What do we want from art? A couple of weeks ago I was in
Madrid with my wife, visiting the city for the first time.
Like all committed culture vultures, we were determined to
tackle as many museums and galleries as we possibly...
A US-based psychologist, Kip Williams, was strolling through
a park when a mis-thrown Frisbee caught him on the back of
his head. Unhurt, he picked it up and threw it back to one
of the players. They threw it back to him. Briefly...
Now that the sun is finally out and spring seems to be
bursting forth like pent-up religious fervour, I feel a huge
desire to start afresh, and turn myself into something new.
I’ve been treading water too long, unable to move on...
A few years ago I started consciously watching the first
thing that came to mind as I awoke each morning.
More often than not what would appear during those first few
hazy moments was “The List”. The curtains I must
remember to fix, the...
What would you do if money was no object? How would you
really enjoy spending your life? Watch this inspiring
short film narrated by the British philosopher Alan Watts on
the topic of defining your life by what you enjoy doing.
People run for different reasons. Health, appearance, social
opportunities, the temporary postponement of death, are all
fairly standard ones. What suddenly propelled me into a life
of running was the activities of some particularly rapacious
canines, who would eat my house and all of...
The final principle of successful optimists is easy to say
and hard to do. It is simply this: try to kick out your
It’s hard to do because cynicism has become embedded in
our society and is even held up as wisdom. But...
In December 1817, the poet John Keats, then twenty-two years
old, went to see the annual Christmas pantomime at the
Theatre Royal, in London’s Drury Lane. Also in attendance
was his friend, the critic Charles Wentworth Dilke, and as
they strolled home, the two...
The legendary computer engineer Howard H. Aitken once
advised, “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas.
If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down
Successful optimists understand that the beginning of many
endeavours involves being told you’re mad, bad...
Increasingly we’re living and working by ourselves. How
should we prepare for the pleasures and pains of our greater
solitariness? The lone figures in the paintings by the 19th
Century Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershoi seem uncertain.
Does the solitary man or woman yearn for...
The Virtues Project comes as a response to the wave of
discussion and feedback that followed the publication of my
book, Religion for Atheists, and a growing sense that being
virtuous has become a strange and depressing notion, while
wickedness and evil bask in a...