chapter 4. Self

How To Make People Feel Good about Themselves

We tend to operate with the view that the best way to please people is not to bother them too much. We keep many of our dilemmas and confusions away from…

chapter 4. Self

What to Do at Parties If You Hate Small Talk

A lot of discomfort about going to social engagements is rooted in what can sound like a rather high-minded concern: a hatred of small talk. We can develop a dread of…

chapter 4. Self

How to Spill A Drink Down One’s Front - and Survive

It is, in many way, the quintessential minor social mishap. We’re at a party surrounded by interesting people upon whom we’d like to make a good impression. We’ve been talking about…

chapter 4. Self

How to Become Someone People Will Confide in

It is a mark of character to be thought of as someone that others can safely confide in; there is a high degree of empathy, generosity and open-mindedness implied in being…

chapter 4. Self

How to Approach Strangers at A Party

A party at the house of a friend, eleven o’clock, on a still-warm evening. A metre away from you, a group of people are chatting animatedly. Someone is telling an anecdote,…

chapter 4. Self

How to Be Comfortable on Your Own in Public

We’re spending a few days on business in a town where we know no one. It’s dinner time and, feeling claustrophobic in our hotel room, we wander the main streets looking…

chapter 4. Self

How To Stop Worrying Whether or Not They Like You

One of the most acute questions we ask ourselves in relation to new friends and acquaintances is whether or not they like us. The question feels so significant because, depending on…

chapter 4. Self

Why We're All Messed Up By Our Childhoods

No one intends for this to happen, of course, but somewhere in our childhood, our trajectory towards emotional maturity will almost certainly be impeded. Even if we are sensitively cared for…

chapter 4. Self

How To Write An Effective Thank You Letter

Life continually requires that we write down a few words of thanks: for holidays, meals, presents or people’s place in our hearts. However, too often, our messages end up flat or…

chapter 4. Self

How To Tell When You Are Being A Bore

Some of the reason why we end up being inadvertently rude to people is that they are so polite with us, a politeness which gives us precious little indication of the…

chapter 3. Relationships

How To Handle the Desire for Affairs?

In a better world, affairs wouldn’t continuously threaten those with monogamous aspirations. Couples would quickly recognise when emotional disconnection was building up between them; they would take direct, timely steps to…

chapter 3. Relationships

How To Have Fewer Bitter Arguments in Love

There are couples that seem never to argue. Their relationships are marked by enormous outward politeness; they say thank you a lot; they make each other cups of tea; they can…

chapter 5. Culture

Why We Argue in Paradise

We’re in paradise: a beachfront hotel on a tropical island; a charming cottage in a tranquil valley, a luxurious hotel in a historic city. Our spirits stand to be soothed by…

chapter 4. Self

How to Lengthen Your Life

The normal way we set about trying to extend our lives is by striving to add more years to them – usually by eating more couscous and broccoli, going to bed…

chapter 3. Relationships

Twenty Ideas on Marriage

Our society typically devotes huge attention to the start of a marriage – and particularly to the actual wedding ceremony. We’re correct that a great deal of thought is needed somewhere.…

chapter 6. Curriculum

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

People have always had trouble pronouncing his name. The 19th-century British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, was once mocked in Parliament for getting it wrong. If you don’t speak German, it’s not…

chapter 2. Work

On Falling Apart at the Office

I. Office Victorians In the 19th century, British explorers were famous for not getting stressed. They might – like David Livingstone in his travels in central Africa between 1851 and 1883…

chapter 4. Self

On Anxiety

Today, like most days, you are anxious. It is there in the background, always present, sometimes more to the fore, sometimes less so, but never truly banished – at least not…