The Antidote

I’ve always been a massive fiction reader – Kate Atkinson, Alan Bradley, Austin, Huxley, Ruth Rendell, Elizabeth George, Lisa Jewell, Liane Moriarty, Anita Shreve, David Mitchell, Peter Carey (just looked at my bookshelves now) – so it is a huge surprise to me to look at this blog and see mostly non-fiction books.

I wonder if it is because I don’t want to get all “book club” and start reviewing books? I just like noting down interesting ideas I’ve read in books – and those ideas mostly come from non-fiction.

Anyway, a recent read was The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman.

Ideas that resonated with me from this book:

  • What would Seneca do?” – Oliver discusses stoicism and the idea that “It is essential to grasp a distinction here between acceptance and resignation: using your powers of reason to stop being disturbed by a situation doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to change it.
    • I love the bit where he deliberately talks out loud on the tube to face his fears. I love the idea of this, but I don’t know if I could actually do it.
  • The storm before the calm” – He attends a week long meditation retreat. I long to do this. But it does sound scary.
  • “Goal crazy” – How pursuing a single goal (being rich) at the expense of multiple goals/a well-rounded life makes you miserable.
  • “The safety catch”– the difference between the “theatre of safety” (airport security) and things that really will keep you safe (surveillance of terrorist groups).
    • Often the worrying is worse than the reality.
  • “Memento Mori”.

Imagine you are eighty years old… then complete the sentences:

I wish I’d spent more time on….

I wish I’d spent less time on….

This turns out to be a surprisingly effective way to achieve mortality awareness in short order. Things fall into place. It becomes far easier to follow Lauren Tillinghast’s advice – to figure out what, specifically, you might do in order to focus on life’s flavours, so as to improve your c

I just want to bookmark it, highlight it and practice so much of this book.

Might have to read it again.