Title: Blink – The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Publication Date: 2005
Recommendation Score: 3.5/5
“Blink” is about experts’ intuition. The takeaway of the book is: the experts cannot be fooled easily because of their “thin-slicing” ability, that is, they can judge and find patterns in events based on a narrow window of experience, thanks to their intuition. On the other hand, experts can be easily (catastrophically) fooled, as in the case of “Warren Harding Error” (chapter 3). The book leaves you confused about when to trust an expert intuition and when not to.
Gladwell is a good writer and knows how to attract his reader’s attention. He is a talented journalist, who reads tons of articles and books, and interviews a lot of people, to write a good story. His storytelling style makes the reading of the book pleasant. When it comes to the content, the author is far from being an expert on the topic. In many chapters, Gladwell seems to jump between 2 or 3 stories to come to some conclusion, without citing solid evidence about the conclusion.
If you want to read a book that is based on solid scientific research, “Blink” may not satisfy your need.
Who are you, really? Do you consider yourself an extrovert or an introvert? Are you compassionate or rather detached? What defines your personality traits? Can you change your character?
The book “Who are you, really?” provides insights about the personality traits based on latest psychological studies. The good news is: you are not destined to have a certain character, you can change your personality traits. How? By pursuing your personal projects, you define who you are. In other words, the well-doing can change your character, and has an impact on your well-being. More details below.
Biogenic, Sociogenic and Idiogenic selves
The author argues that everyone has three ‘selves’:
The biogenicself: your genes define some of the traits of your character. This is the fixed part of your personality.
The sociogenicself: other traits of your personality are imposed by your social context and the culture you grew in; people who are important to you, your family, friends and colleagues.
The idiogenicself: what you decide to do, your projects and plans, are the last layer of your character. Studies have shown that what you do can even has an impact on the manifestation of your genes, and, in a sense, influence your genome at least temporally.
Fortunately, your genes and social context are not the only determinants of your personality. Your idiogenic self is your hero.
If you find yourself making a lot of stupid mistakes, having difficulty remembering names, and being unable to connect with people due to your bad mood, then you might need to consider to have more sleep.
“Why We Sleep” is a must read for all those who think that sleep is a waste of time, and that 5 or 6 hours of sleep are sufficient for them. It explains how modern life style is deteriorating our sleep quality and quantity, and its impact on our everyday lives, on organisations and on society.
In a nutshell, here are the proven benefits of a full night of sleep as the author puts it : it 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.
Establish a regular bedtime and wake-up time, even on weekends.
The author warns the reader against the use of sleeping pills, and recommends the cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBT-I, which is proved to be more effective and is rapidly being embraced by the medical community as the first-line treatment. The tips below include some of the CBT-I methods.
The book is written in a “coaching” style, and is full of research-based tips and practices that help you understand better the self-control mechanisms and employ them to gain more willpower.
One of the best interesting ideas that I find helpful is to mind the gap between your “Present self”, that is yourself, and your “Future self”, that super-human that can stick to any plan or budget. More details in the takeaways below.
The intelligent want self-control; children want candy.
Willpower is a biological instinct, like stress, that evolved to help us protect ourselves from ourselves. It helps us to be a better version of ourselves.
Self-control is like a muscle. It gets tired from use, but regular exercise makes it stronger. When your are too tired, you are most likely to give in to temptations. Self-control is highest in the morning and deteriorates over the course of the day. Try to accomplish your most important tasks early in the morning. When you come back from a hard day of work, exhausted, you are less likely to exercise, and more likely to overeat. Similarly, don’t get yourself into exhaustion before moments of big decisions. This includes sleeping well and eating well. Continue reading “The Willpower Instinct – Kelly McGonigal”→
Title: Atomic Habits – An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
Author: James Clear
Publication Date: 2018
Recommendation Score: 4.5 / 5
Very interesting book that deals with the science of habits. It can be considered an extension to the book “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, with more examples and a kind of user manual guidelines for building and breaking habits (see the tables below).
The author presents the ideas very clearly, inspired by many real-life cases and based on recent results of academic research. He provides useful chapters’ summaries and other insightful resources that you may check on the author’s website jamesclear.com.
The main guidelines that the author suggests to build a new habit or break an old one are presented below (source: jamesclear.com).
Title: Everybody Lies – Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are
Author: Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
Publication Date: 2017
Recommendation Score: 3.5/5
The key idea of the book is the following: people lie to everyone, but when they are alone in front of Google, they confess their deepest secrets. Therefore, using Google (anonymous) research data is very helpful in several domains, including social sciences, medicine, marketing, political campaigns, etc.
The book is divided into 3 parts. The first two parts emphasize the importance of data, and the fact that almost ‘anything’ can be data; pictures, words, any real-world measurements, etc. The author gives interesting insights about the potential uses of Big Data. However, in some paragraphs, the importance and usefulness of Big Data seems to be exaggerated. In other paragraphs, some evident facts (in 2017) about data are presented as new discoveries.
The last part of the book is the most important part to me. It deals with questions such as: how do we handle Big Data? Can we trust all data? What data? Data correlation vs. causality, how much is data relevant? Big Data and the empowerment of corporations and governments?