Thursday, May 01, 2008

3 great books & 1 that's only okay

Lately, I’ve been finding myself telling people over and over again about a few books I’ve been reading, so I thought I’d share them with you:

1. Have you ever felt like you were living in the wrong place? Like you just don’t really belong where you are? Maybe the people are somehow fundamentally different from you, or maybe you just can’t get your career off the ground? There may very well be a good reason for this — it’s not necessarily you. In "Who’s Your City?", Richard Florida explains why where you live may be one of the most important choices in your life, with his reasoning in very clear graphic form. Some places are just where you have to be for certain professions. Face it — if you’re in finance, you’d better live in New York or London. And psychogeography really exists — people really are different in different locations. The book explained to me why I knew at a deep level, visiting as a child, that I had to move to the Bay Area. Turns out that my personality is much more sympatico with those here than in the New York metro area.

Florida also has a website,, but it will make more sense after you’ve read the book.

2. "The Brain that Changes Itself", by Norman Doidge, M.D., describes how the brain changes in response to differing stimuli. It discusses, in no particular order, treatments for autism spectrum disorders, phantom limb pain, how to ward off age-related memory loss and much more.

The book discusses how incremental rewards work best to encourage practice -- and practice is generally how the brain changes. This convinced me to have the participants in my class last weekend check in with themselves after each exercise we did, and report the changes that happened on a subjective scale of 0-10. Wow! I don’t know how rewarding each check-in was for the participants, because they were experiencing the changes, but it was really rewarding and motivating for me! Because I wasn’t personally experiencing the changes, and because there were too many people for me to personally monitor them in the way that I would with a private client, I needed another sort of feedback. This was perfect! I watched as the group made progress from one exercise to the next even though each participant didn’t necessarily have positive results with each process. Not only did I want to keep going to see what would happen after the next exercise, but I also want to teach the training again — soon!

3. Want to convince your child to eat spinach? Or convince your company to adopt a new policy or procedure? "Made to Stick", by the brothers, Chip Heath and Dan Heath, one of whom is a professor at Stanford Business School, tells you how, in a simple, clear and entertaining fashion. They really practice what they preach! They say the key to writing convincing copy is


And back that up with lots of real world examples. I know I’m going to try it!


I recommend getting these books from your local library (saves trees and money), but if you want to buy any of them, could you please do it from my website, which will send you to Amazon? Go to pages/resources/recommended-readings.php, and just click on the title that interests you. Check out the other books, too while you’re there.


Now for the book that’s only okay. Oprah has been leading internet classes that are reaching literally millions of people around the world 9whenaired and as downloads), with Eckhart Tolle. I applaud them for this. They even open each segment with a brief meditation. Imagine that, 700,000 people meditating together all over the world!

And there is a lot to recommend Tolle’s book, "A New Earth". For example, Tolle has a very cool way of getting people aware of their energy bodies — he asks you to feel the aliveness in your hand when it isn’t touching anything, and then expand that to your whole body. (Of course, he’s much more complete in his directions.) Try it now!

However, and this is why I am only rating this book so-so, he spends an entire chapter on what he calls the “pain-body”. Basically, he is agglomerating all of our less-than-helpful beliefs and memories (what we’d call parts in NLP), into one global “pain-body”, which “feeds on negativity” and “seeks more pain”. Yes, there is negativity in the world, some individual, some cultural and historical. But labeling it a “pain body” feels really disempowering to me, like there’s a demon living inside me that will be virtually impossible to eradicate (because what else do you do with a demon?). And when you make all the less-than-helpful beliefs into one giant entity, with a life of its own, you can’t ask what it’s positive intention is, without getting the answer that it wants what will help itself survive. So — chunk it down — deal with each individual issue as it comes up, as an indication of something to be healed.

Of course, Tolle suggests that the way out is awareness, in a very Buddhist way, which is fine. His first publisher, Marc Allen, describes Tolle as basically sitting on a park bench for a couple of years, non-functional, so I guess if you sit still long enough, just being aware, you’ll get to enlightenment. However, those of us on the “householders path” (an ancient and honored tradition of using our everyday lives as an expression and exploration of our spirituality), can’t sit still for a couple of years. We must use our jobs and relationships and experiences to get to enlightenment. Furthermore, I think there are much better and quicker tools for healing, including NLP, EFT, and hypnotherapy, among others.

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