by Sarah Scire Oliver Burkeman wants you to stop trying to be happy. In his wry, wide-ranging book The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, Burkeman challenges the “cult of optimism” and writes that “it is our constant efforts to eliminate the negative—insecurity, uncertainty, failure, or sadness—that is what causes us to feel so insecure, anxious, uncertain, or unhappy.” To celebrate the book’s stateside publication, the award-winning journalist agreed to answer a few questions about his thought-provoking, often counterintuitive approach to achieving happiness. Sarah Scire: One of the book’s first chapters begins with you conducting an experiment in confronting the worst-case scenario. What did you learn—and when else have you used this method? (I’m thinking here of your tweet about preparing for the All Things Considered interview.)
Misha Glouberman is the co-author of The Chairs Are Where the People Go: How to Live, Work, and Play in the City. He is a is a performer, facilitator, and artist who lives in Toronto. As told to Sheila Heti. I taught a class on happiness to my friends, and one thing that came up was that the topic was seen as sort of trivial. I found that really weird. It was seen as some sort of sickness of Western consumerist individualism. Happiness seems to me the most untrivial thing to talk about or think about. I think it’s really worthy of investigation. Pretty much everything that people do, in one way or another, is done in the interest of trying to be happy. So it doesn’t seem like a bad idea to spend a bit of one’s time thinking about it.