Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: Popular science, self-help
Themes: Emotions and how to use them to communicate
Ideal for fans of: Rhonda Byrne, Oprah
Get it in South Africa from: Penguin Random House South Africa
Atlas of the Heart is a compendium of 87 emotions and experiences – that means 87 different emotions and the thoughts that lead to them. They’re conveniently grouped by similarity of the feelings, and the responses they evoke.
Brené Brown is uniquely qualified to write about emotions – she’s had a lifelong interest in how these feelings effect our lives, and specially, how they change the way we communicate. Her interest eventually became a passion, and then a career. And it all started with some fascinating research on one of the world’s most complex emotions – shame. Despite this, Brown freely admits that she doesn’t have concrete answers to every question concerning emotions, but she does have a lot of data, and the help of fellow researchers.
Her conclusions are remarkable. Not only does she define every emotion and experience covered in this tome, but she gives the reader incredible information that leads to several “ah ha!” moments, starting from her assertion that a lot of what we think of as emotion is actually just cognitive responses – emotion is as much about thinking as it is a bout feeling.
But that’s not all.
Brown helps us distinguish between similar emotions (like envy and jealousy) because if you better understand what you’re feeling and why, you can talk about it, form meaningful connections, and learn from it. You can master your emotions.
This book is packed with astonishing insights, including how boredom is actually good for you, and that disappointment CAN be measured. But don’t feel overwhelmed – all the research and data is presented in easy to follow and easier to digest bite-sized chunks. Brown’s style is also refreshingly personal – she gives context to her research, but shares this with an honest how-to style, that feels more like you’re getting advice from a friend than getting cold hard science.
There’s more. You’ll also get three skillsets for using emotion to cultivate meaningful connection with other people – so you can take what you’ve learned, and actually apply it to make your life better. What more could you want?
Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown is published by Penguin Random House