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The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking
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Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2012
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Description

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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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
11/13/2012
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781429947602
ASIN:
B0080K3G4O

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Citations

APA Citation (style guide)

Oliver Burkeman. (2012). The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Oliver Burkeman. 2012. The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Oliver Burkeman, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Oliver Burkeman. The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.

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      • bioText: Oliver Burkeman is a feature writer for The Guardian. He is a winner of the Foreign Press Association's Young Journalist of the Year Award and has been short-listed for the Orwell Prize. He wrote a popular weekly column on psychology, "This Column Will Change Your Life," and has reported from New York, London, and Washington, D.C. His books include Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals and The Antidote: Happiness for People who Can't Stand Positive Thinking. He lives in New York City.
      • name: Oliver Burkeman
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title
The Antidote
fullDescription

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.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Hector Tobar, The Los Angeles Times
      • content:

        "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."

      • premium: False
      • source: Julian Baggini, The Guardian
      • content: "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."
      • premium: False
      • source: Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind
      • content: "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."
      • premium: False
      • source: Alex Bellos, author of Here's Looking at Euclid
      • content: "Quietly subversive, beautifully written, persuasive, and profound, Oliver Burkeman's book will make you think--and smile."
      • premium: False
      • source: Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist
      • content: "Addictive, wise, and very funny."
      • premium: False
      • source: Alexander Larman, The Observer
      • content: "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."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        September 10, 2012
        This is a self-help book for cynics. Guardian feature writer Burkeman (Help!) makes the compelling observation that even with the mass production of books on attaining happiness, the collective mood has failed to rise. It has, if anything, fallen. Burkeman’s aim is to endorse a “negative” path to happiness, a route in which happiness is no longer the final destination because serenity is not a fixed state, and trying so hard to be happy is part of what makes us so miserable. Burkeman balances the ideas of the deepest thinkers, thoughts on mortality, and his own foray into Buddhist meditation with tremendously funny anecdotes about the antics of motivational convention attendees and his humiliating attempts at stoicism on the London subway. The version of “happiness” that emerges has no clear set of steps, rather a calm (yet admirably comical) shift from the happy human being to the human who is, simply, being. None of this is new, but Burkeman’s ability to present sentiments in fresh, delightfully sarcastic packaging will appeal to the happy, the unhappy, and those who have already found a peaceful middle ground. Agent: Claire Conrad, Janklow & Nesbit.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from October 1, 2012
        A fascinating, wide-ranging exploration of negativity, positivity, failure, success and what it means to be happy. Guardian feature writer Burkeman's (Help!, 2011) popular newspaper column, "This Column Will Change Your Life," often reads like a more nuanced, erudite version of the writings of Malcolm Gladwell and Jonah Lehrer. Burkeman places a psychological theory at the center and then builds outward. Here, the author begins by poking gentle fun at the shelves of "by your bootstraps" optimism-laden positivity books and the motivational seminars that offer a secret, answer or formula. Burkeman quickly pivots to the underlying structure of the book, which is a thoughtful examination of the various alternatives to the optimism-at-all-costs approach. His research yields some surprising, counterintuitive results, with examples of how embracing goal-setting as essential to achievement and profit can blind those involved to a need for change, should the goals prove to run counter to the original aim. By Burkeman's report, this is a difficult pill for businesspeople to swallow, but noting the effect of relentless goal pursuit on the Mt. Everest hikers made famous in the book Into Thin Air suggests that single-mindedness can be dangerous. Throughout the book, the author advises against this single-mindedness, exploring the benefits of keeping an open mind and not careening wildly toward some type of narrowly defined idea of closure or happiness--"the grinning insistence on optimism...or the demand that success be guaranteed." This broad approach toward harnessing our "negative capability" deserves wide readership; the author's nonprescriptive message has the potential to effect genuine, lasting changes for people who find happiness just out of reach.

        COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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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...

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