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Last Updated on October 29, 2018

10 Great Psychology Books To Change Your Life

10 Great Psychology Books To Change Your Life

We’ve all been there, sitting in our local coffee shop with our book in hand, when suddenly you read something so enlightening, so unexpected that you choke a little on your double mocha frap. Maybe you stop to ponder for a minute that undeniable piece of wisdom, wisdom which flies in the frap-lathered face of an idea — or many — which you held so dear. This is a moment of epiphanic change, and it feels fantastic.

These are the moments with the power to change lives, and that right there is the highest value in reading. Sadly we all know that these moments are few and far between, so here at Lifehack we have compiled a list of the top 10 greatest psychology books which can change your life:

1. The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Heidt

The Happiness Hypothesis

    Starting with my personal favourite on the list, Jonathan Heidt effortlessly brings to light the beliefs of ancient systems and puts them under the scrutiny of modern science. Heidt conveys his superior knowledge of psychology and neuroscience, and compares it with his understanding of such ancient systems in a witty yet comprehensive way. Heidt shows the flaws and misconceptions of various systems and practices — as well as their truths — whilst offering a tangible solution to the many vices and privations which trouble the modern person.

    Who’s it for: Anybody who is chasing their own tale in looking for a source of happiness. After all, there is more to life than ______ (fill this in for yourself)!

    2. Civilization and Its Discontents by Sigmund Freud

    Civilization and Its Discontents

      Who can dismiss the ferocious intellect practised by world renowned father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. In one of his most famous works, Freud breaks down the construct of civilization and our relationships with others for the primal, and sometimes savage construct that it is. This is for those who aren’t fazed by a slightly heavier and more dense read. That being said, if you can break through this book and grasp its meaning, the understanding of why our civilization is built they way it is will help you navigate it all the more effectively.

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      Who’s it for: Those interested in why our civilization exists. You’ll need patience, and thick skin.

      3. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

      Thinking fast and slow

        In a summary of decades worth of research, Kahneman challenges the various cognitive biases people subconsciously possess, and apply day after day. Understanding that our minds are composed of two parts — an instinctive and primal section, and a more critical and rational section — together with their manifestations in decision making will give you an “aha” moment of relatability. The applications of this book are vast, from daily tasks to major business decisions, you’ll never look at decision making the same again.

        Who’s it for: The indecisive person in you. Those who face make or break decisions regularly. But before you get this book, it’s best you read this first to have some understanding about these “fast” and “slow” systems.

        4. Influence: The Psychology Of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

        Influence: The Psychology of Persuesion

          If you’re the type of person who finds themselves constantly being rejected by others — someone who is never taken seriously despite your best efforts at being authoritative, constantly left feeling like a pushover — Robert B. Cialdini has your back on this one. In this best-seller, Cialdini teaches us the 6 principles of persuasion which will ensure that you’ll never be left feeling like a fool again. In applying these 6 principles you’ll be at the centre of attention, seemingly commanding people with your every word. Mind control in disguise? Maybe. Totally awesome? Definitely!

          Who’s it for: Those with great ideas, but who struggle to have them acknowledged.

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          5. Outliers: The Story Of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

          Outliers

            Do you want to find out how the worlds most successful people became, well, successful? Who better than to ask someone who has spent years studying them and finding out exactly that. This is precisely what Malcolm Gladwell has done, and shares with us in his book Outliers. Through these observations, Gladwell developed “The 10000 hour rule” amongst other associations made on how one achieves a high level of success. Whether you’re an athlete, musician — or anything really — If you want to become world-class at it, this book is for you.

            Who’s it for: Anybody looking to become a champion, leader and grand master.

            6. Flow: The Psychology Of Happiness by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

            Flow

              In an unexpected yet mindblowing take on happiness, Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced cheek sent me high) shows through decades of research exactly how our happiness is effected by the work we commit ourselves to. He argues that happiness is achieved through a mental state known as Flow, where the high skill level of the individual is met with challenging work. Imagine a mathematician solving a perplexing problem, or an artist bringing their conception to life through seemingly perfect brush strokes. What happens to the brain during this state appears paradoxical!

              Who’s it for: Anybody working in a skilled profession, or who regularly practice a hobby.

              7. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art Of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

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              David and Goliath

                Yes you’ve read correctly, Malcolm Gladwell makes our top 10 list for the second time with this brilliant book. In using a dense array of examples, as is the style of Gladwell, we learn about the probability of improbable outcomes when small people face big challenges. Whether it is your unruly boss, a physical feat or mental condition, Gladwell shows us that it is possible to defeat things, even when the odds are stacked against you.

                Who’s it for: Those who struggle in the face of adversity.

                8. Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman

                Authentic Happiness

                  As one of the worlds most established Psychologists, Martin Seligman paves the way to happiness with this light and rewarding book. Proving that happiness is more a product of internal conditions rather than external, this book shows us how to develop the numerous aspects of life we often overlook. This is for anyone who wishes to become a more well-rounded version of themselves.

                  Who’s it for: People looking to develop their interactions with others.

                  9. Mindfullness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace In a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman

                  Mindfulness

                    In today’s frantic world its easy to get lost in the lightening pace of everything around us, and to forget about the moment to moment occurrences which can bring us true happiness. In this mega-popular book, Williams and Penman show us how to exist in this state of tranquillity in an ever moving world. Finding peace in the moment — not in some hippy, woo woo sense — but based on tried and tested psychological findings is a proven path to lasting happiness.

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                    Who’s it for: Anyone who is easily caught up in the rapid pace of the world. Those with anxiety issues.

                    10. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman

                    emotional intelligence

                      You may have noticed in recent years the fading of the IQ phenomenon, and the emergence of this new theory of EQ — or emotional intelligence — and for good reason. Psychology is now showing us that EQ is a bigger determinant of personal success and mental health than IQ. Emotional intelligence is exactly what the name implies, it is our ability to identify and handle not only our own emotions, but the emotions of others, and our ability to handle situations according to these principles. Overall a thought-provoking book.

                      Who’s it for: Anybody who lets their emotions, or the emotions of others get the better of them.

                      Featured photo credit: PixaBay via pixabay.com

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                      Last Updated on January 15, 2019

                      How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

                      How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

                      Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

                      In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

                      Step right up, don’t be shy!

                      Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

                      The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

                      Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

                      Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
                      So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

                      A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

                      Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

                      Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

                      When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

                      Culturally Conditioned

                      We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

                      I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

                      The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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                      Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

                      Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

                      Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

                      1. Broadens Your Network

                      After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

                      2. Improves Your Communication Skills

                      I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

                      Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

                      3. Continually Learning

                      So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

                      Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

                      4. Increases Self Confidence

                      Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

                      Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

                      So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

                      How to Talk to Strangers

                      Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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                      1. Say Hello

                      Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

                      Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

                      Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

                      2. Ask About Them

                      Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

                      You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

                      As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

                      3. Just Do It

                      One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

                      When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

                      Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

                      4. Don’t Take It Personal

                      One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

                      When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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                      5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

                      I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

                      One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

                      6. Detach

                      A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

                      Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

                      7. Share Your Stories

                      Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

                      To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

                      So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

                      8. Give a Compliment

                      Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

                      When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

                      9. Relax Your Body Language

                      If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

                      When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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                      If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

                      10. Practice, Practice, Practice

                      Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

                      Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

                      After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

                      The Bottom Line

                      As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

                      There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

                      Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

                      Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

                      More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

                      Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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