Friday Blog Aug 31 – Kim goes to Edinburgh

from Kim Miller

The Happiness Refuseniks

On 21 August I went to see the Happiness Refuseniks talk at the Edinburgh Book Festival. The event involved two authors who reject positive thinking and are taking a new look at the science of happiness.

Oliver Burkeman from The Guardian has written The Antidote (subtitled happiness for people who can’t stand positive thinking) and Roman Krznaric has written The Wonderbox: Curious histories of how to live.

The Antidote jacketOliver Burkeman talked about embracing insecurity and his own personal attempts to do this. He gave himself the awkward task of talking out loud on the London Underground by announcing stations to other passengers. Of course he dreaded the thought of doing this but once he had done it he realised it wasn’t such a big deal and it wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be. No one laughed at him and no one stabbed him.

His book deals with different theories of ways to happiness and includes chapters such as:

  •  the Stoic art of confronting the worst case scenario
  • a Buddhist guide to not thinking positively
  • the case for embracing your errors

The Antidote made me realise that there is an alternative, ‘negative path’ to happiness and success that involves embracing failure, pessimism, insecurity and uncertainty — the very things we spend our lives trying to avoid. It gave me some practical tips about how to deal with frustrating supermarket queues, bad drivers and annoying colleagues. You’ll have to read the book to find the solutions…

Roman Krznaric’s book, The Wonderbox looks at happiness from a The Wonder Box jackethistorical perspective to see what we can learn from the past. One chapter discusses the ancient Greeks’ view of romantic happiness and their six different types of love. He believes we should not take such a narrow view of romantic love and instead should realise all the different types of love we may already have in our life, such as friendship, playful love and mature, pragmatic love.

During his talk, he encouraged the audience to think about how they could enrich their lives by introducing more of these different types of love. Surprisingly, he then made the audience turn around and talk about types of love to the person sitting next to them. Certainly awkward but it made a good icebreaker!

Report from Kim Miller, SQA book group and Cosy Mystery Group


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