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Satisfaction, not pleasure, fulfills people
by Carol McGraw, The Gazette, Dec 1, 2005
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"So, which would you rather do today? Sit in front of a cozy fire, eat bon bons and read a delightfully trashy novel, or go to the office and work your buns off on a project with mind-boggling difficulties.

The second choice will satisfy you more, says Dr. Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist and psychiatrist at Atlanta-based Emory University, whose research looked into the physical intricacies of human brain structure.

He acknowledges that his findings fly in the face of our culture’s pursuit of simplicity and a stress-free life as the be-all and end-all of a meaningful, healthy existence. In his new book Satisfaction: The Science of True Fulfillment, Berns explains why the brain craves the components of satisfaction — novelty and challenge — more than it does happiness and pleasure."

Read the article and then take the quiz to see whether or not you know what it takes to be satisfied. [Click to read McGraw's article].

Carol McGraw is a reporter for The Gazette in Colorado Springs, CO. Her article first appeared on The Gazette on September 26, 2005 and its first few paragraphs and link to the rest of the article is reprinted here with permission of The Gazette.

Publisher Marketing

  • Author: Gregory Berns
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
  • US SRP: $ 24 US 
  • Binding: Hardcover 
  • Pub Date: September 2005

    Publisher Marketing: A brilliant scientist embarks on a journey to discover the answer to an essential question: How can we become truly satisfied? In a fascinating investigation of the brain and its hunger for new experiences, Dr. Gregory Berns plumbs the lessons of fields as diverse as neuroscience, economics, and evolutionary psychology to find answers to the fundamental question of how we can find a more satisfying way to think and live. A distinguished researcher, Berns bridges the gap between everyday experience and cutting-edge research by guiding the reader through the labs and hospitals where he and others are developing the science of how and why the brain is satisfied. We join him as he follows ultramarathoners across the Sierra Nevadas, enters a suburban S&M club to explore the deeper connection between pleasure and pain, partakes of a truly transporting meal, and ultimately examines his own marriage, where he faces the challenge of incorporating novelty into a long-term relationship. In a riveting narrative filled with trenchant insights, Satisfaction proposes nothing less than a new way of understanding our own lives. By its conclusion, this truly inspiring book will convince you that the more complicated and even downright challenging a life you pursue, the more likely it is that you will be satisfied.

Review Quotes: "Berns kicks off this thought-provoking exploration with a simple question, "What do humans want?" He challenges the belief that we are driven primarily to pursue pleasure and avoid pain. Rather, Berns finds that "satisfaction comes less from the attainment of a goal and more in what you must do to get there." With a series of experiments using cutting-edge MRI scanning technology, he sees that the interaction of dopamine, the hormone secreted in the brain in anticipation of pleasure, and cortisol, the chemical released when we are under stress, produces the feelings people associate with satisfaction. Berns, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory, ventures into the physical world to prove his thesis, looking at bruised and reddened s&m enthusiasts and ultramarathoners collapsing after a 100-mile run. The author then brings his journey home, confronting issues in his own marriage and the sexual dissatisfaction that so often plagues long-term relationships. His conclusion is simple and compelling: people are wired for novel experience, and when we seek it out, we are satisfied. This will be a highly satisfying read for anyone interested in what gets us out of bed in the morning day after day." --Publishers Weekly [Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved].

Carol McGraw is a reporter for The Gazette in Colorado Springs, CO. Her article first appeared on The Gazette on September 26, 2005 and its first few paragraphs and link to the rest of the article is reprinted with permission of The Gazette. . [Click to read McGraw's article].


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