How to Stay Sane Book Summary - How to Stay Sane Book explained in key points
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How to Stay Sane summary

Simple ways to keep a lid on your stress

4.3 (207 ratings)
15 mins

Brief summary

How to Stay Sane by Philippa Perry outlines how our early life experiences impact our adult behavior and relationships. The book highlights that we must understand our emotional selves, connect with others, challenge our beliefs and embrace new perspectives to maintain Mental Health.

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    How to Stay Sane
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    Key idea 1 of 6

    Your emotional right brain trumps your logical left brain when making decisions in life.

    You might think of yourself as a reasonable person who makes fairly logical decisions. Yet this perception is mostly an illusion!

    We’re not as reasonable as we might think we are, as we’re mostly ruled by our right brain, the home of human emotion and instinct.

    At the age of two, the brain’s right side, as it develops, becomes more active than the left side. It’s in this right brain that your personality is formed, guided by cues from your environment.

    When we’re young, our social environment is largely made up of our main caregivers. So your personality, in terms of whom you trust and with whom you bond emotionally, is formed early on based on these social surroundings.

    The brain’s left side, home to language, logic and reason, develops mostly from around age three. By this time, however, it’s long in the shadow of the right in terms of influence. This is why it’s so hard to overcome strong emotion with cold logic – your right brain remains dominant.

    Why then do we think we are inherently reasonable creatures? Well, it’s because the left brain essentially “tricks” us into thinking this way.

    When our right brain makes an emotional decision, our left brain in retrospect comes up with a reason that makes the decision seem logical. This process is called post-rationalization.

    Neuropsychologist Roger Sperry conducted an experiment in which he triggered the command to “walk” in a subject’s right brain, in a way so that the left brain was unaware.

    Interestingly, the subjects walked when instructed. Yet when asked why they decided to walk, they came up with random reasons, such as wanting to get a drink of water or stretch. The subjects weren’t lying, of course – they believed the justification offered by their left brains!

    So now you know that how you reason may not be totally reliable, given the relationship between your right and left brains. Let’s examine in this context then why we act the way we do in stressful situations.

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    What is How to Stay Sane about?

    In How to Stay Sane (2012), British psychotherapist and author Philippa Perry shows you how to better nurture relationships while using self-observation, “positive” stress and the power of stories to achieve and maintain your mental health.

    How to Stay Sane Review

    How to Stay Sane (2013) by Philippa Perry is a thought-provoking exploration of our inner selves and offers practical advice on maintaining our mental well-being in a busy world. Here's what makes this book worth reading:

    • It delves into the understanding of our emotions and provides insight into how to manage them effectively, helping readers achieve emotional stability.
    • The book includes a range of relatable examples and exercises to help readers apply the concepts in their own lives, making it highly actionable.
    • With its warm, conversational tone and emphasis on self-compassion, the book never feels dull, keeping readers engaged throughout the journey of self-discovery.

    Best quote from How to Stay Sane

    The unexamined life is not worth living. – Socrates

    —Philippa Perry
    example alt text

    Who should read How to Stay Sane?

    • Anyone concerned about their mental health
    • People interested in psychology and counseling
    • Anyone looking for ways to cope amid tough times

    About the Author

    Philippa Perry is a psychotherapist and author. She wrote the graphic novel Couch Fiction, and contributes to The Guardian and The Observer, as well as the magazine Psychologies.

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    How to Stay Sane FAQs 

    What is the main message of How to Stay Sane?

    The main message of How to Stay Sane is to cultivate self-awareness and embrace our emotional experiences in order to lead fulfilling lives.

    How long does it take to read How to Stay Sane?

    The reading time for How to Stay Sane varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is How to Stay Sane a good book? Is it worth reading?

    How to Stay Sane is a valuable read for those seeking emotional well-being. It offers practical insights and guidance to lead more balanced lives.

    Who is the author of How to Stay Sane?

    The author of How to Stay Sane is Philippa Perry.

    What to read after How to Stay Sane?

    If you're wondering what to read next after How to Stay Sane, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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