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What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite
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What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  1,155 ratings  ·  83 reviews
Why do we routinely choose options that don’t meet our short-term needs and undermine our long-term goals? Why do we willingly expose ourselves to temptations that undercut our hard-fought progress to overcome addictions? Why are we prone to assigning meaning to statistically common coincidences? Why do we insist we’re right even when evidence contradicts us? This book rev ...more
Paperback, 309 pages
Published November 22nd 2011 by Prometheus Books (first published 2011)
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Emma Sea
Books like this make me wish I could afford to hire a research assistant to read and summarize as a one-page document. Yes, the content is very useful, but DiSalvo spins out what would be an interesting article into a full-length book.
Robin
Absolutely fascinating book about the brain (and its neurons) and how it affects our personalities and our thinking. It tells us useful so many uselful things that I can't explain them all. Here are a couple.

In a political discussion, the one side will maintain adamantly their opinion is the correct one, yet the other side will maintain just as vigorously that their side is correct. The conversation can get quite heated. Why is this so? Sometimes the conversation can get so heated that neither
...more
Victoria Costello
Dec 26, 2011 Victoria Costello rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone curious about how the mind workds
Shelves: nonfiction
With one eye on neuroscience and the other on cognitive psychology, DiSalvo reveals what's "behind the curtain" when it comes to common self-defeating human behaviors. For example, why, if you think you've "blown your diet" by exceeding the calorie limit you set for the day, most likely you'll blow through it all the way, thinking "oh what the hell." It turns out what the hell is a pre-wired response. As is overconfidence about your ability to restrain yourself in the first place, thus the reaso ...more
Dave Burns
I had high hopes for this book because the author framed it as "science-help" as opposed to self help. So I was hoping for some specific techniques to help me avoid the cognitive biases he describes. Most of the books is a quite standard description of cognitive biases, and not so bad if you haven't been introduced to them yet.
Chapter 15 was as close as he got to fulfilling his promise. It consists of 50 suggestions or aphorisms, each paired with a paragraph of discussion. But they are almost al
...more
Jane
An eye opening read that will have you nodding your head in agreement in every page, thinking, yes, I do that - but this book helps us to understand why we won't admit when we're wrong, or why we see patterns in random events. I enjoyed this book but when I lent it to a friend who didn't have a science background, she told me she had to look up too many words. Di Salvo does have quite an extensive vocabulary but, as someone with an interest in popular science, I found the book approachable and r ...more
Lena
This book is an addition to the collection of how to hack the aspects of our brains that tend to get us into trouble. DiSalvo is a science writer who has written an accessible "science help" book that should be quite useful to just about anyone.

Among the topics discussed are the brain's craving for certainty and how it can trick us into feeling certain even when we have no reason to; how our tendency to discount the future can cause bad decisions now, how poor we are at judging when someone is l
...more
Pat Herndon
I listened to the audiobook, which seems to have been "born audio". I was expecting a mass audience, management/personal development book, the kind produced for businessmen to listen to as they commute. I was pleasantly surprised to find this book to be more in-depth. It covered the work of many behavioral economists, whose work is often cited by authors like Dan Ariely and similar authors. However, this book added just a bit more and talked about some scientific observations of human decision m ...more
David Rush
Cool words and phrases I got from this book

problematic memes
the pleasure of certainty
framing bias
confirmation bias
amygdalae
the need for cognitive closure
embodied cognition
the zeigarnik effort

I just need to go through my bookmarks and dog ears to remind myself what they mean.

A nice book that basically says in our human desire for certainty we will bend, change, morph our thinking to avoid being uncomfortable or acknowledge ambiguity or uncertainty.
Sammie
A fascinating round up of research that shows how our brain can trick us into self-defeating behaviour. What I like about this book is that it isn't trying to claim it holds the key to a better life. Instead it teaches you to become aware of the mechanisms your brain may use to make decisions and drive behaviour, and when those mechanisms may act against your best interests. He argues that just being aware of those things is the beginning of overcoming them and making better decisions, while at ...more
Gail
Skimmed through the last parts of this book because it was due back at the library, but this book deserves a second read. Excellent insights into ways we think and act that often undermine our best interests. Reduces much of the latest research in neuroscience to manageable reading.
Kaitlin
There's a lot of good information it in here. Some of it I'd seen before in other similar books regarding psychology and sociology, but many things were new to me.

What makes this different from other books in its genre is that this touches on what changes we can make to improve ourselves, based on the way our minds work. This isn't a self-help book, but it may make you question your perspective on the world and your place in it.

This is neither a weight loss (or other self-help) how-to, nor a cog
...more
Eduardo Santiago
Possibly a good introduction to cognitive biases for the uninitiated. A little more self-helpy than I was expecting, but self-awaredly so; and now that I write that, I think this might actually be a good introductory book for a teen or promising-but-not-yet-fossilized young adult. It seems like the kind of nudge that could lead to better self-knowledge.
Patrick
This seemed like it would be good at the start, but it ended up being a sequence of theory / list of studies, theory/list of studies which I didn't feel was done in a satisfying way. I much preferred "The Power of Habit" which didn't come across so much as a collection of study summaries with some text by the author to link them together.
Constance Lucier
Jan 22, 2013 Constance Lucier is currently reading it
So far...enjoying this book!
I read "self help" type books differently today>> new research offers insight into the most mysterious organ in our body, the brain. And in that endeavor, it's fascinating! The reader can explore answers that were not previously considered!
Lori
very good information on how our brains trick us and how to be aware of it. this guy believes in science-based advice, not self-help so it's stuff you can actually use. the reading list and blogs at the end were excellent.
Hawkgrrrl
Really good read about why we make poor choices and how to avoid those mistakes. Best of all are the bibliography and additional case studies at the end. Well worth a read.
Nivash Kumar
This book presents research done in neurosciences in a cogent and compelling manner. It is about irrationality, cognitive biases and memory biases.
Seth
I wanted to like it more, but it was just a little too random. I would stick with "Thinking, Fast and Slow" and "Stumbling on Happiness" instead.
Wendy Palmer
Maybe had raised expectations due to glowing reviews on Amazon, but I felt it lacked detail and I've enjoyed similar books more.
Sophia
This is a long review, so I divided it into two parts: essential information at the beginning, and auxiliary information afterwards.


Pros:
-easy to read
-interesting topics.
-some chapters are ok. A few misrepresentations of data, but at least ample reference to studies and professional opinions.

Cons:
-like any good lie, it's a mix of truth and lies, with insufficient evidence. This makes it a very misleading book
-He makes wild claims that do not correspond to actual consolidated knowledge, without
...more
Kirsten Zirngibl
This book was OK. It focuses on backing up common human fallacies with research. There seem to be a lot of studies and articles on cognitive bias, lately. One of the anthems of pop sci appears to be “you can’t trust your own brain!”

I wouldn’t say this was specifically a “self help” book (it even labels itself as “science help”), but I’m guessing that most readers picked it up for this reason. That’s one of the reasons why I read it. I was looking to understand exactly why I could get stuck in s
...more
Maria Rita Biagini
Lo consiglierei a coloro che hanno sperimentato di non riuscire a distinguere chi mente da chi è sincero e per questo si sono sentiti magari degli sciocchi. Con questo libro scoprirebbero infatti che non sono stupidi per nulla, ma assolutamente nella norma poiché il cervello non sembra capace di distinguere fra chi dice la verità e chi no. Il libro è scritto in modo da essere veramente comprensibile ai più. Solo, non mi convince il fatto che la sola consapevolezza di come funzioni il cervello, p ...more
Paola
L'edizione in italiano in mio possesso:
http://www.lafeltrinelli.it/products/...
semmai qualcuno volesse fare una nuova scheda (io non ci provo nemmeno, so già che faccio disastri... .)
(e grazzzzzzie millemillemille a chi ha fatto la scheda in italiano!)
Divulgativo certo, ma ha i suoi pregi. Un linguaggio semplice, scorrevole, molti exempla.
A me oltretutto ha permesso di risolvere un problema relativo ad un cuscino che mi causava dolori alle cervicali. Ma siccome era un cuscino "curativo", creato
...more
Kathy Coenen
I loved this book. I am fascinated by what makes us tick apart from acculturation. There are study summaries that are entertaining that will enlighten you and if you can retain a few of them you can in some cases be aware of when you are responding to marketing ploys and can at least be fairly armed. This awareness will make you slow down and consider why you and others do some of the things you do and possibly motivate you to make incremental changes. Alternately, appreciating how we operate ca ...more
Michelle
A non fiction book that makes you think and has you hanging on it's every word, very rare book indeed. I had the audio version which was very easy to listen to and had me able to 'read' this long into the night.

The bulk of this book is around the results of many different research studies and the conclusion that David DiSalvo draws from it (I would say author of study but I've not investigated if this is the case).

Really thought provoking and a very good book if you are in any way interest in ps
...more
Derek Neighbors
I really enjoyed DiSalvo's journey on this topic. His search grabbed from cognitive science, neurology, social psychology, economics and the kitchen sink to find out about what makes us happy. Why do our brains get in the way? How do we find a fulfilled life? If you dig cognitive psychology or books that highlight studies on the brain and behavior (think Malcolm Gladwell) done well, you will like this book.
Ken
I spent a lot of time reading about how to better understand myself and others in order to accurately reduce misunderstanding. I have found that most problems are a result of misunderstandings. These misunderstandings occur because we all operate with a different set of assumptions, accumulated through our lifes and reinforced as we are "right."

This is an excellent book because is helpful in identifying when we are not "right." Since a bike accident in January of 2011, I have struggled to lose
...more
Rebecca Sizemore
A neat rundown of how to apply well-documented psychological phenomena to life.
Jon
This leans so far to the pop side of pop psychology that it topples over and falls flat. There's nothing in it that I haven't seen in other books, and even the clever, click bait like title has nothing to do with what's inside.

But then I'm not an author, and this is the modern world. I should expect that things titled "10 things that you don't think you do that you actually do MIGHT KILL YOU...DEAD" are likely to be a waste of time.

There are too many other books that do a better job of explain
...more
Raphael Reventar
One of the easiest psychology books I've ever read.
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