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World-renowned neuroscientist and author of Healthy Brain, Happy Life explains how to harness the power of anxiety into unexpected gifts.
We are living in the age of anxiety, a situation that often makes us feel as if we are locked into an endless cycle of stress, sleeplessness, and worry. But what if we had a way to leverage our anxiety to help us solve problems and fortify our wellbeing? What if, instead of seeing anxiety as a curse, we could recognize it for the unique gift that it is?
Dr. Wendy Suzuki has discovered a paradigm-shifting truth about anxiety: yes, it is uncomfortable, but it is also essential for our survival. In fact, anxiety is a key component of our ability to live optimally. Every emotion we experience has an evolutionary purpose, and anxiety is designed to draw our attention to vulnerability. If we simply approach it as something to avoid, get rid of, or dampen, we actually miss an opportunity to improve our lives. Listening to our anxieties from a place of curiosity, and without fear, can actually guide us onto a path that leads to joy.
Drawing on her own intimate struggles and based on cutting-edge research, Dr. Suzuki has developed an inspiring guidebook for managing unwarranted anxiety and turning it into a powerful asset. In the tradition of Quiet and Thinking, Fast and Slow, Good Anxiety has the power to permanently change how we understand anxiety and, more importantly, how we can use it to improve our lives for the better.
Neuroscientist Suzuki (Healthy Brain, Happy Life) proposes that anxiety is not only useful, but essential to living in the modern world in this helpful self-guide guide. In the first part of the book, Suzuki delves into the science behind anxiety, educating readers on where anxiety comes from ("an automatic reaction to possible danger") and how to differentiate common anxiety from clinical disorders (such as rapid breathing, persistent feelings of danger, or gastrointestinal upset). She goes on to explain that anxiety can be controlled due to the plasticity of the brain, primarily through removing anxiety from a negative categorization and regulating emotions: "We can learn to use awareness to reframe a situation, remove the perception of danger, and reappraise it." In the second half, Suzuki digs deeper into the details of using anxiety to fuel resilience, ambition, activism, and productivity. Some of the coping mechanisms come across as simplistic like finding a hobby or playing with pets but the overall message shares research-backed methods to manage anxiety. While Suzuki primarily writes to readers without diagnosed clinical disorders, her techniques will be helpful to those trying to navigate low-level anxiety.