If there’s a valuable lesson to have learned in today’s tumultuous times, it’s that while we may not be able to control everything around us, we can always control our reactions. Do we respond to current events with despair or hope? Do we feel anger or sympathy, fear or happiness? To what extent are those reactions automatic, and to what extent are they intentional? Over the last decade, East Bay psychologist, author, radio host, and lecturer John Schinnerer has made a career of teaching people to manage their thoughts and emotions for the better. His program Guide to Self, which he labels “positive psychology,” is based on scientific knowledge of brain function and is fundamentally designed to make its adherents happier — “from surviving to thriving,” as his Web site puts it. Last September, Schinnerer — who lives in Alamo, grew up in the San Ramon Valley, and received his Ph.D from UC Berkeley — published his first book, Guide to Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought, which summarizes his advice while plainly laying out the science behind it.