I have a short stack of books that, if I were in charge of the world, I would make everyone read them. I just added Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy to that list.
It was originally written in 1980 by psychiatrist David Burns, one of the pioneers of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Feeling Good is primarily focused on the treatment of depression. Reading the book and doing the homework has been clinically proven to dramatically reduce the severity of depression – just the book, all by itself, without antidepressants or other forms of therapy.
But I don’t care how “depressed” you are. If you have a human brain, this book is the ultimate life-hack. It can help you become more stable and happy and successful in your life as you learn to better understand (and cope with) the thoughts that move through your mind. As summed up in an excerpt:
Even though your depressing thoughts may be distorted, they nevertheless create a powerful illusion of truth. Let me expose the basis for the deception in blunt terms – your feelings are not facts! In fact, your feelings, per se, don’t even count – except as a mirror of the way you are thinking … These abnormal emotions feel just as valid and realistic as genuine feelings created by undistorted thoughts, so you automatically attribute truth to them.
Once you invite depression through an “automatic” series of cognitive distortions, your feelings and actions will reinforce each other in a self-perpetuating vicious cycle. Because you believe whatever your depressed brain tells you, you find yourself feeling negative about almost everything. This reaction occurs in milliseconds, far too quickly for you to even be aware of it …
What is the key to releasing yourself from your emotional prison? Simply this: Your thoughts create your emotions; therefore, your emotions cannot prove that your thoughts are accurate. Unpleasant feelings merely indicate that you are thinking something negative and believing it. Your emotions follow your thoughts just as surely as baby ducks follow their mother. But the fact that the baby ducks follow faithfully along doesn’t prove that the mother knows where she is going!
No matter where you stand on the emotional spectrum; whether you suffer from major depression, or have never even experienced a blue mood, this book is required reading for being a human being. Please, please, please read it: