We humans

Books to help you answer big questions about yourself

May 6, 2015 /

Why in the world did I do that? How can I do better? Chances are you’ve asked yourself these questions at least once today. To understand how your mind works and how you can improve your decision-making, explore these six psychology and behavioral economics books, each one recommended by a TED Talks speaker.

Why did I do that?

“Edward L. Deci is a legend in the study of motivation, and the 1996 book Why We Do What We Do offers a nice early introduction to his work.”

— Dan Pink, business writer (TED Talk: The puzzle of motivation)
See more of Dan Pink’s favorite books.

What should I do to be happier?

“In his book, Give and Take, Wharton professor Adam M Grant shows how giving at work can lead to greater happiness and success.”

Shawn Achor, positive psychologist advocate (TED Talk: The happy secret to better work)
See more of Shawn Achor’s favorite books.

How do I live in the moment?

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience illuminates the kind of life we should all be living. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi argues that one of the highest states of being is the state of flow — when you’re totally engaged in an activity, riding the narrow channel between boredom and anxiety. I talk about this book a lot, and try to live by it even more.”

Susan Cain, introvert champion (TED Talk: The power of introverts)
See more of Susan Cain’s favorite books.

How can I let myself be happy?

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert is a fantastic explanation of why we are so bad at planning what will be good for us.”

Stefan Sagmeister, designer (TED Talk: The power of time off)
See more of Stefan Sagmeister’s favorite books.

How do I make everyday decisions better?

“In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman explores how behavioral economics and cognitive biases influence our everyday decision making.”

Alex Laskey, energy-saving enthusiast (TED Talk: How behavioral science can lower your energy bill)
See more of Alex Laskey’s favorite books.

Why do we lie?

The Liar in Your Life, by Robert Feldman is a great book about how and why deception is eroding our culture. This deception expert, also a University of Massachusetts psychology professor, authored a famous study that found strangers lie to each other about three times in the first ten minutes of meeting each other.”

Pamela Meyer, lying expert (TED Talk: How to spot a liar)
See more of Pamela Meyer’s favorite books.