chapter 2. Work

What they forget to teach you at school

The modern world treats education with unique seriousness. Never in the history of humanity have so much thought and so many resources been devoted to the development of the minds of…

chapter 1. Relationships

On 'Rupture' and 'Repair'

Many tensions within relationships can usefully be looked at through the prism of a concept much used within psychotherapy: the idea of ‘rupture’ and ‘repair.’ For psychotherapists, every relationship is at…

chapter 4. Sociability

What women and men may learn from one another when they are just friends

We tend to imagine that it must be within the context of a close and long-term sexual relationship that people are best placed to understand one another and reveal who they…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

Learning to listen to the adult inside us

It’s natural to think of ourselves as a single person. We have – after all – only one body and answer to only one name. But inside our minds, we are…

chapter 1. Relationships

Why it's OK to want a partner to change

We live in a culture that firmly suggests that the essence of true love is for one person fully to accept the other, as we like to put it, just as…

chapter 1. Relationships

Why haven't they called - and the Rorschach Test

In the 1930s, the Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach was seeking to understand more about the contents in the unconscious minds of his patients – when he hit upon the notion of…

chapter 1. Relationships

The Real Reason why Couples Break Up

When people try to account for why couples break up, the emphasis typically falls on the idea of difference: a disorganised creative type was up against a highly managerial ordered one;…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

How to Manage One's Moods

Far more than we are inclined to accept and sometimes even realise, we are creatures of mood: that is, our sense of our value as human beings is prone to extraordinary…

chapter 6. Leisure

Walking in the Woods

We’ve got a steady, unfortunate tendency to focus exclusively on what’s bothering us. We brood; we circle endlessly round our worries. We get drawn deeper into the gloomy recesses of our…

chapter 1. Relationships

Dating When You've Had a Bad Childhood

In the course of any adult life, there will be periods when we’ll end up involved in that slightly odd, slightly unrepresentative and invariably slightly challenging activity: looking. Most people around…

chapter 2. Work

Political Emotional Maturity

We are used to recognising signs of emotional immaturity in our fellow adults (and nudging them kindly and appropriately where we can), but we are generally not as practiced at spotting…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

On Feeling Stuck

Many of us spend a large a part of our lives, in one way or another, feeling stuck, that is in a state where a strong desire to move forward on…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

The High Price We Pay for Our Fear of Being Alone

It’s not hard to understand the fear of being alone: the empty apartment after work, the eerieness of Sunday afternoons, the sense of exclusion during the holidays… We know the agonies…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

On Living in a More Light-Hearted Way

The arguments for approaching life in a grave, serious and unsmiling mood are overwhelming: we are clearly a profoundly wicked species, we continually perpetrate monstrous suffering on one another, our greed…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

Am I Paranoid?

The great drawback of the word ‘paranoia’ is that it can sound like something only very obviously disturbed people would ever end up being. We associate the term with types who…

chapter 3. Self-Knowledge

On Disliking Oneself

There is one particularly salient question we should ask in order to measure our levels of emotional well-being: do you broadly feel that you have the right to exist and are,…

chapter 2. Work

Our Forgotten Craving for Community

We are, a lot of us, a great deal sadder, more anxious, more incomplete and more restless than we really need to be because of something very large that is missing…

chapter 6. Leisure

The Importance of Architecture

In an odd but quietly very important way, works of architecture ‘speak’ to us. Some buildings, streets and even whole cities seem to speak of chaos, aggression or military pride; others…