The Antidote is a series of journeys among people who share a single, surprising way of thinking about life. What they have in common is a hunch about human psychology: that it’s our constant effort to eliminate the negative that causes us to feel so anxious, insecure, and unhappy. And that there is an alternative "negative path" to happiness and success that involves embracing the things we spend our lives trying to avoid. It is a subversive, galvanizing message, which turns out to have a long and distinguished philosophical lineage ranging from ancient Roman Stoic philosophers to Buddhists. Oliver Burkeman talks to life coaches paid to make their clients’ lives a living hell, and to maverick security experts such as Bruce Schneier, who contends that the changes we’ve made to airport and aircraft security since the 9/11 attacks have actually made us less safe. And then there are the "backwards" business gurus, who suggest not having any goals at all and not planning for a company’s future.
Burkeman’s new audiobook is a witty, fascinating, and counterintuitive listen that turns decades of self-help advice on its head and forces us to rethink completely our attitudes toward failure, uncertainty, and death.
©2012 Oliver Burkeman (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
An enlightened ascetic who loves language and learning.
I detest being duped into reading books based on the uncritical, ill-informed opinions of others, even when well intended. Time is far too precious to waste in the hearing or reading of worthless books. I do not think I will be found guilty of this transgression in highly recommending Oliver Burkeman’s, The Antidote. Admittedly, there is some egocentrism involved here. Among the central theses of the book is that (1) viewing life (and oneself) positively is no secure path to happiness (2) seeking security is sure to undermine efforts at obtaining lasting happiness (3) accepting and embracing the unavoidable evils of life is essential to true happiness (4) efforts to delude oneself about the ultimate nature of reality in all its brutality and banality (e.g. through religion, entertainment, and other forms of ‘reality transcendence’) are bound to fail and (5) in due deference to both Bertrand Russell and Ernest Becker, acknowledging the existential inevitability of death is essential for philosophical integrity and psychological solace. Anyone familiar with the Author’s philosophy, especially as delineated in Mind, Matter, Mathematics, & Mortality, will immediately recognize the common theoretical threads. Nothing, however, can be subtracted from the value of Burkeman’s project—his contribution to what Huxley called “the Perennial Philosophy” is original and enlightening.
Positive thinking, goal setting, do/be/have anything circles the drain, gurgle, belch, as Burkeman reintroduces us to Stoicism, Zen and human mortality. This well written blend of philosophy, culture criticism, reporting and humor confronts the absurd idea that avoiding awful thinking insures health, wealth and happiness. This is my favorite nonfiction work for 2012.
Looking for something that works!
This book, very well-narrated by its author, helped me to reduce the stress in my life. Through its overview of many philosophies of life ranging from the ancient Greeks and Romans on up through today, I came to understand that I was always looking for things to be okay, secure, positive. By this thinking, I was also always aware of how much things were not, in fact, okay, secure, positive. This generated a good deal of anxiety for me. I came to realize that many things happened in life and it was not so much what happened, but my judgment of it that had the power to make me feel good or badly about it. Basically, I learned that it is okay to take life moment by moment and take the bad with the good. When I write this, it sounds so insipid. You just have to listen to this book.
Let me tell you that one major thing I enjoyed about it is that the author is not trying to convince you of anything. He is presenting what he has learned, so you can make your own choices and decisions. I think any individual hearing this book will be struck by totally different things than another individual. The information in the book was very enlightening. The only fault I found with it is that a great deal of emphasis was put on current popularized evangelical Christian philosophy and very little upon Catholic philosophy which today, as for the past 2000 years, has remained constant. Catholic philosophy actually melds well with many of the premises in this book (about accepting the negative in life and allowing life to remain a mystery and to appreciate that). But the author pretty much ignored it. Nonetheless, the book is definitely worthwhile for anyone with stress or anxiety, uncertainty or insecurity in his/her life. I think those of us who were teens or in our 20s during the 1960s would particularly enjoy it.
I am about 2 / 3 of the way through the book right now, and have enjoyed every minute of it. It delivers on what I would have expected based on the description and the title.
The book's content is well thought out and supported with evidence, and at the same time it is presented in a pleasant narrative fashion with a series of real-life examples to illustrate his theories.
The main message I have gotten from the book is NOT that you should throw positive thinking out the window. Rather he investigates possible explanations to the fact that although America may have the most self-help/power-of-positive-thinking books per capita, that does not necessarily result as us being the happiest country.
Primarily it provides alternative philosophies to consider that I interpreted as ways of stopping to enjoy happiness in the moment, rather than always chasing happiness in a perpetual future moment.
If you are in an open-minded mood and considering it as a refreshing alternative perspective to mix in with other books you have read about happiness philosophies, I would recommend it.
If you are in a state of mind in which all of the power of positive thinking models have been working flawlessly for you, and have no reason insert any doubts in your mind about it, then maybe it's not for you.
Oliver Burkeman delivers the rarest of commodities -- a self-help book that actually helps you feel better about life. Beginning with an examination of stoicism and aspects of buddhism, Burkeman proceeds to deliver often contrarian information and advice about how to deal with the inevitable setbacks and challenges life presents. Unlike most such books, which are filled with simplistic, wishful thinking, he provides practical and pragmatic advice, backed with anecdotes and solid research data.
That it makes you look at a different point of view about goal setting
the author when he is in the subway
Oliver is truthfully thoughtful and direct with his subject matter. He openly looks at it from all directions. Easy to listen to
That setting goals can be worse than not setting goals
If you have read and read and read and listened to all the goal setting, positive thinking, book and podcasts then give this a listen because Oliver will trigger your mind to look at life differently. Its quite refreshing
Viet vet, currently RN. Popular and trendy are not necessarily great. Time weeds the path to the garden of great classics
or cripple in stead of 6'5" with a yard of teeth in his face, would he be so damn smiley and positive.... positively dedicated to taking your money???
I loved this telling of the story of middle earth, not manic, not depressed. Quietly exhuberant, moderately extreem. Cautiously optimistic or cautiously pessimistic? WE all know the glass is half full at best and less full at others. I felt Mr. Burkeman explored the possiblity of finding happiness within three deviations of the mean and it is all very well indeed. I have never found it any other way in life. It's good, not excellent not lousy, just good and a good life a thoughtfull life. I can do that.
I really enjoyed this book. I’m going to listen to it again so that I can soak up the points better. Don’t be fooled by the title into thinking this book is negative in theme—it really is about happiness. It brings together philosophies we are (probably) already familiar with like Buddhism and Stoicism in ways that are easier to understand and apply to everyday life and that refute the nauseating mantras of the ‘cult of optimism’ and reveals it as the hunt for fool’s gold that it is.
I’ve listened to many ‘self-improvement’ books. This book has already done more to ‘improve’ my ‘self’ than all the others combined. A truly helpful book.
I have three times already. Its basic premise is that the cult of positive thinking is not only wrong-minded, but is antithetical to a balanced and satisfied life. The narrator was also amazing!
Feeling positive about yourself, without all the positive self-talk and affirmations
The Antidote modestly and elegantly introduces the reader to various schools of thought concerning meaning, identity, human cognition, and other topics as they pertain to happiness. I often find books like this terribly insipid or insincere. This book was a startling exception. It truly resonated with my skepticism, and I found myself experiencing the broadest range of emotions I have experienced from a book or an audio book in a long time. While I am sure the experts of the fields the author quickly glosses over might find a few points of fault with his interpretation of research and philosophy, he was quite cautious about overstretching his expertise, which I appreciate in authors that write well-rounded books like this.
It stands out conspicuously from all other books in its genre and I recommend it to literally everyone.
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