Book of the Week: The School of Life – An Emotional Education

“In our ambitious age, it is common to begin with dreams of being able to pull off an unblemished life, where one can hope to get the major decisions, in love and work, right. But the wise realise that it is impossible to fashion a spotless life. We will make some extremely large and utterly uncorrectable errors in a number of areas. Perfectionism is a wicked illusion. Regret is unavoidable.
But regret lessens the more we see that error is endemic across the species. We can’t look at anyone’s life story without seeing some devastating mistakes etched across it. These errors are not coincidental but structural. They arise because we all lack the information we need to make choices in time-sensitive situations. We are all, where it counts, steering almost blind.” – Alain de Botton, An Emotional Education

This is a brilliant and beautiful book. I took a great deal from it. If more people consumed the work of Alain de Botton, the world would truly be a better place. I’m a big fan. He writes with such warmth and empathy, in a straightforward style, covering topics from understanding our emotions, to love, relationships, careers, culture, failure, shame, guilt and more. An Emotional Education is packed with anecdotes, insights and practical wisdom.
The underlying message is we must let go of the idea of a perfect life in order to achieve genuine emotional maturity. A fascinating, enriching and reassuring read.

“The standard habit of the mind is to take careful note of what’s not right in our lives and obsess about all that is missing. But in a new mood, perhaps after a lot of longing and turmoil, we pause and notice some of what has – remarkably – not gone wrong.
The house is looking beautiful at the moment. We’re in pretty good health, all things considered. The afternoon sun is deeply reassuring. Sometimes the children are kind. Our partner is – at points – very generous. It’s been quite mild lately. Yesterday, we were happy all evening. We’re quite enjoying work at the moment.”
– Alain de Botton, An Emotional Education


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