|This Is Your Brain On Joy
A Revolutionary Program for Balancing Mood, Restoring Brain Health, and Nurturing Spiritual Growth
Author: Dr. Earl Henslin
Hard Cover, 242 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
This is the review for section 3 of the book. Section 2’s review is available here.
Section 3 of This Is Your Brain on Joy is the culmination of the book, providing the author’s closing remarks. It is not as informative as Section 2, nor as door-to-door salesman as section 1. It provides an appropriate balance to the wealth of technical information found in Section 2, helping to establish a firmer footing for the need of compassion when dealing with those who face issues with brain chemistry/physiology, and a much needed return to scripture to provide some semblance of attachment to Christian faith.
Section 3 is only one chapter long, plus a couple appendices. The chapter looks at joy and happiness as it is found in the book of Philippians, extending the discussion with the accounts of David and Jonathan’s friendship. He introduces this chapter talking about contentment, then precedes to cover a number of key points:
Much of our lack of contentment (and therefore, our joy) hinges on our “chains”, our being victims. Recasting our awareness of the now can have a startling impact on our satisfaction in life.
When circumstances and people are outside of our control, often we must learn to shrink these influences that affect us negatively. And remembering that we do not live to please everyone, to make everyone accept us, helps us recognize that there is only one we need please – and he is rich in compassion himself, not a vindictive or harsh taskmaster.
Make a clear break between what is the past and what is the future. Philippians 3:12-14 provides us the clear instruction: “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Our failures, and I would add our supposed successes, should be left behind as we look forward to what God is in the process of bringing to completion.
Stewing in anxiety and frustration is self-defeating. Simply ignoring stress and trouble is also not a proper response. It does not solve anything. The answer is prayer. The end result is gratitude.
Become a student of what makes you happy. And what makes you not. The author proposes this not as a hedonistic paradigm, but as a means of handling those things that we enjoy less. We should learn ways to cope, find people to barter with, creatively change the circumstances. This technique still leaves me with an impression of worldly wisdom, but it has at its root a grain of truth. I’m not particularly fond of doing dishes, but have found it a wonderful time to enjoy singing and worshiping alongside a loudly blaring radio. We can have an effect on our outlook by changing the perception of our circumstances.
Find and maintain real friendships.
The book ends with short appendices: an account by someone who helped with the compilation of the book, recounting the experience of receiving a SPECT scan, some questions and answers about SPECT scans, and some additional details on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).