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The Rubber Brain: A toolkit for optimising your study, work, and life! Sue Morris, Jacquelyn Cranney, Peter Baldwin, Leigh Mellish, Annette Krochmalik


Jen is effervescent, adaptable and resilient, ‘a mixture of scholastic goddess and comic genius’. However, when it comes to exam time, Jen changes completely. She convinces herself that she is going to fail and annoys everyone. Lecturers avoid her emails and Jen falls into a gloomy state of mind.

What happened? Jen is stressed and finding unsuitable ways to cope. Her sub-optimal thinking is making exam time even worse. Jen needs to change her thinking and deal with her stress. Does this sound familiar? Most of us indulge in these kinds of thoughts, leading to over-reactions, panic and even self-destructive behaviour.

Luckily, this book by five different psychological educators contains many different tools to help readers learn to think optimally, so that they can deal with many different situations, become realistic optimists and achieve their goals.  These tools include mindfulness, relaxation exercises and CBT. The authors also discuss the importance of self-knowledge, including knowing your core beliefs and values, and knowing more about your personality. This is especially helpful for young people working out their futures. There are lots of exercises, useful summaries at the end of each chapter and resources if you want to read more. These are personality tests, for example, finding out which words best describe your character.

This was written for students and it has lots of useful suggestions for coping with exams, but it is also useful for all ages. I found the section about realistic optimism and the myths about optimism especially helpful, for example.  It contains a lot of information and I found it a bit technical, so it is best to read it slowly, keep a notebook handy and try the exercises. There’s a lot to absorb! I think that it will be a useful book to dip into whenever it is necessary, and the resources, especially the TED talks, will be worth finding.

I received this free book from Australian Academic Press in return for an honest review.

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