The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live--and How You Can Change Them by Richard J. Davidson
lucid and warm guide to us and our emotions
chooses six emotional dimensions which he has established contribute to an
individual's emotional style. He works methodically through the neurological
research that has helped him identify these dimensions. His explanations are
thorough but often Davidson needs recap with a summary that pulls ideas
together. These are reinforced through an exercise where the reader assesses the
dimensions of his or her own emotional style. The physical and behavioural
manifestations of these are then explored, providing the reader with an
opportunity to test ideas through their own experience.
I found the
emotional dimensions to be generally reasonable although I could think of people
who could challenge some of them. For example, I know someone whose `attention'
enables him to exclude external distractions but who still has to work hard to
focus on tasks such as study. This person could be either `focussed' or
`unfocussed' in this important dimension. In fairness, Davidson acknowledges
some ambiguity may crop up and is examining many traits and their causes in this
introductory guide. His methods are therefore, in balance, helpful. Davidson
then provides tools, such as forms of meditation, to help readers shift their
performance in any of the six dimensions to help in their daily life.
will take the reader some time to be certain how helpful a book like this can
be. Davidson is a warm and compassionate guide in this study and is convincing
in his thesis, but there will be a lingering concern as to whether there is a
degree of shoe-horning emotions into his dimensions. I believe he has provided a
strong and useful basis to better understand our emotions and their impact upon
us, and I look forward to chasing up the resources he identifies.
book also has biographical elements which touch on relevant points in Davidson's
life and his research. These complement and enrich the topic. It makes for a
warm story where, for example, some ill fated and logistically challenging
experiments in the Himalayas encountered interesting obstacles and threatened to
be worthless, but which then serendipitously offered a range of opportunities.
Davidson's exchanges with the Dalai Lama over the years are gems, and harmonise
with the neuroscience charmingly.