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Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Mass Market Paperback – December 30, 2008
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"A book to read and re-read!"
"-Los Angeles Times"
From the Back Cover
-- Recognize what causes your mood swings
-- Nip negative feelings in the bud
-- Deal with guilt
-- Handle hostility and criticism
-- Overcome addiction to love and approval
-- Build self-esteem
-- Feel good every day
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is authored by a someone who has had a lot of experience using cognitive therapy techniques to try and improve people's depression. Cognitive therapy's premise is that your thinking (messages that you are giving yourself all day long) directly inflences your moods and how you feel. Therefore, if you are thinking negatively, you're going to feel that way. Likewise, if you think positive and optimistically, well, you're going to feel good!
And that's what the book is about- getting you to get rid of negative thoughts and replacing them with good ones. Does it work? Well, the book has been around since 1980, and there's actually been some good solid research that has actually taken the book, given it to depressed patients.....and they've improved!
With its easy writing style and research-backed techniques, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy is definitely worth the read- just know you've got over 500+ pages ahead of you. If this seems too daunting, or this approach doesn't appeal to you, try something like Exercise Beats Depression - which has been shown to be just as effective as cognitive therapy or drugs in controlled trials. Good luck!
To be clear: I absolutely don't believe there will ever be a book in this world that can "cure" long standing depression or anxiety. No matter what any studies show (though incidentally, the ones on this book are pretty encouraging.) Those wonderful newly gained insights and skills don't have the power to obliterate what the brain has had decades to learn and get good at. That's continuous work.
(To those who find the CBT attitude towards "dwelling" on childhood trauma too dismissive for their situation, I recommend the book "Reinventing Your Life", which is based on Schema Therapy.)
So where did Feeling Good fit in for me?
One thing I'm deeply grateful for is the tools it's given me to cope with each thing that drags me down - specifically, the 3 column writing exercise. More often than not, I just don't do it when I'm upset. I'll feel too discouraged to have faith in the process, or I'd rather distract myself with tv and self soothing than "deal". But when I do it, it's never once failed to make me feel a lot more balanced, a lot more in control, a lot less overwhelmed. It's as if as soon as I start working on my counter-points, I begin to step outside of the ring of fire of my own ruminations. Slowly but surely, my sense of humor and my perspective - the first traits depression banishes - return to me.
But the other, even more important side of this book is the core values and attitudes it presents as alternatives to the outlook we have on life when we're chronically unhappy: judgemental, or fearful, or self loathing, or self righteous, or all of the above.
Dr. Burns' writing style can sometimes feel (like every other successful self-help author, I suspect) too simplistic, or flippant, or self assured, or plain cheerful for the reader to recognize the pretty deep ideas it taps in to. I don't think anyone who was raised with other values will easily accept them - and the point isn't to uncritically swallow what the good doctor says, anyway. (At least my book is full of belligerent notes in the margins - "great, you just defined the meaning of life once and for all" and " exactly why is every example of paranoia a needy irrational girlfriend?!"). But it's been tremendously valuable to me to reflect and elaborate on ideas such as:
- The idea of a person's "worth" or "value" is a false mental construct, and thus your worth cannot fluctuate with how you perform or what others think of you.
- Self-obliterating notions of guilt and shame often stand in the way of taking true responsibility for your mistakes.
- Perfection is an abstraction as well. It quite literally does not exist anywhere in the real world - so the judgement of something as "flawed" will always be somewhat arbitrary.
- Furthermore, how close we perceive something to be to perfection has little to do with how much we enjoy or take from it. (Example: I can find at least thirty passages in this book I disagree with or dislike. Does that make it a bad book? Should Dr. Burns feel bad about his work, based on my opinion of it?)
And not least:
- It's not all about me.
I hope you'll take as much as I did from this book. Feel better!