Book Review: Emotional Agility – Susan David

Title: Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life
Author: Susan David
ISBN: 9781592409495
Pages: 288
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Avery
Genre: Nonfiction, Self-Help
Source: Publisher


Sometimes, not confronting your emotions and taking into account how they affect your behavior can make it difficult to react to change in a productive way. Susan David, PhD, introduces her theory of Emotional Agility, a four-step process to help you confront change in a positive way and recognize when you’re locked in damaging cycles of emotional behavior.


I used to smirk at self-help books. “I read a little of everything…except self-help,” I would smugly tell people. I had no time for self-help, because after all, I didn’t need help.

Yeah, right.

It was like a switch flipped when I approached my 30s. I realized it’s not a bad thing to admit you’re trying to improve yourself. I’m not perfect; why should I pretend like I am? I started reading self-help books and never looked back.

I don’t talk about it a lot publicly, but this year has been difficult. There has been a lot of upheaval in my life (family health issues, a new house in a new city, shake-ups in my job and career), so I thought that Emotional Agility, which centers on how to deal with change in a mindful and productive way, would be a great read for me. I was right.

David focuses on self-acceptance as the key to her theory: your feelings do not necessarily reflect fact, but it’s important to acknowledge them. But at the same time, don’t let your emotions drive your decision making: This creates what David calls a “hook,” an unproductive pattern of behavior that can be very damaging. Instead, take a step back and let your head (and emotions) clear.

It sounds easier said than done, but if you read Emotional Agility, David includes great ways to put her four-step theory into practice. She provides examples and anecdotes to help readers practice Emotional Agility in their own lives. The thing I especially appreciated about this book is that it doesn’t feel hokey: a lot of David’s conclusions are common sense. But she puts them into a fresh context that helps readers see how different parts of behavior and reaction are connected, and how we can break damaging cycles of emotions. If you’re interested in behaving more mindfully, I highly recommend picking up this book.

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  1. Sounds like a good one. And, yeah, I get exactly what you mean about self-help books.

  2. Elizabeth Ayala says:

    I really enjoyed your review of Emotional Agility, by Susan David! I plan on buying it in a week or two!! Thank you Swapna!!!

  3. Good introduction to Dr Susan’s book. I am sure lot of people would read it , introspect over the four step concepts propounded by the author, practice them and benefit in their personal life and career .
    Kasturi G

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