I won’t be sharing my New Year’s resolutions, though I have tried to make them realistic enough that hopefully I’ll be able to achieve most of them by the end of the year. I’m already onto reading another book and have two more lined up, so back to the book reviews… (starting to veer towards personal development though still related to decision making)
5. Managing your inner Chimp
(The Chimp Paradox – The mind management programme for success, confidence and happiness, by Dr Steve Peters)
I bought this book based on great reviews on Amazon, and I haven’t been disappointed. A handful of reviewers criticised it for being too simplistic, patronising even, but I just found it refreshingly clear, simple and fun to read. One of my teachers at school used to remind us to KISS – keep it simple, stupid, and that’s exactly what this book does, to great effect.
Steve Peters is a psychiatrist who has worked with world-class athletes. He uses a lot of metaphors, dividing the brain into three parts: the Chimp, the Human and the Computer, and describing the ‘Psychological Universe’, made up of different planets and their moons. I personally find the imagery really helpful for remembering his concepts and advice. A lot of what he says could be said to be common sense, but he explains it in such a memorable and creative way that seems really useful for taking practical action.
Essentially the book is about controlling the Chimp (emotional) part of your brain. The book suggests simple techniques to do this, and also discusses ways to change your thoughts and beliefs as well as your behaviours.
Relating this back to decision-making, what stands out to me is the emphasis on making rational Human choices, rather than irrational and emotion driven Chimp choices. It’s important to acknowledge and accept your emotions and the important things they are telling you, but then to think and act rationally to achieve long term goals, rather than simply acting to remove short term stress.