chapter 2. Work

How Are You Difficult to Work With? Questionnaire

Inspired by our newest book, How to Get On With Your Colleagues, we’ve created a brief questionnaire designed to help you identify some of the ways you might be difficult to…

chapter 2. Work

The Importance of the Siesta

It is tempting to pretend that the body has no particular claim on us – and to overlook how much it controls who we can be, what we can achieve and…

chapter 2. Work

On Learning to Live Deeply Rather than Broadly

History is filled with stories of extraordinary figures who died tragically young: John Keats (26), Emily Bronte (30), Alexander the Great (33), Mozart (35), Sylvia Plath (30), Van Gogh (37). In…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

I Am Not My Body

A characteristic emotion on seeing a favourite novel turned into a film is puzzlement. We may not hate the actor playing a particular role, we might even find them rather beautiful,…

chapter 1. Relationships

What Do You Love Me For?

Sometimes, and it often happens in bed, we face an acute test at the hands of a lover to whom we have pledged our affections. We are asked, with little warning,…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

The Problems of Being Very Beautiful

Some of the pain of feeling unattractive stems from the stories we tell ourselves about those we deem beautiful. They, the blessed ones, surely do not suffer. They, the gods and…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

Am I Fat? An Answer from History

We tend to feel that concepts like ‘beauty’ and ‘ugliness’ are things that can be objectively defined, are eternally valid and are founded on unarguable criteria. Someone is either beautiful or…

chapter .

Sun Worship

In a joking tone, some of us occasionally describe ourselves as ‘sun worshippers’. That can mean, that we love to tan, visit an island, go to the beach, read a book,…

chapter 5. Calm

Swearing in the Woods

We’re tempted to swear (even if only under our breath) at a myriad of moments in the course of our daily lives: when the car ahead of us stalls just as…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

The Importance of Singing Badly

Most of what we would really like to do is annihilated long before its possible birth by a relentlessly forensic and masochistic sense of our own incompetence. We can’t possibly invite…

chapter 4. Sociability

The Cleaning Party

We normally imagine that we are in a fit state to receive our friends when we have, finally, cleared away most of what we normally are: when we’ve hidden away the…

chapter 4. Sociability

On Talking Horizontally

At the dawn of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud made a remarkable discovery: that there can be an immense difference between what someone will tell you when they are sitting opposite you in…

chapter 4. Sociability

Dinner Table Orchestra

One of the most astonishing and moving of all sights is that of a well-practiced orchestra working together to perform a great symphonic masterpiece. Along with 47 other equally focused colleagues,…

chapter 4. Sociability

On Sofa Jumping

Adult social life labours under an arduous rule: that the better we want to get to know someone, the more serious should be the topics we try to raise with them.…

chapter 8. Uncategorised

On Studying Someone Else's Hands

We know, in theory, all about valuing other people: respecting them as unique individuals, listening to their voice, accepting humanity in its majestic diversity… The lesson has been made for us…

chapter 6. Leisure

The Importance of Dancing Like an Idiot

One of the strangest but also most intriguing and redemptive things that humans get up to, in almost any culture one cares to study, is occasionally to gather in large groups,…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

Eight Rules of The School of Life

The School of Life has produced 500 films and written 5 million words. This is an enormous problem. To stand any hope of remaining in anyone’s mind, ideas – even very…

chapter 1. Relationships

If Love Never Came

From the start of adulthood, we have been waiting. We understood love intuitively long before it was ever a practical possibility. We knew that it was bound up with a sense…