- The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science
By Norman Doidge, M.D.A few decades ago, scientists considered the brain to be fixed or “hardwired”. In easily accessible, fascinating personal stories, Doidge explores the science of neuroplasticity, interviewing both scientific pioneers and the patients who have proven the brain has remarkable powers of changing its own structure.
- How We Choose to Be Happy: The 9 Choices of Extremely Happy PeopleBy Rick Foster and Greg Hicks
Interviewing some 300 people all over the world, the authors developed the 9 choices they found in happy people everywhere. These are not people with easy lives, but through personal stories the authors present a road map of how people create happiness. The book also provides a key to the mind-body connection. Their model is being studied in medical schools like the Mayo Clinic, the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the American Heart Association because these 9 strategies are also associated with increased health and well being.
Websites and Videos
For Panic Attacks
Gives Me Hope offers very short stories of human generosity, love, compassion. It’s the perfect antidote to the relentless news of war, natural disasters, human greed and violence. It’s about the full half of the glass.
JUST ONE THING by Rick Hanson provides weekly practices that are grounded in brain science, positive psychology, and contemplative training. “They’re simple and easy to do – and they produce powerful results. For example, one practice asks you to take a few minutes each day to notice little things you appreciate or feel grateful for, like the smell of an orange, the smile of a friend, or a sense of your own sincerity and good intentions. This may not sound like much, but research has shown that this practice will lift your mood, protect you against stress, and even strengthen your immune system. You’ll be gradually strengthening your neural pathways of happiness, love, and wisdom.”
We all get down on ourselves at times. Some of us make a habit of it, increasing our sense of unworthiness, inadequacy and drowning our motivation.
The drive for high self esteem, endorsed by so many over the past couple of decades is based on trying to feel like we are performing well, being successful. The problem is that we can’t all be above average on everything all the time. We can end up feeling worse about ourselves, increasing our self criticism for all the ways we don’t merit high esteem.
Self-compassion is based on being kind and caring for our total human experience, including all our challenges, strengths and weaknesses.
Kristin Neff is the world’s leading brain researcher on the topic of self-compassion. From her book:
Research strongly suggests that people who are more self-compassionate lead healthier, more productive lives than those who are self-critical. And the feelings of security and self-worth provided by self-compassion are highly stable. Self-compassion steps in precisely when we fall down, allowing us to get up and try again.
SELF ESTEEM VERSUS SELF COMPASSION
I recommend the watching this free conversation she had with Neuropsychologist Dr. Rick Hansen as part of a series on compassion and the brain (it’s episode six). Neff describes her studies, including how to tell the difference between self-indulgence and self-compassion.