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Resolution Reading List – Changing Habits for 2013

By Rebeca Schiller

It’s that time of year when we’re all making resolutions and promising to stick with them. Unfortunately, many of us won’t get past the first week without lapsing back into the same old, bad habits.

According to neuroscientists and psychologists it takes about three weeks to develop new, healthy habits. To help you understand how habits form, but also how to help turn your life around and achieve your goals, we recommend the following books:

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The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

In The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg explains why habits exist and how they can be changed. With the ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives, Duhigg brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation.

We learn why some people and companies struggle to change, despite years of trying, while others seem to remake themselves overnight. We visit laboratories where neuroscientists explore how habits work and where, exactly, they reside in our brains. We discover how the right habits were crucial to the success of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and civil-rights hero Martin Luther King, Jr. We go inside Procter & Gamble, Target superstores, Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, NFL locker rooms, and the nation’s largest hospitals and see how implementing so-called keystone habits can earn billions and mean the difference between failure and success, life and death.

At its core, The Power of Habit contains the argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work.

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The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal

Based on Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal’s wildly popular course “The Science of Willpower,” The Willpower Instinct is the first book to explain the new science of self-control and how it can be harnessed to improve our health, happiness, and productivity.

Informed by the latest research and combining cutting-edge insights from psychology, economics, neuroscience, and medicine, The Willpower Instinct explains exactly what willpower is, how it works, and why it matters. For example, readers will learn:

  • Willpower is a mind-body response, not a virtue. It is a biological function that can be improved through mindfulness, exercise, nutrition, and sleep.
  • Willpower is not an unlimited resource. Too much self-control can actually be bad for your health.
  • Temptation and stress hijack the brain’s systems of self-control, but the brain can be trained for greater willpower
  • Guilt and shame over your setbacks lead to giving in again, but self-forgiveness and self-compassion boost self-control.
  • Giving up control is sometimes the only way to gain self-control.
  • Willpower failures are contagious–you can catch the desire to overspend or overeat from your friends­­–but you can also catch self-control from the right role models.

In the groundbreaking tradition of Getting Things Done, The Willpower Instinct combines life-changing prescriptive advice and complementary exercises to help readers with goals ranging from losing weight to more patient parenting, less procrastination, better health, and greater productivity at work.

Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister

Pioneering research psychologist Roy F. Baumeister collaborates with New York Times science writer John Tierney to revolutionize our understanding of the most coveted human virtue: self-control. Drawing on cutting-edge research and the wisdom of real-life experts, Willpower shares lessons on how to focus our strength, resist temptation, and redirect our lives. It shows readers how to be realistic when setting goals, monitor their progress, and how to keep faith when they falter. By blending practical wisdom with the best of recent research science, Willpower makes it clear that whatever we seek—from happiness to good health to financial security—we won’t reach our goals without first learning to harness self-control.

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Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy

Using “eat that frog” as a metaphor for tackling the day’s most challenging task, Tracy shows readers how to zero in on these critical tasks and organize their time. He details 21 practical, doable steps to stop the procrastination treadmill and get more of the important tasks done.

Excuses Begone!: How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits by Dr. Wayne Dyer reveals how to change the self-defeating thinking patterns that have prevented you from living at the highest levels of success, happiness, and health. Even though you may know what to think, actually changing those thinking habits that have been with you since childhood might be somewhat challenging.

If I changed, it would create family dramas . . . I’m too old or too young . . . I’m far too busy and tired . . . I can’t afford the things I truly want . . . It would be very difficult for me to do things differently . . . and I’ve always been this way . . . may all seem to be true, but they’re in fact just excuses. So the business of modifying habituated thinking patterns really comes down to tossing out the same tired old excuses and examining your beliefs in a new and truthful light.

Wayne presents a compendium of conscious and subconscious crutches employed by virtually everyone, along with ways to cast them aside once and for all. You’ll learn to apply specific questions to any excuse, and then proceed through the steps of a newparadigm. The old, habituated ways of thinking will melt away as you experience the absurdity of hanging on to them.

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