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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (340 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: David DiSalvo Narrator: David DiSalvo Publisher: Gildan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2012 ISBN: 9781469001241
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Why do we routinely choose options that don’t meet our short-term needs and undermine our long-term goals? Why do we willingly expose ourselves to temptations that undercut our hard-fought progress to overcome addictions? Why are we prone to assigning meaning to statistically common coincidences? Why do we insist we’re right even when evidence contradicts us?

In What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite, science writer David DiSalvo 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. DiSalvo’s search includes forays into evolutionary and social psychology, cognitive science, neurology, and even marketing and economics—as well as interviews with 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, DiSalvo 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • DiSalvo offers 'science-help' (as opposed to self-help) by detailing the mental shortcuts our minds like to take but that don't always serve us well, with the assumption that understanding brain function helps us fight its stubborn behavior. Psychology Today
  • This lively presentation of the latest in cognitive science convincingly debunks what DiSalvo calls 'self-help snake oil.' Publishers Weekly

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jane | 2/20/2014

    " 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 science background, she told me she had to look up too many words. Di Salvo does have quite an extensive vocabulary but, as someone with an interest in popular science, I found the book approachable and readable. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Seth | 2/16/2014

    " I wanted to like it more, but it was just a little too random. I would stick with "Thinking, Fast and Slow" and "Stumbling on Happiness" instead. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cara | 2/13/2014

    " An easy read, not nearly as detailed as thinking fast and slow. Main points-slow down, form useful habits and don't take things on face value alone. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elliedakota | 2/10/2014

    " Interesting, worthwhile, information but heavy writing style. My mind kept wandering so I took a close look at some of the paragraphs and there were many extra, unnecessary, words. I found myself needing to read paragraphs several times just to cut through the fluff adjectives and modifiers to get to the main idea. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Emma | 2/3/2014

    " Books like this make me wish I could afford to hire a research assistant to read and summarize as a one-page document. Yes, the content is very useful, but DiSalvo spins out what would be an interesting article into a full-length book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sally | 1/22/2014

    " "Thinking, Fast and Slow" lite; some good suggestions, but a bit superficial and cut-and-dried. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Allan | 1/19/2014

    " liked it. more about our funky brains. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julian Haigh | 1/19/2014

    " Highly recommended! Best not-self-help book ever! (read introduction to understand comment)Written by a science journalist it covers how to put the most cutting-edge research on neuroscience to use and is open to point out loose ends, providing a practical and solid survey. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sammarks | 1/17/2014

    " An easy to read insight into how are brains are hijacked. I like that it lists references & explains the psychological terms used. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Drew | 1/16/2014

    " Terrific tome of cognitive understanding. Absolutely useful and helpful, far more than the self-help books it derides. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tom | 12/19/2013

    " Clear, concise, and backed up by science. A distillation of brain/personality research that is handled in more depth in other books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joe | 12/16/2013

    " This is the best book I've read about cognitive processes in the seven years since I graduated from college. Easy to understand, quick read, filled with excellent analogies and covering a huge range of topics. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Melissa | 11/27/2013

    " Superficial treatment of too many topics. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stacie | 11/12/2013

    " Dear editors: how hard is it to proofread? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wendy Palmer | 10/21/2013

    " Maybe had raised expectations due to glowing reviews on Amazon, but I felt it lacked detail and I've enjoyed similar books more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dave | 6/9/2013

    " An excellent introduction to the problems of cognitive biases and tunnels. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wes Squire | 5/25/2013

    " Some good ideas and takeaways overall. Really emphasizes that we need to take steps back and think about why we are doing what we are doing at times to keep ourselves in check. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 John Elbing | 2/18/2013

    " I read it right after "Thinking fast and slow" by Kahnemann and it doesn't live up to the comparison. Still, it was a fun read and is probably more accessible if you're new to the subject. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hakan Jackson | 2/7/2013

    " This book is up there with "Think Fast, Think Slow". The Happy Bird is much like the fast brain, where it is helpful sometimes but gets you into trouble in other times. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Timothy Hare | 1/11/2013

    " The book is an exhausted review of the implications for human behavior from recent psychological research. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Marie-pierre Stien | 12/29/2012

    " Pop brain science. An easy bed-time read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Andre Manoel | 12/24/2012

    " Comprehensive pop-sci review of studies on cognitive biases, with a touch of disguised self-help. The review is good, the self-help parts not so much. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gab N | 9/19/2012

    " very enjoyable, a lot more academic than your average self help book... definitely helps to have a basic knowledge of psychology "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lori | 9/15/2012

    " very good information on how our brains trick us and how to be aware of it. this guy believes in science-based advice, not self-help so it's stuff you can actually use. the reading list and blogs at the end were excellent. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Wendy | 7/19/2012

    " Quite a bit of this really made sense to me. We do tend to gravitate towards the easy when sometimes we should really just get down and dirty with the hard stuff. "

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