Throughout history people have sought to cope with a life that is often stressful and hard. We have actually known for some time that developing compassion for oneself and others can help us face up to and win through the hardship and find a sense of inner peace. However in modern societies we rarely focus on this key process that underpins successful coping and happiness and can be quick to dismiss the impact of modern living on our minds and well-being. Instead we concentrate on 'doing, achieving' and having'. Now, bestselling author and leading authority on depression, Professor Paul Gilbert explains how new research shows how we can all learn to develop compassion for ourselves and others and derive the benefits of this age-old wisdom.
In this ground-breaking new book he explores how our minds have developed to be highly sensitive and quick to react to perceived threats and how this fast-acting threat-response system can be a source of anxiety, depression and aggression. He describes how studies have also shown that developing kindness and compassion for self and others can help in calming down the threat system: as a mother's care and love can soothe a baby's distress, so we can learn how to soothe ourselves. Not only does compassion help to soothe distressing emotions, it actually increases feelings of contentment and well-being. Here, Professor Gilbert outlines the latest findings about the value of compassion and how it works, and takes readers through basic mind training exercises to enhance the capacity for, and use of, compassion.
"As somebody who suffers from severe depression, I know the depressive's harshest critic is themselves. It is never helpful to be told to pull ourselves together by others but saying it to ourselves leads us in only one direction - into a spiralling descent into despair. This wise and perceptive book teaches us self-compassion and the consolations of kindness. I recommend it all the time." (Sally Brampton, author of Shoot the Damn Dog: A Memoir of Depression and the Aunt Sally column in The Sunday Times)
"The increasing drive to find a competitive edge in all aspects of our lives may create efficiencies but they are cold, heartless and unpleasant to live with. Gilbert shows how and why this occurs, and explains why our capacity for compassion is the antidote." (Oliver James, author of Affluenza and the Selfish Capitalist)
"A timely book for a time when competitiveness, materialism and narcissism have failed us. This book provides timeless wisdom that you can use every day. It will make a wonderful gift for someone you care for - especially, if you give it to yourself." (Robert L Leahy, author of The Worry Cure and President Of The International Association For Cognitive Psychotherapy)
"Fascinating ... thoughtful and well written ... this book is a resource to be owned and used with enjoyment" (Nursing Standard)
"A challenging and useful addition to anyone's self-help shelf, as well as a refreshingly rigorous look behind why our brains work the way they do. In fact, this is a self-help book for people who don't like self-help books." (ONEinFOUR magazine)
"Important and enjoyable." (The Psychologist)
"A landmark book" (The Scientific and Medical Network)
"Interesting and helpful." (Mental Health Practice)
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Like water for a thirsty wanderer
The author's kindness and humor. He felt like a friend, helping me through difficult--but crucial--information that will help my life for years and years to come. I will always be grateful to him for this.
A few things. When he mentioned other works by other authors (Napoleon Hill's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" which basically tells us to just LISTEN to each other; John Price's work; Mark Leary's book "The Curse of the Self"; and many more), I quite often took note of that for future looking into.
The author's book focuses on explaining complex ideas about self-compassion (and compassion for others) in easily-understood language, and to tell we the readers that we CAN attain this elusive and wonderful gift of self-compassion/other compassion.
The gold in this book, which was repeated in many different ways throughout the book (helping me to understand it from different angles and within different contexts), THE THEME UPON WHICH THIS BOOK IS WRITTEN, is that it isn't our fault that we are critical or judgmental toward ourselves or others, or might feel superior/inferior, OR that we suffer from anxiety, fear, anger, or depression. Further--and what really brings it home for me--is that it is natural to feel a sudden flood of anxiety, fear, or a feeling of anger or wanting to exact revenge. AND that, because of how our brains have evolved, it is also natural for us to ruminate on these momentary feelings for days, months, and even years. It is also natural to feel a wide spectrum of feelings. They are not the enemies. What IS important is being aware of them and dealing with them so they don't overtake your life (like my reference to rumination--which is only one example).
In a phrase, he wants us to "experience rather than self-judge/judge others"; to be kind, loving, self-compassionate/compassionate, and warm towards ourselves and others. His full chapters, coming at the subject from many angles, and his exercises teach us how to do this.
This is not a difficult, scientifically-slanted book, though it is grounded firmly in science. It is also not a spiritual book per se, though you can certainly come at it from that angle, should you enjoy that. It is just, plain and simple, a very, very practical book. It doesn't throw around any far-flinging (what I call) "woo-woo" terms which other books might. It's real. It's down to earth. It's usable in everyday life.
He gave hope to this reader.
I feel more hope now, after hearing this book (which I'll be restarting at the beginning as soon as I've finished the first go-through, and I'm going to listen to it again and again) than I have in three decades of anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds, and therapies with dozens of philosophies and advice.
As others have stated, this book is very long. But it is, by no means, too long--for all of its in-depth coverage of vital (and in my view life-saving) information. There is nothing I would have edited out to cut down the length. I have been listening to it in 3-4 blocks of time. But you could easily listen to it in one-hour increments or full day's-worth segments of time.
Buy this book, and then let it wash over you, confront your prior attitudes and opinions, and amaze you. His book is tightly focused, well-planned and executed, and practical for novices and experienced alike! I'm going to look for more by this author.
As a side note: this book is written by a British author, and the audio book is read by a British narrator. However, as an American, I had no trouble understanding every single word. In addition, I didn't have to strain to hear every single word with ease--the tone was even in volume and cadence throughout the entire piece.
Buy this book. It will make you feel so much better and more hopeful about yourself and your world than you could have ever imagined. I think these ideas are going to make a huge difference in my life as I begin to orient my gaze toward its premises, exercises, and practical applications.
Such a splendid book!