• The Antidote

  • Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking
  • By: Oliver Burkeman
  • Narrated by: Oliver Burkeman
  • Length: 6 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 03-01-13
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.4 (618 ratings)


In this fascinating new book which he narrates himself, Oliver Burkeman argues that "positive thinking" and relentless optimism aren't the solution to the happiness dilemma, but part of the problem. And that there is, in fact, an alternative path to contentment and success that involves embracing the things we spend our lives trying to avoid - uncertainty, insecurity, pessimism, and failure. Thought-provoking, counterintuitive, and ultimately uplifting, The Antidote is a celebration of the power of negative thinking.
©2012 Oliver Burkeman (P)2012 Canongate Books Ltd
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Mark on 11-01-13

No Antidote just another path to the truth

I'm a happy believer in the scientific ideas of positive psychology, I have sometimes been called a motivational speaker, and decided to listen to this book to get the view from the 'other side' and negative thinking. I expected each element of positive thinking to be examined and taken apart in detail with counter evidence yet this was not the case. I did find one extremely useful example of the use of negative visualisation, an excellent counterweight to excessive positive thinking and goal fixation.

Other than that I found a book that mirrored my own path of discovery and search for the truth about happiness albeit with the positive as my starting point. I agree with Oliver's concerns about the worst excesses of positive thinking but then I tend to believe that the truth in life is usually somewhere in between any two schools of thought.

This book is a delight, so well balanced and inquisitive rather than dismissive or defensive as I feared it might be. The ideas covered from Buddhist meditation, Eckhart Tolle, to Alan Watts ideas on the true nature of the self, to Carol Dweck's work on Mindset and Keats negative capability are all ideas I personally associate with the positive path in life - to find them here examined from another perspective was enlightening. I see nothing here that conflicts with the ideas of positive psychology, I'd go so far as to say they align completely.

Albert Ellis's idea of 'musterbation' is brilliant, we 'must' on ourselves all the time and get in all kinds of self defeating behaviour. This idea that stands out most for me along with the courageous examination of death.

So the book is really only an antidote to the smiley yellow face and painted on smile of superficial positive thinking. I'm still a little more generous towards the 'positive thinkers' as I have seen them set many people on the path to searching out their own deeper truth. That aside I agreed and found a great deal of well written and entertaining wisdom her

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65 of 68 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Jim Vaughan on 02-02-13

Entertaining, subversive and an excellent guide!

What a refreshing book! Funny, thoughtful, informative unorthadox and practical.

I laughed aloud throughout the first chapter's "motivational seminar" account. This alone served as an antidote to the tyranny of "success mentality", but what I liked most was the book not only presents a viable alternative, but makes an excellent case for why the "positive thinking" approach must always fail in the end to make us happy, based as it is on denial, and constant future focus.

Excellently narrated too by the author (which always makes for a better reading), I thoroughly recommend this book as an antidote to the whole philosophy of self improvement. This book, is instead a radical alternative - the practice of the philosophy of self acceptance.

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22 of 23 people found this review helpful

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