My top 10 book recommendations on practical psychology and the mind: Optimizing Performance, Motivation, Thinking & Decision Making

Below are the top ten books that I recommend for the field that I call „practical psychology“.  They are a mix of books with practical tips & tools and books that highlight theory and insights into the bigger picture of neuroscience and how to optimally use our brain. It covers areas such as self-control; focus; attention; motivation as well as decision-making.

All of them have greatly helped me personally. Let me know if you have any questions on them.

What are your favourite books on the topic? I’d love to hear from you.

David Rock: Your Brain at Work

David Rock fills a gap: he applies knowledge from neuroscience into day-to-day work advice. He uses stories as well as case studies to show us how to deal better with ourselves and others. Highly practical, highly recommended.

George Medina – Brain Rules

Brain rules gives us a great overview of how the mind works. Clear, science-backed information helps the reader to understand and apply the brain rules for work, learning, presenting and much more. The DVD / video is also fantastic.

Laszlo Mero – The Habits of Mind

This book literally changed my perception of intelligence and what intuition truly is about. This book introduced the concepts of “mastery” and covered the “talent is overrated” concept long before this got popular. Also highly interesting: the difference between the games of Go and Chess and what that has to do with the human mind.

Daniel Kahneman – Thinking, Fast and Slow

Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman has – together with Adam Tversky – completely changed the world with their concept of the prospect theory. In a way, they have shown that we are “predictably irrational” as human beings. In this new, popular and practical book, Kahneman shows what is behind this thinking and what it does with us.

George Leonard – Mastery

This is probably an unusual choice here. However, Aikido Black Belt George Leonard shows in this short and engaging book what it takes to become a master, and why it is beneficial for the mind and our personalities. He highlights the five qualities that any master possesses.

Richard Wiseman – 59 seconds

Richard Wiseman is a psychology professor who you probably know from the famous “gorilla” videos (Can you spot the gorilla in the basketball team)?. If not, go check out his blog. In this highly interesting book, Richard exposes self-help myths and provides instead scientifically proven strategies to help us achieve our goals.

Daniel Pink – Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us

Drive is Daniel Pink’s master piece, at least in my view. He lays out with very powerful thoughts and stories on what motivates us. He shares the contrast between “what science knows” and “what management does” in a highly practical way. Recommended for every leader and manager.

Howard Gardner – 5 Minds for the Future

Harvard Business School’s Howard Gardner is one of the foremost thinkers on the concept of multiple intelligences. In this book he lays out his concept on the “big 5” of the future, which are the disciplinary mind, the synthesizing mind, the creating mind, the respectful mind, and the ethical mind.

Chip & Dan Heath – Decisive

This is the third book by the Heath’ brothers. This time, they dive into the field of personal and organisational decision making. In Decisive, they give their usual combination of well-researched cases, remarkable stories and interesting facts and show how we can all optimise our own decision making.

Scott Plous – The Psychology of Judgement and Decision Making

This is an old book but one that had a very deep impact on me during my studies. This is one of the few books where you can dive into the research on human mind and practical psychology. It offers you a very challenging test on behavioural psychology that I am sure you will fail (at least 50+% of the questions). But Plous also explains you why you failed, and what you can learn from it.

The above book links will point you to where you can directly order these books via amazon with free shipping also to continental Europe. They are affiliate links.


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