For a civilization so fixated on achieving happiness, we seem remarkably incompetent at the task. 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 lead to happiness. Romance, family life, and work often seem to 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? In this fascinating book, Oliver Burkeman introduces us to an unusual collection of people—experimental psychologists, Buddhists, terrorism experts, spiritual teachers, philosophers, and business consultants—who share a single, surprising way of thinking about life. They argue that in our personal lives, and in society at large, it’s precisely our constant effort to be happy that is making us miserable, that positive thinking isn’t the solution, but part of the problem. They propose an alternative, “negative path” to happiness and success that involves embracing failure, pessimism, insecurity, and uncertainty—those things we spend our lives trying to avoid.
Thought-provoking, counterintuitive, and ultimately uplifting, The Antidote is a celebration of the power of negative thinking.