Book Review: Emotional Awareness
by Josh Hanagarne
I first heard of Paul Ekman when I was reading about how to tell if someone was lying by their facial expressions. In his book Telling Lies he really gets into the rampant deceit in the marketplace, in politics, in marriage, and in all of our interpersonal relationships.
I first heard of The Dalai Lama when…well, I don’t know when, but it was probably from Boris, who has recommended several wonderful books of Eastern thought and philosophy to me in the past.Emotional Awareness is a series of dialogues between these two thinkers. I think this book is the literary equivalent of the East West smackdown from Rocky IV. It seemed like an odd match to me at first, but that passed quickly.
These two aren’t antagonists, and I’m guessing there was no snappy soundtrack in the background during their good-natured verbal checks.
During their discussion they cover…far too many things to discuss. This is a book of deep thoughts that you could drown in if you started meandering. But I’ll tell you what was most relevant to me. Their discussions of what the Dalai Lama calls “afflictive emotions” and afflictive psychological states.
Some of you may have followed my Tourette’s case on my own blog. In Emotional Awareness they spend a good deal of time talking about the “states” we exist in. Our mental and emotional conditions.
These two great thinkers have managed to articulate so many of the things that I have only glimpsed the edges of. Their ideas about “better” vs “worse” align with most of my own—I’m just not as good as talking about it as they are.
Aristotle described the sense of falling in love with someone as something similar to what I call déjà vu. When we met a person we are entranced by there is a familiarity there that Aristotle attributed to (I’m paraphrasing) the remembering of something we already knew—this is a rough notion of Aristotelian pre-existence. That we don’t necessarily learn things, but we remember things we once knew.
The reason I mention this is because it is how reading Emotional Awareness felt to me. Their discussions of contempt, nirvana, parenting, attachment, and other concepts all felt familiar to me. Perhaps this simply means that I used to have common sense and now it’s gone.
Regardless, if you’ve ever enjoyed any of Boris’ or my own reading recommendations, I think Emotional Awareness will be worth your time.
About the author
Saturday, April 16, 2011
When it comes to book recommendations, there are very few people that I have absolute trust in - Josh Hanagarne is one of them. Josh is an amazing man and writer whose blog, The World's Strongest Librarian, covers topics ranging from book reviews, to guitar, to Tourette's Syndrome, to strength & conditioning. He offered to write guest posts for readers of his blog and I jumped at the chance. Here is his review of the book "Emotional Awareness". I will be picking up a copy this weekend without fail. Enjoy!
Posted by Boris at 10:00 PM