Meandering with a purpose

A little gem amidst the hysterical, positive thinking, self-help literature.

The basic premise of the book is that the effort to try to feel happy is often precisely the thing that makes us miserable. Some of us probably know this to be true, and yet we can’t help ourselves. We want to feel secure. Alas, as individuals, we have very little control over the the universe. Yet, in order to defend ourselves, we build up “fortifications” of the ego. But it is those very fortifications that create the feeling of insecurity: because building a fort means isolating oneself. The deep truth is that insecurity is another word for life.

There are no one-size fits all self-help tricks or ten points plans that deliver happiness. Life and therefore happiness, is complicated. It can and will go wrong. You preparation for hard times will define your level of happiness.There’s convincing evidence that spending time and energy thinking about how well things could go, actually reduces most people’s motivation to achieve them.

This usually means stress.
When feeling (mildly) stressed, just try the following. Ask yourself the question: do I have a problem now? It will do wonders. At least it does to me.

The good news is that there’s an antidote. There are other ways of reaching happiness. Embrace the things that you try to escape. As those familiar with the stoics already know: embracing, instead of fighting, negative emotions will make one happier.

Please read the whole thing, as the book is full of delightful research, insightful encounters and essential debunking of quasi-truths and biases.

Any self help doctor, looking to really help his patient should prescribe a good shot of this well written, funny and balanced antidote. At least once a year, preferably on a monthly basis.

Book

Guardian review

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