Buddah's Brain

I’m going to make a point of writing every day, at least for a month. I think it’s good for me to develop a habit of writing, and perhaps it’s also good for me to evaluate what happened and re-enforce each days lessons.

Today I gave up on reading the book Buddah’s Brain. I was recommend to me by a therapist I was seeing. My number one complaint was that it was ultimately useless. Advice that I felt may have had merit was finished before a good argument it was developed explaining why the advice was good. The book is almost a dot point list of things that you should do if you want to be happy.

I will admit that it may become a simple reference of the chemical and physical make-up of the brain when trying to understand the meaning of document written for a more technical audience than myself.

I was hoping for practical advice on how to deal with anxiety. Whilst the book had plenty of advice, it was lacking the explanations why the advice is good. I believe that if you wish to convince somebody to change their behaviour, you mustn’t tell then what to do, but give them the information they need to reach the desired conclusion. And so as not to be accused of manipulation, you mustn’t withhold information, mealy highlight the important details to make clear your point.

In my opinion, Buddah’s Brain did not approach the reader as a peer, but rather spoke down to them with advice that must be almost blindly followed. I admit that I’m probably not the target audience and based on the Amazon reviews, it’s clearly resonated with many people. I for one was not impressed at all.

I read about half the book until the passage,

“This is not fatalism or despair: you can take action to make the future different. But even then, remember that most of the factors that shape the future are out of your hands. You can do everything right, and still the glass will break, the project will go nowhere, you’ll catch the flu, or a friend will remain upset.”

Hanson then quotes Thoreau to support his argument with,

“I make myself rich by making my wants few.”

I was annoyed that it was a misrepresentation of Thoreau. I believed that it must have been taken from a part of his book Walden where we writes at great lengths about actually wanting less. Nothing to do with not worrying about the shit that’s out of your control (something that I also believe).

But even worse, it’s not even a Thoreau quote, it’s a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson about Thoreau.

He chose to be rich by making his wants few, and supplying them himself. In his travels, he used the railroad only to get over so much country as was unimportant to the present purpose, walking hundreds of miles, avoiding taverns, buying a lodging in farmers’ and fishermen’s houses, as cheaper, and more agreeable to him, and because there he could better find the men and the information he wanted.

And this is an actual quote of Thoreau,

Most men appear never to have considered what a house is, and are actually though needlessly poor all their lives because they think that they must have such a one as their neighbors have.

With most of the advice in it, not sitting well to start with; not because I don’t believe it, but because it was not argued well. Then discovering that Hanson has misrepresented someone to argue his point, makes all of his previous arguments very week. I can’t be bothered looking into each of the referenced documents to determine whether they actually say what he claims so I’m done with this book. At least until I to know what the hippocampus does again.