10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works by Dan Harris

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works  by Dan Harris

10 happierDan Harris had problems, like all of us, but unlike all of us, he was beginning to experience some of the messier symptoms of his dysfunctional inner world in front of millions of people.

He sought help and jumped into the meditation world with both feet. I think its why most people find their way into spiritual practices- something isn’t working quite right in their life and they need to change from the inside out. So, they look for a process of inner change and run smack into meditation.

However, Dan isn’t drinking the kool-aid of the new age movement. He questions every practice for its practical benefits and searches for scientific experimentation to back up those benefits.

In essence, he brings the investigative skills that he applies to his job as a news anchor to the practice of meditation and it’s a delight to read.

I loved this. Dan had the same initial reaction to Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra that I did. One of them seems too mellow to be real and the other seems to market himself too well to be that spiritual.

Over time, I’ve come to love both of those authors/gurus for their wisdom, but they are both just out of this world. Harris isn’t afraid to point that out.

In conclusion, I’d recommend 10% Happier to anyone who wants to become 10% happier- isn’t that all of us?

Also, anyone who has read Eckhart Tolle or Deepak Chopra may also enjoy this, if only for the surprisingly accurate descriptions of their foibles. Anyone who wants to try meditation but feels like they don’t have time, couldn’t do it if they tried, or doesn’t know where to start may find some inspiration from this book.

And, finally, anyone who is fed up with the hippie-dippie-trippie feeling that most spiritual memoirs give them, will find a kindred soul in Dan Harris.

Thanks for reading!

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I’ll Put 3 Chips on God, Just in Case There is One by Preeti Gupta

I’ll Put 3 Chips on God, Just in Case There is One by Preeti Gupta

i'llput3chipsongodI’ll Put 3 Chips on God, Just in Case There is One reads like what you would get if you crossed Bridget Jones’ Diary with an episode of Seinfeld and added a dash of New Age spiritual musings.

Preeti, in a conversational way, discusses everything from karma to palm reading.

I liked that she didn’t talk down to the reader or apologize for her thoughts. She just puts it out there and lets everybody come to their own conclusions.

My favorite part of this book was when Preeti goes to the astrologist twice to see if he would give her the same natal chart on both visits. She lets some years pass so that she won’t be recognized by her face and compares the results. They don’t match.

Preeti celebrates the fact that the charts were completely different because it backs up her theory that folks who are in the spiritual business only for money are hucksters.

But, at the same time, she doesn’t dismiss astrology as utter nonsense and leaves the door open for more learning on the subject.

It’s refreshing to find an author who is that willing to entertain different traditions even in the face of a fraudulent experience. She freely admits that she doesn’t know the ultimate truth and I think everyone can resonate with that idea… because, who does, really? Not me.

If you enjoyed I’ll Put 3 Chips on God, I’d recommend reading Life’s Operating Manual: With the Fear and Truth Dialogues(Tom Shadyac’s thoughts on life and spirituality) or Tipping Sacred Cows: The Uplifting Story of Spilt Milk and Finding Your Own Spiritual Path in a Hectic World (in the same conversational type of style as this book and with irreverent humor, Betsy Chasse talks about her journey through the New Age Movement).

I received a free digital copy of this book from the author.

I apologize that I took so long to review it. I sometimes get lost in my own to-read pile. Thank you, Preeti, for sending it to me.

And, thank you, for reading!

Art Of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander, Benjamin Zander

Art Of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander, Benjamin Zander

art of possibilityThe Art of Possibility takes a psychologist and a musician and smooshes their ideologies together to create a self help program.

“Our premise is that many of the circumstances that seem to block us in our daily lives may only appear to do so based on a framework of assumptions we carry with us. Draw a different frame around the same set of circumstances and new pathways come into view.” pg 1.

The various practices that are discussed in The Art of Possibility seek to create those new frames.

One of my favorite chapters was: Being a Contribution. In it, the authors suggest playing life like a game. “The purpose of describing, say, your professional life or your family traditions as a game is twofold. You instantly shift the context from one of survival to one of opportunity for growth. You also have the choice of imagining other games you might prefer to play in these realms.” pg 59.

As a gamer, that’s an idea that I can easily assimilate into my life. 🙂

I also enjoyed: The Way Things Are“Being present to the way things are is not the same as accepting things as they are … It simply means, being present without resistance: being present to what is happening and present to your reactions, no matter how intense.” pg 100.

A little bit of Buddhist philosophy can go a long way.

One of my complaints about this book is that I don’t think that it fit together as seamlessly as they were hoping it would.

Also, I feel like non-musicians may not get as much out of this book as I did. It is rather heavy on the music stories and metaphors.

But, like many self-help books, it is packed with actionable suggestions and feel-good stories. Recommended for those looking to inject a little more possibility into their lives.

Thanks for reading!

Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence

Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence

princeofthorns**Warning: minor spoiler in the last paragraph of this review. Read with caution.**

Prince of Thorns is about a boy who becomes a monster on his way to becoming a man. There’s some fantasy twists in it, but that’s the main story.

I wanted to love this book. But, sadly, the title character is simply unlikeable. And, the role of women in the book is either sex object or nothing.

“Two hundred dead farmers lying with their scythes and axes. You know, I warned them that we do this for a living. … I gave them that chance, I always do. But no. They wanted blood and slaughter. And they got it.” pg 1, ebook. That’s the very first page, folks.

And all of this cynicism and blood thirst is from a 14 year old. Sure…“There’ s a reason I’m going to win this war. Everyone alive has been fighting a battle that grew old before they were born. I cut my teeth on the wooden soldiers in my father’s war room. There’s a reason I’m going to win where they failed. It’s because I understand the game. pg 19, ebook.

Mark Lawrence tries to use a magical reason to explain this adult reasoning from a child, but it didn’t work for me.

“We wrap up our violent and mysterious world in a pretense of understanding. We paper over the voids in our comprehension with science or religion, and make believe that order has been imposed. And, for the most of it, the fiction works. We skim across surfaces, heedless of the depths below. … Until that moment when something from the cold unknown reaches up to take us.” pg 205, ebook.

If you want dark fantasy about a band of thieves, may I recommendThe Lies of Locke LamoraIf you’re looking for an epic fantasy about humankind being the pawns for something greater than ourselves, try Gardens of the Moon As for Prince of Thorns, if you must read it, borrow it from the library. Because then, like me, you can give it back, only have lost the time it took to read it.

Thanks for reading!

The Power of Personality: How Introverts and Extroverts Can Combine to Amazing Effect by Sylvia Loehken

The Power of Personality: How Introverts and Extroverts Can Combine to Amazing Effect by Sylvia Loehken

powerpersonalityThe Power of Personality is more than just another book that picks apart the obvious differences between introverts, centroverts, and extroverts. It delves very deeply into the strengths and possible hurdles that each face in business, social situations, and with each other.

Loehken presents management techniques for the different personality types and how one might leverage innate characteristics for the most positive outcome possible in a variety of ways. I found the book to be very helpful in explaining my own reactions to most perceived conflicts.

I hope to utilize what I’ve learned in the future to harness my strengths while minimizing the others. Some of my more damaging introverted tendencies are that I’m conflict/contact adverse and easily overstimulated in every day life.

I thought when Loehken discusses how the different personality types view each other that her descriptions were spot on. I think I do tend to categorize most extroverts as loud, unthinking buffoons. My mistake.

I suppose that extroverts view me as “boring, lame duck, sensitive flower, unsociable, professional worrier, reader, timid”pg 51. I never considered why.

Perhaps now with a more educated mindset, I can embrace personality differences and work more smoothly with extroverts. Rather than, in my previous experience, pushing them away so that I can have some peace and quiet.

The other portion of the book that I enjoyed is Chapter 8: Stressful Encounters: Status Games pg 161. It reminded me of a book on body language, I Can Read You Like a Book: How to Spot the Messages and Emotions People Are Really Sending with Their Body Language. But, instead of just focusing on body language, Loehken goes into all manner of status symbols, interactions, and conversational cues.

She dissects how, particularly introverts, do themselves a disservice in their professional and personal lives because of how they perceive and react to conflict. It blew my mind.

It may be because this is a European book (the price on the back is listed in pounds) but I have never read anything like this in an American business book. Loehken talks about the unwritten rules of polite society and how, in sometimes subconscious ways, we shape our relationships and our status to the people around us.

One of her tips for dominating or owning space that I’m going to integrate into my life (right now!) is to sit fully on an office chair instead of perching on the edge. “If you take the whole seating area of a chair, this has a higher status effect than someone who only takes up half the seat or sits on the edge.”pg 175. Lesson learned.

The weak part of this book was any of the bits that dealt with centrovists. Basically, Loehken kept saying (paraphrasing in my own words) ‘If you’re a centrovist, you enjoy the benefits from both types of personalities and will therefore be more successful in whatever it is that we’re talking about in this section.’

It got kind of annoying after awhile because Loehken tells us that everyone exists on a scale of personality (we’re rarely entirely one type or another from situation to situation) so the centrovist advice could have been most applicable for every reader. Unfortunately, it felt more like a ‘Captain Obvious’ moment every time it came up rather than a revelation.

If you enjoyed The Power of Personality, I’d suggest reading I Can Read You Like a Book: How to Spot the Messages and Emotions People Are Really Sending with Their Body Language. It deals with body language rather than the driving personality behind the body, but it is still illuminating. It helps readers monitor the involuntary signals that we send out in our day to day interactions, how to leverage your movements and to send the message that you want to send, rather than broadcasting your internal mindset unintentionally.

I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads. FTC guidelines: check! Thanks for reading!

Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore

Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore

killingjokeI’ve decided to explore the world of superhero comics. First on my list, Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore.

The story opens on a dark and stormy night. We’re heading into Arkham Asylum with Batman. After passing a few famous inmates, we’re outside inmate #0801, Name Unknown’s cell.

A shadowy figure is playing solitaire within the barred room. It’s The Joker.

By far, one of the creepiest villains of the Batman pantheon.

“So when you find yourself locked onto an unpleasant train of thought, heading for the places in your past where the screaming is unbearable, remember there’s always madness. Madness is the emergency exit…”

He is mad, yes, but brilliant in his insanity. And, in that, is he so different from the rest of the human race?

“Faced with the inescapable fact that human existence is mad, random and pointless, one in eight of them crack up and go stark slavering buggo! Who can blame them? In a world as psychotic as this… any other response would be crazy!”

Recommended for the more mature graphic novel readers because of some disturbing content and images, Batman: The Killing Joke is no joke and one heck of a ride.

Watchmen, also by Alan Moore, is one of my all time favorite graphic novels, so I was expecting to enjoy this one. If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, it’s another must-read for the graphic novel fan.

Thanks for reading!