Leisure

Four Great Ideas from Hinduism

Even if we are not religious and have no interest at all in becoming a Hindu, Hinduism offers us at least four fascinating ideas…  1. LOOK FORWARD TO DEATH Hinduism is…

Leisure

The Wisdom of Islamic Gardens

The idea of a garden has always been central to Islam for reasons that are at once hopeful — because nature is so beautiful — and deeply melancholy — because life…

Self-Knowledge

Why Do Bad Things Always Happen to Me?

Much is constantly happening that annoys us. Trains pull out of platforms as we approach them; taps snap off their moorings; shopping bags leak; suppliers go bankrupt; colleagues resign; cars break…

Relationships

Why We Play Games in Love

Most of us have a general understanding that ‘games playing’ in relationships is a bad thing – and that all good people are opposed to them. ‘I don’t play games,’ is a…

Self-Knowledge

How to Be Beautiful

When we are very concerned about certain of our physical features — a nose that is stubbornly a bit too large, eyes that are slightly too far apart, hair that is…

Sociability

How We Can Hurt Without Thinking

A lot of evil is done in the world by people who can’t imagine that they have any power to hurt anyone. It’s their sense that nothing is at stake in…

Sociability

The Origins of Shyness

A lack of confidence is often put down to something we call shyness. But beneath shyness, there may lie something more surprising, pernicious and poignant. We suffer from a suspicion of…

Self-Knowledge

How to Take Criticism

To be criticised is never pleasant. It is rarely a good day when we have to read an unflattering social media post about ourselves, when we are given harsh feedback on…

Relationships

Why We Keep Choosing Bad Partners

There is a particular kind of person who is always – it seems – unlucky in love. Despite their best intentions and efforts, they seem to move from one unsatisfying candidate…

Calm

You Still Have Time

There remain few expressions better able to capture the futility of a task than one which compares our efforts to ‘rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.’ The hull has been breached,…

Calm

I Will Survive!

In October 1976, one of the greatest pop songs of the 20th century was heard for the first time: Gloria Gaynor’s eternal assertion of defiance I Will Survive. It was initially released…

Self-Knowledge

Why We Enjoy the Suffering of Others

The French Revolution lasted ten years — from the 5th of May 1789 to the 9th of November 1799. In this period of chaos and savagery, one year stands out as…

Self-Knowledge

The Tragedy of Birth

It is common, on meeting with one of these packages with a bonnet on its head, its small body wrapped tightly in a blanket, to marvel at the exceptional beauty and…

Work

The Problem with Individualism

The world became modern when people who met for the first time shifted from asking each other (as they had always done) where they came from — to asking each other…

Leisure

Freud's Porcupine

We know so well what love should be like; we imagine our desired partners long before we meet them in real life. They will be kind, beautiful, gentle, thoughtful, inspiring and…

Self-Knowledge

What Brain Scans Reveal About Our Minds

Two photographs deserve to be counted as among the most significant of the twentieth century. The first was taken on December 24th, 1968, by the astronaut William Anders as the Apollo…

Leisure

What Rothko's Art Teaches Us About Suffering

The most unexpectedly uplifting and consoling artist of the 20th century was the abstract painter Mark Rothko, the high priest of grief and loss who spent the latter part of his…

Work

On Gossip

From an early age, kindly people are liable to leave us in no doubt that gossiping about the private lives of well-known or prestigious people is despicable. At the same time,…