I’m always on the look out for nonfiction that is engaging and instructive. Self-help and accessible psychology are two of my favorite topics, especially around mental health issues that are applicable to my family. I read a recommendation for Resilient by Rick Hanson, Ph.D., on a thread on the Chat Board on the Well-Trained Mind forums, and the boardie who recommended it specifically recommended listening to the audiobook. I was very happy, then, when I hopped over to my Scribd app and found the audiobook there. I promptly downloaded it and began listening at my earliest opportunity. I know I miss a lot with audiobooks (though my auditory skills and memory have no doubt improved due to my regular use of them!) I want to note two things in particular that I learned through this book that answer questions that I have often asked myself or seem particularly helpful to me personally given my own personality quirks and psychological makeup.
Hanson discusses three basic human needs–safety, satisfaction, and connection–and four ways we meet each of these three needs–through recognizing, resourcing, regulating, and relating each of them by different means. The intersections of the needs and ways of meeting them that are of most interest to me are Motivation and Aspiration. (Both of these are my best guesses because–again–I listened to the audiobook.)
The Motivation chapter deals with the idea of liking versus wanting. This is something that I have come to recognize and wrestle with as I’ve approached middle age. As an enneagram four, I definitely struggle with the feeling of “missing out” or “not being enough” or “something about me is incomplete.” According to the enneagram teaching, my besetting sin is envy. (This certainly resonates with how I’ve lived my life and was actually a clue to my four-ness.) To hear Hanson say that it is possible to like something without wanting it was nothing short of revolutionary to me. It literally had never occurred to me that this is a possibility. It made me feel lighter just realizing that I can see someone else’s life, appreciate it, even like it, without wanting it for myself. What’s even better, Hanson walks the reader/listener through steps she might take to make this a reality in her life instead of just an enlightening idea.
The second revelation I had while listening to this book had to do with communication and relationships. (I believe this is in the Aspiration chapter, but again–audiobook.) This was slightly less novel to me as I already know a bit about communication styles, etc. However, Resilient did provide a needed reminder that it is highly beneficial to relationships if the parties in the relationship are intentional about their communication styles and work to improve their communication skills. Hanson uses Dr. Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication (NVC) model as the basis for his teaching about communicating needs and resolving conflicts. This is a rabbit hole I’d like to dig a little deeper into.
I should probably note that Hanson’s philosophical underpinnings are Buddhist. For most of the book, I didn’t notice anything that conflicted with my own Christian beliefs and practices. It got a tiny bit dicey for me when he talks about forgiveness, but I haven’t taken the time to really think that through because the aforementioned topics were so enlivening to my intellect that I’ve focused on them. The impetus of his studies is the intersection of neuroplasticity and contemplative practices, a topic I find personally interesting and helpful.
Hanson has a podcast entitled Being Well that I have listened to occasionally. He reads his own audiobook, which is a good thing, since he is a practicing psychologist. The boardie who recommended this title suggested the audiobook for just this reason: he offers exercises at the end of each chapter and talks the listener through them, just as a therapist would in a clinical setting. I recommend Hanson’s work as accessible, interesting, and helpful for anyone concerned with the topics he addresses. His website holds a wealth of information for anyone who wants to get a taste of what he has to offer.