Recommended Books June 2018

The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature

by William James

William James’ treatise on religious experiences attempts to cogently explain aspects of psychology related to mystical experiences.

James was most interested in the direct experiences of people, which they and sometimes observers would afterwards claim as religious or spiritual in tone. Whether the experience was deemed a mystical connection, or as a sign of prophecy or other religious significance, and how these could translate into future significance in faiths – such as the designation of saintliness – are topics which concern the author.

The book itself is divided into twenty different lectures, each of which focuses upon religion and its relation to psychology. James makes a distinction between religion conceived by a healthy mind, and religious experiences which denote some form of psychic malady or illness, a phenomenon James refers to as ‘the sick soul’.

James explores in detail how religious experiences, and their retelling, result in the growth and expansion of religions. Conversions have, James notes, resulted from the convincing nature and aspects shared by spiritual events experienced by individual adherents.

Writing at the beginning of the 20th century, there had hitherto been little serious attempt at analysing and cataloguing the religious experiences in a psychological context. James brought his experience as a Harvard University professor to deliver a convincing and comprehensive treatise, characterised by a comparative disregard for theology and the principles behind organised religion.

The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life

by Bernard Roth

The co-founder of the Stanford d.School introduces the power of design thinking to help you achieve goals you never thought possible.

Achievement can be learned. It’s a muscle, and once you learn how to flex it, you’ll be able to meet life’s challenges and fulfill your goals, Bernard Roth, Academic Director at the Stanford contends.

In The Achievement Habit, Roth applies the remarkable insights that stem from design thinking—previously used to solve large scale projects—to help us realize the power for positive change we all have within us. Roth leads us through a series of discussions, stories, recommendations, and exercises designed to help us create a different experience in our lives. He shares invaluable insights we can use to gain confidence to do what we’ve always wanted and overcome obstacles that hamper us from reaching our potential, including:

  • Don’t try—DO;
  • Excuses are self-defeating;
  • Believe you are a doer and achiever and you’ll become one;
  • Build resiliency by reinforcing what you do rather than what you accomplish;
  • Learn to ignore distractions that prevent you from achieving your goals;
  • Become open to learning from your own experience and from those around you;
  • And more.

The brain is complex and is always working with our egos to sabotage our best intentions. But we can be mindful; we can create habits that make our lives better. Thoughtful and powerful The Achievement Habit shows you how.

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