What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite

This book reveals a remarkable paradox: what your brain wants is frequently not what your brain needs. In fact, much of what makes our brains "happy" leads to errors, biases, and distortions, which make getting out of our own way extremely difficult. Author David DiSalvo presents evidence from evolutionary and social psychology, cognitive science, neurology, and even marketing and economics. And he interviews many of the top thinkers in psychology and neuroscience today. From this research-based platform, DiSalvo draws out insights that we can use to identify our brains' foibles and turn our awareness into edifying action. Ultimately, he argues, the research does not serve up ready-made answers, but provides us with actionable clues for overcoming the plight of our advanced brains and, consequently, living more fulfilled lives. From the Trade Paperback edition.

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By Robin (Idaho Falls, ID) · ★★★★★ · January 22, 2012
Absolutely fascinating book about the brain (and its neurons) and how it affects our personalities and our thinking. It tells us useful so many uselful things that I can't explain them all. Here are a couple.

In a political discussion, the one side will maintain adamantly their opinion is the cor... ...more
By Victoria (San Francisco, CA) · ★★★★☆ · December 26, 2011
With one eye on neuroscience and the other on cognitive psychology, DiSalvo reveals what's "behind the curtain" when it comes to common self-defeating human behaviors. For example, why, if you think you've "blown your diet" by exceeding the calorie limit you set for the day, most likely you'll bl... ...more
By Dave (Wahiawa, HI) · ★★☆☆☆ · March 31, 2012
I had high hopes for this book because the author framed it as "science-help" as opposed to self help. So I was hoping for some specific techniques to help me avoid the cognitive biases he describes. Most of the books is a quite standard description of cognitive biases, and not so bad if you have... ...more
By Jane (Canberra, 01, Australia) · ★★★★☆ · January 22, 2012
An eye opening read that will have you nodding your head in agreement in every page, thinking, yes, I do that - but this book helps us to understand why we won't admit when we're wrong, or why we see patterns in random events. I enjoyed this book but when I lent it to a friend who didn't have a s... ...more
By Lena (Boulder, CO) · ★★★★☆ · September 01, 2013
This book is an addition to the collection of how to hack the aspects of our brains that tend to get us into trouble. DiSalvo is a science writer who has written an accessible "science help" book that should be quite useful to just about anyone.

Among the topics discussed are the brain's craving f... ...more
By Pat (The United States) · ★★★★☆ · September 28, 2013
I listened to the audiobook, which seems to have been "born audio". I was expecting a mass audience, management/personal development book, the kind produced for businessmen to listen to as they commute. I was pleasantly surprised to find this book to be more in-depth. It covered the work of many... ...more
By David (Dallas, TX) · ★★★☆☆ · May 29, 2012
Cool words and phrases I got from this book

problematic memes
the pleasure of certainty
framing bias
confirmation bias
amygdalae
the need for cognitive closure
embodied cognition
the zeigarnik effort

I just need to go through my bookmarks and dog ears to remind myself what they mean.

A nice book that basi... ...more
By Sophia (The United States) · ★☆☆☆☆ · March 18, 2015
This is a long review, so I divided it into two parts: essential information at the beginning, and auxiliary information afterwards.


Pros:
-easy to read
-interesting topics.
-some chapters are ok. A few misrepresentations of data, but at least ample reference to studies and professional opinions.

Con... ...more
By Kaitlin · ★★★★☆ · May 12, 2012
There's a lot of good information it in here. Some of it I'd seen before in other similar books regarding psychology and sociology, but many things were new to me.

What makes this different from other books in its genre is that this touches on what changes we can make to improve ourselves, based o... ...more
By Eduardo (Los Alamos, NM) · ★★★★☆ · July 22, 2012
Possibly a good introduction to cognitive biases for the uninitiated. A little more self-helpy than I was expecting, but self-awaredly so; and now that I write that, I think this might actually be a good introductory book for a teen or promising-but-not-yet-fossilized young adult. It seems like t... ...more