In this startling study of human emotion, Dacher Keltner investigates an unanswered question of human evolution: If humans are hardwired to lead lives that are "nasty, brutish, and short", why have we evolved with positive emotions like gratitude, amusement, awe, and compassion that promote ethical action and cooperative societies? Born to Be Good takes us on a journey through scientific discovery, personal narrative, and Eastern philosophy. Positive emotions, Keltner finds, lie at the core of human nature and shape our everyday behavior - and they just may be the key to understanding how we can live our lives better.
NOTE: Some changes to the original text have been made with the author's approval.
©2009 Dacher Keltner; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
because it was positively mentioned in Paul Zak's The Moral Molecule, and it sounded interesting--and it is! But, like with Zak's work, I have a qualification to make. Keltner does a great job of showing how positive emotions work, from the physiological to the social levels and why they have evolved to help us get along and for society to flourish. And all that is good. But like Zak, he shows only one side of the story. What about the negative emotions? They have evolved too, and with good purpose. If we wholeheartedly loved and trusted everyone all the time, we would great grossly taken advantage of. One could easily write a book solely on the negative emotions and call it Born To Be Bad (Keltner's title is perhaps his biggest sin here--clearly written as a draw on readers--a catchy hook). Don't get me wrong. It is a good analysis of the positive emotions and why we have them, but don't take this book alone as your sole guide. The Emotional Life Of The Brain is a much more complete book on neurology and the emotions, and I highly recommend that it be read directly after this one.
This book is an excellent review of awe, the vagal nerve of goosebumps, and especially of the facial expressions and their origins as they relate to how we function together in society. If you enjoy positive psychology books you will find this one refreshingly different from what is typically offered.
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