In this post, you can find my notes and a personal review of Atlas of the Heart, Brené Brown’s new book.
Who is it for?
I would recommend this book to anyone curious about emotions and who wants to learn more. Particularly about when/how they can arise, what they can tell us, and what are the subtle differences between similar ones.
It’s especially interesting for those who spend a lot of time with others, to have a clearer understanding of different experiences and emotions. This will improve their ability to connect more effectively.
Book structure and style
Atlas of the Heart reads like a dictionary or an encyclopedia, so you can jump from one section to another, or skip something entirely.
Each section describes emotions related to a specific scenario, in the form of “Places we go when…”. It’s very practical to skim through and look for what you need.
It is nice to read about many different examples, both from the author’s personal experience and from the years of research she has collated.
The final chapters discuss cultivating meaningful connection and gratitude.
Brené Brown’s writing style is clearly recognizable, despite this book being similar to a consultation manual. She is often encouraging, especially when describing an unpleasant emotion.
I paused reading the book on multiple occasions, to reflect on my own experience and take notes. This helped me to better take in the messages shared. I will also be able to go back to them and revisit specific paragraphs that resonated.
After reading Atlas of the Heart, I went back to it again, when I was trying to process and uncover what I was feeling. It was useful to dig deeper and it was nice to feel validated and read about others’ experiences.
I will definitely go back to this book multiple times – I am positive it will become a pillar book to reference.
Brené Brown points out a few things in her new book that stood out to me:
- The difference between envy and jealousy: “Envy occurs when we want something that another person has. Jealousy is when we fear losing a relationship or a valued part of a relationship that we already have”
- Expectations: we need to make them explicit within ourselves and other people involved. This is something that feels scary, but will strenghen the connection, help set boundaries and feeling less hurt in the future
- I discovered the definition of freudenfreude: being happy for someone else’s success. It’s something to look for and treasure any relationship. It can be nice to be more open and celebrate more often, even the small things
Notes and personal thoughts on expectations
Managing and setting expectations is something especially important to remember. It’s easy to assume others “will know” what our expectations are, when in fact they might not be clear at all – sometimes they could be quite different!
It can also help in setting boundaries and having well defined limits as well as key milestones in place.
It’s also key to remember to ask for others’ expectations. Aim to have a clear picture of when they will consider something to be completed or what the final outcome should be. It’s critical in a work environment, but it is useful in other areas as well.
Interestingly, it’s also key to be aware of our own personal expectations for projects or tasks. We want to ensure that they are reasonable and doable. This means we are not setting ourselves up for disappointment or failure, with unrealistic outcomes in mind.
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