I am an avid audiobook listener. I love to learn. I love to read all sorts of books, both fiction and non-fiction. Audiobooks are a way that I read while also doing less exciting tasks like kitchen cleanup, folding laundry, etc. (it makes those tasks something I can actually look forward to).
My favorite book of the summer was a book called Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience by Brené Brown.
If you’ve not heard of her, Brené Brown is a researcher on human emotions, especially tough emotions like guilt and shame. She has several wonderful books. She was also one of the very first and most popular TED talks that I watched. She has a great podcast, speaks at events all over the country, and is just generally an insightful human being.
This is my understanding of the premise of Atlas of the Heart:
Humans are terrible at putting words to our emotions. This makes us bad at talking about our emotions, understanding our emotions, and functioning in life when we are experiencing complex emotions. I don’t know about you, but that certainly resonates with me. Brené mentions some study in the intro that concluded something like, “Most adults primarily use three words to describe their emotional state: happy, mad, sad.” But the human experience is so much more complicated than “happy, mad, and sad.” So shouldn’t we have language that helps us to articulate and understand that experience better? This book goes through 87 distinct emotions and experiences that humans have on a daily basis, defines them, gives examples, and helps the reader to understand when they might be feeling these emotions. By doing this, Brené hopes to give all of us a better vocabulary to use when thinking about our emotions, talking about our emotions, processing our emotions.
This book has given me a tremendous amount of new insight into my inner emotional workings when I am processing things individually or with my therapist. It has also helped me to better articulate my feelings to my family and friends, and so has allowed me to be better understood. I think everyone could benefit from reading this book.