5 Book Recommendations for HongKongers: Specific and Self-improving

5 Book Recommendations for HongKongers: Specific and Self-improving


At some point in your life, you have probably come across a book related to self-improvement. It could have been the infamous “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. It could have been about improving your investments. Or it could have been the story of someone successful that you have a lot to learn from.

I love books on self-improvement, because I learn so many different things I can immediately apply to different aspects of my life. It can be exhausting to dig through and find suggestions most relevant to your life, but this Chinese New Year, Hongkongers no longer have that excuse. For today, I present an article on the tips for Hong Kong people can take from my favourite self-improvement books.

Giving up smoking using the Power of Habit

The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg

One of my most recommended self-improvement novels has always been “The Power of Habit”, because it breaks down the structure and psychology behind human habits so well that it is helped me transform over the years.

Duhigg’s fundamental message lies in understanding how a habit works in 3 stages

  1. The Cue
  2. The Routine
  3. The Reward

You will be interested to learn how the toothpaste industry flourished not as a result of increased dental awareness, but because Pepsodent marketers saw promise in mint. Much like a reward, mint was a flavour that created a tingly feeling consumers craved after brushing. Pepsodent slowly grew to become one of the most sold products in the world, while brushing one’s teeth became a habit. A minty craving, a brushing routine and a tingly reward was all it required.

In Hong Kong, close to 1 in 10 people are smokers, and I believe many can give up their habits if they replace the routine with something that gives one the same rewards, or avoid the cues in the first place.

As Duhigg mentions in the book, different people smoke for different reasons. If you are doing if for social reasons, maybe spend less time with people that smoke? If it’ is that nicotine craving, try something that gives you the buzz but without such harmful effects on your health. Caffeine is not the best solution but it is certainly something that gives you a kick, and can help as you slowly come off nicotine being an addition.

Perhaps a perhaps?

First Things First – Stephen R. Covey

People generally remember Stephen Cover for his book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. But before the legendary title came out, he still had some great reads, including “First Things First”.

One of my favourite tips from the book encourages people not to overstrain themselves by using a “perhaps” list.

Covey covers the importance of priority and setting goals according to importance and urgency, but we often have things want to do, which sometimes work out and sometimes do not. A perhaps list keeps track of these things, and tells you that it is great if you could do what is on the list. But if you could not, you should not beat yourself up.

Hong Kong people rarely sleep on time. They are all about successful careers, feeding family, maintaining a good social life, dating, you name it. But it is okay if it is not 100 percent perfect all the time, and a perhaps list helps you identify what is really priority and what is not.

Getting into the flow state

Deep Work – Cal Newport

Have you ever noticed yourself so immersed in a task that nothing can stop you from this remarkable rate of productivity?

Deep work refers to the “voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult or worthwhile”, also known as a mental state of “flow”. During this state, the person is fully immersed in completing the activity, with maximum willpower and enjoyment during the process.

It is hard to achieve this in a world of technologies where information flows 24/7, and therefore a great approach to stay productive is to schedule your distractions instead of scheduling your work.

We all know Hong Kong people can not unplug straight away. Newport recommends keeping a notepad next to your computer and write down the next time you can use the internet. Over time, you can decrease the number of distraction blocks you take, and even develop a habit off social media for results of optimal speed and quality.

Heart race = Date ace

59 Seconds – Richard Wiseman

Also a bestseller, “59 Seconds” goes over many unique tips in improving the results you see in different aspects of your life. An excellent casual read, if you are not going too deep into one topic.

However, there was a tip that HongKongers would be interested to read about, and it is about how you increase the chances that another person would be attracted to you when you go out on a date.

If you have ever been on a date, it is probably coffee or dinner. Wiseman explains how attraction is linked to a faster heartbeat, which is less likely to develop over an activity like sitting over a dinner table and chatting about life.

For all the gentlemen out there, the next time you arrange a date, consider something heart-racing. Maybe a trip to a theme park? Bike rides? Or even a salsa class? Just ditch the coffee house for goodness sake!

Becoming something instead of simply achieving your next big career goal

Becoming – Michelle Obama

“Becoming” is a recent title, that was also announced as a bestseller on Amazon in 2018. Michelle Obama went from Princeton, to Harvard, to First Lady of the United States, to one of the most empowering women in human history. And yet she is always resented one important question “What do I want to be when I grow up?”

Becoming by Michelle Obama covered many stories from different stages of Michelle’s life, but her strongest message was encouraging people to believe they are always becoming something. We should not constantly bother our kids with that one question about what they want to be when they grow up, but believe and reinforce the fact that there are endless roles one could take up and life brings the best when you are always becoming a better person than you were yesterday, hence the book title.

I believe Hong Kong people have a lot to take away from this, especially those that feel climbing the executive ladder is the only goal in their lives. They work long hours for the best salaries, and once they are up there, they want to keep that position until they have enough cash to retire early. I feel Hong Kong people need to take on roles in different aspects of their lives. Instead of blindly following in the footsteps of predecessors in the same positions, they need to pursue their passion with a positive attitude always pointing towards improvement. And become what they are destined
to offer the world.

A beautiful quote from the book reads:

“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead
as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end. I became a mother, but I still have a lot to learn from and give to my children. I became a wife, but I continue to adapt to and be humbled by what it means to truly love and make a life with another person. I have become, by certain measures, a person of
power, and yet there are moments still when I feel insecure or unheard.”

It is all a process, steps along a path. Becoming requires equal parts patience and rigor. Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there is more growing to be done.”
– Michelle Obama, Becoming

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