Summary of The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage

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Society’s “tyranny of positivity” demands that cancer patients stay upbeat, that women never show anger and that boys never cry. This is a dangerous denial of the value and complexity of human emotion, says Harvard psychologist Susan David. Her TED Talk on emotional agility provides a roadmap to a more resilient, fulfilled future. getAbstract recommends this summary to HR professionals, individuals and business leaders.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How to resist society’s “tyranny of positivity,” 
  • Why emotions can reveal your values,
  • How organizations can benefit from normalizing and welcoming diverse human emotions.
 

About the Speaker

Susan David is a Harvard Medical School psychologist who studies emotional agility. 

 

Summary

When psychologist Susan David was 15, she dealt with her father’s death by becoming “the master of being OK.” However, a perceptive teacher handed her a blank notebook and urged her to write honestly about her feelings. The gift taught David to correspond with her emotions. People’s inner landscapes define how they “love, live, parent” and “lead.” Yet, a survey of more than 70,000 people found that one-third judged themselves for feeling so-called bad emotions, like anger or grief, or tried to deny those feelings. Despite life’s complexity, society classifies some emotions as legitimate and others as shameful. Such “rigidity in the face of complexity is toxic” and feeds a culture of tyrannical positivity. Moreover, people often force this “new form of moral correctness” on loved ones by shaming their difficult emotions or leaping into solution mode. 


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