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See Inside Scientific American Mind Volume 24, Issue 5

MIND Books Roundup: Being Our Best

Three books describe how to thrive
Being our best, illustration of man arm up



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How we think strongly influences our physical and emotional well-being. But according to physician and researcher Hilary Tindle, being optimistic may have a more far-reaching effect. In Up: How Positive Outlook Can Transform Our Health and Aging (Hudson Street Press/Penguin Group, 2013), Tindle reveals that seeing the world through rosier-colored glasses can improve physical health and slow the aging process. She provides readers with seven strategies to enhance their outlook, such as meditation techniques, to help them put a more positive spin on life.

Yet unrealistic optimism can incur costs. It is easy to look at your peers who ooze self-assuredness and wonder how they navigate social situations so seamlessly or approach a job interview with such certainty. What is less well recognized is that lower self-confidence may be an asset, especially in the workplace. In Confidence: Overcoming Low Self-Esteem, Insecurity, and Self-Doubt (Hudson/Penguin, 2013), Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of business psychology, reveals that people with lower self-confidence are often more motivated and self-aware and better able to take criticism constructively. To avoid tipping too far toward self-criticism, he offers tips to help keep insecurities in check.

If you scrape your knee, you know the protocol to heal. But there is no clear prescription for getting through a break-up or a death in the family. In Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt, and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries (Hudson/Penguin, 2013), clinical psychologist Guy Winch offers advice for how to cope with life's emotional wear and tear. Winch describes a range of common psychological issues, including loneliness and unhealthy rumination, and provides ways to increase our emotional resilience. Failure and loss are a natural part of life, he says, and embracing them can help make us stronger in the long run.

This article was originally published with the title "Being Our Best."

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