The Meaning Of Life
To wonder too openly, or intensely, about the meaning of life can seem a peculiar, ill-fated and even a faintly ridiculous pastime. Surely this is not something we ordinary mortals should be doing or that will get us very far.
In truth, the subject is for everyone; it is for all of us to wonder about, and define, a meaningful existence. A meaningful life can be simple in structure, personal, usable, attractive and familiar. A meaningful life is close to, but at points importantly different from, a happy life.
This class guides us towards the ingredients of such a life:
- A meaningful life draws upon, and exercises, a range of our higher capacities; those bound up with tenderness, care, connection, self-understanding, sympathy, intelligence and creativity
- A meaningful life aims not so much at day-to-day contentment as at fulfilment. We may be leading a meaningful life and yet often find ourselves in a bad mood. Conversely, we may be having frequent surface fun while living, for the most part, meaninglessly
- Whereas pleasure manifests itself immediately, our taste in meaning may be more elusive
We cannot rely upon others to determine what will be meaningful to us. The question of what makes life meaningful has to be answered personally, even if our conclusions are not particularly idiosyncratic. What we call ‘crises of meaning’ are generally moments where others’ visions of what is meaningful for us run up against our own tastes and interests. We have to work out, through a process of experience and introspection, what counts as meaningful in our eyes.
The class shows that we can turn the pursuit of a meaningful life from a quixotic impossibility to something at which we can all succeed.
5.45pm Drinks & welcome
6.00pm Class begins
7.30pm Break (times vary)
9.00pm Class finishes
'There is not one big cosmic meaning for all; there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.'
― Anaïs Nin
The Meaning of Life is one of the twelve classes that comprise our core curriculum. Our classes tackle the core themes of emotional life, from relationships and the workplace, to understanding the self and exploring our relationship with culture. You can explore the full curriculum here.
The School of Life Curriculum has been written, designed and quality assured by The School of Life HQ in London, led by Alain de Botton. Presented as an EQ learning journey, these 12 classes and 4 full-day workshops bring together over 10 years of teaching and continuous improvement of our emotional intelligence curriculum around the world.
Our classes have been designed to give useful insights around the big themes in life. You’ll be challenged to think deeply and have courageous conversations about the issues that matter most, and you’ll be encouraged to step outside your comfort zone in a safe space with other curious, open-minded individuals.
To find out more about what to expect when you come to a class or workshop at The School of Life, take a look inside our London classroom.
These sessions are designed by experts and taught by members of our faculty. They include a mix of lecture, conversation and group activity.