The User's Guide to the Human Mind: Why Our Brains Make Us Unhappy, Anxious, and Neurotic and What We Can Do about It
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Your mind is not built to make you happy; it’s built to help you survive. So far, it’s done a great job! But in the process, it may have developed some bad habits, like avoiding new experiences or scrounging around for problems where none exist. Is it any wonder that worry, bad moods, and self-critical thoughts so often get in the way of enjoying life?
Based in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), The User’s Guide to the Human Mind is a road map to the puzzling inner workings of the human mind, replete with exercises for overriding the mind’s natural impulses toward worry, self-criticism, and fear, and helpful tips for acting in the service of your values and emotional well-being—even when your mind has other plans.
- Find out how your mind tries to limit your behavior and your potential
- Discover how pessimism functions as your mind’s error management system
- Learn why you shouldn’t believe everything you think
- Overrule your thoughts and feelings and take charge of your mind and your life
lost what is most important to her. Penelope prides herself on boldness and nonconformity. As a child, she was known to wear different colored socks and eat marshmallow sandwiches for lunch. As an adult, she is just as distinctive. While her friends pursued traditional careers like accounting and dentistry, Penelope studied magic and ultimately found a respectable following as an entertainer. Hers is a career with plenty of pressures and great rewards. Even though each minutely choreographed show
rat is responding to a contextual cue from within—probably his sense that time has elapsed—rather than a warning from the environment. They’re not so different from us. Dear Penelope is doing precisely what the rat did when she chooses to stay home. She is avoiding the pain of another anxiety attack. Press the lever; avoid the shock. Just like the rat, we can be trained to avoid what we think is coming. It makes sense to avoid a shock. Shocks are painful. Memories can also be painful, in their
garage, the street, and the grocery store pose no direct threat to Penelope. She’s responding to painful thoughts and feelings or, stated more accurately, the fear that she might experience painful thoughts and feelings. As we discussed earlier, there are other ways to avoid thoughts. Alcohol and drugs make them disappear for a little while. Sex and shopping distract us temporarily. Eating, gambling, and surfing the Internet can bring respite from the mind. These things may not be inherently
effects. If you have difficulty abstaining for a brief period, you will have gained valuable information. That may be an indication that it’s time to enlist professional help. In extreme cases, sudden abstinence from alcohol can cause dangerous withdrawal symptoms. If you consume large amounts, please consult with a physician about the best way to cut back on alcohol. Exercise It’s no secret that exercise can decrease the risk of physical problems such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, type 2
topic chooses us. Either way, owning a human mind means tolerating a lot of chatter. As researcher Chris Fields noted (2002), most of us talk to ourselves, silently, most of the time. Where does this voice come from? Why do we use it so much, and why can’t we easily silence it? The answer may lie in the modular construction of the brain. Different systems do different jobs, and many of them operate with some autonomy (like the collection of systems that allow us to talk to ourselves) or with full