Open your Amazon account or head over to your local Barnes & Noble bookstore — no matter how you order books, these suggestions from the Greater Good Science Center will surely match up with at least one of your 2017 goals:
“Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior,” by Jonah Berger. According to Wharton professor Jonah Berger, most of what we decide to buy, wear, believe and spend our time on isn’t determined by our inherent values and interests. Just the opposite: we are subconsciously affected by the thoughts and actions of others. The key, Berger says, is to use social influence for good by creating a more diverse environment in your workplace or classroom; it can help more people feel like they belong.
“Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy,” by Robert Frank. As he addresses what he calls the “myth of the self-made man,” Frank believes the power of luck plays as much a role in success as hard work. So, why read this book? Frank hopes that understanding the role of luck will help us embrace public policies that achieve more fairness for those who’ve been left behind economically through no fault of their own.
“The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence,” by Dacher Keltner. Attaining power does not require force, deception, manipulation or coercion, contends GGSC co-founder and faculty director Dacher Keltner. Through his years of research he has discovered that “empathy and social intelligence are vastly more important.” Unfortunately, when you become powerful in a group, that feeling can sabotage the social intelligence skills you need to wield power responsibly. Keltner’s book aims to help readers avoid such pitfalls.
“America the Anxious: How Our Pursuit of Happiness is Creating a Nation of Nervous Wrecks,” by Ruth Whippman. Who doesn’t relate to this title? Whippman entertains readers with details on her attempts to understand America’s happiness points: She attends meditation classes, visits companies creating artificial workplace communities, and even spends time with a group of Mormons — purported to be the happiest Americans. Her conclusion? The answer lies in improving the social supports that science shows actually contribute to happiness.