chapter 6. Leisure

The Importance of Architecture

In an odd but quietly very important way, works of architecture ‘speak’ to us. Some buildings, streets and even whole cities seem to speak of chaos, aggression or military pride; others…

chapter 6. Leisure

The Secret of Beauty: Order and Complexity

This is an essay about beauty – and in particular about what makes something beautiful. We want to give you the answer right away: BEAUTY = ORDER and COMPLEXITY In other…

chapter 1. Relationships

The Capacity to Give up on People

For noble and very understandable reasons, we’ve come to associate maturity and kindness with a capacity not to give up on people. Our heroes and heroines keep faith with those they…

chapter 1. Relationships

For Those Stuck in a Relationship

This is for those among us who are, secretly, very stuck – that is, who are entirely committed to staying, wholly tempted to leave – and entirely unable to resolve their…

chapter 4. Sociability

6 Reasons Not to Worry What the Neighbours Think

We have reduced it down to a trite error – ’worrying about what the neighbours think’ – as if this were a trap that only a mediocrity could ever fall into.…

chapter 1. Relationships

6 Reasons We Choose Badly in Love

The fastest, easiest and most inadvertent technique for messing up one’s life remains that of getting into a serious relationship with the wrong person: with very little effort, and without any…

chapter 1. Relationships

Alternatives to Romantic Monogamy

To a greater extent than we perhaps realise, when it comes to what sort of relationships we are allowed to have, our societies present us with a menu with only a…

chapter 1. Relationships

10 Ideas for People Afraid to Exit a Relationship

1. You are, to a far greater extent than you perhaps realise, already alone. The condition you fear will happen has already happened. To be formally alone would merely mean concretising…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

Can People Change?

‘Can people change?’ The question may sound somewhat abstract and disinterested, as if one were asking for a friend or for the universe, but it is likely to be a good…

chapter 1. Relationships

Konrad Lorenz & Why You Choose the Partners You Choose

This is a piece about geese, jackdaws, a man called Konrad Lorenz – and your love life. Konrad Lorenz, who was born in 1903 and died in 1989, was an Austrian…

chapter 1. Relationships

People Who Want to Own Us - but Not Nourish Us

Amidst the many challenging characters we may encounter in the course of relationships, psychological life throws up an especially tricky type: the person who wants to ‘own’ us (by which is…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

Small Acts of Liberation

It’s not necessarily a well-flagged problem: we tend to situate the risks to our happiness elsewhere – but for a proportion of us, the greatest obstacle to our flourishing lies in…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

When Home is Not Home...

One of the most beautiful and evocative of all words is ‘home’. Folded within it are suggestions of safety, understanding, sympathy, warmth and belonging. It is to home that we turn…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

Of Course We Mess Up!

Maybe you’ve crashed again – and you’re in the dark familiar place. As ever, one mess-up reminds you of all the fiascos you’ve generated in the past and, more broadly, of…

chapter 1. Relationships

The Hardest Person in the World to Break up With

Break-ups are almost invariably difficult, but that isn’t to say there aren’t different degrees of complexity at stake in different constellations. Nor does it preclude the existence of a cataclysmically painful…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

Learning to Be More Selfish

From a young age, we are taught that one of the greatest risks to our integrity and flourishing is our own selfishness. We must – wherever possible – learn to think…

chapter 1. Relationships

Desire and Intimacy

One of the frequent and painful paradoxes of romantic life is that the more we get to know and love someone, the harder it can be to summon up any sincere…

chapter 5. Calm

What Everybody Really Wants

We’re often in situations of wanting to help and be kind to others, but of not knowing quite what they might be in need of. We’d like to deepen our connection…