Daryl Jace

Teacher, Blogger, Poker player.

Book Review: The Antidote: Happiness for people who can't stand positive thinking

I just read this book called 'The Antidote: Happiness for people who can't stand positive thinking' and it's one of the best books I've ever read. It's about the negative approach and/or  the rational/logical approach to happiness. It talks about buddhism, stoicism, the self, positivity, goal setting (the downsides of it), and thinking about death.

 

Stoicism was really interesting, it's about looking at problems/fears/anger (well anything really) from a rational/objective POV. When something goes wrong it says to ask yourself objectively how bad it is. For example what did I lose? How much will this affect me? How bad is what happened compared to the ways it could've gone better/worse? Are my fears really rational? What is likely to happen if I face my fears? 

 

I tried this technique recently after I became really frustrated while trying for 5 minutes to fit a something in my car. I asked myself how bad is what's happening to me, what am I losing? I realized what I lost so far was about 5 minutes and a little bit of energy, upon realizing this I realized how silly my reaction was. I calmed down and tried fitting it in the back seat, nope. Then I took the stroller out of the trunk and tried again, and it still wouldn't fit because I was just barely unable to close the trunk. I'd normally be so pissed at this point that i'd be mad for the next hour about it but remembering how insignificant this was made me really calm. I finally fit it in and was feeling really good about what I done, until I dropped the stroller on my foot  and started cussing and screaming about as loud as I could. I wasn't upset for too long though after realizing how hilarious it all actually was.

 

Buddhism was interesting too, I'll try and summarize what it's about but its kind of confusing and contradictory at times (either that or idk wtf I'm talking about... ya its probably the latter). Apparently there isn't supposed to be a goal/point in doing meditation, it's supposed to be like dancing, you do it because u enjoy it. This was shocking to me, I always thought buddhism was about getting to a relaxed/calm state.

 

The way you're supposed to do it was surprising to me as well. You're supposed to try to not identify with your thoughts, to view them just as if you were a witness. To view your mental states like the you view the weather, a transient things that comes and goes. Doing this leads to an understanding of your mind, why you do what you do and the not identifying with your thoughts allows you to not be as controlled by them. You also are supposed to gently bring back your focus on your breath when you see your mind wander. The gentle move back towards your breath is a practice of putting yourself back in the present and the more you practice this the longer you can stay in this state. All of this probably seems contradictory to you, I'm telling you meditation isn't about reaching any goal but then i'm telling you what meditation is supposed to be about. I think the point might be that if you have these goals in mind while meditating you will not achieve them.

 

I'll maybe write a review on the other parts but if you're interested in this stuff you should just read the book because I probably just butchered the fuck out of it. Here's a guided meditation by Alan Watts that I really enjoy (It's a little weird at some points tho) 

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