In More Than Happiness, author Antonia Macaro questions the modern perceptions of Buddhism and Stoicism by analysing the foundations which form the two philosophies. Her insights are reiterated throughout the book that you don’t need to be a radical believer in order to adopt characteristics which will personally enrich your life, as they can be as miniscule as deep breathing.
By critiquing the philosophical frameworks she presents the practical wisdom from each religion, in comparison to the ethereal speculations of myths and legends. This highlights how we can still find time to adopt religious practices in our busy schedules, without having to worry about missing a religious gathering.
She concludes that ethics are at the heart of both, and having clear insight into yourself is extremely beneficial for your mental wellbeing. Being aware of our perspective on life, work, family, love, and death are an integral part of being comfortable in who we are as people. Macaro highlights honest truths that we, as humans, fail to see until we’re reminded that we often make mistakes and that it is a part of our growth as individuals.
Presented in an essay-like format, Macaro breaks down the theories and philosophies with ease into clear structures. For a reader who may be new to these concepts, this is a great way to avoid confusion. This is by no means a self-help book but, rather, a concise guide which illustrates what specific terms and philosophies mean, and how we can combine them into this modern age. It is a critical and practical look at what we can learn from ancient wisdom.
The book doesn’t teach Buddhism and Stoicism, but rather discusses its theories, and how we can adapt those into our everyday lives: not by becoming monks or hardcore religious followers, but by small changes such as meditations and becoming more self-aware.
Macaro discusses how the universe has plans for everyone which are ultimately out of our control, how to harness control over our emotions, and discard attachment to anything material. She states: “it’s not by pursuing but by abandoning our desires that real satisfaction can be found”.
Reviewed by Phoebe Christofi
Rating out of 10: 8
Distributed by: Allen and Unwin
Released: February 2018
RRP: $24.99 hardcover