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The Antidote: Happiness for people who can’t stand positive thinking is an exploration of a radically new path to happiness.
In an approach that turns decades of self-help advice on its head, Oliver Burkeman explains why positive thinking serves only to make us more miserable, and why ‘getting motivated’ can exacerbate procrastination.
Comparing the personal philosophies of dozens of ‘happy’ people—among them philosophers and experimental psychologists, Buddhists and terrorism experts, New Age dreamers and hard-headed business consultants—Burkeman uncovers some common ground. They all believe that there is an alternative ‘negative path’ to happiness and success that involves coming face-to-face with, even embracing, precisely the things we spend our lives trying to avoid.
Burkeman concedes that in our personal lives and the world at large, it’s our constant efforts to eliminate the negative—uncertainty, unhappiness, failure—that cause us to feel so anxious, insecure and unhappy.
Hilarious and compulsively readable, The Antidote will have you on the road to happiness in no time.
‘Burkeman isn’t writing a treatise: his book is squarely aimed at those who can smell the snake-oil in self-help, and who are looking for alternatives. Burkeman advocates for a kind of serenity—a realistic happiness—rather than the fist-pumping exhilaration touted by the New Agers. Go Him.’
‘Quietly subversive, beautifully written, persuasive and profound, Oliver Burkeman’s book will make you think – and smile.’
‘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.’
‘Addictive, wise and very funny. Burkeman never takes himself too seriously, but the rest of us should.’
‘[Oliver Burkeman’s] thoughts about the perils of trying too hard to be happy, the art of confronting the worst-case scenario, and the lunacy of goal-setting make a lot of sense. The idea that embracing failure pessimism and insecurity may produce a more satisfying alternative to positive thinking may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s liberating.’
‘This is a refreshing book that has the ability to make a reader feel calmer about their own state of mind, if not, dare I say it? Happier.’
‘Erudite and liberating.’
‘This is a self-help book for people who don’t like self-help books, and a thoughtful, eminently readable celebration of negative thinking.'
‘This “antidote” is at once deliciously wry, winningly candid and happily liberating.'
‘Sharp, succinct and socially aware.’