Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy – David Burns

Over three million copies of Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy have been sold since its publication in 1999. It is actually the most commonly recommended and highest rated self-help book on depression. Its author, David Burns, is a renowned psychologist who has an entertaining style of lecturing about mental health and psychology on professionals and other audiences.


The book is highly recommended to those who are in the state of depression and struggling with feelings of guilt, negativism, and hostility. It contains valuable techniques based on scientific research that would undoubtedly help you to have a positive outlook in life. Dr. Burns suggests utilization of cognitive therapy in overcoming depression. His comprehensive approach was made in a way that readers would be able to follow easily. Nevertheless he emphasized that psychotropic medications must still be used along with the cognitive behavioral therapy as treatment.


Dr. Burns’ list of 10 Cognitive Distortions are of immense significance in the book. These cognitive distortions are the negative way of thinking that eventually leads to feelings of unhappiness and failure. The author also shared some tips on how to deal with each of the cognitive distortions.


  1. All-or-nothing thinking

Most people tend to have “black and white thinking”. If one among the several executives gave a negative feedback on your project, you’ll immediately think that your project is a total failure. We look at things in absolute: “never” or “always”.


  1. Overgeneralization

There are times when you view a sole negative incident as general.


  1. Mental filter

We care more about on the negative things we hear rather than the positive ones.


  1. Disqualifying the positive

This induces a negative belief over the positive things coming your way. You swear that the bit of success you achieved does not count since it was just a matter of luck or you believe that you’re living a very miserable life.


  1. Jumping to conclusions

This particular factor involves mind-reading and fortune-telling. We sometimes assume and anticipate negative things even if there’s no really certainty or proof.


  1. Magnification and minimization

Most likely, we exaggerate the positive characteristics of others and minimize the negative thing about them. On the other hand, we blow up the negativity we have and do not mind our own importance.


  1. Emotional reasoning

You decide on who you are as a person based on what you feel. If you feel that you’re a loser, then you think that you really are one.


  1. Shoulding

“Should” statements or “musts” and “oughts” are used to judge yourself and others.


  1. Labeling

This is pretty common. You give labels to yourself instead of saying what you did wrong. You call yourself an idiot when you could just simply say that you made a mistake.


  1. Blame

Even though the situation isn’t totally under your control, you are still apt to hold yourself responsible for it.

All these distortions teach us one thing – That we must overcome negativity with positivity. Having been introduced to the cognitive distortions and other lessons from Dr. Burns’ Feeling Good, you too would gain a lot of realizations. You’d be able to handle pessimistic thoughts more effectively and live life happily.

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