Well, I think we can all agree 2020 hasn’t been off to a great start. With awful bushfires in Australia claiming billions of animal lives, the death of basketball icon Kobe Bryant, and now a global pandemic on our hands, it would be easy to take a “woe is me” approach during such difficult and unpredictable times. We might as well throw in the towel, head home, and hibernate in a cocoon of duvets until this whole thing called life blows over. But that wouldn’t be a realistic or productive approach, would it? So what now? If we can’t change the situation, what can we do?
We can change our outlook. We’ve rounded up some great books to help you gain a little perspective on the current situation, help you weather out these tough times, develop a growth mindset, and prepare you to tackle any future obstacles that may come your way. Happy reading!
Written by two Japanese authors (Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga) in the style of a dialogue between a philosopher and his young disciple, The Courage to be Disliked offers teaching based on Adlerian psychology. The book instructs us not to focus on the past, but what we can do about it in the present and move on from any “so-called trauma.” Although the back and forth between the philosopher and student may seem a bit strange at first, The Courage to be Disliked pertains a lot of insightful lessons on inter-personal relationships and our “life tasks,” which can be applied to our outlook and approach to everyday life.
If you prefer something a bit more structured and clearly laid out, this book by Stephen Covey will be your bible on how to manoeuvre not just the workplace, but also everyday life and relationships. This highly successful book has sprouted FranklinCovey, a management training and assessment service for organisations and individuals, which has expanded to create a series of books for kids and teens. Not only does it teach us how to be effective with a good moral compass, but also how to be happy during stormy times with well-balanced relationships.
The Daily Stoic takes the teachings from Roman emperor and famed stoic, Marcus Aurelius, and breaks them down into 366 meditations on wisdom and perseverance. Stoicism, an ancient Greek philosophy, forms its perspective on personal ethics from its take on the natural world, which translates surprisingly well into today’s modern world. Each meditation takes no more than a page, making it the perfect read for those looking to gain mindfulness and a different outlook amidst packed schedules.
This memoir, written by Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, has riveted many since its publication. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later on in life, Frankl’s tenacity whilst labouring in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife died, teaches us that although we cannot avoid suffering, we can choose how to cope and find meaning with it, thus moving forwards with purpose. The suffering experienced by the author in this book offers an incredible perspective and valuable insight on how to overcome obstacles in challenging times.
If you prefer something more on the fictional side, The Alchemist follows the journey of a young shepherd named Santiago in search of a worldly treasure. Along the way, he uncovers something far more valuable than treasure, teaching us the importance of recognising life’s opportunities and following your heart and dreams.
According to business reporter Charles Duhigg, the key to achieving success in exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and earning that promotion is by understanding how habits work. Duhigg takes a scientific approach at looking into why we do the things we do and believes that by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, communities, and lives.
If you’re looking for a book to help get you out of the mental glitches you may occasionally have, this international bestseller—written by Daniel Kahneman, renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics—might be the book for you. Thinking Fast and Slow takes us on a tour of the mind and the way we think, explained in two systems: System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Take a deep dive into the effects of cognitive biases, learn where we can trust (and cannot trust) our own institutions, and how to tap into the benefits of “slow thinking.”
You’ve probably watched Simon Sinek’s talks on YouTube, so if you’re not in the mood to read, these videos would be a great substitute. However, the most important lesson found in Start with Why is its comparison of the two main ways to influence human behaviour: manipulation and inspiration. Sinek argues that inspiration is the more powerful and sustainable of the two. Sinek starts by explaining “why” we do things over the “what” and “how,” applying tech giants like Apple as an example of what makes and breaks leaders, and his analogies using the Golden Circle provides a great visual depiction to illustrate his principles.
If you are one for cutting all the BS and telling it how it is, Mark Manson’s book might just be the material for you. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck shows us how to stop trying to be positive all the time so that we can become better, happier people.
Once you’re done with the above and have learned the subtle art, you qualify for the next book, Everything is F*cked, which is a book about hope, and borrows philosophies from Plato, Nietzsche, and gravel-voiced singer Tom Waits.