Notes On A Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

To read my review of his previous mental health book, Reasons To Stay Alive, click here. In the opening chapter of this wonderful, insightful book, Matt Haig summarises his masterpiece perfectly:

“I had already written about my mental health in Reasons To Stay AliveBut the question this time was a broader one: how can we live in a mad world without ourselves going mad?

After I read this I thought, how could Notes On A Nervous Planet match up to the genius that was Reasons To Stay Alive? I did not know what was coming. I loved this book more than the first. Haig’s discussion was so critical, engaging and interesting – I loved it!

The topics Haig covered were much more varied, ranging from body image to the constant ever changing society we live in.

“Maybe don’t inject yourself with botox. Do some knifeless mental surgery instead.”

“How to own a smartphone and still be a functioning human being:

  1. Don’t feel you always have to be there […]
  2. Turn off notifications […] Take back control.
  3. Have times of the day where you’re not beside your phone […]
  4. Don’t press the home button to check the screen every two minutes for texts […]
  5. Don’t tie your anxiety levels to how much power you have left on your phone.
  6. Don’t swear at [or ] bargain with your phone.
  7. Don’t put your phone by the bed […]
  8. Practice App minimalism […]
  9. Don’t try to multitask […]
  10. Accept uncertainty […] Imagine, I say to myself, if you just looked at your phone, say, five times a day. What catastrophe would occur?”

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Notes On A Nervous Planet is the sort of book I can see myself picking up in the future when I need motivation, a reminder or just a discussion about mental health. Its such a nice book, I can’t describe it better than that. It was everything I wanted it to be. It wasn’t a rant-piece about how society is crap, it’s an exploration of how our addiction to modern technology/society makes us anxious and therefore affecting our quality of life.

“The thing with mental turmoil is that so many things that make you feel better in the short term make you feel worse in the long term. You distract yourself when what you really need is to know yourself.”

Stop taking others declarations’ of what you are as gospel, know yourself.
Don’t replicate the distorted images of our species, be yourself.
If you want to do something, do it, as long as it harms no one else, and enjoy yourself.

Some great quotes about body image (Since the outside really isn’t our top priority after all – What I imagine thinking to myself at age 70):

“Professor Pamela Keel […] concludes that changing the way you look is never going to solve unhappiness about your looks. ‘What is really going to make you happier and healthier?’ she wondered at the start of 2018, presenting her latest research findings. ‘Losing ten pounds or losing harmful attitudes about your body?'”
“‘In Nature’ wrote Alice Walker, ‘nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful.'”

“To be liked by everyone you would have to be the blandest person ever. William Shakespeare is arguably the greatest writer of all time. He has a mediocre 3.7/5 average on Goodreads.”

Since there’s no real plot due to the fact that Notes On A Nervous Planet is non-fiction I can’t recommend this anymore- if you want to read another amazing book on mental health and contemporary society, this is the book for you.

5/5, easily one of the best books I have read this year, or ever…

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