Emotional Book Summary - Emotional Book explained in key points
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Emotional summary

Leonard Mlodinow

How Feelings Shape Our Thinking

4.4 (240 ratings)
20 mins

Brief summary

'Emotional' by Leonard Mlodinow explores the science behind our emotions and how they impact our decision making. It explains how to regulate your emotions and make better choices.

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    Science has been out of touch with our emotions.

    In 1983, civilization almost ended – and we have emotions to thank for the fact that it didn’t.

    On duty during a time of great tension in the Cold War, Soviet officer Stanislav Petrov got a horrifying alert: a monitoring system had detected that the United States had just launched five intercontinental ballistic missiles at the U.S.S.R. 

    Petrov’s job was to pass this information on to his superiors, who he knew would counterstrike and start World War III. His training gave him no other option. But Petrov was reluctant to follow cold logic and launch nuclear destruction. His emotions pushed him to look for another possibility. He took a big risk and reported a system malfunction . . . which is what it turned out to be. 

    Although emotions can serve us well in situations like these, there’s a lot of distrust toward feelings. This mindset stems from the ancient Greeks. Western thought has long seen emotion and reason as separate spheres, with emotions clouding the clear conclusions of logic. 

    Traditional modern thinking on emotion evolved from this idea, with a big contribution from Charles Darwin and later theorists. 

    You may have heard the theory that the brain is divided into three parts: the reptilian brain, the most primitive part, which deals with basic survival instincts; the limbic system, the seat of our emotions; and the neocortex, which handles logic and is the most advanced part. The neocortex is said to control the two lower parts of the brain.

    There’s only one problem: just as Newton’s understanding of natural laws was upended by modern particle physics, modern neuroscience has found that the traditional thinking on our brain structure is oversimplified. Through brain scans, scientists have discovered that the interplay of instinct, emotion, and logic is far more complex and intertwined than we realized. Emotions, far from being handicaps, are key to processing our instinctive reactions and making sense of them. 

    This shouldn’t come as a surprise – after all, our emotions evolved to help us survive. Take, for instance, a parent’s love for their offspring.

    Along with our physical reflexes, like when we instinctively jerk our hand away from a hot surface, we also have emotional reflexes. Emotions give us a way to process events and use logic to build nuanced responses instead of simply reacting the same way each time. They helped Stanislav Petrov make the decision that kept the world from nuclear obliteration. Don’t discount their importance.

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    What is Emotional about?

    Emotional (2022) explores a long-misunderstood part of the human psyche: emotions. It shows how neuroscience is shedding light on the role and importance of our emotions – and gives tips on how to control our emotions to lead better lives. 

    Emotional Review

    Emotional (2012) by Leonard Mlodinow takes readers on an enlightening journey through the fascinating world of emotions and their impact on our lives. Here's why this book is definitely worth a read:

    • Exploring the science behind our emotions, it reveals how they shape our thoughts, decisions, and relationships, providing valuable insights for self-reflection and personal growth.
    • The book delves into the historical, cultural, and psychological aspects of different emotions, offering a comprehensive understanding of our complex emotional landscapes.
    • With its engaging anecdotes and thought-provoking examples, the book ensures that the exploration of emotions becomes an immersive and enjoyable experience for readers.

    Who should read Emotional?

    • Businesspeople who want to be more successful and effective in their roles
    • Individuals dealing with difficult-to-control emotions 
    • People struggling with motivation who want to form beneficial habits

    About the Author

    Leonard Mlodinow, a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, is a theoretical physicist. He’s also the author of multiple best-selling books on science, including Subliminal, The Drunkard’s Walk, and The Grand Design, which he cowrote with Stephen Hawking.

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    Emotional FAQs 

    What is the main message of Emotional?

    Emotional offers insights on how our emotions shape our lives and how we can better understand and manage them.

    How long does it take to read Emotional?

    The reading time for Emotional varies. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Emotional a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Emotional is worth reading as it provides valuable insights on emotions and how they impact our lives.

    Who is the author of Emotional?

    The author of Emotional is Leonard Mlodinow.

    What to read after Emotional?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Emotional, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Big Feelings by Mollie West Duffy and Liz Fosslien
    • The Earned Life by Marshall Goldsmith
    • Born to Win by Zig Ziglar with Tom Ziglar
    • Frames of Mind by Howard Gardner
    • Goals by Zig Ziglar
    • Originals by Adam Grant
    • The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy (Ian McMahan revised)
    • 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman
    • A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
    • The Power of Going All-In by Brandon Bornancin