When we set out to describe the problems this book can help fix-the stressful and anxiety-provoking conditions of everyday living-we quite simply ran out of space. It's no secret that life is tough, and that each passing year isn't making it any easier. Whether you're more stressed by politics, the environment, your relationships, major life changes, or just the daily task of keeping food on the table, it's easy to let life knock you down and hard to get back up again. But this book offers readers a chance at a different way of life. It shows them how to accept their lives as they are, regard the events of each day with nonjudgmental awareness, and stop obsessive thoughts from compounding their feelings of helplessness and frustration.
The first part of the book introduces you to the basics of neural network learning theory. The basic idea is that neural pathways strengthen with use and weaken with disuse. While certain events are likely to provoke a hardwired neural response in us, we are capable of creating new neural paths with no more than a thought. Instead of letting automatic triggers dictate our responses to painful events, we can use this characteristic of our nervous systems to short-circuit the responses that lead to painful thoughts and emotions.
The second part teaches you five easy-to-learn skills for dealing with stress-breath counting, thought watching, compassionate awareness, softening to pain, and wise mind. Together, they make up a set of skills that readers can take with them anywhere, a kind of portable therapy.
Once learned, the techniques in this book can be used to cope with many different situations. Combined with each other, they become a powerful tool for creating happiness, compassion, and well-being.