Kross’ writing reads less like a scientific tome and more like a casual conversation. It's easily digestible, as Kross forgoes the verbiage of academia and explains simply and concisely to the reader why we have an inner voice and what happens when that voice is hijacked by chatter. Most importantly, he gives us tools we can use to manage it. We don’t want to eradicate our inner voice; we just want to have a better relationship with it ... Citing myriad studies to forward his thesis, Kross includes extensive notes but never leaves the reader drowning in data. Kross keeps his argument simple and relatable ... There is no one cure-all solution, but Kross provides tools we can employ to manage our own chatter and help us redirect our inner voices ... Kross may be a scientist by trade, but with Chatter he proves himself a deft storyteller who, through levity and wit, creates an easily digestible work on the brain, how it works and how we can quiet our often relentless chatter.
Despite the title’s reference to self-talk, the book uses “chatter” to refer to nearly any kind of negative thoughts or emotions. This comes to resemble a branding exercise—perhaps a necessary one to sell a book these days—but the advice is good, and some of it nonobvious ... Mr. Kross tidily summarizes the best of his advice in a short chapter called 'The Tools.' (I’m glad to see he’s now researching curricula on their use in middle schools.) This chapter stands well on its own, rendering the rest of the brief book relatively optional. A full reading offers narratives—on a baseball player who choked, a scholarship student who struggled, and Mr. Kross’s own panicked response to a mailed threat—as well as some mild dad jokes, but the easy prose is unremarkable. It’s also littered with references to brain studies that add a whiff of fiber but aren’t really news-you-can-use ... But Mr. Kross is likable and has done important work. If he finds things not to like in my previous paragraph, he knows better than most what to do.
In Buddhism it’s referred to as 'monkey mind'—that cascade of often critical and judgmental self-talk that runs in a ceaseless loop in our heads. In Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It, experimental psychologist and neuroscientist Ethan Kross provides a useful introduction to some of the intriguing research on this phenomenon and offers a toolbox full of constructive techniques for quieting our persistent inner voice or, better yet, turning it in a positive direction ... 'The challenge isn’t to avoid negative states altogether,' he concludes. 'It’s to not let them consume you.' Anyone seeking help along that road will find Chatter a useful traveling companion.
Helpfully, Kross also includes tools for providing and receiving chatter support, and tools that involve the environment (creating order in one’s environment, increasing exposure to green spaces, and seeking out awe-inspiring experiences). His accessible writing will draw in casual readers of psychology and self-help books, and experts seeking to learn how to channel their inner thoughts ... A well-reasoned, well-researched guide for those prone to negative self-talk and those who support them.
In this deft debut, Kross, director of the University of Michigan’s Emotion & Self Control Laboratory, helps readers better understand what it means to be human ... [Kross] artfully describes how we talk to ourselves, why those conversations are helpful, and the triggers that can get us into trouble. He shows readers meaningful ways to reframe the discussion, when to seek assistance, and how to better support friends and family ... Throughout this fascinating narrative, fluidly written and packed with insight, Kross is consistently concise, practical, and well organized. Although an academic with impressive credentials, the author speaks to all students of life, grounding the text with illuminating vignettes pulled from the lives of public figures as well as his own. In the end, he shows us how we might have better chats with ourselves, ones that make us happier, healthier, and more productive people. A book that will truly change minds.
Kross, the director of the University of Michigan’s Emotion & Self Control Laboratory, debuts with an eye-opening look at managing 'the silent conversations people have with themselves' ... Readers dealing with issues of self-talk would do well to pick up Kross’s stimulating foray into popular psychology.