Help!: How to Become Slightly Happier and Get a Bit More Done Paperback – 6 Jan 2011
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Addictive, wise and very funny. Burkeman never takes himself too seriously, but the rest of us should. -- Tim Harford, author of THE UNDERCOVER ECONOMIST Filters the actually-quite-useful from the potentially-very-harmful-nonsense . . . quite inspirational. -- Mark Watson, comedian
About the Author
Oliver Burkeman is a feature writer for the Guardian. He is a winner of the Foreign Press Association's Young Journalist of the Year award, and has been shortlisted for the Orwell Prize and the What The Papers Say Feature Writer of the Year award. He writes a popular weekly column on psychology, This Column Will Change Your Life, and has reported from London, Washington and New York. His work has also appeared in Esquire, Elle, GQ, the Observer and the New Republic. He was born in Liverpool in 1975, grew up in York, and holds a degree in Social and Political Sciences from Cambridge University.
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He makes it very clear where he stands on the topic of 'self-help' books, seeing their introduction and promotion as some of the greatest barriers to happiness. Having read many, many self-help books over the years, I know exactly where he's coming from. He separates the useful from the largely irrelevant and popular ideas which have become commonplace in today's society.
He starts off with a look into some of self-helps biggest cliches, probing their usefulness and asking how they came to be so popular.
He follows this up with a look into emotional life, looking at ways in which we can be happier. This ranges from spending more time outside in nature, keeping a gratitude journal, and living in the present moment (all ideas which I have implemented and find very effective).
Our social life is next on the agenda where he looks at our relationships. He argues that becoming more interesting may have the opposite effect, that people would rather follow the crowd than stand out (And end up doing things which nobody wants to do), and that we shouldn't believe everything we see on Facebook!
The next 3 chapters look at work life (why we should abolish meetings), productivity (how to cure procrastination), and mental life (shall we go with our gut or our brain?).
Chapter 7 on everyday life looks at, among other things, why Sundays are so depressing (one of my personal favourites of the book). He argues that it is a lesson in how NOT to structure our life.
If all of this wasn't enough, he gives us advice on the power of negative thinking, before ending with a look at some unlikely roads to happiness (he even argues that we should give up sometimes)
His writing style ensures the reader is always full pay entertained, with his wit and humour shining through each page. A very easy 5 star's! I can promise that if you choose to buy this book you won't be disappointed.
The author covers all areas of self help; business, time management, organisation in general, how to win friends and influence people and positive thinking. He makes a point that I've often thought myself and that is that it is often the very small things you change about your life which help the most. Big changes take a mammoth amount of effort and commitment but something you can do in a couple of minutes may have a disproportionate effect on your life.
There is a list of self help books at the end arranged according to the chapter headings which readers may find useful but there are even more mentioned throughout the text and notes for each chapter. I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to anyone who either likes self help books or feels they are all a con.
Clever, witty and actually based on real scientific research, much of its findings and advice would initially seem counter-intuitive. But in fact it offers insightful advice particularly on how expectations management and shifting one's perceptions can hop one, indeed, feel slightly happier. It also includes some great observations which I shall be appropriating into my own conversations....not least that those with the highest opinion of their own abilities tend to be the most deluded. Brilliant!