Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Books that make you go Hmmm...

Here are two books that I've stumbled across lately, and have been impressed with. I'd recommend checking them out if you have a chance.

Happiness by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

Every since I read Finding Flow, I've been especially conscious about how being happy is a mental state, not merely a physical one. As such, it's far more useful to hack your brain to be happy, rather than say, try to accumulate lots of crap in the hope that the result will be a happier you.

Happiness, it turns out, is a nice little book to help in this effort. The book is organized as a series of short, readable chapters. Each chapter essentially provides a mind hack or strategy for being happy.

The book is written by a Rabbi and definitely makes reference to spirituality and The Creator. However, to me, the messages came across as universal, with the content being equally useful to Jews and non-Jews alike.

Perhaps the best part of the book is that it's so easy to experiment with. You just need to adopt a recommendation or two for a few days, and see if you like the outcome. Hey, it's way cheaper than buying a sports car or the latest Mac laptop.

Window Seat, Reading the Landscape From The Air by Gregory Dicum

Window Seat caught my eye as I was looking through the travel books at the library. The book is designed to brought along on your next flight and used to give you some appreciation for what you're flying over. The book is a fun mix of history, geography, geology and random facts. You also get an education as to how to interpret and aerial scene from 30,000 feet.

I like all of this. But, what I really like was the notion the author laid out in the intro of the book:

Taking a commercial passenger flight is one of the unheralded joys of life in the modern world. The food might be utilitarian, the seat cramped and your neighbor annoying, but the sheer pleasure of contemplating our planet from 30,000 feet in the air is worth any price. A century ago, nobody on Earth could have hoped to see this view, and it's yours-free-with every flight you take.

What an excellent point. How often do we have remarkable, even miraculous, scenery and events around us, yet we effective phase them out. Well, I for one, will try a little harder to appreciate the incredible opportunity to play planetary explorer, rather than kvetch about how little leg room I have.


  1. Hi Ben, I will tell Rabbi Pliskin that you liked his book - he is our dear friend and Rav here in Jerusalem and my husband is doing a series of videos with him. (He's been my husband's Rav since he got to Israel in the early 90s). Thanks SO MUCH for the very very adorable photos - keep 'em coming!
    Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom,
    Auntie Beh

  2. That sounds like a great book for me since I always nees to know where I am. have a gareat time in California. Bev

  3. Rebecca -

    Wow, please do tell Rabbi Pliskin that I enjoyed his book. I had no idea how connected you were :-).

    And I'm glad you love the photos, I just can't stop snapping them when I'm around the twins.


  4. Beverly -

    Thanks for the kind wishes. And yeah, I think you'll enjoy the book a lot.