A Night of Better Conversation: Happiness

Our society is obsessed with happiness. Whole countries are ranked by a happiness index, while each of us feels like being happy isn't just something to aspire to but a duty, like eating our greens or going to the gym. Those of us who can't be happy -- or pretend to be happy -- often feel rejected by the society around us, as if melancholy isn't a natural human condition but something alien, awkward and (worst of all) contagious.

What if we've got it wrong? Are there better measures by which we can judge our lives than whether we make ourselves (and others) happy? The fact is that life is full of miseries, large and small, that are an essential, if painful, part of the human experience. This pain might not be meaningful, but is it perhaps necessary, if we are to fully experience pleasure?

In this wide-ranging and thought provoking night of conversation, we'll be drawing on the work of leading thinkers, artists and writers to reframe our obsession with happiness. We'll be saying things we've never said before and asking ourselves (and each other) some big questions. 

Namely, is the quest for true happiness making us all truly miserable?


6.30 pm    Doors Open
7.00 pm    Welcome & Introduction
7.15 pm     Key Idea 1 & conversation
7.45 pm     Key Idea 2 & conversation
8.15 pm     Key Idea 3 & conversation
9.00 pm   Event Concludes & Venue Open for Continued Conversation

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'You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.'
― Albert Camus

This event is proudly presented in partnership with Hotel Esplanade.


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The Esplanade and The School of Life have a commitment to providing enlightened hospitality to its customers. Our shared mission is to create events and environments where meaningful connections can flourish.


Our lives are so often filled with superficial talk, from office chitchat to commentaries on last night's television. How can we have conversations that inspire us to think in new ways, that stimulate our curiosity and that prompt us to say things we've never said before? A Night of Better Conversation has been designed to help us enjoy rich and memorable conversations about things that really matter in life, inspired by the ideas of great thinkers and philosophers. A Night of Better Conversation is an interactive and social evening that's split in to equal parts facilitated and presented content and group conversation. Participants will be encouraged to meet and converse with as many different people as they can to explore and interact a diverse range of ideas and ways of thinking.


Myke Bartlett is a journalist, writer and teacher. He joined the School of Life Australia as a founding faculty member in 2013. Since then, he has taught and devised a range of sessions and classes, mostly focused on the art of conversation. He has written for some of Australia's most respected cultural publications and was the arts editor at The Weekly Review for the best part of a decade. As a journalist, he has spoken to some of the world's most interesting people and does his best to find something interesting to talk about with everyone else. Despite years of intensive study, he is still baffled by small talk.

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A Night of Better Conversation: Happiness


When and where:
  • Mon 16 Mar 2020 6.30pm – 9pm
    Hotel Esplanade,11 The Esplanade, St Kilda VIC 3182

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Full price: $45
Concession: $36
+ booking fee

Tickets include light, vegetarian refreshments. Drinks can be purchased at the bar.

Health Care Card, Seniors Card, Pensioner Concession Card and current Student Cards.

Please note that we are unable to offer refunds or transfers with less than 10 days cancellation notice before the original class date. If you require a refund please contact us as per below.

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Email: enquiries@theschooloflife.com.au

For mobility access: please contact us as above to discuss arrangements to ensure your access requirements are supported.