Sometimes, books come into your life at the right time. They answer a need you have in your psyche and helps you unravel some of the ‘stuff’ that is going on in your head. Notes On A Nervous Planet by Matt Haig is that book for me.
People often come across Haig’s books as either a fiction or non-fiction reader. For me, it was as a fiction fan, and I didn’t really know too much about him as an author. However, this book title kept appearing around me. Flyers from bookshops, conversations with friends, mentioned on radio shows! It was like the nervous planet he discusses was trying to tell me something!
At the time I bought Notes On A Nervous Planet I was feeling agitated; aware I was spending far too much time on social media, and not quite feeling myself. Nowhere near a personal crisis, but a bit discombobulated. So, I welcomed this book with open arms but wasn’t quite sure what it would bring me. Is it personal development, self-help, autobiographical or philosophical, I wondered?
My answer? It covers it all!
Haig is very honest and open about his journey with anxiety and depression (which I believe he also covered in Reasons To Stay Alive) and reflects on how the up-tempo nature of modern society is playing havoc with mental health. In fact, the book’s blurb is “What if the way we live was engineered to make us unhappy? And what if there was something we could do about it?”
So, what can we do about it?
Notes On A Nervous Planet really makes you sit and think about how much control we are in of our own lives. Haig reflects on his observations that the world is changing at a phenomenal rate; culture and technology are massively intertwined and the 24-7 connective nature it brings is making us, as human beings, nervous. Our natural, tribal need for community, communication, and belonging is driving us to the point of distraction, as we struggle to switch off.
We must be aware, that the world is what it is. There is very little we can do to stop the way the world is changing, but we can change our reaction to it! The key takeaways are:
- Everyone has mental health
It is essential that we care for it the same way we care about our physical health and stop the taboo, assumptions and fear factors associated with it!
- Happiness is relative
We need to stop comparing what we think we should have, do or be with other’s expectations, get clear on what YOU want, and stick to making that happen.
- The importance of Sleep
There seems to be a badge of honour, for some, around how little sleep we get. That, combined with a roaring trade in techniques, tools, and aids to actually make us sleep, is leaving us too stressed to sleep. It’s no surprise that we are so worried.
- The scientific need to disconnect
We all hear the advice to unplug, but there is well-documented evidence that the constant connections are rewiring our brains, increasing our flight or fight settings and making us, well addicted to immediate responses.
Whilst these takeaways from the books sound like common sense, and now won’t be the first time you have heard them, Notes On A Nervous Planet presents a positive, uplifting and funny worldview, that tells us it isn’t too late to take control of our happiness.
What do you think about the book? Let me know what you will be applying to your life?
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Read the previous book reviews here