The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking

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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 necessarily lead to happiness. Romance, family life, and work often 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?

Looking both east and west, in bulletins from the past and from far afield, Oliver Burkeman introduces us to an unusual group of people who share a single, surprising way of thinking about life. Whether experimental psychologists, terrorism experts, Buddhists, hardheaded business consultants, Greek philosophers, or modern-day gurus, they argue that in our personal lives, and in society at large, it's our constant effort to be happy that is making us miserable. And that there is an alternative path to happiness and success that involves embracing failure, pessimism, insecurity, and uncertainty—the very things we spend our lives trying to avoid. Thought-provoking, counterintuitive, and ultimately uplifting, The Antidote is the intelligent person's guide to understanding the much-misunderstood idea of happiness.

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About the author

Oliver Burkeman is a feature writer for The Guardian. He is a winner of the Foreign Press Association's Young Journalist of the Year award, and has been short-listed for the Orwell Prize. He writes a popular weekly column on psychology, "This Column Will Change Your Life," and has reported from New York, London, and Washington. He lives in New York City.

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Additional Information

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Published on
Nov 13, 2012
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Philosophy / General
Psychology / Applied Psychology
Self-Help / Personal Growth / Happiness
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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This book is for any individual looking to build their confidence and personal strength. It is geared specifically toward young adults that are gaining ground on learning who they are in this busy, fast-paced world. This is a valuable tool (for kids, young adults and their parents, teachers and influential adults) that will provide insight on how to become stronger and more confident. This is not just a quick one-sided read; it’s a collaboration between the reader and the author. Between these entries, is a personal journal to be used to write weekly thoughts and reflections. This creates time for the reader to invest in himself or herself and be more in tune with their personal outlook and growth. The book's material is accompanied by nature photography (also taken by the author) to remind readers that they have similarities with our world, which is continuously growing. While these images are meant to be an inspiring guide to show how marvelous, strong and bright individuals truly are, the true inspirational power is already present. Key themes throughout the book include many references to the words light and dark. Light is merely a reference to explain how the reader can be happy and stay positive. While the darkness can interpret fear and doubt, it can also enable seeing the contrast of how bright one can become. The book is intended to be a reminder or a tool to reveal existing brilliance. It includes positive life guidance, straightforward advice and the author's personal empowerment philosophy stemming from her individual growth.

NEW is an unlimited source of energy that can give us extra strength to face our personal challenges.


‘If there is any pattern in our lives, it is ruled by chance, which causes change, that gives us choices. Every choice is a beginning, no matter how small. Each one is NEW.’


It is never too late for a fresh start. Thinking NEW moves us away from fixed ideas that hold us back. Attitudes breed barriers. With NEW thoughts we break through to explore new opportunities that make a difference. NEW is also a potent cure for prejudice and intolerance.


‘When everything is NEW, anything is possible.’


NEW changes the way we live. For anyone who asks, ‘Where to now?’, this book is packed with refreshingly accessible and helpful ideas. It also holds our interest with a story in which the leading characters recharge their freedom, purpose and vitality by learning to think NEW.


We can only effectively use the power of our free will to take control of our lives if we recognise how much we are being influenced by other people’s ideas, and learn how to see them in a NEW way.


‘How we think is how we live. When our thoughts are free, we are free.’


NEW thoughts give us new strength to handle our fears, frustrations and uncertainties. They show us new ways out of the swamp, banishing our apathy, boosting our confidence and self-respect, clearing up our confusions, getting rid of hang-ups that blind us to real values. 


‘NEW is the music that will change your life.’



A collection of essays from today’s most acclaimed authors—from Cheryl Strayed to Roxane Gay to Jennifer Weiner, Alexander Chee, Nick Hornby, and Jonathan Franzen—on the realities of making a living in the writing world.

In the literary world, the debate around writing and commerce often begs us to take sides: either writers should be paid for everything they do or writers should just pay their dues and count themselves lucky to be published. You should never quit your day job, but your ultimate goal should be to quit your day job. It’s an endless, confusing, and often controversial conversation that, despite our bare-it-all culture, still remains taboo. In Scratch, Manjula Martin has gathered interviews and essays from established and rising authors to confront the age-old question: how do creative people make money?

As contributors including Jonathan Franzen, Cheryl Strayed, Roxane Gay, Nick Hornby, Susan Orlean, Alexander Chee, Daniel Jose Older, Jennifer Weiner, and Yiyun Li candidly and emotionally discuss money, MFA programs, teaching fellowships, finally getting published, and what success really means to them, Scratch honestly addresses the tensions between writing and money, work and life, literature and commerce. The result is an entertaining and inspiring book that helps readers and writers understand what it’s really like to make art in a world that runs on money—and why it matters. Essential reading for aspiring and experienced writers, and for anyone interested in the future of literature, Scratch is the perfect bookshelf companion to On Writing, Never Can Say Goodbye, and MFA vs. NYC.
An innovative guide to living gamefully, based on the program that has already helped nearly half a million people achieve remarkable personal growth

In 2009, internationally renowned game designer Jane McGonigal suffered a severe concussion. Unable to think clearly or work or even get out of bed, she became anxious and depressed, even suicidal. But rather than let herself sink further, she decided to get better by doing what she does best: she turned her recovery process into a resilience-building game. What started as a simple motivational exercise quickly became a set of rules for “post-traumatic growth” that she shared on her blog. These rules led to a digital game and a major research study with the National Institutes of Health. Today nearly half a million people have played SuperBetter to get stronger, happier, and healthier.

But the life-changing ideas behind SuperBetter are much bigger than just one game. In this book, McGonigal reveals a decade’s worth of scientific research into the ways all games—including videogames, sports, and puzzles—change how we respond to stress, challenge, and pain. She explains how we can cultivate new powers of recovery and resilience in everyday life simply by adopting a more “gameful” mind-set. Being gameful means bringing the same psychological strengths we naturally display when we play games—such as optimism, creativity, courage, and determination—to real-world goals.

Drawing on hundreds of studies, McGonigal shows that getting superbetter is as simple as tapping into the three core psychological strengths that games help you build:

   • Your ability to control your attention, and therefore your thoughts and feelings
   • Your power to turn anyone into a potential ally, and to strengthen your existing relationships
   • Your natural capacity to motivate yourself and super-charge your heroic qualities, like willpower, compassion, and determination

SuperBetter contains nearly 100 playful challenges anyone can undertake in order to build these gameful strengths. It includes stories and data from people who have used the SuperBetter method to get stronger in the face of illness, injury, and other major setbacks, as well as to achieve goals like losing weight, running a marathon, and finding a new job.

As inspiring as it is down to earth, and grounded in rigorous research, SuperBetter is a proven game plan for a better life. You’ll never say that something is “just a game” again.

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