Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Notes on a Nervous Planet, Matt Haig

Following on from the monumental success of Reasons to Stay Alive, Haig turns his attention to non-fiction once more with Notes on a Nervous Planet. Using his own experiences as the base for his advice he talks us through the negative impact of modern life on our collective mental health and how we can try to alleviate some of the pressure.

Our obsession with and reliance on our smartphones is a recurring theme. The advice? Turn off all notifications, set aside time to go online but don’t keep checking it every five minutes. In this world that demands us to be available at all times it is OK to carve out some time for yourself. It may seem obvious that we spend too much time online, but it is nonetheless a needed reminder. 

This is not to say that Haig is against technology, but that the world we now live in has developed beyond one where humans can cope with all the choice and demands on our time. He recommends spending actual physical time with those we care about, stepping outside and looking at the sky, and generally going back to what makes us human.

He does not dole out advice as some flawless power, admitting to struggling to step away from Twitter and not falling into negativity following people who disagree with his world view. Yet his reminder to not compare your worst moments to the best of somebody else’s is one we would all do well to heed next time we find ourselves scrolling through the curated lives of others.

He writes also of how consumerism makes us feel constantly that we are lacking. If we could just achieve the next promotion, buy the latest phone, that we will be happy. Of course, the benefits these give are only transitory. We cannot spend our lives hoping for the next step that will surely make us happy only to find when we get there that we desire our next hit of gratification.

A conversational, bite-sized book designed to be consumed in short snaps for the Google generation. Wise and timely, this is the wake up call the world needs.

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