The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman
This is a book I read last May and have finally managed to finish this little review!
As much as I like to look on the bright side, I remain skeptical of those of us who insist that they are permanently happy all of the time, and in order to remain that way they only have sunshiney positive thoughts. It can get a bit manic. I'm more into authenticity. Being human means we're subject to a whole spectrum of emotion, and a whole range of circumstances, it's part of what makes life interesting. I believe that our emotions can tell us a lot of important information if we listen and respond to them in a non-judgemental way, rather than insisting that they don't exist, or repressing them. Hence why I felt attracted to this kind of book. If you're sympathetic to these kind of sentiments you might just enjoy it too.
Oliver Burkeman is a feature writer for The Guardian, and I really like the conversational style that he maintains throughout the book, it's a distinctly english journalist style, and I mean that as a compliment: that kind of Louis Theroux awkwardness sweetened with curiosity and politeness. Personally I really enjoy this kind of conversational style, which is informative without being too dense, considering some of the potentially complex philosophical subject matter.
The author delves into various approaches which consider the 'negative path', that is to fully accept certain aspects of living, such as suffering, death and approach them with more even headedness. He also considers the ideas of Alan Watts, who I introduced in a previous post, as well as the roman tradition of Stoicism, and Buddhism.
Burkeman also has a look at goals and suggests that they may not always be helpful. As a student of yoga, which is a practice of process and not of attainment, I'm really interested in this idea. As much as I love lists and plans and goals , I do think the suggestion to let them go is well worth considering. We often get too caught up in the end result instead of just being along for the ride, something I tried to explore in a previous post.
A worthwhile read if you're not convinced by peppy positivity and are looking for something which considers the full spectrum of the human condition, but light hearted enough to read and relax!
An interview with the author on NPR.
For Burkeman's Guardian column see here.