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Posts Tagged ‘Self-Help’

The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme for Confidence, Success and Happiness

In Book Reviews on July 20, 2014 at 6:00 am
Vermilion 2011

Vermilion 2011

Nutshell blurb: This book deals with three parts of the brain that Dr. Peters terms the chimp, the human and the computer. The chimp is the part of the brain that deals with emotion and instinct. This book contains instructions to dealing with emotions that can hamper our happiness and success.

Ok, I’ve gotta tell you…this book made me giggle. It is broken down into super easy to understand terms. Maybe a bit oversimplified. There are chimps, planets, gremlins, goblins, a stone of life and many more things. I was a bit skeptical when I first started reading this and then I flat out got the giggles because there are some crazy stick figure drawings all through this book. And, yes, I read it during my commute. Surrounded by witnesses.

However, once I got over my skepticism and embraced my stone of life, I really got into it and learned a few things about myself. I learned a few things that I can (and actually have) applied to my life in an effort to control my inner chimp.

So, I’ll break it down for you. The chimp is the part of the brain that controls our emotions and instincts. It’s sometimes irrational and unreasonable yet can be responsible for our personal safety. This is the part of the brain that takes over when I experience tube rage pretty much every morning. The human part of our brain is the logical part. It is the part that says “Hey, who cares if the guy next to you hogs the arm rest? You’re not using it anyway.” The computer is the part that stores in the information and allows us to make decisions. (If you want the scientific equivalents they are thus: Chimp = limbic, Human = frontal and the Computer = parietal.)

This books offers insight as to why we sometimes allow our emotions to take over and how to fix it. I have to say, that I’ve been able to apply some of these things to my life. I’ve been able to look rationally at why I feel the way I do and therefore distance myself from emotion and act accordingly. Things that I usually get worked up about don’t bother me much now. Not everything, obviously. I mean, I’ve only just finished this book and it will take a lot of practice for some of this stuff to sink in. It’s definitely worth having a look at if you tend to be an emotional type of person. You will have to look past the silliness of it and just run with it. I was a bit surprised by my ability to go with it.

I even named my chimp.

Yep, you read that right.

You might wish to give your Chimp a name and introduce yourself because it plays one of the biggest parts in your life. Throughout your life, you (the Human) and your Chimp (your emotional thinking machine) will often do battle.

I would like to introduce you to Sanchez. My emotions tend to be angry ones and so I visualise my chimp as being large and muscley. He might even be a gorilla. I’m not sure why I’ve made him Latin American, but I wanted to give him a badass name and I think that Sanchez is pretty tough.

My husband has become worried that I might develop a split-personality. I don’t think that will happen but I’m pretty sure that there’s a different book on that subject.

Anyway, it was a really entertaining and interesting read. It definitely wasn’t dry as some self-help books can be. It’s worth reading if you can get past the initial “What the hell…?” reaction.

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Snakes in Suits

In Book Reviews on June 29, 2014 at 6:00 am
HarperCollins 2006

HarperCollins 2006

Nustshell blurb: So, apparently there are a lot of psychopaths in the corporate world. This book tells you how to identify those people and how to deal with them.

This book was recommended to me by a colleague (whose name I will withhold in order to protect her anonymity). Obviously, this book is merely for the lolz because I work in an office filled with really nice and well-adjusted people. Not a psychopath in sight. Nope. Not a single one.

Ahem.

This book can actually apply to people outside of the corporate world and, in fact, I was able to look back on past relationships and realise that some of those people were psychopaths. The authors of this book warn about diagnosing and labeling people as psychopaths, though, as only a qualified psychiatrist should make that judgement.

What they did encourage you to do is to be able to identify people who exhibit psychopathic tendencies so that you can understand better how to deal with them.

I’m going to go ahead and spoil it for you because it made me laugh. Basically, if you are in a relationship or work with a psychopath, do not confront them. Step away from the psychopath and under NO circumstances should you EVER call them a psychopath. Not to their faces anyway. The best idea is to try to avoid them as they are great schemers and manipulators. They will always turn things around to where you get the shaft.

I’m simplifying things, certainly, but that’s the gist.

In spite of making me giggle a little bit, it did make me think about myself and the people around me. I’ve always had low self-esteem and it’s within the past few years that I’ve been able to really recognise my self-worth. I’ve been working really hard to get rid of my hang-ups which is another thing that this book recommends. One of the things that a psychopath will do is to capitalise on a person’s insecurities. If you get rid of your insecurities, the psychopath will have less ammo with which to obliterate your career or your life in general.

I’m simplifying this book in a huge way and the things that they talk about are actually rooted in science as well as common sense, so I felt as though it was pretty sound advice. It was a good read and it has made me more aware of the actions of people around me as well as my behaviour around other people. After all, who is to say that I’m not a psychopath?

(I’m not, by the way.)

Absolutely On Purpose

In Book Reviews on January 15, 2014 at 6:00 am
Self-published by Stephanie Holland under Purple Moor Press 2013

Self-published by Stephanie Holland under Purple Moor Press 2013

To hell with the rules. This is a choose-your-own-adventure story. It’s your story.

I’ll start by letting you know that I received a free copy of this books in exchange for an honest review.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m a big fan of self-help books. I am all about self-improvement in an effort to make myself a better person. Like any other genre, you have wade through a lot of crappy ones to find the gems but when you do, it makes it all worth it.

This book was really inspiring. The thing I liked about it the most was that it encourages deep introspection to help you figure out who you are and how you can find your purpose.

The aspect that I couldn’t relate to very well is that the author is inspired by yoga and so there is a lot of discussion and there are testimonials about yoga from people who embrace it as a lifestyle. I’ve taken some yoga classes and, even though I enjoyed it, I must say that I’ve never been inspired to change my life because of it. As a stick girl who is not at all bendy (Seriously, I can’t even touch my toes!) I find yoga to be somewhat stressful and taxing towards the end of a class. I do understand that it’s also a philosophy and more than just contorting one’s self into various tortuous positions, but, as I said, I can’t really relate to it.

However, it doesn’t matter about any of that as far as this book is concerned. Yoga was the motivating factor behind Ms. Holland deciding to change her life and write this book. It’s got a lot of great stuff in it. Stuff that I will refer back to from time to time.

I especially loved the workbook section, which makes up most of the book. This is where she encourages you to look really hard and honestly at yourself. I only read through the exercises the first time around but I intend to go back and do them properly later.

The exercises are fairly straight-forward in that she has you list specific things about your personality and your habits and to really analyse why you do and think the way that you do. It’s not really that easy, though. In order for it to be effective, you must be really honest with yourself and that can be extremely difficult. It’s sometimes hard to admit our flaws.

I’m looking forward to going back through this section and really answering the questions in detail.

I’m glad that I read this book. I found it inspiring and it gave me a bit of direction on my voyage of self-discovery.

The Art of Thinking Clearly

In Book Reviews on November 6, 2013 at 7:53 pm
Sceptre 2013

Sceptre 2013

This is not a how-to book. you won’t find ‘seven steps to an error-free life’ here. Cognitive errors are far too ingrained for us to be able to rid ourselves of them completely. Silencing them would require superhuman willpower, but that isn’t even a worthy goal. Not all cognitive errors are toxic, and some are even necessary for leading a good life. Although this book may not hold the key to happiness, at the very least it acts as insurance against too much self-induced unhappiness.

Soooo…self-help books, eh Buffy? Yes indeedy. I tend to sprinkle them into my reading between the zombie, fantasy and sci-fi books. This is just the first time I’ve ever told you about them.

I really put the ‘anal’ in analysis when it comes to looking at my own behaviour and I frequently think about why I do the things I do. I don’t always change things about myself but I try to be really honest when I look at who I really am. It’s a difficult thing to do because a lot of times I see more flaws that strengths. But let’s not call them flaws, dear friends. Let’s think of them as ‘ways in which I can improve’. One of my strengths is that I’m always looking for insight on ways in which I can become a better person.

Thus my interest in self-help books.

One must take these books with a grain of salt, however. I always try to remember that a person wrote whatever self-help book I’m reading and he or she will not always have all of the answers. The contents within the book are based upon the author’s experiences and they might not match up with mine. Some of the things that the author writes about may not apply to me at all.

I think it’s important to be able to pick and choose what’s applicable, especially since many of these books have conflicting views.

I was drawn to this book because of the title. Thinking is important. I like doing it and thinking clearly is an attraction for me. (This all may seem obvious, but I come in contact with people who don’t think. Daily.)

The author doesn’t claim to be an expert in psychology and he references other research to back up his statements. This actually started as a list he created of various cognitive errors and he didn’t originally intend to publish it. There are 99 errors listed in this book (insert inappropriate Jay-Z song quote here) and I found many of them to be very interesting. There were some that blatantly apply to me (such as procrastination) and some that I’m not really guilty of (such as social proof. eg. if everyone is looking into the sky, I won’t look to see what they’re looking at).

I liked the format of this book. Approximately 2 1/2 pages is devoted to each error. It’s a brief overview of each one, but I feel that I could do further research if I ever feel that I need to read more about a particular one.

One of the common things he writes about is how our behaviour is influenced by our hunter-gatherer past.

…activity paid off more often than reflection did. Lightning-fast reactions were vital and long ruminations were ruinous. If your hunter-gatherer buddies suddenly bolted, it made sense to follow suit… if you failed to run away… the price of a first-degree error was death… It paid to be wrong about the same things. Whoever was wired differently exited the gene pool after the first or second incidence. We are the descendants of those homines sapientes who tend to scarper when the crowd does. But in the modern world, this intuitive behaviour is disadvantageous. Today’s world rewards single-minded contemplation and independent action.

Those last two sentences are beautiful to me. I’ve always been a loner. I (sometimes stubbornly) avoid bandwagons and do my own thing with very little care about what people think about me. We all care to some extent, but I’m pretty immune to peer pressure and pretty much do as I please.

The one thing that I didn’t really like about this book is that it’s a bit cynical. In fact, that was the overall tone of the book. I actively rebel against my cynical nature and am trying to be more optimistic about things, so that aspect didn’t really appeal to me. I believe that we should question what we think and why we think it. We should be our toughest inquisitors when it comes to our values and beliefs. If something stands up to my own questioning, then I feel that it’s worth keeping. He encourages us, in this book, to do that very thing. However, I don’t believe that to be logical means that I have to be cynical.

While this book has many useful things in it that will refer to from time to time, I haven’t come away from it with a list of things I want to do immediately. What I’ve come away with is the even stronger realisation that I am a creature of emotion. I’m not always rational or logical (my husband would be more than happy to confirm that) but I am a woman of many passions who feels things intensely. I would never trade my fire for stone-cold logic. It would make me much less Buffy.

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