Making Hope Happen. Shane Lopez.

What makes humans different from other species? Shane Lopez argues it is our capacity for hope. In Making Hope Happen Lopez explores two intriguing abilities of the human mind: imagination and time sensitivity. He argues that these equip us to have hope – and thus to take positive action in our lives.  

Lopez also explores the difference between optimism and hope. He defines optimism as a tendency to expect positive outcomes. Hope, on the other hand, he describes as a belief in your own agency. This distinction underpins the book’s main argument that hope facilitates goal attainment but optimism simply makes you feel good.  

In addition to exploring the science behind hope, the book also includes many stories of hope that are truly inspiring. These are a great resource for anyone interested in teaching positive psychology techniques. After all, examples and stories are what bring dry theory to life.  

Making Hope Happen is written by a leading researcher in the field of positive psychology. If you are interested in the psychology of resilience, optimism or positive leadership, add it to your reading list. 

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About the author of this review

Eleanor Shakiba is a specialist in positive psychology. Her passion is teaching talented people to think and communicate in ways that promote excellence. Eleanor has been training for highly experienced professionals since 1994. She also works with high performing individuals as a leadership coach. Eleanor’s qualifications include degrees and diplomas in Social Anthropology, Positive Psychology, Counselling, Coaching, Adult Education and Neuro Linguistic Programming.  

The Science of Meditation: How to Change Your Brain, Mind and Body. Goleman and Davidson

What happens when you put a Buddhist monk into an MRI machine and study the impact of meditation on the brain? You get the makings of a best-selling book. The Science of Meditation is a layperson’s guide to the benefits of meditation. Based on solid research, it is a compelling read. 

Written by two experts in neuroscience, The Science of Meditation introduces you to a whole new side of meditation. It focuses on how meditation can impact both the mind and the brain. The authors provide fascinating evidence that after as little as two weeks of meditation, you can reap positive benefits. These include lowered stress levels, improved memory and enhanced focus. If you’re interested in the background on meditation research, this book is definitely for you. 

Why is this one of my favourite books? Because it is crammed with anecdotes about scientists exploring the wonderful landscape of the human mind.  

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About the author of this review

Eleanor Shakiba is passionate about helping talented people flourish professionally. She coaches and trains high performers who want to excel in business. Her core expertise is in positive psychology. Eleanor is qualified in Social Anthropology, Positive Psychology, Counselling, Coaching, Adult Education and Neuro Linguistic Programming. Eleanor’s passion is working with positive deviants – the people in communities and organisations who break paradigms and build new solutions to entrenched problems.  

Learned Optimism. Martin Seligman

When people ask me how to overcome anxious or negative thoughts, I suggest they read Learned Optimism. It’s a pragmatic, helpful introduction to the skill of cognitive reframing. It’s easy to read, yet is based on a solid research foundation.  

In Learned Optimismthe ”father of positive psychology” explores pessimism, learned helplessness, explanatory style and optimism. He then discusses how these thinking patterns impact our lives. Drawing on more than 25 years of research, Seligman describes how optimism can become a learned attitude. He describes a range of techniques people can use to think optimistically. Because these are drawn from robust research studies, these are techniques OD and HR practitioners can teach with confidence.  

Reading Seligman’s book will help you understand, apply and teach the thinking habits of optimistic people. Leaders, trainers, counsellors, coaches and Human Resources professionals are amongst the people I most commonly recommend it to.  

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About the author of this review 

Eleanor Shakiba is a training consultant and facilitator. Since 1994, she has delivered thousands of workshops on resilience, positive psychology and constructive communication. She works with people in high intellect professions – such as academia, education, project management, research and development and engineering. Her skills in interactive training make Eleanor a highly sought-after facilitator. In addition to her expertise in Positive Psychology, Eleanor also holds qualifications in Social Anthropology, Counselling, Coaching, Adult Education and Neuro Linguistic Programming. 

Humble Enquiry. Edgar Schein.

Edgar Schein argues that the ability to question – or enquire – without judging is critical to communication success. He defines humble enquiry as “the skill and art of drawing someone out”. He then argues that this style of questioning is the foundation for great leadership and change management. It’s also a critical skill for anyone whose work involves persuading, influencing or handling conflict.  

The key take-away from this book is that humble enquiry is based on a mindset of curiosity and respect. It’s not just about asking questions – it is about building dialogues and creating positive conversations. The purpose of humble enquiry is to understand others. The author examines today’s culture of telling everything about ourselves while finding it difficult to ask questions about others. He shows how this hinders our ability to build meaningful relationships with others. Then, he delves into the fine art of humble inquiries and the significant changes it can have on your relationships.  

Schein’s advice can be applied to almost any professional situation. His model involves creating conversations characterised by deep level listening and intelligent questioning.  

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About the author of this review

Eleanor Shakiba is a specialist in positive psychology training. She works with people in high intellect professions – such as academia, education, project management, research and development and engineering. Her skills in interactive training make Eleanor a highly sought-after facilitator. Aside from her expertise in Positive Psychology, Eleanor also holds qualifications in Social Anthropology, Counselling, Coaching, Adult Education and Neuro Linguistic Programming.  

Flourish. Martin Seligman

Clients often ask me to recommend a great book on positive psychology. Flourish is the text I most frequently suggest they read. It is a positive psychology classic and is a useful resource for both personal and organisational development.  

Flourish covers techniques you can use to live with happiness, purpose and optimism. The state of flourishing is compared to that of languishing (being okay but not reaching your full potential). It is full of tips for shifting your own mindset and being a positive influence on the people you come into contact with throughout your life.  

Add Flourish to your bookshelf if you’re interested in the science of human well-being, happiness and resilience. And if you get the chance to see the author – Martin Seligman – speaking, make sure you grab the opportunity.  

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About the author of this review 

Eleanor Shakiba teaches smart professionals to build positive thinking and communication habits. Since 1994, she has been teaching talented people – like you- how to think, communicate and behave in ways that build success.  Eleanor holds qualifications in Social Anthropology, Positive Psychology, Counselling, Coaching, Adult Education and Neuro Linguistic Programming. Her area of specialisation is using positive psychology to equip organisations and teams for success.  

Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth. Ed Diener and Robert Biswas- Diener.

“Happiness is more than simply an emotion…There is also a cognitive or thinking component to well-being”. This book explores both components, drawing on fascinating research into the mysteries of the human mind. Written by my favourite positive psychology researcher – Robert Biswas- Diener – Happiness is a constant source of inspiration in my facilitation and coaching work.

Happiness tackles many questions about what causes people to experience happiness. It gives new insights into questions such as if – or how – money makes people happy. However, the book looks at more than just physical and financial wealth. It takes an in-depth look at recent research findings on topics such as spirituality, engagement, well-being and social relationships.

Divided into four parts, the book explains the concept of psychological wealth. It also discusses why happy people function better overall. It ends with questions and surveys that allow you to measure your own psychological wealth. To me, the best feature of Happiness is the range of research snippets it contains. If you’re looking for evidence-based concepts to include in your well-being programs, you will find them in this accessible book.

 

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About the author of this review

Eleanor Shakiba is a master trainer and coach. She works with talented professionals in highly technical fields. Her passion is teaching ‘positive deviants’ to think positively and communicate constructively. A specialist in the field of Positive Psychology, Eleanor is also qualified in Social Anthropology, Counselling, Coaching, Adult Education and Neuro Linguistic Programming.

The Power of Positive Deviance

Positive deviance is constructive aberration from the norm. People who deviate in this way solve problems in ways others don’t even consider. The Power of Positive Deviance argues that positive deviance can be a formidable force for social change. It explores techniques for noticing and learning from positive deviants in groups and communities.  

The book focuses on why it is important to foster and connect with positive deviants in your business. It’s an excellent resource for anyone who wants to identify and learn from the deviant thinkers in their team or organisation. This is what makes The Power of Positive Deviance a great resource for leaders, trainers and Human Resources experts. 

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My favourite part of this book is the chapter on how experts in positive deviance used their model to solve the problem of childhood malnutrition in regional Vietnam. Not only is this a great case study, it ties back to theoretical concepts beautifully. Trainers, in particular, will find this a great story to add to their toolkits.  

About the author of this review 

Eleanor Shakiba specialises in teaching positive thinking and communication techniques to people in mind-based professions. Her clients work in academia, education, IT, engineering, finance and health. Eleanor is qualified in Social Anthropology, Positive Psychology, Counselling, Coaching, Adult Education and Neuro Linguistic Programming.