Relationships

On the Curiosity of Children

One of the things it’s easiest to forget about children is that they are aliens recently descended from another planet. In the way they look at everything around them, in the…

Relationships

How to Lend a Child Confidence

A near-universal goal of parents is to try to imbue their children with confidence; to try to lend them the energy, self-belief and courage to eventually be able to act decisively…

Relationships

The Importance of Play

The useful thing about children is that they don’t let their imaginations get hampered by the more irritating or incidental aspects of reality. They will take one look at a sofa…

Self-Knowledge

How to Love Difficult People

Perhaps the finest way to develop a loving attitude towards other people is to recall, in the face of their difficulty, that we are, in the end, all children. The claim…

Work

Celebrity Crushes

Of course, we’re supposed to shrug it off. We’re supposed to have a quick look at a gallery of images – the kiss in the ocean, the breakfast on the veranda,…

Self-Knowledge

A More Self-Accepting Life

One of the ways in which we can accelerate, and keep faith with, change is to look forward to a time when it has occurred and anticipate what it might be…

Self-Knowledge

How Perfectionism Makes Us Ill

There is a kind of person who seems at first glance to have an admirable degree of self-motivation, thoroughness and drive. They are up at dawn, they rarely take holidays, they…

Sociability

The Eyes of Love

In 1821, the 45-year-old English painter John Constable went out on to Hampstead Heath and did something very loving. He set up his easel and looked closely at an elm tree.…

Self-Knowledge

Our Tragic Condition

When it comes to our sense of who does and doesn’t deserve punishment, we tend to operate with a simple dichotomy: either someone is guilty, and therefore must pay for their…

Sociability

Kindness Isn't Weakness

Some of what holds people back from showing greater love is a sense that it would be dangerous and woolly-minded to do so. Too much sensitivity and sweetness, too much tolerance…

Sociability

Why We're All Capable of Damaging Others

One of the reasons why we may end up acting more destructively and cruelly than we should is that it can take us a long time to fathom how someone like…

Self-Knowledge

How We Should Have Been Loved

We hear so much about how difficult childhoods can damage people that we sometimes fail to consider the fascinating and telling obverse: what happens in emotionally-nurturing families, what does it mean…

Self-Knowledge

Self-Hatred and High-Achievement

It might seem – at first glance – as though the people we term high-achievers could not possibly have any relationship to self-hatred: they are the ones who did exceptionally well…

Relationships

Romantic Masochism

There is a particular kind of romantic pilgrim whose love life attracts a high degree of sympathy. Despite their best intentions and apparently ceaseless efforts, they seem fated to move from…

Self-Knowledge

A Self-Hatred Audit

One of the odder features of self-hatred is that the affliction may escape our notice for the greater part of our lives. We may simply not be aware that we don’t…

Leisure

Rembrandt as a Guide to Kindness

Born in 1606, Rembrandt became a hugely successful painter when he was still only in his twenties. He earned a fortune and lived a wildly extravagant life. Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait…

Leisure

How Mental Illness Impacts Our Bodies

The Body Keeps the Score is the beautiful and suggestive title of a book published in 2014 by a Dutch professor of psychiatry at Boston University called Bessel van der Kolk.…

Relationships

The Difference Between Fragile and Strong Couples

How can you tell whether a relationship is going to last the course - or whether it’s doomed to founder? What’s the difference between fragile and solid couples? Here are some…