The Antidote

The Antidote

Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking

Book - 2012
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Random House, Inc.
The Antidote is a wry, witty travelogue that turns decades of self-help advice on its head. In it, Guardian journalist Oliver Burkeman chronicles a series of journeys by people who share a single, surprising way of thinking about life. Whether philosophers, experimental psychologists, New Age dreamers or hard-headed business consultants, they have in common a hunch about human psychology. They believe that in our personal lives and in the world at large, our constant fixation on eliminating or avoiding the negative—uncertainty, unhappiness, failure—is what causes us to feel so anxious, insecure, and unhappy.

He argues there is an alternative “negative path” to happiness and success that involves coming face to face with the things we spend our lives trying to avoid, to even embrace them. This is the “backwards law”: The more we’re willing to embrace what we think of as negative, the happier and more successful we’ll become. We may need to completely rethink our attitudes toward such things as failure, uncertainty, disorder, insecurity, and death.

Publisher: Toronto : Allen Lane, c2012
ISBN: 9780670064687
Branch Call Number: 158 BUR
Characteristics: 236 p. ;,24 cm.


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Jan 21, 2016

Absolutely loved this book. It is potentially life changing if you absorb its messages and apply them in your quest for happiness.

The premise is that there is a path to happiness in knowing that your reaction to events, not the events themselves is what counts (the Stoic philosophy). Being able to observe the inner weather of emotions and thoughts is key to understanding that they need not dictate your actions (a truth of Buddhism). These two principles are key to stopping the “irritable reaching” after better circumstances, thoughts and feelings. You can move forward with a project or with life without sharply defined goals. You should dare to inspect your failures. Stop trying to eliminate feelings of insecurity and put aside motivation techniques in favour of just getting stuff done. You should practice memento mori (remembering death) to sweeten the experiences of life. Refrain from too much effortful struggling and instead look for balance and moderation. The happiness that you seek can accommodate negative as well as positive emotions. It is a journey, rather than a destination.

Jan 16, 2016

Quick read, but powerful and deeply inspiring. Rather than ignoring the negative side of life, this book offers an alternative path to true comfort, acceptance, and security in an insecure world.
Recommended for anyone who can't bear to stomach another bubbly over-the-top totally unrealistic self-help book.

Apr 21, 2015

Is it not possible to delete comments? I was trying to comment on a different book.

Mar 16, 2015

Very good book for the "realistically inclined."

Apr 08, 2013

I first heard oliver burkeman being interview by kim hill a couple of years ago and what drew me to listening was his humour around a topic that adherents often take so seriously. His writing is delivered with the same humour while constructing and offering a very well researched counter opinion to the usual norm of thinking positively. well worth reading-especially if you are a person who has perhaps been sceptical about positive thinking as a default position to take on life's events.

ksoles Feb 18, 2013

In "The Antidote," British journalist Oliver Burkeman asserts that one cannot achieve happiness through the clichés of positive thinking, motivational pep talks and narrowly-focused goal setting. Instead, living a fulfilling life requires embracing both uncertainty and negative thoughts. In eight chapters, readers meet Stoics, Buddhists and other philosophers all of whom possess "a willingness to...pause and take a step back; to turn to face what others might flee from."

Burkeman does not intend to offer fool-proof rules for a happy life. He thoughtfully and thoroughly explores topics often shied away from and arrives at wise advice. This fresh and readable book offers humour, anecdotes and a powerfully sustained thesis.

hgeng63 Dec 31, 2012

Do you think about those worse off than you so you can feel better? Does making goals make you more anxious? Then this bk is for you!--and for people who really don't like self-help bks. (Though some parts of it made me squeeze my head to get around the topics.)

Oct 16, 2012

Interesting book that makes you look critically at the current emphasis on positive thinking.

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