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Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change and Thrive in Work and Life Paperback – 11 September 2017
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An accessible, reader-friendly voyage. Emotional Agility can be helpful to anyone. ― Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
In Emotional Agility, Susan David teaches us to understand - and to communicate in - the unspoken language of emotion to better align how we feel with what we do. Drawing on her work as one of our leading researchers on the science of emotions, David writes with authority, compassion and insight. Essential reading. ― Susan Cain, author of Quiet
It's one thing to feel an emotion - it's another to gain control over it. Susan David acknowledges the benefits of sadness, anger, guilt, and fear, and then shows us how to make sure they don't take over our lives. This is a self-help book that might actually help. ― Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of ORIGINALS and GIVE AND TAKE
David's words come as a blessed relief ― Telegraph
- ASIN : 0241976588
- Publisher : Penguin (General UK); 1st edition (11 September 2017)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780241976586
- ISBN-13 : 978-0241976586
- Dimensions : 19.8 x 1.8 x 12.9 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 3,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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Thank you Susan.
Recommendations: Everyone. The strength and resilience that you will find in understanding these things will stand you in good stead.
Top reviews from other countries
After listening to Susan David on a podcast, I became interested in her stance on how we deal with our feelings and decided to buy this book. It is all about our relationship with our feelings and how we need to change how we respond to our feelings so that we are able to make the choices that benefit us. The main message is that we should treat our feelings as a compass that guides us, informing us of our core values which we need to adhere to. I'm always sceptical when it comes to self-help books, but this one doesn't paint an unrealistically positive picture of what it's like to be in control of our emotions. The fact that it acknowledges difficult emotions playing just as important a role as positive emotions is a welcoming (and, to me, accurate) message.
It really is a incredibly well-written book with a good balance of anecdotal evidence combined with peer-reviewed studies. The writing is clear and extremely well-structured, and has some much appreciated references and humour to go alongside with important lessons. Susan goes into a decent amount of detail about the studies without it becoming too academic, but it is reassuring to know that there is evidence beyond the anecdotal.
The only reason I gave it four stars is because, although the messages all capture the truth, I felt there weren't enough suggestions of practical exercises to help consolidate some of the messages. In the middle of the book, were some great recommendations about the benefits of journalling and meditating. However, I felt that towards the end it began falling into the trap of simply saying how you should be thinking without telling you how you can move towards the goal. Perhaps she wants to leave it to the reader to figure out, but I would have appreciated a few more clear recommendations of what we could do.
Overall, extremely insightful and relevant book that anyone struggling with their anxiety/identity should read. It's a book that has definitely influenced me in a positive way. Over time, I hope to really take emotional agility to heart and more fully embrace all the struggles and successes of life.
However, the more I kept reading the more confused I felt. I tried listening to the Audible version to see whether that would help, as sometimes a good narrator can draw out key insights by emphasis. That didn't work either. In fact, it added to my confusion.
I am NOT saying that the concepts in this book are bad. They are backed by research and I was familiar with many of them from prior reading.
I AM saying is that I disliked the presentation. The key messages are helpful but packaged in a way that I did not find conceptually satisfying.
Maybe I'm just picky, or maybe my expectations have been set really high by other works (see my later recommendations).
Let me illustrate what I mean by the packaging being unsatisfying.
This book has a multitude of analogies and references to pop culture (movies and the like) but the narrative often jumps from one analogy to another with wild abandon. I like a powerful analogy that provides a means to understand a new or difficult concept, but the overuse of analogy is troubling because an analogy is not reality, only a pointer to a deeper truth. Too much analogy and I only get a glimpse in the direction of truth, not the truth itself. Analogy can be used to mask fluffy thinking.
The same with concepts. I think there were too many, too close together. As an example, I found myself nodding along to "Thinking, Fast and Slow" because Type I and Type II thinking helps make sense of the world. Even without Kahnemann's prize-winning research, I intuitively sense it to be true. But "Emotional Agility" seems to bombard me with endless lists of important concepts with the effect that I get the sense that the author knows a lot about emotional rigidity, yet can't give me powerful tools or methods to deal with that rigidity and transform it into agility.
In short, the author comes across as a subject matter expert but what's missing is that spark of life that tells me that she is a good personal guide to transformation, not just an expert who knows a lot. There's too much theory and not enough practice, at least in the first four chapters of the book. I couldn't bear to stay with the book beyond that.
Your mileage may vary.
Let me close this review by recommending alternatives. These are books that set the bar really high, and I believe they explore concepts and convey practical methods that are fundamental to emotional agility.
** Big Magic (Elizabeth Gilbert) - When it comes to understanding the emotional difficulties associated with creativity, I think Big Magic is pure magic. Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat Pray Love fame, has somehow bottled the essence of what it takes to create stuff and keep going beyond the inevitable emotional setbacks that accompany a creative life. Highly recommended for writers and other creative types.
** Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life (Marshall Rosenberg) - Having tried NVC (Nonviolent Communication) for five years, I now cannot imagine life without it. It has literally transformed the way I approach relationships at home and at work. I have defused arguments at work, vastly improved my marriage, empathized with my children to help them move through difficult times in their lives, and really started to connect with people around me.
** The Courage to be Happy: True Contentment Is In Your Power (Ichiro Kishimi, Fumitake Koga) - A self help book laid out in the form of a dialogue between a young man and a philosopher. The amazing thing about this book is that it turns the somewhat inaccessible theories of 20th century philosopher Alfred Adler, into a fictional work that comes alive and stays with the reader. I marvel at the simplicity of looking at life through the three basic tasks of work, friendship, and love. While being happy is simple, it does indeed take courage.
This book also has amazing tips for parents.
Lastly, woven through it is the heart-warming and thoroughly inspiring story of a great woman, Susan David, growing up in Apartheid, embracing many difficulties, and becoming the author of this book; my favourite book of 2017!
Her message and “help” were scattered all over the place with no proper structure, it was like a jigsaw.
While it was useful having different research pieces back her statements, I felt the book was centred more on research than what the title promised.
The conclusion was the best chapter as it summarised the author’s intention for the book unfortunately, it had no substance.