In Chatter, acclaimed psychologist Ethan Kross explores the silent conversations we have with ourselves. Interweaving groundbreaking behavioral and brain research from his own lab with real-world case studies--from a pitcher who forgets how to pitch, to a Harvard undergrad negotiating her double life as a spy--Kross explains how these conversations shape our lives, work, and relationships. He warns that giving in to negative and disorienting self-talk--what he calls "chatter"--can tank our health, sink our moods, strain our social connections, and cause us to fold under pressure.
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.