For the January 2021 meeting of the Virtual Reading Group, we’ll be discussing our thoughts on ‘The Positive Habit’ by Fiona Brennan. If you’re joining us, or if you’ve read the book/listened to the eAudio this month and want to know more, today’s post is for you. We’ve bought together some background to the title and its author, compiled discussion questions for you to ponder and included some suggestions for further reading. We;ve featured both titles that Fiona Brennan mentions in ‘The Positive Habit’ and some that we’ve picked out, along with their accompanying blurbs to tell you a bit more about each one.

Our Virtual Reading Group meets monthly to discuss one of our ‘Read/Listen Now, No Waiting’ titles available through BorrowBox. These titles allow multiple readers to download a copy at the same time as either an eBook or on eAudio (and for some titles, they will be available in both formats). This makes them perfect for reading groups, particularly during these months when we’re staying at home as much as possible. The titles and authors featured do change regularly so if you see one that you like the look of, make sure you download it sooner rather than later!

If you’d like to join in with our Virtual Reading Group, you’ll find the details of our meetings and how to register on our EventBrite page.

The Positive Habit by Fiona Brennan

About the book

From the BorrowBox blurb:

Love, calmness, confidence, gratitude, hope and happiness: these are the six emotions that tip the balance of our mindset in favour of a positive outlook rather than a negative one. Wouldn’t it be great to feel more of these positive emotions? Now you can with Fiona Brennan’s ultimate manual for the mind.

With a chapter on each emotion and practical steps on how to cultivate them, the plan utilises mindfulness, habit loops, positive psychology and neuroscience to help soothe anxiety and stress. It will show you how to train your brain to embrace negative thoughts with courage and love before transforming them into positive ones.

Accompanied by audio hypnotherapies that take just a few minutes a day, split between morning and evening, it will transform your mental health as you doze off peacefully to the sleep-time audio and start the day happy with the seven-minute morning ritual. Take control of your emotional health and build your ladder to happiness so that you flourish as you develop The Positive Habit.

About the author

From Fiona Brennan’s website:

“Fiona Brennan is a Clinical Hypnotherapist, mindfulness and certified NLP practitioner with a busy clinic in Blackrock, Co. Dublin. She is registered with the European Association of Professional Hypnotherapists, the foremost professional hypnotherapy association in Ireland, established since 1996. Fiona has also trained with the eminent neuro-psychologist, Rick Hanson in positive neuroplasticity, has a Higher Diploma in Theatre & Performance from UCD and a Higher Diploma in Clinical Hypnosis awarded by Clinical Hypnosis Ireland. She also completed an online course on Positive Psychology with The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill under the highly respected positive psychologist, Barbara Frederickson and a Professional Certificate in the Therapeutic Use of Mindfulness.

Fiona is the mental health expert on Today FM, a TEDx speaker, blogger and an ambassador for positivity in the media.”

Discussion Questions

  1. What were your immediate thoughts about the book? What were your thoughts about its opening pages/opening chapter?
  2. It’s recommended that the book is read/listened to slowly and that the audio clips are listened to daily for longer than we will have had prior to our Virtual Reading Group meeting. Did you/Are you following this suggestion? Will you continue to listen to the audios after the meeting?
  3. Did the book ‘speak’ to you in any way? If so, how? If not, why do you think that was?
  4. Was there a particular habit/chapter that you found most relevant to you or most useful? Anything in the book that really resonated?
  5. If you listened to the book (rather than reading it), how did you find it? Do you think the experience of the book when reading it would be different to listening?
  6. Many of the activities mentioned use mindfulness techniques. Is this something you have come across before? What was your experience of the activities?
  7. Power posing is also mentioned – is this something that you have come across before? What are your thoughts about it and about body language in general?
  8. “The Positive Habit is about persistence, rather than perfection”. This is a line from the Conclusion. What are you thoughts about it? Were there any lines/passages that you picked out as memorable?
  9. How much time do you spend on looking after your own mental health? What do you find works well for you?
  10. Have you read any of the authors that are mentioned throughout the book? Or any that feature in the ‘Further Reading’ section (some are listed at the end of this post). What did you make of any of the works that you’ve read?
  11. What other, similar titles would you suggest to readers after they have finished this one?

Further reading suggestions mentioned in ‘The Positive Habit’

Emotional Intelligence‘ by Daniel Goleman

Does IQ define our destiny? Daniel Goleman argues that our view of human intelligence is far too narrow, and that our emotions play major role in thought, decision making and individual success. Self-awareness, impulse control, persistence, motivation, empathy and social deftness are all qualities that mark people who excel: whose relationships flourish, who are stars in the workplace. With new insights into the brain architecture underlying emotion and rationality, Goleman shows precisely how emotional intelligence can be nurtured and strengthened in all of us.

Sapiens‘ by Yuval Noah Haran

100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come?

In ‘Sapiens’, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating –breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions.

The Power of Now‘ by Eckhart Tolle

This book shows how to live a better life by living in the present moment. If we are able to be fully present and take each step in the now, we will be opening ourselves to the experience of the power of now.

How To Be Human‘ by Ruby Wax

It took us 4 billion years to evolve to where we are now. No question, anyone reading this has won the evolutionary Hunger Games by the fact you’re on all twos and not some fossil. This should make us all the happiest species alive – most of us aren’t, what’s gone wrong? We’ve started treating ourselves more like machines and less like humans. We’re so used to upgrading things like our iPhones: as soon as the new one comes out, we don’t think twice, we dump it.

Ruby Wax wrote this book with a little help from a monk, who explains how the mind works, and also gives some mindfulness exercises, and a neuroscientist who explains what makes us ‘us’ in the brain. They answer every question you’ve ever had about: evolution, thoughts, emotions, the body, addictions, relationships, kids, the future and compassion. How to be Human is extremely funny, true and the only manual you’ll need to help you upgrade your mind as much as you’ve upgraded your iPhone.

Further reading suggestions by authors or on topics mentioned in ‘The Positive Habit’

The Ultimate Happiness Prescription‘ by Deepak Chopra

Deepak Chopra shows how to experience joy in spite of living in difficult or trying times. By looking through the lens of our contemporary understanding of consciousness, combined with Eastern philosophy, he has created a set of principles for living with ease.

Yes To Life, In Spite of Everything‘ by Victor E Frankl

Just months after his liberation from Auschwitz renowned psychiatrist Viktor E. Frankl delivered a series of talks revealing the foundations of his life-affirming philosophy. The psychologist, who would soon become world famous, explained his central thoughts on meaning, resilience and his conviction that every crisis contains opportunity.

Published here for the very first time in English, Frankl’s words resonate as strongly today as they did in 1946. Despite the unspeakable horrors in the camp, Frankl learnt from his fellow inmates that it is always possible to say ‘yes to life’ – a profound and timeless lesson for us all.

How To Find Calm‘ by Sophie Golding

Calmness is all around you and within you if you just know where to look. And the journey to a more peaceful place is one of the most rewarding trips you can take for your health and well-being.

A careful blend of tranquil tips, soothing statements and relaxing activities, How to Find Calm is a lovingly curated guide to reaching a state of joyful and mindful serenity.

The Kindness Method‘ by Shahroo Izadi

Shahroo Izadi has a revolutionary message: treating yourself kindly is the only way to make changes that last. She is living proof that her method works – after years of yo-yo dieting she shed over 8 stone (and has kept it off ever since). Professional training coupled with personal experience led her to develop The Kindness Method™, where traditional strict regimes are turned upside down to leave you feeling empowered, positive and ready to embrace change.

Falling Awake‘ by John Kabat-Zinn

More than 20 years ago, Jon Kabat-Zinn changed the way we think about awareness in everyday life with his now-classic introduction to mindfulness, ‘Wherever You Go, There You Are’. He followed that up with 2005’s ‘Coming to Our Senses’, the definitive book for our time on the connection between mindfulness and our well-being on every level, physical, cognitive, emotional, social, planetary and spiritual. Now, the original text of ‘Coming to Our Senses’ is being repackaged into 4 smaller books, each focusing on a different aspect of mindfulness, and each with a new foreword written by the author.

Fragile‘ by Stella O’Malley

Have we reached a point where anxiety is so common we consider it ‘normal’? In this exploration of the rising anxiety epidemic, psychotherapist and bestselling author Stella O’Malley delves into why we are feeling more anxious, stressed and overwhelmed than ever.

From looking at how our increasingly perfectionist and materialistic society is causing us to value all the wrong things, to practical tips for uncovering the roots of anxiety and strategies to ease it, this book is an essential tool for building resilience to stress. Anyone can experience anxiety at any time. Fragile arms us with the skills to move forward to a place where we can experience challenges to our mental health and feel adequately empowered to address them, allowing us to live calmer, more satisfying lives.

If you’re just getting started with BorrowBox, or need any help at all, you can email us at Alternatively, we have two videos – one about getting started which you can view here and a second with tips and tricks for making the most of BorrowBox, available to view here. This includes the all-important ‘hit return’ – when you’ve finished with a title, please hit the return link in your ‘My Loans’ list so that the next reader can enjoy the title.

You can also read our earlier blog post to ensure you’re a BorrowBox whizz, including finding out how to adjust the font, font size and background when reading eBooks and change the playback speed when listening to eAudio books to ensure you get a reading/listening experience that suits you.