First Impressions – ‘Feeling Good’ by Dr David Burn

Written by: David D. Burns
Narrated by: George Newbern
Length: 13 hrs and 20 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date: 21-03-17
Language: English
Publisher: HarperAudio
Categories: Health & Wellness, Psychology & Mental Health

Taken from

I was watching a video by the Youtube channel ‘Charisma on Command’, which is a channel that uses examples of interviews by celebrities to teach the viewer various aspects of body language and self improvement. One of the books on their recommendations list was ‘Feeling Good – the new mood therapy‘ by David D Burns, M.D.

At this point, I wanted something, anything, to help me. I was watching Ted talks on self acceptance (in a future post, I’ll talk about the things that helped me at certain points of my mental health betterment journey), and how I should go about accepting myself. My biggest problem with myself is my extremely self-critical thinking, followed by my tendency to put myself down and over-exaggerate my mistakes. I knew what I was doing, and why I was doing it – I wanted to know what I should do about it.

I’ve been searching for this answer for years – I’ve gone from the Gita to TedX talks, from a fitness coach coaching me about mental health to developing techniques to be more positive. Most of them helped for a while, maybe for a long while, but none of them actually solved the problem. They all helped me manage it, but nothing actually showed me any end to the problem.

I don’t know what possessed me, but I downloaded on my phone, enrolled onto a monthly subscription, got this book on my first credit, and immediately started listening. At the time of writing this, I’ve been listening to this book for a total of three days now. I downloaded it last Friday and started listening to it immediately, and it’s Monday now. I’m currently halfway through Chapter 7 in the book. It has a total of 20 chapters with a total listening time of 13 hours and 20 minutes.

This book was first published in in 1980, and revolutionized psychotherapy by introducing the concept of cognitive therapy. It was revised 20 years later, and the revision included the results of experiments where this book itself was used as a form of therapy – bibliotherapy – to see its efficacy as a tool of psychotherapy.

In cognitive therapy, the thoughts, or cognitions, of the patient are addressed – the thoughts are seen as the starting point of feelings, which turn into stronger emotions, then actions, then habits and finally, our life.

The person I consider my Guru, or sensei (calling someone who taught me how to live life positively my ‘teacher’ feels like I’m not giving him enough credit, for some reason) used to say this: Watch your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habit. Your habits become your destiny.

This books aligns to this idea, and explores how changing your thinking pattern could change your life itself, bring you out of your depression and help you see things in a positive light. It does this in a highly scientific and objective manner, and the author’s many years of experience come through in the examples that illustrate the validity of the points that he makes. There are multiple exercises for the reader (in my case, the listener) to try and do, such as to record certain ongoing behaviours and to counter them with rational alternatives in a very scientific manner. These exercises are all mostly pen-and-paper exercises, and help you to  catalogue your thoughts and reason them out logically. The book informs you about the tools available to you, teaches you how to use those tools to help yourself, and ultimately tells you – You now have the tools to help yourself, and you know how to use them. Only if you want to help yourself will these tools help you.

I’ve used one of these tools, and quite honestly, they are so easy to understand that you’ll be fooled into believing that something this easy can’t be the answer to all my problems. It’s not at all difficult to get a hang of doing, and anybody can do it. For me, the difficulty of doing it came in facing my emotional turbulence and countering it with rational statements – turbulence that has been accumulating within me for years now, and has been around for so long that it feels like it’s a part of me. Letting go of something that you’ve held on for so long that it feels familiar, is difficult. But it’ll be worth it.

Even before this book, I knew I had a problem, and I knew why I had this problem. ‘Knowing the problem is the first step/half-solving the problem’ is nice, but what is the next step? Where is the other half of the solution? While a lot of things helped me manage this problem, I didn’t know if there was an actual solution or not. Hopefully, this book helps me find some answers to my problems.

I’d honestly recommend listening to it over reading it simply because it feels like I’m in a therapy session, listening to my therapist talk sense to me. The narrator’s voice does an excellent job of conveying the ideas with just the right amount of emotion and interest, without going overboard with either of these things.

7 chapters in, and I’m really happy with what I’ve learnt and understood in these chapters. I intend to complete this book, and listen to it multiple times over – maybe even buy a physical copy or an electronic copy of the book, and go over the sections most appropriate to me when the need arises.

Even though I haven’t read the entire book, I can say this – if you’re someone who is having issues with your mental health, and you want to help yourself, I highly recommend this book to you. Even if it doesn’t solve all your problems, it will be able to help you out in some way or the other, and you will not be disappointed.

My first impression: Excellent book. It really does live up to its title, and teaches you how to help yourself.

My recommendation: Read the introduction. If that is able to grab your attention, you’ll want to read the rest of the book.

If you’ve already read this book, or are reading this book, let me know your thoughts on how you feel about it! Knowing different opinions will help in expanding my views, and accept different ideas.

I might do a review once I finish this book – depends on when I finish it and if I’m able to make the time. I have quite a bit left on my reading list, and hopefully I’ll be able to introduce you to all of the things I have lined up.

Do let me know what you think, and I hope to see you next time!

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