Cover image for How we are
How we are
Deary, Vincent.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015.

Physical Description:
261 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm.
"Over decades of psychotherapeutic work, Deary has witnessed the theater of change: how ordinary people get stuck, struggle with new circumstances, and finally transform for the better. He is keenly aware that novelists, poets, philosophers, and theologians have grappled with these experiences for far longer than psychologists. Drawing on his own personal experience and a ... range of literary, philosophical, and cultural sources, Deary has produced a ... portrait of the human condition"
General Note:
"Orginally published in 2014 by Allen Lane, an imprint of Penguin Books, Great Britain."--Title page verso.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BD450 .D3497 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BD450 .D3497 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
BD450 .D3497 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



How We Are is the first part of the monumental How to Live trilogy, a profound and ambitious series that gets to the heart of what it means to be human: how we are, how we break, and how we mend.

In How We Are , Vincent Deary explores the power of habit and the difficulty of change. As he shows us, we live most of our lives automatically, in small worlds of comfortable habit, unless an outside force compels us to adjust. Over decades of psychotherapeutic work, Deary has helped hundreds of people cope with change-teaching them to understand how they get stuck, how they struggle with new circumstances, and how they can finally transform for the better. Drawing on a staggering range of cultural and literary references- from Jacques Lacan to Mad Men, Marcel Proust to Chicago dance crazes-How We Are shows us how much of our lives are lived according to beaten paths, and explains why we are so resistant to conscious change.

Part psychologist, part philosopher, part novelist, Deary paints a mesmerizing universal portrait of the human condition and helps us to see how to break free of routine to make our actions and our lives more fully our own.

Author Notes

Vincent Deary is a health psychologist at Northumbria University who specializes in helping people change their lives for the better. How We Are is his first book.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

In the first installment of an ambitious trilogy seeking to illuminate nothing less than the human condition, health psychologist Deary examines the forces of habit and change. Much of our lives are lived out through unconscious but comfortable routine, he suggests, until something new comes along and we must work hard to adjust. Deary gently guides the reader through this exploration of our inner life, so sincere and accommodating that you can almost feel that you're sitting on his therapist's couch. He paints scenes of people experiencing changes, such as a parkour enthusiast and a newly single woman in her 40s. Gathering many examples from such diverse sources as popular culture in movies and novels, along with the work of scientists, poets, and philosophers, he gives insight into the world we create for ourselves. Not everyone will enjoy his meandering and ruminative style, which includes his own reflections on the writing process. However, for those engaged with the material, it offers a new vocabulary for self-examination and vividly illustrates what it means to be human.--Thoreson, Bridget Copyright 2010 Booklist

Table of Contents

List of figuresp. ix
Introductionp. 1
1 The Beaten Pathp. 7
Act 1: Saming
2 The Automaticp. 21
Part 1-The Knackp. 23
Part 2-The Gistp. 37
Part 3-Pause for Thoughtp. 47
3 House Rulesp. 55
Part 1-A Room of our ownp. 57
Part 2-Common Roomsp. 68
4 Cosa Nostrap. 79
5 News from Elsewherep. 107
Act 2: Changing
6 First Impressionsp. 139
7 Second Naturesp. 167
8 Spellboundp. 193
9 Dancing Alreadyp. 223
Part 1-Response and Responsibilityp. 225
Part 2-Calls and Callingp. 239
Acknowledgementsp. 261