Learning, becoming, improving: Some self help for your New Year resolutions

This is the time of year when our thoughts turn to self-improvement. Here are five new approaches. Next week we’ll bring you five more suggestions.

You Are Awesome: 9 Secrets to Getting Stronger and Living an Intentional Life, Neil Pasricha

It’s fair to say that Pasricha, the Toronto writer and motivational speaker, has made a pretty awesome living out of this series of books, beginning in 2010 with “The Book of Awesome.” When this new book, his seventh, reached bookstores, it was an instant hit, the top-selling book for adults in Canada. Combining real-life examples and the latest research, Pasricha offers inspiring advice on developing resilience and putting a positive spin on life’s setbacks and heartbreaks. Sample secret: learn the lesson of those three little dots, the ellipsis … and just keep going. “There is power in letting the story continue.”

Things No One Else Can Teach Us, Humble the Poet

Humble the Poet is not, as one might imagine, a guru sitting cross-legged atop a mountain delivering Zen koans. He is a very cool Sikh-Canadian spoken-word artist and former teacher named Kanwer Singh who has developed a robust following with his books, of which this is the third. Like Neil Pasricha, above, Humble uses his own disappointments and regrets to convey his big lesson: that failure and pain teach the lessons that mean the most — thus, the title. Humble includes poetry, anecdote, great big type and more to create this eclectic life road map.

Successful Aging: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives, Daniel J. Levitin

The author writes that old age is as significant a developmental stage as childhood and adolescence, with its own challenges and advantages. He looks at what we can do and can’t do, and what society should do, to nurture optimal mental, physical and emotional health as time marches on. Levitin divides his time between Montreal (he is a professor emeritus at McGill) and San Francisco (he is with the Minerva Schools at KGI). This is his fifth book. Available: Jan. 6

Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice, Michelle Obama

This “guided journal” is a companion to Michelle Obama’s bestselling memoir “Becoming.” In her introduction, the former First Lady writes that keeping a journal in her late 20s helped her navigate a tumultuous time, and she now wishes she’d done more of it. The Becoming journal has cues on most every page. designed to get you writing about your past and future. An example: “List ten things you want for yourself. For each item, write one simple step toward making that wish come true.”

Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything, B.J. Fogg

Author Fogg, the founder of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford, developed his system in part by experimenting on himself. Example: He decided that he would do two pushups every time he urinated. Peeing thus became an “anchor moment,” a routine behaviour that acts as a reminder to integrate a new habit into your life. The key, as he puts it, is to “take your aspirations and break them down into tiny behaviours.”

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Sarah Murdoch