Self-help, with a twist
Can you figure out the Secret to Everything before this unconventional self-help book reveals it? With insight from philosophy, religion, science, and more, a psychiatrist and philosopher shares deep wisdom and practical advice throughout — while saving the underlying secret for the end. —BookBub
The Secret to Everything has been known to mystics and scholars for centuries and millennia, and, today, is increasingly being confirmed by both philosophy and science. Socrates certainly knew it, as did the Buddha, and more recently, Albert Einstein, Carl Jung, and Emily Dickinson. It is a secret not because it is hidden as such, but because it is so difficult to see, running counter to so many of our most basic assumptions.
Each of the book’s ten chapters exposes a particular aspect and practical application of the secret, while also keeping it carefully under wraps. On the surface, the chapters may seem to have little in common, but they are all built around the same, deep wisdom. Your challenge, as you read, is to find the common thread that runs through all the chapters. The secret is discussed at the end, but don’t peek or you’ll spoil the fun!
★★★★★ [Neel Burton] draws from religion, philosophy, art, and science… Now, don’t misunderstand me: this doesn’t feel like reading a heavy text. It isn’t like that at all, it’s highly accessible while still being thought-provoking. Each chapter ends with practical steps about how to incorporate the chapter’s theme into your life. Hint: If you notice the parallels between the action points in each chapter, you will clue in on the Secret. And no, I won’t be revealing that here. You need to read the book! —Jamie Bee, Amazon.com Top 50 Reviewer
No other work of inspirational or self-help literature contains the sentence, ‘Let me paint you a picture of a Dionysian orgy.’ If another somehow did, it’s difficult to imagine its author justifying its inclusion so adeptly, or then challenging readers to acknowledge and embrace what Carl Jung called our ‘shadow’. Burton’s advice and conclusions are original even when drawn from the best-known writing of the world’s most famous thinkers… —The BookLife Prize
Burton offers gentle guidance for creating one’s personal credo that retains the possibility of a fearless, spontaneous experience of the unexpected. —The US Review of Books
Burton is never short of an interesting and sharp judgment. —Prof Peter Toohey, Psychology Today
Burton’s writing blends deep knowledge of his subject with lively anecdote and a genuine concern for how we might draw on the insights of psychology and philosophy to live a better life. Highly recommended! —Gareth Southwell, philosopher and writer
About the author
Dr Neel Burton is a psychiatrist, philosopher, and wine-lover who lives and teaches in Oxford, England. He is a Fellow of Green-Templeton College in the University of Oxford, and the recipient of the Society of Authors’ Richard Asher Prize, the British Medical Association’s Young Authors’ Award, the Medical Journalists’ Association Open Book Award, and a Best in the World Gourmand Award. His work has featured in the likes of Aeon, the Spectator, and the Times, and been translated into several languages.
1. How to see
2. How to dream
3. How to be religious
4. How to be wise
5. How to be fearless
6. How to live
7. How to love
8. How to win
9. How to party
10. How to think
Conclusion: The Secret to Everything
How to live more and suffer less
A few years back, I wrote a self-help book for people with low mood in which I argued that the journey out of depression is one of learning: learning about oneself, of course, but also learning life skills such as managing stress and coping with bad news, and, above all, learning to rediscover the little things that make life worth living and loving. I’m convinced that the experience of depression can open us out onto a richer and brighter future—whence the title of that book, Growing from Depression.
As the months rolled on and I heard back from readers and their relatives and carers, it became increasingly clear to me that everybody, and not just people with low mood, could benefit from this kind of learning and growing approach. After all, why wait until depression hits us to take action? If we start now, if we pre-empt it, maybe we can avoid depression altogether, and enjoy the benefits without also having to suffer the costs.
Separately, I also realized something else, namely, that there is a deep current running through all my work, in books like Hide and Seek, Heaven and Hell, and Hypersanity. On the surface, these books appear to be about a particular topic—respectively, self-deception, the emotions, and thinking skills—but underneath they all share a common theme and common thrust: how to live more and suffer less.
I began to look at my writing from this new ‘self-help’ perspective, more as a unified body than a collection of separate titles, and, as I did, I noticed something else… Curiously, the same trope kept on resurfacing again and again all throughout my work, the same idea, but each time in a different context and a different form—almost as if, for all those years, I had been trying to tell myself something of the utmost importance.
These three insights began to dance together in the vestibule of my mind, until, one day, I thought: Well, why not write something more focused and practical, and build it around that central, recurring idea? The title, The Secret to Everything: How to Live More and Suffer Less, immediately jumped out, with the ‘secret’ being none other than the idea itself, that startling truth that I had been trying for so long to tell myself.
This almighty secret is by no means original to me. It has been known to mystics and scholars for centuries and millennia, and, today, is increasingly being confirmed by both philosophy and science. Socrates certainly knew it, as did the Buddha, and more recently, Albert Einstein, Carl Jung, and Emily Dickinson. It is a secret not because it is hidden as such, but because it is so difficult to see, running counter to so many of our most basic assumptions.
This book leans on my other work but also includes a lot of new material. Each of the book’s ten chapters exposes a particular aspect and practical application of the secret, while also keeping it carefully under wraps. On the surface, the chapters may seem to have little in common, but they are all built around the same, universal wisdom.
Your challenge, as you read, is to unravel the secret, to find the common thread that runs through all the chapters. The secret is discussed at the end, but don’t peek or you’ll spoil the fun.
I hope you enjoy the quest!