Book review: The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters

I’m looking forward to hearing the author speak soon at The School of Life. If you haven’t got your mitts on this book yet, grab or download a copy soon. Then you’ll be able to join Sir Chris Hoy and other members of Team GB’s super-successful 2012 Olympic team by applying the wise words of Dr Steve Peters.

There’s so much good stuff to take from this book, and what I particularly love is that it wears its extensive theoretical underpinnings very lightly. As a long-term student of psychology, I had fun playing ‘spot the theory’ (found at least 12) and at the same time was struck by a new way of looking at it. But the whole point is that you don’t need to know the theories to get heaps out of this book. Dr Peters clearly has the qualifications and experience to write a very academic text, but instead goes for words, pictures and situations every one of us can relate to.

We’ve all got a wise and worldly Human part of ourselves – but we also have a Chimp, the part of us that, in evolutionary terms, is ancient and knows how to Fight or Fly (and another thing beginning with F). This Chimp can be our best friend or worst enemy – and both at the same time! – which is the Chimp Paradox of the book.

Over three very readable parts, Steve Peters takes us through a deeper understanding of our mind, through to everyday functioning and finally how to apply the whole ‘solar system’ of his approach to achieve and maintain health, success and happiness. With lots of practical tips for managing our Chimp – I particularly like ‘The Banana of Distraction’, just one of many tactics – and others’ Chimps too, there’s a lot of fun to be had in spotting and dealing with Chimp behaviour.

The chapters on recognising and dealing with short-term, immediate and long-term chronic stress are really helpful. There’s sound advice about building a support network (or ‘troop’ in Chimp-speak), communicating with and relating to others, whether at work or in our closest relationships, as well as being confident, secure and happy.

If I have a criticism of this book it’s that Dr Steve has covered so much ground so very well that I’m worried he won’t be able to write another. Hope to read more from him very soon.

You can get the book via this link.

Dawn is the author of ‘How to be Zoomly at work’, available on Amazon.

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