This is a self-help book for people who scoff at self-help books. A guide through complex issues for people who claim they don’t need a guide. It’s funny, clever and only slightly pretentious. In short: what popsci should be like.
Paul Watzlawick was an Austrian psychologist whose main field was human interaction/communication and its complexities. He introduces his theories in this book as well, how we communicate on two planes for example, one object based and one relationship based and how it makes clear communication difficult and a source of endless grief. He also touches issues like self-image, life goals and how to cope with trauma and depression. It’s all very tongue-in-cheek of course, it’s not an actual guide on how to apply certain psychological methods to your mental state and it reads more like a wickedly funny manifesto on how to accept happiness. There are still very good tips in there that at least make you think about why you act that way, when you act that way.
For me the chapters on how we’re afraid of arriving really hit home, how we avoid completing a task in fear of how it will be judged or seen. Yes, it may be better to travel hopefully than to arrive sometimes, but arrive we must and damn, we all need to get out of our weird headspaces sometimes and into real life changes.
Watzlawick was a skilled writer, as mentioned before, the book reads like a funny and touching manifesto, not so much like a non-fiction book and the little anecdotes he sprinkles throughout and the references to literature not only explain his points perfectly, they also make you feel quite smart for understanding them, which, honestly, is something we all need to feel ever so often.
I read the original German version, I’m not sure how good the translation is, but if you find this at some university book sale etc., check it out, it’s worth the read.