Initially, I felt put off by this book's "self-help" label because it seems most books in that genre simply repackage stuff your mom told you for free. What changed my mind were reviews on Goodreads and audible.com where readers tend to be a tough crowd and a book generally has to be very, very good to rate a 4 or 5-star rating. So, I figured why not, and picked up the audio version. As I began listening, I found the author (who also narrates the story) to be funny in a self-deprecating way and disarmingly honest -- I also realized this isn't really a self-help book.
The author describes what contributed to his on-air panic attack on "Good Morning America" and the details of his subsequent journey of self-discovery. He describes interviewing self-help authors like Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra and others... and rather than revering them as gurus, is skeptical about the uniqueness of their insights and approach. He decides the "voice in my head is an a--hole" and seeks actionable ways to cultivate a more effective coping mechanism. He ultimately tries meditation and finds it to be a useful way to cope with stress and cultivate compassion. This book has something for everyone:
- For folks who meditate, this story is a nice reminder of the benefits of meditation.
- For those not into meditation, it feels like listening an old friend tell his story of moving beyond a life altering event by "upping his game and becoming a leading man."
This is one of those books that would be good read on a Kindle or paperback, but is an absolutely great audiobook. Highly recommended.
"Making Habits, Breaking Habits" describes what it takes to form new habits and how to optimize success along the way. The book takes on the 21 day "rule of thumb" that is so often referred to (hint: while it varies based on the habit type, the 21-day parameter generally isn't correct). What I found especially useful is how Dr. Dean describes actionable ways one can increase the likelihood of successful habit forming, by habit type. He also reinforces the concept that multiple small changes can add up to big benefits. This book is a worthwhile listen for anyone trying to develop or reinforce habits, whether it's stopping smoking, eating healthier, exercising more routinely, etc.
Canadian Chris Hadfield's "An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth" is a fun, fascinating listen. Author/narrator Hadfield describes his lifelong dream to become an astronaut (tip: lots of study and hard work required), how he maintained his fitness for consideration as an astronaut (tip: if abdominal surgery is required, request the laparoscopic approach), and despite the title, life in space. He describes the demands an astronaut's family faces and his experience working as part of an international crew on board the International Space Station, led by a Russian commander. As I listened, Colonel Hadfield's book quickly became a favorite audiobook: Hadfield has an earnest, engaging narrative style and his stories about life on earth and in space are very compelling. Highly recommended.