Psychologist and Comedian King explores the science behind stress in this witty, informed guide. The author uses a bevy of running jokes and punch lines to enliven technical explanations for how and why people experience stress. His metaphors of coming across a bear in the wild as well as being stuck in traffic are also used to great effect to explain a variety of stress responses, such as perceiving a threat and feelings of powerlessness. Reframing thoughts plays a large role in King’s advice: Stress is simply a reaction to a perception of threat being able to consciously redirect choices made by other areas of the brain is the key to living a less stressful existence. He also provides breathing exercises, plants for painting physical health and useful advice for setting attainable goals. King’s enjoyable guide to living with less will be of help to any anxious reader.
Hi Dr. King, thank you so much for doing this interview for our blog. I love books that bring the science of neuroscience to the layperson and helps us make practical use of that knowledge. So my first question is why did you decide to write this book?
Hi there and thanks for having me! I love books like this too, which is probably part of the reason I wrote one. Even with my training, I love it when scientists can describe complicated phenomena in terms the rest of us can understand. Like Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, it’s simply more entertaining and digestible. Reading books shouldn’t be work. I’m a comedian, so I am also partial to things that make me laugh. I want to write books that I would like to read.
I really like your title. It’s catchy. How did you come up with it? And why do you think it suits your book?
I didn’t have a title when I set out to write the book. “The Art of Taking It Easy” was a title of one of my chapters. During the editing process, my publishers and I felt that it really captured the essence of the book and we decided to give it a promotion to the cover. So far, it hasn’t let us down.
“Take it easy” is a phrase that I use quite a bit, and I have been known to take it very easy myself. When I began familiarizing myself with the stress management research, it is a phrase that repeatedly came to mind. If I have any influence at all, I hope that I can help convince people of the need to take life less seriously and, you know, take it easy. There are so many people in the world that are struggling with stress-related issues who could use a change in perspective. Reevaluate your thought processes, your reactions, and your interactions with other people. The world can be a crazy place, and there will always be conflict. So why not chill out and try not to be part of the problem?
How does your life as a neuroscientist affect your life as a comedian and vice versa?
My research interests now include the benefits of humor and laughter, so there is that. You know how we often say, “laughter is the best medicine”? I think most of us use that phrase rather flippantly and I’ve used it as a joke. Hey, you know they say laughter is the best medicine, so rub some laughter on your broken arm…
Other than that, I also use humor in my books and speaking appearances. It doesn’t work the other way around, when I perform comedy it’s not like I am making jokes about brain anatomy.
As a Special Care Counselor, I work with seniors with dementia who exhibit behavioral and psychological symptoms (such as agitation, aggression and delusions) helping their families manage these symptoms in a compassionate and understanding way. How do you think your book can help me in this line of work?
Changing perspective can help people in any situation. The tools of stress management are not unique from one set of circumstances to another, so of course there is plenty that you will find applicable.
I usually listen to non-fiction books on self-development on my commute to work. Will your book be produced as an audiobook as well? If so, do you know when? And is there a possibility that your first book The Laughing Cure also be produced as an audiobook?
First, this is no ordinary self-development book, so you should totally get a hardcopy. It reads like a story. As for an audio version, that is up to my publishers. I would love to do an audiobook. I am a public speaker, so I am comfortable on a microphone. Plus, people say I sound like Jay Leno and I have been looking for a way to monetize that.
What would be your first line of advice for individuals who are having a very hard time dealing with their stress?
Take a moment to calm down and assess the situation. It is hard to think rationally when we are overwhelmed, so step back and take it easy.
Thank you, Dr Brian King and iRead Book Tours.
About the author
DR. BRIAN KING trained as a neuroscientist and psychologist and for the past decade has traveled the world as a comedian and public speaker. By day he conducts seminars, attended by thousands of people each year around the US and internationally, on positive psychology, the health benefits of humor, and stress management. By night he practices what he teaches in comedy clubs, and is the founder and producer of the highly reviewed Wharf Room comedy show in San Francisco. Dr. Brian holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas, a master’s degree from the University of New Orleans, and a PhD in neuroscience from Bowling Green State University. Hailing from New York and living in dozens of cities throughout the US as the child of a military family, today spends his life on the road with his partner, Sarah, and their young daughter.
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