Book Reviews: Teachable Moments, Happiness By Design, & The Complete Guide To Professional Networking

Hello everyone,

today let's take a break from history to talk about three interesting self-help books I've recently read. Enjoy!

Teachable Moments: Using Everyday Encounters with Media and Culture to Instill Conscience, Character, and Faith by Marybeth Hicks
Some people have questioned what right Hicks had of writing this book. Apparently four children and a career as a media columnist and adviser on all things parenting aren't good enough credentials. To me, raising balanced, conscientious, and independent children is all the credentials I need. These parents often give much better advice than so called experts who have studied child-rearing only on books.
That doesn't mean that I agree with everything Hicks said, though. But I still think this is a great resource for Christian parents who are finding it harder and harder to raise children in the tenets of their faith in a world that has lost its moral compass. Although we'd like to protect children from everything that is wrong and that could harm them, we can't. Even if we, for instance, ban them from watching at home a TV show we think is promoting the wrong values (and Hicks thinks you should if it doesn't match yours), your child will still hear about it from his friends or schoolmates. What to do then? Use it as a teachable moment. A teachable moment is an unplanned event that parents can use it to teach children a valuable lesson. In the example above, if you find out your child has watched something that was banned at home, talk to them about it and explain what you find offensive and wrong about it.
Teachable moments can happen at any time, anywhere. They can happen at school, at sports, at home, in the real world, while consuming media... Hicks has identified 8 categories where teachable moments can occur and, for each one, she has created 10 scenarios, often inspired by her personal experiences with her children, that help parents figure out what to do when they experience them. Of course, this is not a comprehensive guide. There is no way anyone could list all the situations your children can find themselves into, but it provides some practical tips and guidelines that can be applied to many events.
Hicks' approach is very old school. A conservative Christian and patriotic American, she believes in the importance of teaching obedience to children and thinks shame could be used to instill conscience and character into them. But she also believes in being present so as to be able to catch any teachable moment that comes your way, in talking to children, in teaching them to live their lives according to their values, and in loving and respecting even those who makes choices we don't agree with.
This approach to parenting certainly won't appeal to anyone. Patriotic and conservative Christian American parents will consider this an invaluable guide to help them raise their children, while everyone else may find Hicks' approach too strict and her tone a bit too preachy at times. Even so, though, there are many tips here than any parent can implement to help them navigate the many tricky situations they will encounter along the parenting way, and teach their children media literacy. Overall, I found the book very useful.
Available at: amazon
Rating: 4/5

Happiness by Design: Change What You Do, Not How You Think by Paul Dolan
Self-help books about happiness usually focus on changing the way you think. Paul Dolan, instead, has a different approach. He believes that we should change what we do. A self-styled sentimental hedonist, Dolan defines happiness as "experiences of pleasure and purpose over time." Therefore, we should behave in a way that increases our positive experiences. Combining the latest insights from economics and psychological research, he has created a "deciding, designing, and doing" system that helps us do just that.
To be happier, Dolan argues, we need to pay more attention to positive stimuli and devise our environment in a way that automatically maximizies our happiness. How? If you'd like to quit smoking, for instance, you should stop taking your cigarettes at work with you. Want to lose weight? When going to work, take a road where a gym, rather than a fast food, is located. This will take some cognitive effort at the beginning but, before you know it, your brain will become used to the new behaviour and turn it into a habit. This way, it will be much easier for us to achieve our goals.
Dolan also states how important helping others is for our happiness, and how we can stop procrastinating. That's a section that I found particularly useful as I'm a chronic procrastinator. Dolan made me think about why I do it and offered tips to stop this bad habit. Pretty much every claim he makes is backed-up by research or from personal experiences, making this book both an informative and engaging read. If you're read many self-help books about happiness without success, pick this up. This innovative approach may work for you. And if you’ve never read any, check it out too. The insights and tips it provides can help anyone become happier.
Available at: amazon
Rating: 4/5

The Complete Guide to Professional Networking: The Secrets of Online and Offline Success by Simon Phillips
It's not just what you know. Who you know matters too. Often, the best opportunities from your career come from networking rather than job boards, newspaper ads, and postings. Luckily, getting to know people is now easier than ever. Technology has made it easy for everyone to connect with anyone, but that doesn't mean that networking in person can be neglected too. In The Complete Guide to Professional Networking: The Secrets of Online and Offline Success, Simon Philips help you succeed in both.
The book provides lots of ideas and tools to help you build an effective network, and as a result, grow your business. It will help you figure out what events and conferences are worth attending (those can be pretty pricey and you want to make sure they are a good fit for your business needs), how to work the room once you are there, how to follow up with the new connections you made, how to use social media, email, and other online tools to grow your network and more. My favourite sections, though, were those about the four different styles of networking and the importance of adapting yours to that of the person you're connecting with, and those about accountability. After all, how do you know if you're using the right techniques and are connecting with the right people if you never measure your progress?
Every tip or technique is backed up by interviews with some of the world's most successful experts on networking, which are accompanied by their caricatures. These images are really fun and add an informal touch to a professional book. Not that the writing is boring. Phillips writes in a clear and straightforward way and the book flows easily. However, to me, what's missing to make it a complete guide on networking is practical examples of speeches, emails, and online profiles people can tweak and use to start a conversion with a stranger or follow up with their contacts.
Despite this, this is one of the most comprehensive books I've read so far on networking, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to get better at it.
Available at: amazon
Rating: 4/5

What do you think of these books?

Disclaimer: this book was sent by PR for consideration. In addition, this post contains affiliate links.