The Antidote is a series of journeys among people who share a single, surprising way of thinking about life. What they have in common is a hunch about human psychology: that it's our constant effort to eliminate the negative that causes us to feel so anxious, insecure, and unhappy. And that there is an alternative "negative path" to happiness and success that involves embracing the things we spend our lives trying to avoid. It is a subversive, galvanizing message, which turns out to have a long and distinguished philosophical lineage ranging from ancient Roman Stoic philosophers to Buddhists.
Oliver Burkeman talks to life coaches paid to make their clients' lives a living hell, and to maverick security experts such as Bruce Schneier, who contends that the changes we've made to airport and aircraft security since the 9/11 attacks have actually made us less safe. And then there are the "backwards" business gurus, who suggest not having any goals at all and not planning for a company's future.
Burkeman's new book is a witty, fascinating, and counterintuitive read that turns decades of self-help advice on its head and forces us to rethink completely our attitudes toward failure, uncertainty, and death.
On Trying Too Hard to Be Happy
Try to pose for yourself this task: not to think of a polar bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute.
Fyodor Dostoevsky, Winter Notes on Summer Impressions
THE MAN WHO CLAIMS that he is about to tell me the secret of human happiness is eighty-three years old, with an alarming orange tan that does nothing to enhance his credibility. It is just after eight o'clock on a December morning, in a darkened basketball stadium on the outskirts of San Antonio in Texas, and according to the orange man I am about to learn 'the one thing that will change your life forever'. I'm sceptical, but not as much as I might normally be, because I am only one of more than fifteen thousand people at Get Motivated!, America's 'most popular business motivational seminar', and the enthusiasm of my fellow audience members is starting to become infectious.
'So you wanna know?', ...
The Antidote is aptly titled: the book is both a cure for what ails most guides to happiness and an anti-self-help title of sorts. Author Oliver Burkeman offers compelling introductions to seven philosophies that capitalize on the reality that capitalize on the reality of the negative – versus the popular and permeating positive – to promote happiness.
(Reviewed by Stacey Brownlie).
Full Review (855 words).
The Antidote introduces readers to numerous intriguing thinkers, past and present. Here is a short sampling with brief introductions:
Daniel Wegner professor of psychology at Harvard and director of the Mental Control Laboratory at the University. Wegner's studies concentrate on what he calls "the precisely counterintuitive error," our propensity to do exactly the thing we're trying to avoid. A New York Times opinion piece by Wegner explores the Web's effect on human memory. He is also the author of the book, The Illusion of Conscious Will.
Albert Ellis a non-traditional psychotherapist who began promoting tenets of Stoicism in the 1950s. He founded the Albert Ellis Institute and was the author of over 50 books. One of ...
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