I’ve been making my way through some of the TED series books on my breaks (they’re a good size for a 15-minute slot – not that you can finish it in 15 minutes, but each chapter is short enough), and they’re quite a nice little series based on the corresponding talks. I haven’t chanced upon one that’s been life-changing yet, but they’re definitely charming little bites of information. I’ll have a list of all the current TED books, linked to the titles we have in our catalogue, below the cut.
The one I started with was How to Fix a Broken Heart, which surprised me by addressing the overarching problem in dealing with a broken heart (when it falls outside of socially sanctioned heartbreak, i.e. when your significant other breaks up with you (outside of divorce or death), or when a pet dies): the structures simply aren’t in place to provide as much support for those who are undergoing heartbreak of this sort in comparison to the bereavement leave and understanding you get from coworkers & friends alike for more socially acceptable forms of heartbreak (e.g. death of immediate family or spouse, divorce). As a result, the brokenhearted are expected to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get over it – without a support system, oftentimes facing exasperation or contempt from what would otherwise be their support system because why can’t they just get over it already??, while they’re already on low emotional resources.
Winch doesn’t just address the systemic issue. He provides solutions the heartbroken individual can use to heal better, following up with references to studies that support those solutions – because while time is a factor, what you do during that time also makes a difference. At the end of the book, you’ll feel a lot less guilty about how much it affects your functioning when your heart gets broken, especially because now you’ll know that people who are undergoing heartbreak have the same part of their brain activated in like fashion to people who are undergoing intense, almost unbearable, physical pain. So why do we expect people who are feeling intense, almost unbearable physical pain to function just as well as they do normally, just because we can’t see their pain or don’t file the circumstances under a socially acceptable folder for grieving?
Does it ever feel like there’s a constant pressure on to be happy and to only ever experience positive emotions? (Nevermind the fact that we divide up the emotions between positive & negative, thereby already biasing them to be thought of as either good or bad for you.)
Well here are some picture books that talk about (negative) emotions and acknowledge them as being part and parcel of being human (… strictly speaking, animal, since when they feature, the humans involved are not the ones experiencing the negative emotions). Some of them discuss how it’s perfectly OK to be experiencing these ups and downs, whereas others highlight what emotions such as fear and jealousy (or in this particular case, the selfish personality of the giraffe) hold you back from the possibility of experiencing things you could never have previously imagined.
Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang, illustrated by Max Lang, is great at portraying how sometimes our grumpiness can seem completely illogical: there’s nothing to be grumpy about, but you know what? We all wake up on the wrong side of the bed some days, and that’s alright! Having your friends there to be there for you, even if what they’re doing isn’t cheering you up per se, can be a boon to your emotional state. Grumpy Monkey yells at his friends, denying his grumpiness, but it’s when he actually accepts that yes, he just might be grumpy, and yes, his friends do still love & care for him, that he starts to feel a bit better.
Do you cringe when you see that embarrassing photos from your teenage years on Facebook? Have you been on a date filled with unbearable silence? Did you ever go blank in the middle of a presentation with the audience staring at you? Being human is all about being awkward, and that’s ok.
Melissa Dahl takes on this underappreciated emotion and searched for the meaning behind it and how to come to term with it. Through a series of personal experience and professional research, Dahl came to the conclusion that awkward moments are universal; they can be opportunities for us to have better self-awareness and accept who you are. There are some really interesting psychology experiments as well as the author’s experience with improve class and Mortified show that made me to look at cringe-worthy moments differently.
This book is humorous, informative and a light read. Highly recommended–you will have new appreciation towards awkwardness.
You might also like:
Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome
You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself
Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things