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LATEST ADDITIONS TO THE BOOK OF LIFE

  • How to Cope with Snobbery

    Why are we so worried about our careers? Why do we care so much about our reputations? Partly it’s to do with money of course, but there’s another, more psychological aspect to our fears as well. We worry because we suspect - not wrongly - that the world is full of a frightening sort of person ready to judge us ruthlessly and swiftly: a person we can call a snob. A snob is anyone who takes a relatively small part of us and uses it to come to a15316590696_35e4a8fe95_z
  • Emotional Technology

    It's always exciting to think about what kinds of technology are going to be coming to us in the future. By extrapolating from current trends, we can make some good guesses about some of the astonishing inventions that are going to be around 40 or 50 years from now. Yet, when we think of the technology of the future, too often we restrict our imagination to particular areas: to gadgets that will make us go faster. But some of the truly exciting developments will11038797613_8bf393d021_z
  • Consumer Self-Knowledge

    We are always making consumption decisions: where to go on holiday; which handbag to purchase; which mortgage lender to go to; what style of socks or make of car to buy; what to have for lunch. We don’t normally spell it out, but each decision is a shot at understanding ourselves in some sector of existence, big or small.  The range of our options is inevitably constrained but ideally, in exercising choice, we are promoting our happiness to the greatest possible9972076934_d978c6784b_z
  • Job Monogamy

    We are meant to be monogamous about our work, and yet in any given week, we’re likely to spend a good few moments daydreaming of alternatives. We may be paid to rationalise tax payments across three jurisdictions, assess the commercial viability of nail bars in Poland or help a class of fourteen-year-olds master quadratic equations; but a part of our brain will for a few moments be taken up with the possible pleasures of managing a ski resort, working in medical16260586225_7f45607388_z
  • Broadening the Job Search

    One key thing that can go wrong in our thinking about a career is that we get fixated on a particular kind of job which - for one reason or another - turns out not to be a promising or realistic option. It may be that the job is extremely difficult to secure, it may require long years of preparation or it might be in an industry that has become precarious and therefore denies us good long-term prospects. Here we call it a fixation - rather than simply an interest5534786554_8d71bd4fc1_z
  • On the Origins of Confidence

    We don’t often dwell on this – and may never discuss it with others – but when it comes to responding to the challenges we face around our careers, many of us have voices in our heads. We have a murmuring stream of thoughts inside of our minds that constantly comment on our aspirations and achievements. Sometimes, the voices are warm and encouraging - urging us to find more strength or to give an initiative another go: ‘You’re nearly there, stick with3589798166_26a10caaa1_z
  • Why We Go Cold on Our Partners

    The story of the path to coldness in love is well known. We start off full of affection for one another and then - with time - feelings fade. We start prioritising work; we check our phones while they’re speaking; we don’t especially want to hear how their day went. There’s a popular surface explanation for this emotional frost: that people naturally get bored of one another, in the same way as they get bored with everything else - the gadget that once6076326301_84828f992e_z
  • The Standard Marriage and Its Seven Alternatives

    In so many areas, we’re used nowadays to questioning the status quo - and exploring alternatives. It would be odd, therefore, not to try to perform the same exercise around marriage. Here seem to be our main options for how to arrange our personal lives: 1. Standard Marriage Upsides: Firm Possession of one prized person, Continuity, Resolution, Children Reassured, Economic Stability, Social Prestige. Downsides: Sexual Boredom, Exasperation, Lack of10334803094_6a0cffe84b_z
  • Teaching and Love

    One of the most delightful and thrilling aspects of the early days of a love affair is the sense that our lover likes us not only for our obvious qualities - perhaps our looks, or our professional accomplishments - but also, and far more touchingly, for our less impressive sides: our vulnerabilities, our hesitations, our flaws. Perhaps they are particularly taken by the gap between our two front teeth which, while it wouldn’t impress an orthodontist, charms them3758989473_ac0a16a6ab_b
  • The Normality of Anxiety Attacks

    You’re on a plane on the tarmac and it’s time to shut the doors. Suddenly, the insanity strikes you. You’ll be in a highly explosive sealed aluminium tube, breathing recycled kerosene-infused air, for the next six-and-a-half hours, with no way of getting off or out. The pilot may be exhausted or inwardly distressed. Air traffic control at any of the 40 waymarks along the journey may get momentarily distracted. You’ll be streaming 5 miles above the surface2959530148_03374e4721_z
  • How We Need to Keep Growing Up

    Modern societies are very interested in tracking how children grow up. Twentieth-century psychology, beginning with the work of the Swiss clinician Jean Piaget, pioneered an approach to child development which meticulously identified and labelled every principal stage an average infant might go through on the developmental journey of its earliest years. Thanks to this work, we now know that at six months, a child will be able to sit up on its own, pick up a small17862387679_cc434e478b_z
  • Introspection

    PART I: THE STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS One of the hardest things to describe or to be properly aware of is what it feels like to be inside our own minds: the second-by-second flow of images, words, feelings and sounds inside our heads that philosophers call our ‘consciousness’. All day, this consciousness is filled with a tangle of material that flashes by an observing ‘I’ so fast and in so multi-layered and dense a way, we can generally only arrest and8794440797_70597aa53e_k
  • On Taking Drugs

    It’s easy to have a pretty negative view of drugs: the news is always going on about police raids on drug dealers, kids tripping dangerously at raves, overdoses and rehab. It goes without saying: things can go horrifically wrong around drugs. But our intense awareness of the negatives is in danger of creating a misleadingly narrow view of the subject. Drugs are - at best - serious, dignified, noble and important, and we need more of them in ourPicknell_William_Lamb_The_Opium_Den_1881_Oil_on_Canvas-huge
  • The School of Life: What We Believe

      The School of Life is a global organisation with a simple mission in mind: to increase the amount of Emotional Intelligence in circulation. We are seeking more emotionally intelligent kinds of: - Relationships - Work - Leisure - Culture To further our goals, we undertake a number of activities; we run conferences, shops and classrooms worldwide, consult to businesses, write and publish books, make films, sell products and operate
  • Lego – the Movies

    Lego is a surprisingly useful medium for getting big ideas across: 1. Lego 'Philosophy' 2. Finding the 'right' one 3. No one is normal 4. Keeping going 5.  Why we love disaster news 6. Memento mori 5258089883_5b98ce066c_z
  • Andrea Palladio

    In Europe and the US, the average person spends 84% of their life indoors: that is, inside architecture. Much of the rest of the time we are around buildings, even if we’re not paying them a great deal of attention. Despite this massive exposure, on the whole we’re not – as a culture – very ambitious about what buildings look like. We tend to assume that mostly the buildings we live around won’t be anything special and that there’s nothing to be donePalladio_filtered
  • Charles Dickens  

    Charles Dickens was the most famous writer in the English language during the nineteenth century and he remains one of the best selling authors of all time. He can seem remote: the frock coat, velvet collar, the fishtail beard, bow tie… But he has a lot to say to us today. And that’s because he had a remarkable ambition: he believed writing could play a big role in fixing the problems of the world. Entertainment Dickens didn’t just write.Dickens_Gurney_head
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky

    A good trick, with his name, is to say ‘toy’ in the middle: Dos-toy-ev-ski. He was born 1821 and grew up on the outskirts of Moscow. His family were comfortably off - his father was a successful doctor, though he happened to work at a charitable hospital that provided medical services for the very poor. The family had a house in the hospital complex, so the young Dostoevsky was from the very beginning powerfully exposed to experiences from which otherTrutovsky_004

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