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The Antidote

Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking

by Oliver Burkeman

Self-help books don't seem to work. Few of the many advantages of modern life seem capable of lifting our collective mood. Wealth—even if you can get it—doesn't necessarily lead to happiness. Romance, family life, and work often bring as much stress as joy. We can't even agree on what "happiness" means. So are we engaged in a futile pursuit? Or are we just going about it the wrong way?

Looking both east and west, in bulletins from the past and from far afield, Oliver Burkeman introduces us to an unusual group of people who share a single, surprising way of thinking about life. Whether experimental psychologists, terrorism experts, Buddhists, hardheaded business consultants, Greek philosophers, or modern-day gurus, they argue that in our personal lives, and in society at large, it's our constant effort to be happy that is making us miserable. And that there is an alternative path to happiness and success that involves embracing failure, pessimism, insecurity, and uncertainty—the very things we spend our lives trying to avoid. Thought-provoking, counterintuitive, and ultimately uplifting, The Antidote is the intelligent person's guide to understanding the much-misunderstood idea of happiness.

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Recommendations: 1

Categories: Health & WellnessPsychology & Mental HealthPersonal Development

Reading time: 56 hours


David Allen
Productivity Consultant

One of the latest ones is called The Antidote, Oliver Burkeman. Fabulous book. Totally fun. It’s happiness for people who can’t stand positive thinking. The content is a good bit more serious than what the title sounds like. He’s really into pooh-poohing the people that just say, “Don’t have any negative thoughts. Just go think positive thoughts.” And not accepting reality.

And so he goes into quite a bit of exploration of stoicism. And I couldn’t agree more with actually his hypothesis and his thinking. Anyway, it’s a fun book. My wife just broke out laughing regularly. She was reading the book. It’s very well-written. So that’s one of my latest recommendations, for sure.