Book: Notes on a Nervous Planet

Notes on a Nervous Planet

By Matt Haig

(296 pages, nonfiction, 2018)

Matt Haig asks the question: How can we live in a mad world without going mad? People are essentially cavemen, he states, and our natural selves haven’t changed for tens of thousands of years. While humans haven’t changed, the world we inhabit changes rapidly and constantly. Human beings are not equipped to keep up with the pace of life today, resulting in unhappiness on multiple levels.

Dissatisfaction, fear, and general overload dominate our culture. The message that happiness lies in the future, when we acquire that illusive something that makes us whole, keeps us dissatisfied. We keep buying and accumulating and are encouraged to do so because happiness hurts the economy. Nothing is ever good enough so we spend and spend hoping to fix all of our inadequacies. One of my favorite quotes from this book is, “If you were already good enough what on earth would you spend your money on?” In reality, none of our stuff makes us happier. Daily doses of fear add to the overall level of stress and uneasiness. News organizations, politicians and advertisers know that fear sells. Social media piles on to the overload of unhappiness and fear, and though we are more connected than ever, we are more alone.

What is to be done in the face of these challenges? Haig makes some simple, life-changing suggestions. Among them are; find good and help it grow, and keep work stress in check. Unplug – limit exposure to the news, get enough sleep, connect with people in person, get out into nature, stop checking your phone. Appreciate yourself as you are, appreciate what you have, and slow down. And my favorite: Read a book. Haig enumerates the value of libraries and reading, as he does in the following ditty:

An ode to social media

When anger trawls the internet,

Looking for a hook;

It’s time to disconnect,

And go and read a book.


I agree completely, Matt Haig!

Lori Roukey

Author: Insider Staff

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