The School of Life Conference

Our next Conference is in Barcelona from 20-22 March 2020

Carrer Josep Maria Lladó, 3, 08035
Barcelona, Spain

Click here to book now.

What is The School of Life Conference

The School of Life Conference is a three-day event on the most important ideas we teach; it aims to transform lives. It is designed to equip participants with a toolkit of Emotional Skills that can revolutionise relationships, careers and self-understanding.

Please note that The School of Life Conference is taught in English.


'Coming together in a space and pondering makes people incredibly open and truly felt like a shared experience. The general nature and tone of the content feels like both intellectual nourishment and personal exploration - and getting away to another city to have those conversations makes them resonate even more, since people are out of their daily routines and there on common ground.'

Participant, The School of Life Conference Lisbon, October 2017

'I left with a multitude of new tools and ideas to experiment with in my life.  I am so grateful to TSOL for this conference and feel encouraged by connecting with such a thoughtful and delightful community.  THANK YOU!'

Participant, The School of Life Conference Lisbon, October 2017

"I genuinely loved every minute of it and would be happy to relive it; it was magical."

"The intelligence that is brought through The School of Life is enlivening and awakening." 

"It's been truly a wonderful experience and thank you for all involved!" 

"You changed my life. You gave me the tools to be a better person. I'm eternally grateful."

 "I feel like I just experienced something that I will remember for the rest of my life and I'm so grateful for that. Thank you!"

Participants, The School of Life Conference San Francisco, March 2018

What to Expect

Our conference is hugely memorable and distinctive. For a start, you are not being taught in entirely standard ways. The experts on stage don’t merely lecture to a passive audience; they invite almost continuous interaction, getting participants to look inside themselves, to complete a variety of psychological exercises and to share their stories with others.

Talks are peppered with films, pieces of music and visual prompts; all the senses are properly stimulated to keep the mind fresh and receptive. Furthermore, there is an enormous emphasis on friendship. We are not merely seated quietly on our own, isolated from other participants. We are guided to mingle, form smaller and larger groups and reveal meaningful things to one another. It is impossible to leave after three days without having made quite a few firm friends.

Conference Course Leaders

The Conference, led by The School of Life founder Alain de Botton together with leading faculty from our London branch, takes participants through a three-day immersive experience. 

Programme Details

Day 1 Friday Emotional Education, Self-Knowledge, Sociability  

We begin with a look at what emotional intelligence is, how it can be taught – and what we can acquire of it in the days ahead. We consider our particular position in history: living in an age obsessed with romantic fulfilment and career success – and we propose that The School of Life has a distinctive set of answers to the disappointments and dreams of our time.

We define ourselves as an organisation suspicious of that tricky word ‘happiness’, but profoundly interested in ‘fulfilment’, a richer term that is more alive to the real complexities of existence.

We identify that a core task of emotional intelligence is to achieve self-knowledge. To this end, we take you on a journey around your own mind, paying particular attention to the past and its subterranean influence on the present.

Next we consider sociability. We admit to our longing for sincere connection with others, but also to the challenges of finding this.  We learn about the art of good vulnerability, about ways to listen to others fruitfully and how to overcome barriers to intimacy. We teach strategies that help remove excessive superficial contact from our lives, and put all these into practice at a social event with our newfound acquaintances to close the day.


Day 2 Saturday Morning Relationships - Choosing Partners, Relationship Skills, Emotional Maturity

On our second day we study why we have the ‘types’ we do – and how our early experiences give us scripts of how and whom we can love. We learn that there are always more possible partners than we initially believe and that we can broaden our unconscious scripts of whom we can love by understanding our past more clearly.

We also look at the techniques that can make relationships work in the long term. The School of Life firmly believes that love is ultimately a skill, not an emotion. We learn about how to communicate, how not to sulk, how to allow others to get close to us, how to understand and explain our distinctive way of feeling loved, how to forgive and be forgiven, how to negotiate conflicts through humour and how to deal with sexual conflicts and awkward desires.

We don’t evade the darker side of love. We look at the notion of good and bad compromises and usefully complicate the way we are looking at the choices before us.

We’re reminded that many of the answers we need are within us already, waiting for the correct tool to extract them.


Day 2 Saturday Afternoon Work, Confidence, Failure 

After a convivial lunch, we return to consider our relationship to our working lives. Unlike other generations, where work was accepted as a necessary source of misery, today we often want our work to deliver fulfilment, an expansion of our personalities and meaning. Not only does our psychological engagement matter, but our level of psychological skill does as well. Nowadays, we are primarily working with our minds, and our emotional state matters greatly to our level of motivation and success.

Companies are therefore increasingly spending a lot of time, effort, and money to make sure that the workplace feels supportive, that people are psychologically in the right frame of mind. We consider that the workplace is an inherently emotional area, where maturity is needed as much as - if not more than - the technical skills we're more commonly taught.

We then pay particular attention to the idea of confidence. The difference between success and failure often hangs on this almost humiliatingly small and elusive concept that standard education never touches. We spend vast amounts of time acquiring confidence in narrow professional fields, but we overlook the primordial need to acquire a freer ranging variety of confidence which can serve us across a range of tasks in professional, but also in our personal life.


Day 3 Sunday Culture, Calm, Meaning & Happiness 

Calm has a natural and deep 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 we are often still only at the very beginning of knowing how to be calm. This morning will give us a range of the most effective answers.

Next we consider meaning. A meaningful life is close to, but at points importantly different from, a happy life. It draws upon and exercises our higher capacities, for example, tenderness, care, connection, self-understanding, sympathy, intelligence and creativity. We investigate how to orientate our lives in a more meaningful direction.

In our final hours together, we go back over the journey we have been on and recap its most fundamental lessons.



Friday 4 October

14.00 Doors Open & Welcome

15.00 Introduction, The Problems of Our Minds, Solutions to Self-Knowledge

17.00 Break

17.30 Sociability

19.15 Close & Drinks Reception


Saturday 5 October

9.00 Doors open

9.30 Relationships

11.00 Break

11.30 Relationships Continued

13.00 Lunch

14.00 Work & Confidence

16.00 Break

16.30 Failure

18.00 Close


Sunday 6 October

9.00 Doors Open

9.30 Calm & Culture

11.00 Break

11.30 Meaning & Happiness

13.00 Close


Who Should Attend The School of Life Conference

The School of Life Conference is ideal for those looking for an in-depth psychological experience that covers the four main areas of our emotional lives; Love, Work, Self & Others and Culture.    

What you can expect:

  • A rich programme drawing from the key insights across our core curriculum

  • A learning experience combining lectures, films, music, psychological exercises and continuous audience participation

  • Three-days of engaging content written and led by Philosopher and Writer Alain de Botton, supported by leading members of The School of Life's London faculty and team

  • Daily educational programme and curated morning and evening social activities

  • An opportunity to make new friends in a community of like-minded individuals