journal, self improvement

The Mindfulness Journal

Authors: S.J. Scott and Barrie Davenport
Publisher: Independent
Genre: Self-improvement
ISBN: 978-1946159069
Pages: 431
Price: $15.99

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When we are mindful, we are consciously aware of the present moment. But in our complicated, multi-tasking lifestyles, this mindfulness seems almost impossible. It’s too easy to worry about the car while doing the dishes and half-heartedly listening to the kids. But how different life could be if we paid attention to what we’re doing and immersed ourselves in the moment.

In The Mindfulness Journal, authors Scott and Davenport encourage us to experience a short period of mindfulness each day through journaling. Each week opens with a one-page topic, followed by seven daily journal pages. These topics are explored more deeply during the mindful journaling process. Topics focus on our daily activities, our thoughts, and our environment, as well as many others. Each is designed to help us observe our experiences, thoughts, and feelings without judgment, letting us fully appreciate the moment.

Some entries are better done in the morning, while some are best left to the end of the day. Taking the time to explore these on a daily basis leads to more self-knowledge and will create a better sense of direction and peace in life. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, self improvement

Mindset Matters

Author: Bryan Smith
Illustrator: Lisa Griffin
Publisher: Boys Town Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-944882-12-9
Pages: 32
Price: $10.95

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Amelia is in second grade, and she’s working on a difficult building project. Frustrated, she exclaims, “I quit!” and throws down her hammer. But her dad suggests the problem might be her mindset and not her constructions skills. Amelia is suffering from the “down-in-the-dumps” mindset. She has a negative attitude, excuses, and believes she’ll never be good at what she’s doing. Dad explains that Amelia needs a “gonna-get-it-done” mindset instead. She should be determined, have a positive attitude, and believe that she’s just not good at that… yet.

Using her dad’s advice, Amelia throws herself back into the project and it turns out great. Encouraged by her success, she tackles schoolwork, skateboarding, and fishing in a similar way, also achieving good results. Amelia is convinced her dad is right. Her new gonna-get-it-done mindset has changed her life.

It’s easy for kids to become discouraged when tackling new challenges for the first time. Mindset Matters shows them that they can change their way of thinking to accomplish their goals. This is a wonderful resource for classrooms and homes, and kids will enjoy reading of Amelia’s successes, as they dream of their own.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian, self improvement


Author: Sandi Krakowski
Publisher: Fedd Books
Genre: Christian / Motivation
ISBN: 978-0-9894934-3-7
Pages: 200
Price: $16.99

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Sandi Krakowski already had a large following on social media when she decided to start encouraging, empowering and equipping others. With the help of God, she made the decision to show people how to BE MORE, and this motivational book was born. In five sections, she guides the reader to be more: connected to God, in tune with yourself, attentive to your relationships, engaged with your community, and mindful of your world.

Each section opens with an introduction before guiding us through a total of seventy-seven secrets. These are two page nuggets of wisdom that can easily be read every day with our morning prayer and meditations. And each ends with a summary quote we can take with us into our busy day.

#BEMORE is a bit light on substance and heavy on cheer-leading. Although this isn’t my personal preference, it does encourage us to get outside our comfort zone and really live our lives. Those who like this kind of motivational message will enjoy it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

self improvement

Habit Stacking

Author: S.J. Scott
Publisher: CreateSpace
Genre: Self-improvement
ISBN: 978-1545339121
Pages: 330
Price: $14.99

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Developing better habits can be tricky, since old habits keep us locked in patterns that feel hard to break. But what if there was a way to make this easier? What if we could group several habits together, making it more likely that we complete them all every day?

Habit Stacking shows us how to add good habits to our day by “stacking” them into manageable thirty minute time slots. If it makes sense to do them at the beginning of the day, we can stack them in the morning. Or maybe we’d be better off doing them in the middle or end of the day. That’s fine, too. Just schedule the stack, make a list of new habits we’d like to develop, and get ready to see positive changes.

S.J. Scott provides suggestions for 127 new habits that could improve our lives. These are grouped into categories: Career, Finance, Health, Leisure, Organizing, Relationship, and Spirituality. Habits are also categorized as Keystone, Support, and Elephant, based on how they are developed and used. Scott also shares some of the tools he finds useful, such as websites and apps that help in developing these new habits. And he tackles any resistance we might feel at adding new habits to an already overcrowded lifestyle.

Habit Stacking shares a unique and helpful approach to new habit formation. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

self improvement

Mini Habits for Weight Loss

Author: Stephen Guise
Publisher: Selective Entertainment LLC
Genre: Diet / Personal development
ISBN: 978-0996435444
Pages: 252
Price: $14.35

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The dieting industry has a lot to say regarding what we put into our bodies. Whether we want to go low-carb, count calories, or watch fats, we can find a plan to suit our needs. But each of these diets falls short when we can’t sustain them for the long term. If it can’t be a lifetime commitment, it’s doomed to failure.

Mini Habits for Weight Loss provides a unique common-sense outlook to long-term weight loss and management. Any diet plan can be modified to fit the Mini Habits system, although Stephen Guise recommends we eat more of certain foods and less of others to have optimum success. Adopting new “mini” habits is the key to this system, and some other tips and tricks are provided to help us accomplish our goals.

Backing up his claims with a wealth of research and scientific proof, Guise makes a brilliant case for why people don’t lose weight long-term by using certain dieting methods. And he shows how even the savviest shopper can be duped by healthy-sounding claims by food manufacturers. Mini Habits for Weight Loss is the most common-sense book on dieting that I’ve ever seen. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

philosophy, self improvement

Ishi: Simple Tips From a Solid Friend

Author: Akiko Yabuki
Publisher: POW!
Genre: Philosophy / Self-help
ISBN: 978-1-57687-816-3
Pages: 40
Price: $12.95

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Ishi is a pet rock with a warm smile and words of simple wisdom. In this book, author Akiko Yabuki encourages us to listen to Ishi’s message, be happy, and share Ishi with a friend.

In the first frame of each two page spread, Ishi finds himself in an uncomfortable situation. Then in the second one, he shares some of his simple wisdom on how to deal with the situation and make himself feel better. Feel stuck? Always move forward, not backward. Sad about what’s missing? Focus on what you have and appreciate it. Feeling unhappy? Smile – happiness will follow.

Ishi is listed for Pre-school to Kindergarten aged children, but I feel that Ishi’s wisdom can also be enjoyed by adults and teenagers. As we age, we may find ourselves even more stressed than children, and Ishi’s gentle smile is a soothing balm for frazzled nerves. I highly recommend Ishi: Simple Tips From a Solid Friend for all ages.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

fitness, self improvement

Level Up Your Life

Level Up Your Life
Author: Steve Kamb
Publisher: Rodale Books
Genre: Self-improvement / Fitness
ISBN: 978-1-62336-540-0
Pages: 288
Price: $19.99

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Life is meant to be an adventure, but far too many people simply sit on the sidelines and watch. But what if we could be the hero in our own story? Steve Kamb shows us how we can tackle challenges like a video game and learn to level up our own lives.

Although Kamb is the founder of Nerd Fitness, Level Up Your Life is only partially concerned with fitness. Mostly, it encourages us to step outside the box we’re living in, and be willing to try the new and exciting things we’ve only allowed ourselves to dream about. Travel, learning a new language, making a career change, and other fun and intimidating adventures are presented in a fresh way, with the focus on taking small steps until we master the challenge. In video games, we face small battles until we’re good enough to take on bigger foes, and life can be handled much the same way.

Without foes to thwart us, we quickly lose interest in video games. And without challenge in life, our day to day existence becomes humdrum. Level Up Your Life shows us how to bring back the sparkle and enthusiasm for living. I highly recommend this unique and fun self-improvement book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger