Summer holidays are the ideal time to rest and to reflect. Find new ideas and consider different perspectives. It is an ideal time to think about what really matters to us, particularly where we find our meaning and joy in life. It is also an ideal time to contemplate on the changing world around us, revive our lost focus or even learn to re-think.
The IPPC team loves to learn and to read and we have assembled a list of our favourite books that have helped us to reflect and learn. This reading list is meant as a recommendation to our fellow coaches, although the subjects from these books are common in most coaching conversations as well.
The following 10 recommended books are in no particular order:
- Man’s search for meaning – Viktor E. Frankl
“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.”
This classic book written by the founder of logotherapy, but also a holocaust survivor Viktor E. Frankl, and digs deep into some of the fundamental forces of life such as hope, love and inner freedom. Frankl posits in his book and in his theory for logotherapy that our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life. And further that we can find meaning under all circumstances of life. This book is one of those books that will make you think deeply, and possibly changes your life.
- Book of Joy – Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams
“Discovering more joy does not save us from the inevitability of hardship and heartbreak. In fact, we may cry more easily, but we will laugh more easily, too. Perhaps we are just more alive. Yet as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather that embitters. We have hardship without becoming hard. We have heartbreak without being broken.”
This book is an absolute joy to read! One of the most joyful and wise men in the world, his Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, discuss in this book the essence of Joy, the obstacles to Joy and what the eight pillars of Joy are. The reader is also treated with some practical exercises on how to increase Joy in their own lives. A lot of the discussions refer to research in Positive Psychology and the book embraces the science along the spiritual side. The book is not intended to be a Christian, or a Buddhist book but rather a universal discussion around Joy.
- Human Kind: A hopeful History – Rutger Bregman
“Catastrophes bring out the best in people. I know of no other sociological finding that’s backed by so much solid evidence that’s so blithely ignored. The picture we’re fed by the media is consistently the opposite of what happens when disaster strikes.”
Are we humans inherently good or bad? This is a question that has long been debated in religion, science, politics etc. When watching the daily news, we sometimes get the feeling that we are living in a world full of chaos, where we should not trust, let alone treat kindly, our fellow human beings.
This book makes a really convincing case for the statement that we humans are fundamentally in most cases kind. It does so by exploring the history of human kind and also looks at several famous psychology studies such as the Zimbardo prison experiment, giving more insight into how things can be also interpreted differently. The book also contains a lot of criticism of the media and how things are presented in the news. It can help one to reflect on one’s news consumption. The book leaves one feeling hopeful!
- Chatter – Ethan Kross
“We think about that screwup at work or misunderstanding with a loved one and end up flooded by how bad we feel. Then we think about it again. And again. We introspect hoping to tap into our inner coach but find our inner critic instead.”
Ethan Kross, a psychologist and neuroscientist explores in his book our chatty mind, why it is so chatty and how can we quiet it when we need to or want to. The book is based on psychology and neuroscience research and offers concrete tools and techniques to start applying today.
- The things you can see only when you slow down – Haemin Sunim
“When I look deeply within myself, I realize what it is that I really want from others: attentive ears that listen to what I am saying, kind words that acknowledge my existence and worth, gentle eyes that accept my flaws and insecurities.
I resolve to be that person for those around me.”
A summer’s day, light breeze and the sunlight on your face, the hammock swaying gently. The perfect book for this scenario is “The things you can see only when you slow down.” Written by Haemin Sunim, a Buddhist teacher and writer, this book is a collection of advice on work, life, love, friendship etc. On how to look at ourselves and others with a lens of loving-kindness. And to slow down and take time to really look at things with attention. A lovely, lovely book, just like a summer breeze.
- Stolen focus – Johann Hari
“The truth is that you are living in a system that is pouring acid on your attention every day, and then you are being told to blame yourself and to fiddle with your own habits while the world’s attention burns.”
Reaching out to our phones to check what is going on has become an automatic thing. When we notice something beautiful outside, instead of studying and admiring it, we reach for our phone to take pictures. We are lost in a digital world, and rarely present in the physical world. And when we notice that we have used yet another hour of our life by scrolling mindlessly, we start blaming ourselves for being lazy and lacking willpower. Johan Hari explores in his book the question why we can’t pay attention anymore by talking to leading scientists about it. He suggests that it is not our individual shortcomings that are to blame for the attention deficit but it is a fault in the system we live in. The book explores twelve causes for this attention deficit crisis we live in, and on a more hopeful note suggests solutions how we can start to gain back our focus.
- Quiet – Susan Cain
“Introversion- along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness- is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology. Introverts living in the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are. Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality style, but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform.”
If you are a coach, there is a big chance that you are an introvert, but if not many of your clients are. Either way, this book offers a thorough exploration of introversion and also extroversion, the strengths of both and how we can best work with, not against our natural tendencies. Growing up as a “wannabe” extrovert this book really opened my eyes and helped me to understand and embrace my introversion.
- Think again – Adam Grant
“Questioning ourselves makes the world more unpredictable. It requires us to admit that the facts may have changed, that what was once right may now be wrong.”
The world around us is constantly changing, yet we tend to carry some of our opinions and beliefs with us throughout our whole life. Adam Grant is inviting us to take a closer look at our biases and our beliefs and ask ourselves: how do we know what we know? He is encouraging us to think like scientists, to look at the facts, to ask questions, to listen and not to be afraid of admitting that we are wrong about something.
- Why we sleep – Matthew Walker
“AMAZING BREAKTHROUGH! Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory and makes you more creative. It makes you look more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and the flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious. Are you interested?”
This excellent book by Matthew Walker looks deeply into the science of sleep. Why do we sleep (scientists are still debating this)? What affects our sleep – and how can we sleep better? This book is a must read for you or your clients struggling with having enough sleep.
- Sand Talk – Tyson Yunkaporta
“After three of four years of schooling, the nucleus basalis, which forms sharp memories in the brain, falls into disuse and decays. This is the part of the brain that makes learning so effortless for small children, and it is always activated in undomesticated humans. But neuroplasticity research has shown that damage to the nucleus basalis can be reversed by reintroducing activities involving highly focused attention, which results in massive increases in production of acetylcholine and dopamine. Using new skills under conditions of intense focus rewires billions of neural connections and reactivates the nucleus basalis. Loss of function in this part of the brain is not a natural stage of development–we are supposed to retain and even increase it throughout our lives. Until very recently in human history, we did.”
Tyson Yunkaporta is offering a fascinating view of the current global systems from Indigenous viewpoint. It is a book about communication and connection, about how we learn and how we remember things. Tyson Yunkaporta’s book suggests that Indigenous thinking might make the Western world more sustainable in the long run.
Enjoy this summer reading list and the awareness, insights and learnings that they bring.