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The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live - And How You Can Change Them [Paperback]

Sharon Begley , Richard Davidson
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Mar 2012

This groundbreaking book by a pioneer in neuroscience brings a new understanding of our emotions - why each of us responds so differently to the same life events and what we can do to change and improve our emotional lives.

If you believe most self-help books, you would probably assume that we are all affected in the same way by events like grief or falling in love or being jilted and that only one process can help us handle them successfully.

From thirty years of studying brain chemistry, Davidson shows just why and how we are all so different. Just as we all have our own DNA, so we each have our own emotional 'style' depending on our individual levels of dimensions like resilience, attention and self-awareness. Helping us to recognise our own emotional style, Davidson also shows how our brain patterns can change over our lives - and, through his fascinating experiments, what we can do to improve our emotional responses through, for example, meditation.

Deepening our understanding of the mind-body connection - as well as conditions like autism and depression - Davidson stretches beyond mainstream psychology and neuroscience and expands our view of what it means to be human.

Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (1 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444708805
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444708806
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 199,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Look forward to cultivating keener attention, having more attunement to others, and being more connected to your own intuition. It's all possible - and this book shows you how. (Deepak Chopra)

We all ask the question "who am I?". For me this guy has answered it. (Ruby Wax)

'an eye-opener...replete with breakthrough research that will change the way you see yourself and everyone you know...cutting edge findings formulated in a delightful, can't-put-it-down read. I loved this book. (Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence)

Whether he is measuring neural activity in the laboratory or climbing the Himalayas to meet the Dalai Lama, Davidson is an inveterate explorer who has spent a lifetime probing the deep mystery of human feeling. Don't miss this smart and lively book by the world's foremost expert on emotion and the brain. (Daniel Gilbert, Ph.D., author of Stumbling on Happiness)

What a gift from the world's leading neuroscientist who works on what makes life worth living. This is a must read for everyone who is interested in positive psychology. (Martin E. P. Seligman, Author of Learned Optimism and Flourish)

The best book I know on how to use the exciting discoveries of neuroscience to change your life. A fabulous read - a scientific adventure story like Sherlock Holmes meeting Watson and Crick with the Dalai Lama as their advisor. (Jack Kornfield PhD)

Richard Davidson, a visionary neuropsychologist, joins with Sharon Begley, one of the most astute science writers, to illuminate the dimensions of our emotional make up and offer cogent and compelling ways for us to grow into more effective and fulfilled selves. (Jerome Groopman, Recanati Professor, Harvard Medical School & co-author of Your Medical Mind)

This superb book is many things -- a crystal clear tour of the neuroscience of emotion; a primer about how the scientific process works; a personal story by a really likeable guy; and the promise of a better world. This is a wonderful book. (Robert M. Sapolsky,Ph.D., author of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers and Monkeyluv)

A mind-opening journey guided by one of the world's great pioneers in the study of emotion. Richard Davidson addresses the questions about how we become who we are with a scientific rigor and impassioned curiosity that enable us to understand others and ourselves, as well as to directly influence how we approach life with a sense of resilience and vitality. He also crucially reveals the science-proven steps we can take to improve the function and even the structure of our brain. Soak in the wisdom of these pages and enjoy! (Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., author of Mindsight)

Richard Davidson's distinguished scientific career has been dedicated to making sense of human emotion and deepening its significance. Now, with the help of writer Sharon Begley, he turns a trove of accumulated facts into wisdom accessible to lay readers and directly applicable to their lives. (Antonio Damasio, Ph.D., author of Self Comes to Mind and The Feeling of What Happens)

In this spine-tingling journey through the hills of the Himalayas and the circuitry of your brain, visionary neuroscientist Richard Davidson uncovers deep and practical insights into humanity's oldest questions. Who are we as individuals? What are the origins of our minds? How do we find peace and cultivate greater kindness for all? Weaving together the latest neuroscience of brain plasticity and emotion and the timeless wisdom of Buddhist thought, The Emotional Life of your Brain will lead you to answers to these questions, and leave you inspired by science and the promise of change for the better. (Dacher Keltner, Ph.D., author of Born to Be Good)

With a message of hope and empowerment and a surprising degree of clarity for one of humanity's most complex topics, this book may finally be the world's first introduction to the extremely scientific future of psychology. (New Scientist)

Book Description

A groundbreaking new approach to personality and the mind, leading neuroscientist Richard Davidson shows what makes us behave the way we do and how we can retrain our brain to improve our lives

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is different to many others on the subject of human emotion. Books on this subject tend to be either motivational self-help, or purely sedate scientific affairs. This book succeeds in combining many of these elements, while remaining an enjoyable read.

The book pulls off this feat by combining the efforts of a popular-science writer, Sharon Begley, with those of a leading pioneer of neuroscience, Richard Davidson. This gives the book both its irresistibly lucid style of writing, while maintaining impeccable scientific credibility. At the same time, the book reads as if it were written by a single author, frequently referring to himself in first-person narratives: "My thirty years of research in effective neuroscience has produced hundreds of findings..." This simplifies matters greatly, making it easy to relate to Davidson, and maintains the momentum and thrust of his ideas.

The book steers away from any hint of affected suspense, and sets out early on the six dimensions of what it calls "Emotional Style" and relates them to other established classification systems, such as the "Big Five" personality traits (openness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism) and commonly perceived personality traits (impulsive, patient, shy, anxious, grumpy)

After a brief overview, Davidson sets off by telling the story of how the scientific landscape looked back in the 70s, leading to the period when he first embarked on the academic study of emotions. Davidson then progresses on to how he went about his investigations, based on observations ranging from monitoring the subjects' heart rates, to fMRI brain scans. This helps to establish the book's scientific authority, and reassures the reader of the merits of the contents which follow.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good...but could have been excellent 5 Jun 2012
By Nobby
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a really good read in that it shows scientific evidence for things which until now you could only hope were true.

The book explains you can change your brain and I was encouraged to know there are things you can do to alter the way you approach things.

However, the big problem with it is, it's all about the research with just the last chapter telling you how to work on your brain.

We know the author is a scientist and I for one would trust his research to be robust but I didn't need to know all the ups and downs along the way.

I wanted to know more about how to use what he has uncovered.

Most advice of this kind is from gurus and people who appoint themselves as experts, when in reality they are just out to make money from books, talks, therapies and health spas. If a scientist was to offer really worthwhile help, it would top anything already out there.

If Richard Davidson produced a follow up in which the balance of research to self-help advice was the other way round it would be a must read.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, insightful, educational, inspiring 2 May 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Early in my life, I was very comfortable with the more esoteric end of studying emotion and intuitively, have known for many years that the practices of meditation, mindfulness and positive thinking just 'feel' good. However, in the last decade or so, I have become increasingly interested in to what extent so-called 'hard' scientific research could shed light on my instincts and either disprove or prove any.

Contrary to one of the reviews below, I believe this author compellingly demonstrates how the very structures of the brain have a proven linkage to our experienced emotions and hence; how we behave emotionally. This would be exciting enough, but he goes further, to discuss how we can choose to influence our neural structures and thereby develop emotional choicefulness and flexibility.

Surely unless we enjoy being restricted by an accident of biology, this has to be beneficial for fulfilling our potential, optimizing our relationships and more broadly, for understanding humankind and our future as a species.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy the Kindle Edition 12 Aug 2012
By Alex
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was shaping up to be an interesting read but I'm afraid I had to give up.

The text of the Kindle edition is liberaly peppered by hyphens to the extent that it is all but unreadable.

For example at 1154 you will find the following:

Having seen this left--equals--positive--emotions and right--equals--negative--emotions patterin in ten--month--month--olds, etc

or at 1151

When they watched a clip of an actress sobbing, we imme-diately had sullen babies etc.

This continues on every page throughout the book.

If you can take it, you will find and interesting topic explored but you will have to be tolerant of a very poor reading experinece if you buy the Kindle "edition".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant synthesis of literature 9 Oct 2013
By David
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book does the following things:
- lets you assess your emotional style profile;
- provides compelling evidence of the possibility of changing your emotional style through psychological exercises that change your brain anatomy and physiology;
- provides a chapter of neurally inspired exercises to change your own emotional style.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another view on our processing 7 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
this is a thought provoking book that invites the reader to de rationalise our thoughts , gripping read from start to finish
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Concentration
Science as an autobiography is entertaining and it is of particular interest because of aspect of meditation. I enjoyed it.
Published 3 months ago by Dr. R. Viswanathan
3.0 out of 5 stars Some great research findings embedded within a conceptually outdated...
I am a great fan of the author's work regarding the role of frontal alpha asymmetry in approach vs. avoidance behaviour and have employed many of his formulations in my own lab. Read more
Published 4 months ago by micah
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful and readable
This is a,great little book and is helpful in disentangling different aspects of emotional responses. It is also an easy read and not too repetitive as some similar books are.
Published 12 months ago by patrizia
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading
Arrived as promised. In perfect condition.

I purchased as part of a course I am doing but would be happy to have read anyway
Published 13 months ago by Georgina Paraskeva
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
I really enjoyed this book, a mix of the authors journey regarding the topic and the extensive amount of research showing how incredible is the brain/mind. Read more
Published 13 months ago by David GIBBS
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous and up to date!
Excellent new insights to the emotions in the brain, Very easy to read considering it is scientific and so well researched. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Mrs P M Woodford
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read.
I recommend this book to any person interested in their emmotions.. I'd think that's practically everyone. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Ped
5.0 out of 5 stars Thanks
As an osteopathic Body-Coach I find this book great and is in line with many of the experiences I have on a daily basis dealing with people who suffer from chronic stress.
Published on 15 April 2012 by Tom Meyers
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