Book Review

A Nervous Planet

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There is a lot of stuff in this world, in our lives.

Too many books.

Too many boxsets.

Too many News articles to have an opinion about.

We’re constantly having to pick and the pressure is on to get it right. We need to have the right car, the right house, the right clothes. We couldn’t possibly manage without the latest kitchen gadgets, the latest digital service, the latest smart phone. We must also BE right. The right size, the right filter, fighting for the right cause.

If only we could get it all right we’d finally be happy. Ticking all the boxes is the advertised route to happiness. But the goal posts are always moving, so we always feel like we need to keep reaching.

We’re encouraged to believe what we already have isn’t enough, what we already are isn’t enough. That we’re always a work in progress. This is all made harder by the perfect lives that everyone else is showing us online. It’s only me that isn’t good enough.

What are we to do about it? We can’t go back to a time without technology, without supermarkets, without advertising and honestly we wouldn’t want to. (Well, maybe the advertising!) Used for our own benefit these advances make life so much easier. We do need to become more aware of how we react to and interact with this progress. We need to be aware that the darker side of progress is making us feel like we’re never good enough and then diagnosing us as faulty humans with anxiety disorders.

Once we have awareness of the situation we can stop going along with it, we do not have to be complicit. We can turn off notifications on all the tech, stop watching 24 hours news, stop believing all the filters we see on Instagram. We can get more sleep, drink more water, meditate. We can read, walk outside, talk to people will love. We can slow down, accept ourselves, be perfectly imperfect humans.
We can edit our lives. We don’t need more, we need less. Less stuff, less stress, less speed.

When I first wrote this article back in 2020 I wrote:

I still look at my phone too much, it sometimes makes me deaf to the real world. I see adverts and want the stuff. I want a new car for no good reason. I watch diet programs on TV and fret about not being acceptable in the world. I worry that if I stop giving a shit about some of these things that I’ll get left behind or people will think that I’m odd – I’ve written before about not giving a fuck – I’m still working on it.

Some of that is still true. I still have an issue with my phone and social media. I pick up my phone without thinking in any quiet moments. I’ve stopped watching diet programs, for me they are part of the problem. I did stop giving a shit about many of these things and some people did think I was odd, and many of them I left to go their own way. I’m often still give far too many fucks to the wrong things, but I’m slowly finding my groove.

This post was inspired by reading the book “Notes On A Nervous Planet”, which summarises and explores these thoughts nicely. Matt Haig explores of all things that made him, and a lot of the rest of us, anxious in today’s world. From arguing with strangers on social Media, News headlines, supermarkets and shopping centres to adverts, an obsession with progress, narrow perceptions of beauty and life overload.

Not only is this book insightful and relatable, its light, witty and a lovely to read. Here’s an amazon link if you fancy giving it a go.

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