The Antidote – Oliver Burkeman

I don’t normally have much truck with self-help books (Teach Us To Sit Still being an exception), but this does hold itself out to be, well, the antidote to those. I found it via a link to an online video advert, which is not the usual way I find out about books, but I’m pleased that I did. It’s commonly held that the way to achieve happiness and success is to picture yourself as happy and successful, but this book points to several studies that suggest that this is not, in fact, true and often has the opposite effect – brains are not that easy to fool.

He starts off at a strange -sounding positive thinking seminar, where some dude is shouting positive-thinking mantras at a crowd that is largely full of believers, but Oliver finds himself sitting next to someone who’s being forced to attend by his employer and is equally sceptical, and you kind of wonder if everyone else is thinking the same thing, deep down. But then they wouldn’t be doing positive thinking, would they? And that’s maybe why it doesn’t work.

And he ends up investigating meditation, buddhism, stoicism and all the other things that I’ve probably been most impressed by over the last few years. I wasn’t really looking for it, but it turned up again.

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