Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Ten Books that Will Rock Your World – with Implications for Happiness
We each have our own views on what the world is like “out there,” don’t we? Surely it makes sense that you would base your life on those views too, as you seek out happiness in life? If you have children, most probably you try to teach your children your personal pearls of wisdom on life, since you want them to avoid life’s “pitfalls” and achieve happiness too. But how much of what you really believe about the world out there is really true? For everyone? In fact, how much of what you think is “out there” really is out there?
The information we are presented with through the everyday media, and conventional psychologists and scientists, is far wide of the mark of what we now know about the nature of reality. There is a whole lot going on in the leading edges of psychology, neurobiology, cosmology, physics and consciousness studies that will literally rock your world. As the witches in Macbeth chanted, “everything is not as it seems.”
New discoveries are totally changing our understanding of health, healing, motivation, evolution, consciousness and even reality itself. How can such things not seriously impact on what you have based your life? On your very wellbeing and happiness? These are my ten favourite books that have the potential literally to blow your mind, and change the way you think about the world and achieving happiness.
1. Bruce Lipton, The Biology of Belief. (2008). Hay House. Bruce’s big discovery was that the environment around a cell controlled its behaviour and physiology, leading it to turn genes on and off. This totally turns upside down the conventional view, repeated almost daily in the media, that life is controlled by the genes.
Resulting in a new science of epigenetics, two major discoveries are the molecular pathways connecting the mind and body. Many subsequent papers by other researchers have since validated his concepts and ideas. So your mind turns genes on and off, and affects your cellular chemistry and your health. Fact.
2. Mark Waldman & Andrew Newberg, How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist . (2010). Ballantine Books. Be very clear, this is not about God – not at all. It’s about how your ideas become an identity in the brain, and the brain creates a reality in your head to match. You then live out this reality. This is not a New Age book – this is a book on neuroscience; these guys talk brain scans that prove every point - that is how they have come to their startling conclusions, and what you can do to take advantage.
3. Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe. (1992). HarperPerennial.
If you have not caught up with the holographic theory of the nature of the universe, then you really should. This book explains it in fairly simple terms. What it amounts to is that there are levels of order in our universe, from highly ordered to highly disordered – or chaos. In other words, chaos theory concerns order within disorder. Out of this, patterns arise.The disorder reflects the structure of a hologram, which also contains apparently chaotic patterns, with each small part containing information about the whole picture. And that is the beginning of a fascinating story, which has serious adherents, explaining the true nature of our world and how we can interact with it in otherwise inexplicable ways. Packed with amazing anecdotes, and lots of references for those who like to check up on the facts.
4. Rupert Sheldrake, A New Science of Life (3rd ed). (2009). Icon Books.
This is the guy who was personally vilified in an editorial in Nature on one of his papers, for “introducing god to science through the back door.” Yet his work is inscrutable; it is good science, and it is open for anyone to experiment with themselves.
He shows how science and its laws are dubious at best, and nothing more than unfounded beliefs at worst. He shows how many basic “facts” are not facts at all. Most intriguiging, and for which he is most famous, is his work with rats showing how learned behaviours are passed on to the very the next generation – which cannot be genetic. He also shows how these new abilities become available in other, isolated and distinct groups.
He provides experiments, which anyone can repeat, to show how new learnings are passed on in humans – almost instantaneously. He expresses the explanation in terms of morphogenetic fields.
5. Richard Bandler, Get the Life You Want. (2008). Harper Element The thing about Bandler – one of the two key originators of Neuro Linguistic Progamming (NLP) is that his focus is on being pragmatic – getting the job done. This book pulls together a lot of his favourite techniques for properly getting your head sorted out and installing that into your nervous system to make real positive improvement in how you see yourself, the world, and your capabilities within it. It is full of very practical step by step techniques, which actually work.
6. Dr Deepak Chopra, MD. Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine. (1990). New York: Bantam If you are at all doubtful about modern medicine, and are interested in looking beneath the bonnet (hood) with new eyes, the this is a good place to start. Chopra really got all this going in the seventies when he picked up on important work which shoed how neuropeptides – previously thought to be the messengers in the brain, were discovered connecting with and being produced by all kinds of cells throughout the body. In other words, the mind-body system is no longer some New Age or mystical thing, it is medical fact. Chopra saw the consequences and ran from there. This book is still a great place to get your inspiration as to what’s possible in looking after your own health, aging and healing.
7. Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything. (2007). Shambhala Wilber is one of my personal heroes. This book does, I believe, exactly what it says on the label. It is immense in its implications. Core themes are how we have – and still are – evolving in the way we look at things and what is important to us. These ideas are explored though history, from ancient history, developing religions, through the break with religion at the enlightenment, the industrial revolution, and the dawn of the modern age.
This is all pulled together around some key concepts. The first is the process by which all change and growth happens, how each new stage includes and adds to the one before (holons) but includes some new knowledge or awareness. Rather like Russian dolls, in a hierarchy of awareness. His next big theory was constructed out of trying to take account of internal experience of things, as well as their external description – rather like bringing scientific study together with feelings, including spirituality.
Written as a diologue, with Wilber holding a discussion, this immense work is inspirational, frequently witty, and a must read for anyone even remotely interested in how things came to be this way, and were they are headed.
8. Don Beck & Chris Cowan, Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership and Change. (2005). Wiley-Blackwell This is perhaps the toughest read of the ten, and it is only for that reason it is not number one on my list. Beck and Cowan’s work is built on Prof Clare Grave’s groundbreaking work in the 60’s which explains how we change and grow at any level we look at, whether individually, in cultures, society, countries and as a species.It uses the concept of memes – ideas which appear, and spread over times and places. These ideas grow and fade as others appear – rather like waves on the shore. Yet each wave is more than what went before – rather as in Wilber’s Russian doll/holonic principle. Indeed, Wilber has since teamed up with the Spiral Dynamics guys. This book will tell you why you do what you do, and what’s important to you – which is what motivates you – and how and why this differs between you and others. It explains all the tensions we are facing in society. In other words, what’s going on out there, where it’s going, and where we fit in.
9. Richard Gerber,Vibrational Medicine: New Choices for Healing Ourselves. (1988). Bear & Co How many people do you know who say that there is no scientific evidence for homeopathy, healing, acupuncture, energy healing, chakras, auras etc etc? Not so. This book gives you the facts – paper after paper presenting well-designed experiments that demonstrate all these ideas and more. They just don’t get media coverage because – well why do you think? As always, the answer is to be found by following the money. Not that this book is into anything remotely related to conspiracy theories or any other explanations.
It lays out the facts about various unconventional treatments, explains the thinking that goes with explaining the facts – the theories – and shows the work which supports it. Read this to get a better appreciation of what so-called alternative or complementary treatments are really all about. And take back some responsibility for your health, instead of waiting till it goes wrong and using drugs to half-fix only the symptons of disease – rather than the causes.
How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True nature of the
Universe. (2010). Benbella.Lanza deals head-on with the key inconsistencies in
current theories of the nature of time, matter and space. Don’t let that put
you off either – it’s not a big technical work. He plots his arguments in
understandable terms, but those who do happen to know more science, he keeps
you on board too. Another book that will literally blow your model of reality
apart, and really get you thinking about what’s going on out there.. or is it
out there at all? Readable, plausible, enjoyable and inspiring. Robert Lanza, MD.