The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking [Oliver Burkeman] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Success. In his new book, Oliver Burkeman shuns motivational seminars and the power of ‘Antidote’ Prescribes A ‘Negative Path To Happiness’. Summary and reviews of The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman, plus links to a book excerpt from The Antidote and author biography of Oliver Burkeman.

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He talks of the merits of meditation, and of our current misplaced obsession with setting ourselves goals. This is a very good albeit not perfect book, illustrating several schools of thought that bear on the issue of happiness — or contentment, or acceptance; there are definite nuances.

But that still focuses on the striving, not on acceptance, and for most of us there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. However I also wasn’t feeling the need to ruminate over the fact that some of my randomly set goals were nowhere near complete. He sums it up by talking about “negative capability” that is if I understand it the idea of accepting that life is uncertain, sometimes painful, and that feeling wonderful all the time is not even desirable how sweet is sweet when there’s nothing but sweet?

The author, Oliver Burkeman, a Guardian journalist covering psychology, says that instead we need to Curmudgeonly Brit that I am, I enjoyed this book a lot. Those that think like our sneered-at motivational speakers will argue that failure is inevitable on the way to the top, and expecting it and getting over it is healthy.

Come from the ghetto or the trailer park? This book is no different. Calling this book life changing would be a little hyperbolic, calling it perspective changing would not.

The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman – review | Books | The Guardian

I have to say that this was the perfect book for me to start with. It becomes especially obnoxious when the author denounces other authors lack of rigor only to himself use ancient Greek philosophy and Alan Watts as backbones to his arguments.

My problems not that I have any, obviously do not stem from me not having any faith in my ability to get through things, so why do I need to wake up everyday and tell myself it will be a good day. To the analytically inclined, my goal would be to focus this skill more on the unpleasant side of the Gaussian distribution of life experiences.


I was pleased to have found this. I’m just not one of those “happy” people that are all the rage right now. It’s the kind of book I see myself coming back to as the years go on.

Oh, and a bit of humor: Optimism is wonderful; goals can sometimes be useful; even positive thinking and positive visualization have their benefits. Is the self your body? Burkeman is keen to emphasise that the negative path is not “one single, comprehensive, neatly packaged philosophy” and nor is it a “panacea”.

Instead he splits hairs trying to undermine it for some reason. Do not think of a white bear for the next few minutes. By demanding we repel every sour idea and insert a sweet one in its place, we are left in a constant state of vigilance and flight; marshaling our energies not toward beneficial outcomes but toward guarding against our natural inclination to adequately assess risk.

I read it at a gallop. One of my favorite chapters was about goal setting, and how becoming obsessed with achieving goals can sometimes have damaging consequences, such as a financial crisis, or in the case of some Mount Everest climbers, even death.

The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman – review

I suspect things were worse in India twenty-five centuries ago, though. I mean stuff like this: Author Interviews How To ‘Thrive’: Want to Read saving….

burkemaan Even the father of positive psychology, Martin Seligmanhas pretty much abandoned it, preferring instead to talk about flourishing, the thing that Aristotle saw as the highest human good. What a clever and amusing and interesting and thoughtful book! And so, paradoxically, it is by burkemann more about the downers in life, such as the inevitability of death, the inescapability of suffering or the impossibility of security, that we achieve something like happiness.

He extensively quotes the renowned psychologist Albert Ellis. He also comments on “the hidden benefits of insecurity” – and quotes Tennessee Williams: Aside from the fearful first chapter, there was this chapter on getting over oneself. This is a very good book to which I keep coming back in the couple of months since I read it. The general drift of the book is that the roaring ra-ra-ra of positive thinking does not work. It’s not a coincidence that Nazi-era Germans and Bush-era Americans were both obsessed with new-age beliefs.

The rest of the staff had left and the doctors were doing rounds, so I went to see what antidotee going on. On goals, it explores whether goal striving brings happiness or might actually be counter productive. Ghe is that good! If there’s one book you gotta read on feeling happy whatever that means for youmake it this one. What he suggests is that “a happiness worthy of the name” must include a mix of the rough and smooth, the aches and pains as well as the joys of life.


When I thought about doing this, when I told other people about it, everyone seems to agree it’s just a horrifying thought that you would be saying those things out loud.

The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman – review

From motivational seminars to monasteries, experimental psychologists to business consultants, he does the legwork few find the time or inclination to do, and brings to it a wonderfully complex combination of intelligence, wit and curiosity.

And then there are the “backwards” business gurus, who suggest not having any goals at all thw not planning for a company’s future.

View all 57 comments. If you are tortured to death slowly, you could always be tortured to death slower. Burieman for me it almost was – it’s one thing to have your friends agree with you – it’s another thing when somebody wrote a whole book with actual facts about how it’s ok to not force yourself to be happy. This had about the same effect, as John Oliver and Rachel Dratch cursing Lupus into submission, pictured here below for your convenience.

I guess a book called “A summary of some of the main humanist philosophical approaches to the human condition, that might suggest to the reader some alternative frameworks for a ‘meaningful’ life” would not be a best-seller.

WildeI still don’t believe that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. Do not worry about us negative people.

So, taking the advice of Stoic-inspired psychotherapist Albert Ellishe says the names of tube stations out loud at each stop, in order to get over the feeling that it would somehow be terrible if people thought him mad.

A better goal The subtitle here is the hook: