Book Review: Feeling Good

Feeling Good, David D. Burns, M.D. (1980): Not a self-help book.

The worst thing about this book is the way it looks, and I’m not referring to the cover (though it could use an update from the 1980’s styling). Although this book is clearly marketed and focused towards treating those with depression, the CBT techniques described in the Feeling Good are universally applicable and will improve the worldview, productivity, and mood of anybody who takes it seriously. So, while I applaud Burns for writing the #1 go-to book on depression-related CBT inquiries, he might just be selling his content short by limiting its scope. While I would love to gift this book to everyone around me, I worry the message will get shot down immediately with the qualm “but I’m not depressed”. This book is about more than treating depression: it’s a new paradigm for anybody who has emotions which need interpreting (you probably fall into this category).

With that out of the way, here is my review: It’s Lindy!

The meat of this book is really in the first 150 pages, with the remaining 3/4 of the book exploring examples that may or may not resonate with you. If you are interested in learning real CBT and don’t know where to start, I would recommend this book without a doubt. If you aren’t interested in learning CBT, here’s why you maybe should be:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a means for rewiring your brain for betterment and productivity [1][2][3]. It’s a method of emotional deescalation, which can be focused internally or externally. This deescalation will free your psyche and your mental bandwidth, making you calmer, procrastinate less, think more creatively, and even be more willing to take risks.

CBT is not cathartic. It’s not Freudian, either. Hell, it’s not even about expressing your feelings! Maybe that kind of stuff is overrated….

If you’re willing to change, which we all should be, you will be able to benefit from CBT. Read the first 150 pages and try the exercises. Avoid personalizing them too much. Perhaps you will be surprised by how easy and effective of a tool this is.

For better or worse, the practice of CBT has not changed much over the last four decades. Go pick up this book!

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