chances you did not take.

Accept that bad experiences are part of life, and take action.

Plus, adverse times can be great teachers.

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“Stumbling on Happiness” Quotes

My friends tell me that I have a tendency to point out problems without offering solutions, but they never tell me what I should do about it. Click To Tweet Our brain accepts what the eyes see and our eye looks for whatever our brain wants. Click To Tweet The fact that we often judge the pleasure of an experience by its ending can cause us to make some curious choices. Click To Tweet If you are like most people, then like most people, you don't know you're like most people. Click To Tweet Our inability to recall how we really felt is why our wealth of experiences turns out to be poverty of riches. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“Stumbling on Happiness” explores bad decisions and why we make wrong choices.

Having in mind that the consequences of a wrong step can be quite big. However, at times, this book underestimates these consequences, by giving them the power to change our worldview in a way that we are able to see the good in bad situations.

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Rewire Summary

Rewire SummaryChange Your Brain to Break Bad Habits, Overcome Addictions, Conquer Self-Destructive Behavior

Have you tried multiple times to change a bad habit but never succeeded? Do you sometimes overreach and behave in ways that are self-destructive and only hurt you?

Do not worry; it no longer has to be that way.

Read our summary of “Rewire” and find out how you can finally change your life.

Who Should Read “Rewire” and Why?

All of us are in the same boat: we all have some bad habits that we would like to get rid of.

We all had instances when we acted in a way that was not beneficial to our overall happiness.

That is why we believe that everyone can benefit from reading “Rewire.”

It is a book which will help you understand yourself better, and find a way to improve.

About Richard O’Connor

Richard O’Connor is an author, a psychotherapist and has formerly been an executive director of the Northwest Center for Family Service and Mental Health in Connecticut, USA.

“Rewire Summary”

At times, we do things that hurt us.

Then, we wish we could go back in time and take back whatever we did or said.

Not rarely we enter a chain of self-destructive behavior which does not enrich our lives in any way.

But, this thought and behavior patterns are common for everyone and are part of us being human.

However, knowing that you are not the only person who makes mistakes, does not mean that you should just keep living the old way.

Instead, we propose another thing: understand yourself, and then take a step forward and “Rewire” your brain.

How?

Do not worry; we will cover this as well.

First, let us explain why we make wrong choices, even in instances when we know we will regret them later.

All of us have two selves: an automatic and a conscious self both of which affect our decisions.

The automatic self, just like its name proposes, acts without us exercising control over it – it is mindless.

The conscious self, on the other hand, uses reasoning and rationality.

Can you guess which part is responsible for the decisions you regret?

That is right: the automatic self.

This means that if you want to change your destructive habits, you have to try to act consciously most of the time or keep your automatic self in control.

Although having a more dominant conscious self is great, not many people achieve it.

However, it is, as we already said, possible (and even more effective) to train your automatic self in a way that positively affects your conduct.

Biologically speaking, it is known that our brains are continuously building new cells and links among them.

Hence, when you do something often, your brain will create more connections between those brain selves.

As you do the action again and again, and as the connections between nerves grow, it will become a habit.

There are two types of habits you can have: good habits and bad habits.

You cannot change a bad habit just by fighting it. Instead, you need to replace it with a good habit.

There are also some habits that we think are good, but are actually self-destructive.

These are called self-serving biases, which distort our worldview: we feel like we are responsible for our good traits, but the world is to blame for all the bad ones.

The bad news is that we have many habits, especially in our automatic self, and it is not easy to replace or “unlearn” them.

However, it is far from impossible.

There are two types of people in this world: those who fight their thoughts and those that don’t.

The people that do not fight with their emotions either do it because they never thought about making some kind of change, or because they have tried and failed numerous times to fix themselves.

The second kind of people should avoid making too big expectations, to avoid getting disappointed.

But is there a way to completely get rid of bad habits?

Of course, there is.

But it requires dedication and practice, and it is called mindfulness.

Mindfulness can have immense benefits on the quality of your life, since it is an objective observation of yourself, without judgment and sense of unworthiness.

Mindfulness can help you see what you do, and why you do it, and finally find a more conscious way to act.

Key Lessons from “Rewire”

1.      Work on Your Two Selves
2.      Do not Repress Your Emotions
3.      The Key to Change Lies in Mindfulness

Work on Your Two Selves

Each person has two selves that influence their behavior: an automatic one and a conscious one.

The automatic one is the one who is responsible for bad decisions, which people have no time to process.

To change their behavior people can either try to be more conscious most of the time or work on controlling their automatic self, which may prove more effective.

Do not Repress Your Emotions

Repressed emotions are causes of many destructive patterns.

Always try to express your emotions, since they will not disappear if you keep them inside yourself. Instead, they will just pile up and eventually burst and create an unwanted situation.

So accept your emotions, since they are never and can never be right or wrong, learn how to communicate them, and always do.

The Key to Change Lies in Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the key to change. It will not be an easy road to walk, but it is worth it.

Be mindful of what is going on in your head and heart. Do not judge, just observe, and start to objectively pick what you think and feel.

Like this summary? We’d Like to invite you to download our free 12 min app, for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

“Rewire” Quotes

There is a lot of research to suggest that we feel better overall as we are progressing toward our goals; we have a sense of purposeful involvement, we give ourselves mental pats on the back for being so good and industrious, our… Click To Tweet Keep a journal of disappointments, failures, and self-destructive actions. It’s important to write this down because these are the kinds of things your self-serving bias will want to forget or minimize. Click To Tweet Avoid triggers. If you’re an alcoholic, stay out of bars. If you’re a depressed or impulsive shopper, don’t go shopping. When you have to, go in with a list, rush in, and rush out. If you watch too much television, don’t sit in your… Click To Tweet Avoid enablers. These are people who make it easy for you to perform your self-destructive behavior. People you go on a smoking break with. People who encourage you to take risks. Click To Tweet It seems like the value you attribute to something, more than its inherent value, influences your expectations, and your expectations, to a great extent, influence the life you live. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“Rewire” is a great book packed with a lot of information.

It shows you that we all have bad habits and that we all can gain some control over them.

It also explains the roots of unwanted behavior, which is important because knowing the reasons can help you find the right way to “heal.”

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