How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain

| Author: Lisa Feldman Barret, 2017 |

What's it all About?

In my workshops on emotional intelligence, I often see clients setting goals that revolve around better managing their emotions in difficult situations. By reading this book, I gained a deeper understanding of how our emotions are formed and how they impact our behavior.

In her book, Lisa Feldman Barrett explores the unique and controversial idea that emotions are not necessarily triggered by what is happening around us. Instead, she claims that our emotions are constructed based on our experiences. Feelings are not universal fingerprints or always something we can tell by looking at someone’s facial expression, because each person has different experiences which impact their emotions and responses, including how they show up in challenging moments.

As I read this book, I became even more excited about our ability to develop emotional intelligence based on changing our experiences, and how that changes how we feel about new situations and how we respond to challenges or changes.

Favourite Quote

“You are an architect of your experience”

Biggest Takeaway

As “architects” of our own experiences, we have control over how we feel. Looking at the bigger picture, this also means that the leader at the top of an organization has an even greater impact on the organization’s culture. If a company is run with fear and pressure, it is going to deeply impact the atmosphere of the entire company. To construct a psychologically safe culture, it takes many small and observable behavior changes over time. Once people feel safe, there is more innovation, less turnover, clearer expectations, and increased engagement, which ultimately leads to better results.

Bonus Information

After finding this book in the science section, I read the hard copy version multiple times, highlighting and leaving notes all the way through. If you read it, take your time. It will change how you think about emotions and empower you to change how you feel and show up!

Reviewed by: Trevor Blondeel, November 18,  2021

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