How to Be Serene

Calm has a deep and natural appeal. Most of us long to be more patient, unruffled, at ease and capable of reacting with quiet good humour to life’s setbacks and irritants. But if calm is an ocean, most of us are still in the shallows.

How to Be Serene teaches us the art of responding with greater serenity to moments of emotional unrest. It proposes:

  • Many of the things we become angry about are neither random nor vain.
  • The things we worry about are obscure yet critical signals about what may be amiss in our lives.
  • We should not try to deny or neuter anxiety or rage, but learn to interpret it more skilfully.

Every failure of calm can be analysed in order to reveal something worth knowing about ourselves. Every worry and frustration, every episode of impatience or burst of irritation has wisdom to yield to us, so long as we take the trouble to interrogate it. This class invites us to look more carefully and slowly at our own agitation, with the aim of clarifying our underlying concerns.

How to Be Serene teaches us a toolkit for how to mine our distress for wisdom, and by so doing, to triumph over moments of exasperation and emotional distress.

The teacher

JacobKoolstra afbeelding

Jacob Koolstra is a philosopher, podcast maker and teacher. After having obtained degrees in history and philosophy at the University of Amsterdam, he was one of the first in the Netherlands to develop a course in practical philosophy for secondary vocational education. In addition to being a teacher at The School of Life, he teaches philosophical media literacy and radio & podcasting at the ROC in Amsterdam.

About our classes

Our classes have been designed to give useful insights around the big themes in life. You’ll be challenged to think deeply about the issues that matter most, and provided with a space to share your thoughts, ideas and experiences with other curious, open-minded individuals.

These sessions are designed by experts and taught by members of our faculty. They consist of a mix of lecture, group activity and conversation.

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How to Be Serene