Monday, August 11, 2014

Kidding Ourselves by Joseph T. Hallinan

I love Rob but you know, sometimes, his confidence can slip into arrogance, especially when he’s driving.  I am not saying he is a bad driver but he seems to think he’s a flawless driver which makes his driving experience less enjoyable than it could be.  He’s constantly complaining about the way other people are driving.  So while he cannot see his own mistakes, arguably less heinous, the frustration he feels is sometimes exhausting. 

Of course, he is not alone in doing this.  I know I’m just as guilty of seeing in others the very flaws in myself that annoy me most in others.  Self-awareness is a work-in-progress, a lifetime effort, and not something that will ever be mastered.  Kidding Ourselves:  The Hidden Power of Self-Deception by Joseph T. Hallinan is an easy to read book that explains the various ways we delude ourselves, the research that explains why we do the things we do, and why, maybe, kidding ourselves is not necessarily a bad thing. 

The book has many examples with different implications.  For instance, although we consider ourselves to be independent and unlikely to follow the crowd, that we subtly mimic the gestures and facial expressions.  Perception is likewise challenged in research that shows how rats are tricked into thinking they are consuming something toxic.  Not all of the research is easy to read. I struggled with parts about rats and dogs being used experimentally; thankfully most of the research used to support the very human observations was not so inhumane.   

I found myself enjoying this book far more than I had anticipated.  The ideas were well presented and even (mostly) pleasurable to read.  I learned so much, mostly about myself, which is what I had hoped to do all along.  Certainly, I am guilty of cherry-picking ideas to support my perceived beliefs.  Not that this book left me feeling despairing or discouraged, picking myself to pieces as I conceded how very flawed I am.  Rather, it gave me some insight into why it isn’t necessarily a mistake to not to blame myself for everything, that sometimes being “overly” optimistic in the face of overwhelming odds isn’t a recipe for disaster, and, yes, exposed areas in which I could grow if I wish to live a more fulfilling life.  Hallinan manages to take a broad subject, touch on a variety of talking points, and present relevant information in an engaging manner, I almost didn’t want it to end, especially since I don’t feel the final chapter was a strong note on which to do so.  The conclusion, while not insightful because of its inevitable touchpoints, wraps up his argument nicely.  I’d definitely read another book by this author and have already recommended it to a couple of people I know.


  1. This sounds like something I would enjoy reading.

    1. Betty, the author has a knack for making the content easy to read and ideas accessible. I wasn't expecting to find myself reflecting back on the ideas presented and rethinking how I respond to what's happening around me. I definitely feel less judgmental of others and myself.


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