A book from the second series of The School of Life‘s ‘How to’ editions, which tackle ‘some of the hardest issues of our lives in a way that is genuinely informative, helpful and consoling’ through the medium of philosophy, literature, psychology and the visual arts. I have previously read How to Think More About Sex and found it very illuminating. However, this is one really blew my mind. What I really like about The School of Life content in general is that the subjects addressed seem to surreptitiously address, like, kind of … everything. For example, whilst reading this book the title seemed almost irrelevant, as it felt like it addressed some very fundamental things about being human, which isn’t to say it doesn’t do what it sets out to do either, as it certainly does help the reader to think differently about – and therefore deal with – adversity.
My favourite phrase which I have been repeating over and over is that we – humans – are ‘psychologically messy’. I find very consoling the idea that instead of coming from a kind of base-state of psychological clarity and cleanness, actually the ‘normal’ state is messiness from which we can strive for periods of calm, and that: “peace of mind does not come easily or quickly and is a rare and difficult achievement. And if we ever achieve wisdom in these matters, our hold on it remains far from wholly secure.”
It’s hard to explain, but all I know is that my journey went a bit like this: discovered philosophy, discovered Alain de Botton discovered The School of Life: felt like life improved.