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The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking Paperback – November 5, 2013
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2012: The you-can-do-it, life-is-one-big-smiley-face ethos of our contemporary culture has its value: Aggressive positivity helps many triumph over addiction, say, or build previously unimaginable businesses, even win elections and wars. But according to Oliver Burkeman, this relentless pursuit of happiness and success can also make us miserable. Exploring the dark side of the theories put forth by such icons as Norman Vincent Peale and Eckhart Tolle by looking to both ancient philosophy and current business theory, Burkeman--a feature writer for British newspaper The Guardian--offers up the counterintuitive idea that only by embracing and examining failure and loss and unhappiness will we become free of it. So in your next yoga class, try this: breathe deep, think unhappy thoughts--and feel your soul relax. --Sara Nelson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Burkeman's tour of the ‘negative path' to happiness makes for a deeply insightful and entertaining book. This insecure, anxious and sometimes unhappy reader found it quite helpful.” ―Hector Tobar, The Los Angeles Times
“Some of the most truthful and useful words on [happiness] to be published in recent years . . . A marvellous synthesis of good sense, which would make a bracing detox for the self-help junkie.” ―Julian Baggini, The Guardian
“The Antidote is a gem. Countering a self-help tradition in which ‘positive thinking' too often takes the place of actual thinking, Oliver Burkeman returns our attention to several of philosophy's deeper traditions and does so with a light hand and a wry sense of humor. You'll come away from this book enriched--and, yes, even a little happier.” ―Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind
“Quietly subversive, beautifully written, persuasive, and profound, Oliver Burkeman's book will make you think--and smile.” ―Alex Bellos, author of Here's Looking at Euclid
“Addictive, wise, and very funny.” ―Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist
“What unites [Burkeman's] travels, and seems to drive the various characters he meets, from modern-day Stoics to business consultants, is disillusionment with a patently false idea that something as complex as the goal of human happiness can be found by looking in a book . . . It's a simple idea, but an exhilarating and satisfying one.” ―Alexander Larman, The Observer
“This is an excellent book; Burkeman makes us see that our current approach, in which we want happiness but search for certainty--often in the shape of material goods--is counterproductive.” ―William Leith, The Telegraph
“Fascinating . . . After years spent consulting specialists--from psychologists to philosophers and even Buddhists--Burkeman realised they all agreed on one thing: . . . in order to be truly happy, we might actually need to be willing to experience more negative emotions--or, at least, to learn to stop running so hard from them.” ―Mandy Francis, The Daily Mail
“Splendid . . . Readable and engaging.” ―British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, The Times (London)
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What the book really contains is a very well written and thoroughly researched book that is an enjoyable read. Burkeman writes in a style that is very conversational yet he can seamlessly integrate serious research and experiences with alternatives to positive thinking. He can be humorous at times but mostly in a self-deprecating way that is refreshing.
Burkeman traces routes through Stoicism, Buddhism, and other philosophic practices for remaining grounded in reality. He cites a variety of studies and includes an interaction with Eckhart Tolle. He concludes the book with a fascinating look at the work of Ernest Becker.
While is may sound like the book is about pessimism, it's really not. Burkeman acknowledges man's need for optimism and a meaning that is "larger" than himself/herself.
The Antidote is another one of these books and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Oliver Burkeman is a fantastic writer and I was perpetually entertained by the dry wit sprinkled throughout the book. Throughout the course of the book, he covers various different philosophies that go against the grain of the common refrain that we must stay positive. By looking to long standing traditions like Stoicism to Buddhism, he shows how dwelling on the negative can sometimes make life worth living. By analyzing the meaning of a museum of failed consumer products and the day of the dead, he shows how ruminating on death and failure can add spice to life.
In addition to covering an interesting topic with interesting examples, this book also stands out because of its journalistic writing style. Unlike a lot of self-help books that are heavy on advice and short on narrative, The Antidote really takes us on Oliver Burkeman's journey.
In the end, the title of the book says everything. This book is truly for anyone who can't stand positive thinking. It's entertaining and illuminating, which is more than I can say for most of the self help books I've read
There are things that I do for a living and also for recreation that positive thinking will have no bearing on, for example cooking food for many hundreds of people at a time, regularly, and deep sea fishing in a medium sized power boat with family and friends; all of which require knowledge and planing to have a happy end result.
This is why I love this book. It's easy to read and relates lots of ideas well.
There is no reason (unless you have one!) to be unnecessarily glum, but this book helps a person value their own reasoning in life if they are the sort of person who can clearly see that the glass is not half full.
This book has made me happy from just reading it. Trying to explain the ideas to some friends and relatives has been frustrating, but also reiterates why they do not have the end game responsibilities that I choose.
Positive thinking may make you feel good momentarily but doesn't mean s*** if you haven't properly planned for a situation.
This book doesn't mean you won't be a lucky bastard but ......
It is the process and the mechanisms that are important, not necessarily the affirmations.