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  • Twenty Ideas on Marriage

    Our society typically devotes huge attention to the start of a marriage - and particularly to the actual wedding ceremony. We’re correct that a great deal of thought is needed somewhere. But it’s the continuation of marriage that is - of course - the real challenge and here we are too often left on our own. This essay is The School of Life’s guide to the rest of a life together, containing twenty central ideas on how to make a relationship work over decades
  • How Parents Get in the Way of our Career Plans

    For most of human history, what we did for a living was decided for us by our families. We would either directly copy what our parents did, or else we would reverentially accept their suggestions for what we might do.   Only for around the last 200 years have we been choosing jobs for ourselves - and we’re still at the dawn of learning some of the complexities involved.   On the surface, most families claim to have no interest in their
  • On Still Being a Virgin

    When the sexual revolution began in the 1960s, there was a standard understanding of what should happen: ‘sexual liberation’ would mean that people would be freed to have more of the sort of sex they really liked, that is, with more partners and with less embarrassment. But what was overlooked is that this kind of sexual liberation might, along the way, create its own restrictions, taboos and, so to speak, varieties of imprisonment. The people targeted would
  • Against Obscurity

      We might expect that humans would display a powerful reflex taste for simple over obscure explanations. Yet in many areas of intellectual and psychological life, we observe a stranger, more unexpected phenomenon: a marked prejudice in favour of abstruseness, density, enigma and the esoteric. Explanations that come close to incomprehensible, that provoke puzzlement, that employ rare words and display no mercy for the reader’s stamina can secure mighty
  • In Praise of Bias

    A presumption among many thoughtful people is that the great enemy of a good life and a decent world is something called ‘bias’.   By bias, people have come to understand a twisting of the facts towards dark and entirely nefarious ends. According to this interpretation, bias is invariably and necessarily bad. In some quarters, the word has simply grown synonymous with evil. In order to hate bias so much, one has to love the idea of something
  • The Art of Listening

    Many of us probably have a nagging feeling that we don’t listen enough to other people. Here we’re not going to make the guilt worse by telling you that listening is a good thing, worthy but in fact rather dull. We’re going to show you that listening to others is first and foremost an interesting thing to do, something that could be as pleasurable for you as it is for your speaking companion. And as a result, we try to minimise how much we’refun2

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