HOLIDAYS ARE the best time to catch up on your reading. Here are some books worth your while.
The Upside of Irrationality
In his first book, ?Predictably Irrational,? psychologist Dan Ariely of Duke University, discusses the many unwise choices that lead most of us astray?in work, relationships, and life in general.
His second book, ?The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home? (2010, HarperCollins), is even more compelling. We all make irrational decisions, with negative effects, but surprisingly, sometimes they can be positive in the long run.
?(Irrational decisions) allow us to adapt to new environments, trust other people, enjoy expending effort, and love our kids,? Ariely says. ?These kinds of forces are part and parcel of our wonderful, surprising, innate?albeit irrational?human nature. These irrational forces help us achieve great things and live well in a social structure.?
Ariely uses data from real-life experiments to explain human behavior. In this eye-opening book, we learn why big bonuses don?t always work, what playing with Legos can teach us about enjoying our jobs, and why we overestimate the value of what we make. What makes us seek justice? Why do we get used to things, even those we initially dislike? Why are we more likely to help one person but not many? And, when choosing a partner, do we wait, settle or adapt?
Happiness, it turns out, can be learned. At least that?s what science increasingly reveals, and Christine Carter should know. Carter is the executive director of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California Berkeley, ?an interdisciplinary research center that translates the study of happiness, compassion, and altruism for the public.?
Using data from psychology, sociology and neuroscience, the researchers in the center study confidence, gratitude, optimism, hope, discipline and a host of other traits that are linked to happiness.
A mother of two daughters, Carter lists the most pertinent findings in a witty, often humorous book entitled ?Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents? (2010, Ballantine Books).
How can parents help their children change poor habits into good ones? In learning, why are effort and enjoyment better than perfection? How should kids be praised?and why is the wrong sort of praise often harmful? How can children be motivated to do routine tasks willingly? What factors make kids kind, loving, and compassionate? And why is eating dinner together as a family so important?
You?re Not the Boss of Me
How can parents avoid raising brats? The world is filled with temptations and distractions, and often it is too easy to give in to children?s demands. Many parents today want to be popular with their kids, and giving them what they want seems the simplest way to do so.
But not if we want to raise respectful, truthful, self-reliant and responsible kids, says American child development and behavior specialist Betsy Brown Braun. In ?You?re Not the Boss of Me: Brat-Proofing Your 4- to 12-Year-Old Child? (2010, Harper), Braun gives guidelines for parents in various challenging situations.
How can parents make their kids listen? How can children be encouraged to become responsible? What can parents do when their kids lie all the time? And, oh yes, how can kids learn respect?
Here is Braun?s blunt but effective reply:
?You are not your child?s friend,? Braun says. ?Your child has enough friends. You are his parent. Being a parent sometimes means being disliked (even hated). Your child may not like you, but he will respect you because you made the hard call and you followed through. Parents who have a backbone in the face of ?You are the meanest Mom in the whole world? are the ones on whom children know they can rely. The parent who looks away from the obvious limit-testing or disrespect, who tries to sweet-talk her child out of misbehavior, or who chooses not to impose the threatened consequence is not ?respecting her child.? She is a wimp.?
Mama Mary and Her Children
For people who have stopped believing in miracles, the latest book by media icon Fr. James Reuter, S.J., may help them regain their faith. ?Mama Mary and Her Children? was a bestseller a couple of years ago. Now, another compilation, ?Book Two: True Stories of Real People? (2010, Anvil Publishing), cowritten by Ma. Rowena Juan Matti and Cherry Castro Aquino, is fast becoming one, too.
More than 40 contributors (full disclosure: I was one of them) write about how Mama Mary affected?and continues to influence?their lives. Most of the stories revolve around physical healing (from cancer, polio, lupus, hemorrhoids, infertility, cyst, autism, gangrene, liver problems, retinal detachment). Some accounts are downright miraculous (Mama Mary levitates in a room, Mama Mary appears in the guise of a doctor who prevents an abortion, Mama Mary appears in the clouds, Mama Mary deflects a bullet so it does not hit anyone).
Some stories are less dramatic, but no less effective. Lonely ladies, who pray to Mama Mary and her husband St. Joseph, find loving spouses soon after. Desperate entrepreneurs who turn to Our Lady get their business problems resolved.
For me, Mama Mary is the embodiment of all peace. I feel Mama Mary?s love as I journey with Miguel Sangalang who says, ?I was sitting with my wife on the embankment of the River Gave facing the grotto at Lourdes, waiting for the candlelight procession. Then it came quietly?a feeling of ineffable peace. I had no fear, no worry, no cares whatsoever. It was my brief moment of heaven on earth.?
Have a blessed Christmas!
All books are available in National Book Store and Powerbooks branches.
E-mail the author at email@example.com.