Groupwork Centre Blog

What we are reading, viewing and listening to October 2022

Atlas of the Heart

By Brené Brown

Bantam, 2022

What a brilliant concept from one of the great writers on the human condition: a map charting the full range of our emotions.

Drawing on 30 years of research and writing, Brené Brown navigates the turbulent waters of the emotional realm with dexterity and humility. Insights from her own life make this a refreshingly honest and accessible read.

The premise of this book is that without having the language to identify and explore our feelings, we can too easily struggle with them. Worse still, we lose the extraordinary gifts they bring.

Brené Brown’s research reveals that when surveyed, most people can name just three emotions: sadness, happiness and anger. As she demonstrates, there are many more.

In Atlas of the Heart, she groups 87 emotions and their precursor thoughts in families of “Places We go When …”. An example from the opening section, Places We Go When Things are Uncertain or Too Much: “Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” Wham!

The final chapter, Cultivating Meaningful Connection, brings home the message of this work with astounding power. I’ve re-read this stand-alone essay once already, and I’m sure I will return to it many times to savour the many layers of learning.

Lucid, concise and sprinkled with anecdotes and illustrations, this is a book many of us will want to keep close by.

 – Jim Buckell

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