Chinese Finger Trap

Review: 101 Mindful Ways to Build Resilience

by Guest Writer

This post was written by Happy Brain Science intern Noah Jacobson, who has done great work with us on several occasions. Thanks, Noah!

“All it takes is one minute for us to build resilience.”

It’s that simple to build mindful resilience. At least according to psychotherapist and award-winning author Donald Altman. His 101 Mindful Ways to Build Resilience is a helpful handbook on how to apply mindfulness (in just one quick minute) to the ups and downs of everyday life.

Organized into four parts: Calm, Clarity, Optimism and Happiness, this guide is based upon the premise that where and how you choose to focus your awareness minute by minute “determines the very quality of your life.” Providing simple suggestions on how to recharge and rewire your brain, Altman artfully weaves in metaphors and examples to illustrate how each mindfulness tip can aid in promoting a healthier way of thinking. 

Research buffs may feel understandably neglected or even disappointed as he spends little time discussing stats and science. At Happy Brain Science, of course, we prioritize philosophy and practice grounded in proven science!

While Altman doesn’t explicitly reference the science in this short guide, his other books (e.g., The Mindfulness Code) are chock full of brain science sources from experts like Sonja Lyubomirsky, Jon Kabat-Zin, and Martin Seligman that we expect and hope to see. What’s more, Altman’s cachet as a former Buddhist monk and international mindfulness expert in many ways speaks for itself.

His carefully selected anecdotes prove his points or provide clarity, making for easy-to-digest inspiration. For example, he likens solving difficult problems that plague us to escaping the Chinese finger trap toy, explaining that the key is to relax rather than tense up.

“If you pull too hard the fibers tighten around your fingers like handcuffs.”

Besides insightful anecdotes, Altman crafts sharp acronyms that pack a punch. Each mindfulness tip contains four or five concrete steps that fit a page and are easy to understand and apply.

Using H.E.A.R., readers can easily remember to “Hold all assumptions, Enter the emotional world of another with empathy, Absorb and accept, and Reflect then respect.” S.T.O.P, on the other hand, reminds us to “Stand and slow down, Tune in to the body, Observe your surroundings, and Prepare for your purpose.”

Will these steps really help you cultivate all that is promised? Hard to say; but worth a try. After all, if you don’t like the sound of one, there are 100 others to peruse.

How will you spend your next minute? Reading this book could be a great way to start.

Again, this post was written by Happy Brain Science intern Noah Jacobson, who has done great work with us on several occasions. Thanks, Noah!

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