Self-Knowledge

Why Those Who Should Love Us Can Hurt Us

Part of why it is so hard to understand ourselves is that people are constantly doing things to us that defy the common-sense of view of how human beings might plausibly…

Self-Knowledge

The Upsides of Having a Mental Breakdown

One of the saddest and most puzzling phenomena of psychological life are the incidents commonly known as ‘breakdowns’, in which people find themselves suddenly unable to carry out their normal duties…

Leisure

Eastern vs Western Views of Happiness

The Western intellectual tradition suggests that in order to be happy, what we need to do most of all is to go out and subdue the world; secure resources, found businesses,…

Relationships

Why Some Couples Last — and Some Don't

It can seem very confusing why certain long-term relationships survive and some don’t. It can — from afar — look as if it’s the most cruel and alarming sort of lottery.

Relationships

Why We Should Be 'Babyish' in Love

We call them, for good reason, ‘adult’ relationships — that is, relationships entered into when we are grown up, and committed to the principles and virtues of a mature existence. What…

Self-Knowledge

How to Be Interesting

Many of us crave to be more interesting people. The question is how we might become so.  We rightly tend to associate being ‘interesting’ with achieving difference from the norm: with…

Self-Knowledge

Am I Too Clever?

It is hard to imagine that there could be any such thing as excessive intelligence. After all, most of the problems of the world and of individual lives clearly come down to…

Self-Knowledge

How Social Media Affects Our Self-Worth

Early on in every life, a child will look up and — implicitly — ask the world: Am I OK? Do I deserve goodwill and sympathy? Am I on track? And,…

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…

Relationships

Why Dating Apps Won't Help You Find Love

For most of human history, relationships were relatively simple for a banal yet immovable reason: it was extremely hard to meet anyone acceptable – and everyone knew it. There were only…

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…