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Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  4,801 ratings  ·  481 reviews
The counterintuitive approach to achieving your true potential, heralded by the Harvard Business Review as a groundbreaking idea of the year.
The path to fulfillment, whether at work or at home, is almost never a straight line. Ask anyone who has achieved their biggest goals or who thrives in their relationships, and you’ll hear stories of many unexpected detours along t
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 6th 2016 by Avery Publishing Group (first published April 5th 2016)
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Susan David Hi Don,

The introduction is written with humorous intention. Please see the notes at the back as that will help with the background to the story. Thank…more
Hi Don,

The introduction is written with humorous intention. Please see the notes at the back as that will help with the background to the story. Thank you for your interest!


Aaron Kelley Based on my experience reading this book, instead of brooding or bottling, we are to show up to our feelings. To me this means accepting how we feel w…moreBased on my experience reading this book, instead of brooding or bottling, we are to show up to our feelings. To me this means accepting how we feel without placing labels on our feelings that degrade us further. For example, accepting that you feel sad or upset. Then moving toward a wider perspective understanding why you're sad or upset, and reviewing your past to recall instances where you've been here before and putting that knowledge together to work through and beyond your feelings.

This is an extreme oversimplification, but I think the process goes something like this:

1. I feel sad
2. I feel sad because X happen.
3. I've dealt with similar instances of sadness in the past and I'm still here
4. I will be OK.

Again, it's an oversimplification but I think it's the general process. To accept your feelings, bring your experiences to it without judgment or comparison and to move past it.

I hope this is helpful, and more people offer answers.(less)

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Anders Brabaek
Read Susan Davids article “Emotional Agility” on Harward Business Review first and then maybe the book. You can find the the article here:
The article above was Susan’s foundation for the book. In the article, the ideas of the book are delivered more concise. By reading the article first, I think you will have a frame for the book, or know if you want to read the book at all.

The primary idea in the book is that we get hugged on our thoughts and emotions, an
Frank Calberg
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Takeaways from reading the book:

What emotions do we have?
- Location 550: We have 7 basic emotions. They are divided in 2 groups: Positive emotions and negative emotions. Joy and surprise are positive emotions. Sadness, fear, contempt, disgust, and surprise are negative emotions. Notice that surprise can be a positive and a negative emotion.
- Location 2200: Fear sometimes appears in disguise, for example when we postpone things, when we seek perfection, when we have low confidence and/or when we
Randall Jackson
Jan 13, 2017 rated it liked it
I'll admit that I had to read this book twice before I was able to understand the practical application of it's information. The book has a wealth of scientific study to support the claims that are made. It is good that the author choose to do this even as I am one who does like to be provided proof or evidence to support statements that are claimed to be effectual.

In this book the supporting studies did tend to cloud or make unclear how to practically apply the methods discussed in real time re
Laurie Anderson
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
There were a few good nuggets of wisdom, but I much prefer the research and writing of Brene Brown.
This book had a profound impact on my day-to-day life. When I notice myself getting frustrated, I am reminded of this book. Specifically the passage in which the author describes how people can die in fires: due to their panic, people see the way they came in as the only way out, even if there is another way. According to Dr. David, this is a type of "tape" we play in our heads. These "tapes" usually serve us well (the way to get out of a place is the same way we came in), but can cause tragedie ...more
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was expecting a little more from this book given its hype. As others have said, you don't really learn anything new from the book, nor does it offer up much help in applying it to your life. The author just tries to hastily offer up some tired suggestions at the conclusion to make up for the aforementioned flaws. Sure, some of the anecdotal evidence is interesting, but it's not organized in a way that really hammers home any of the principles. Having read many self-help books of this nature, I ...more
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, health
This was just okay for me. It felt too long and I didn't care for the delivery. There were some nuggets of gold, but they were buried so deep in rhetoric and drama....I wasn't sure this was working for me. I listened to the audio and that is where I went wrong. I should have read the pages. The audio is what was annoying me and it colored my feelings of this.
Feb 11, 2018 rated it did not like it
Oops I did it again.
I read a pseudo-psych book
That coins a new term
to describe the same 10 probably not replicable social science studies
that ends my telling you to practice mindfulness
but you read it to the end anyway
because you're a sucker for self help books.
Adarsh J
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I shall remember to dance while I can!

I really liked this book. The author uses anecdotes from so many different walks of the life that you are bound to connect to some of them, and she being a psychologist, walks you through the situation, explaining possible course of actions, teaching how the thought and the thinker are distinct from each other. The organisation of the content matter is well thought out, it gradually introduces how one can handle emotions and be agile, all the while acknowled
Yevgeniy Brikman
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Like so many well-regarded self-help books, this one is a small kernel of valuable content, wrapped in a lot of fluff. It's worth reading for that kernel, but I wish the economics of the publishing industry could do more to incentivize shorter books. This one in particular, being about emotions, has a lot of wishy-washy, high-level, non-actionable advice that you have to skim over to get to the good stuff.

Some of the key insights for me:

* There is a moment between when you feel something and wh
Leigh Kramer
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, nonfiction
This absolutely blew me away. It's about how we can best navigate life's ups and downs. Emotionally agile people are able to adapt to whatever life throws at them and stay true to their values, as well as grow stronger and healthier.

It's a wonderful blend of story, research, and practical advice. David really gets into our motivations and the habits that trip us up and how small changes can change everything. Some of the concepts were empowering, others confirmed what I've already been doing. If
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I can't say enough good about Emotional Agility. It is sad to realize that in this day of plenty so many people suffer from depression and anxiety. Emotional Agility is full of wisdom for these woes. Susan David walks us through ways to dance your way through troubles. Don't think it's another of those dry textbook self-help books, though; David shares lots of wonderful stories that make her ideas more real and more clear.
May 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
I don’t usually read non-fiction and self-help books because I tend to find them dry, boring and too factual. This is a very different type of non-fiction book. It is very interesting, relatable to your every-day life and very engaging. Susan David uses a very human and down-to-earth approach and she uses very sympathetic and relatable situations you can learn from and examples to make you reflect about your own behaviour.

Emotional agility comprises many aspects of life and behaviour and Susan D
Nov 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-help, psychology
IMHO, this book gets so much right, and it really rings true. For people who do not read self-help books, it is not written like a typical self-help and I think you could tolerate it much better. Great insights that are thought-provoking. Recommended.
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a good book filled with smart insights into humanity's ability to demonstrate courage at times and to be blockheaded other times. David's material may seem familiar only because it has been so widely discussed and shared, but this is the real deal. Read this book if you're stuck yourself, if you're tired of reacting in knee-jerk ways in certain work or home situations, or if you have kids you're trying to bring up in a world which makes it harder and harder to avoid helicoptering. David' ...more
Hamed Al-Hamdan
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant! Tired of reading the typical psychology books!? This is different. It's more in line with our fast phased life. The next thing after Emotional Intelligence. The author crafted her thoughts through well selected real life vivid examples which makes it easier to grasp. An essential read to manage through change. Learn how to embrace negativity and move forward. I found it energizing!
Nov 18, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a terrific primer on emotional expression and regulation that would benefit many readers. As a therapist, I’ve recommended it to patients who are struggling with self-esteem issues. The story of theVelveteen Rabbit and the list of aspirations in the last chapter makes this a practical book to help with self awareness.
Taryn Pennington
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Listen to the audiobook and then ended up buying the hard copy so I could go back and make notes. Very insightful. Lots of tips on how to it only recognize the emotions we deal with but also how to deal with them properly so they don't consume your life.
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
" By knowing who you are and what you stand for, you come to life's choices with the most powerful tool of all: your full self. Dance if you can."
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wonderful advice in here; I wish I could implement it.
May 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a great time to read this book as we all experience a lot of emotions going through the COVID pandemic. It was a good reminder that emotions are teachers to help us figure out what matters to us - and others. I particularly liked the last chapter on Raising Emotionally Agile Children - the skills taught in this book are the best tools we can teach/model for our children for them to truly thrive in this world. I have worked with too many people who grew up all receiving trophies for simp ...more
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book spoke to me. It almost feels as though it was written for me. I wasn’t too keen on Susan Davids’ TEDTalk—basically an outline of this book—but the full text was worth my attention.

She makes her points clearly, gives relevant examples, uses straightforward language to convey ideas that could be considered “woo woo” in other contexts and organizes the chapters in a sensible order.

The bulk of the pages focus on the reader’s emotional agility in his/her personal life, with parenting and
Nov 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
I don't think anything I read in here was mind-bogglingly new to me. Most were concepts I've thought about and heard/read elsewhere. Still, the thoughts are presented effectively and I liked the anecdotal examples and studies. Here are some points I particularly liked:

"Emotional agility means having any number of troubling thoughts or emotions and still managing to act in a way that serves how you most want to live" pg 102

quoted from Edgar Mitchell, sixth person to walk on the moon "On the retur
Caidyn (NO LONGER ACTIVE; he/him/his)
This review and others can bef ound on BW Book Reviews.

Self-help books aren't always my thing. Like, they're good and have truth, but they're so watered down and oversimplified that I don't know if they could ever work without someone putting a lot of effort into it. However, this one wasn't like that. Watered down, yes, but relatively simple to tackle.

The strategy that Susan David has come up with is, to me, like a watered down Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT). REBT is a type of cogni
Sarah-Jayne Windridge-France
May 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
An in depth survival guide to emotions and how to deal with them effectively. This book offers the emotional and cognitive understanding of our emotions to help you take control.

Some great examples/sample cases and an injection of humour - but some very real analysis of our emotional failings/challenges and how to best channel this emotion to a positive goal.

At the beginning of the book I highlighted a number of emotional misgivings of my own (apparently I'm a thought-blaming hooker with a tende
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I received this excellent self-help read as a Goodreads giveaway. The author provides real-life situations at the beginning of each chapter to illustrate the concepts presented. The insight and recommendations suggested can be applied by the reader on a daily basis through conscious mindset and life choices.
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
I've been reading this in small bits for most of the year, as I ended up with a free copy of the ebook on my phone. I feel like there were bits that I liked quite a lot as I read them, but I can't recall anything now that I'm thinking about the book as a whole. So, maybe not worth much time.
Satya Nelms
May 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
In addition to offering scant details as to how a person should be becoming more emotionally agile, the author also does not do her due diligence to check her lens/bias and makes ignorant, at times offensive, statements that reveal an unchecked, privileged world view.
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
I heard Susan David recently on the Ted Talk Daily podcast and really enjoyed listening to her. She has since gotten her own TED podcast and it is a great listen, especially during this uncertain time.
I sought out her book afterwards and really enjoyed reading it.

Acknowledging the space between the stimulus and the reaction - the differences between the thought and thinker, she shows how to move from emotional rigidity to agility. I particularly liked what she had to say about parenting towards
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life by Susan David is a book about how to use and view emotions and their often associated tension not as an oppressive force, but as mechanism to lift you up, out and beyond your current circumstances. One of the best lines in the book, and a very apt summary, is "It's *not* Okay now, but it *will* be Okay." One of the principle themes of the book is development of a cognitive detachment from your emotions; just because emo ...more
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Susan David, Ph.D., is a Psychologist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School; co-founder and co-director of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital; and CEO of Evidence Based Psychology, a boutique business consultancy. An in-demand speaker and advisor, David has worked with the senior leadership of hundreds of major organizations, including the United Nations, Ernst & Young, and the World ...more

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