US author, social commentator and activist, Barbara Ehrenreich, likes to tell it as it is. In this secular sermon she calls for a new commitment to realism. Far from making us happier, she argues that undue optimism and a fear of giving bad news sowed the seeds for the banking crisis – and that an insistence on being cheerful actually leads toward a lonely focus inwards and to political apathy.

Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of fourteen best-selling books. Smile or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled American and the World. She lives in Virginia, USA

This secular sermon took place at Conway Hall, London on 10 January 2010.

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