I never posted a self-help book. But the title was so catchy, and it seemed like the request for the book arrived in a moment when I probably do need that book (not because I’m dealing with a bear, but having to deal with one right now would not surprise me). So, here you have it, and because it’s so out of ordinary (also, the Tour people worked through the author’s publicist and stuff… anyway, it was all different from the usual), there will not be the same formatting I use for all the other posts. Well, here we go!
Category: Adult Non-Fiction (18+)
Publisher: Apollo Publishers
Release date: October 2019
Content Rating: PG-13+
and Comedian King explores the science behind stress in this witty,
informed guide. The author uses a bevy of running jokes and punch lines
to enliven technical explanations for how and why people experience
stress. His metaphors of coming across a bear in the wild as well as
being stuck in traffic are also used to great effect to explain a
variety of stress responses, such as perceiving a threat and feelings of
powerlessness. Reframing thoughts plays a large role in King’s advice:
Stress is simply a reaction to a perception of threat being able to
consciously redirect choices made by other areas of the brain is the key
to living a less stressful existence. He also provides breathing
exercises, plants for painting physical health and useful advice for
setting attainable goals. King’s enjoyable guide to living with less
will be of help to any anxious reader.
Getting To The Gym Across The Street (pages 137 – 138)
The brain is not a muscle, it does not grow bigger with repeated usage. Regardless of how hard you try, no amount of mental activity is going to make a part of your brain push a bump out of the skull. Muscles, on the other hand, can get massive with use.
The brain does not get bigger, but as I mentioned previously, it can modify itself and rearrange things in response to usage. Some areas get more complex by adding new connections between cells, whereas areas that are used less often are reduced to compensate. My wife Sarah has recently learned to play the piano. We don’t travel with our own MRI machine, but I would imagine that the part of her brain involved in that activity has grown from “nonexistent” to “a little more complex.”
Everything in the brain works this way, through repeated practice of a behavior, we develop the area associated with that behavior. Similarly, the more we practice resilient thinking, the more we develop the left side of our prefrontal cortex. So how do we get there? It’s much easier to list the steps on how to get to the gym across the street, that’s why the analogy works for understanding, but now we have to get practical. Some of the things I have discussed so far are worth repeating, because all of them will help exercise that prefrontal cortex.
Here they are then, in a skimmer-friendly format. We need to:
- Learn to assess our stressful situations to determine if they are actually threatening, and if there is something we can do about it.
- Learn to redirect our brain away from worrisome or negative thoughts. If simply changing our thoughts doesn’t work, then we can change our environment or activity.
- Repeatedly practice the behavior we want to exhibit.
BRIAN KING trained as a neuroscientist and psychologist and for the
past decade has traveled the world as a comedian and public speaker. By
day he conducts seminars, attended by thousands of people each year
around the US and internationally, on positive psychology, the health
benefits of humor, and stress management. By night he practices what he
teaches in comedy clubs, and is the founder and producer of the highly
reviewed Wharf Room comedy show in San Francisco. Dr. Brian holds a
bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas, a master’s degree from
the University of New Orleans, and a PhD in neuroscience from Bowling
Green State University. Hailing from New York and living in dozens of
cities throughout the US as the child of a military family, today spends
his life on the road with his partner, Sarah, and their young daughter.
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