The James Altucher Show

Ep 122: The Positive Power of Negative Thinking with Oliver Burkeman


My guest today, author Oliver Burkeman, has a strong opinion on the power of positive thinking: he can't stand it. In his book, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking,Oliver writes in a humorous and thoughtful way about how self-help books are ineffective. Oliver believes we should coexist with both our positive and negative thoughts, be attached to neither, and take the actions we need to take without giving into emotions. His approach is partly Stoic: he believes that telling people that everything will work out doesn't replenish their optimism tanks. He also believes it can be paralyzing for people to think that whatever success they are seeking must be realized. We talk a bit in-depth about one of Oliver's favorite quotes from Shoma Morita: "Give up on yourself. Begin taking action now, while being neurotic or imperfect, or a procrastinator or unhealthy or lazy or any other label by which you inaccurately describe yourself. Go ahead and be the best imperfect person you can be and get started on those things you want to accomplish before you die." Oliver and I discuss some of the books we enjoy like: Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment byEckhart Tolle, and The Art of Taking Action by GreggKrech, among others. We also take a look at the self-help books we don't find helpful. Oliver's book is an insightful and creative look at the negativity of positive thinking. Links and resources mentioned in the show: Oliver Burkeman's website  Oliver's book, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking Susan Jeffers' book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway A Guide to Spiritual EnlightenmentbyEckhart Tolle   The Art of Taking Actionby GreggKrech