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  • Thank you.

  • Thank you very much for coming.

  • Thio Talk, which has a really strange sounding title.

  • Emotional education.

  • We're very used to the idea that we need to get educated in certain sorts of skills maths, Latin, geography, physics, accountancy.

  • But the notion that we need to be educated in our emotional functioning is very peculiar.

  • Surely we know about our emotions, our capacities, to love and to hate, to feel anxious and to feel calm to direct our lives.

  • We would wish surely we know all that stuff.

  • We don't need an education in the pursuit off fulfilled emotional life.

  • But let me ask you just a question to see if we can just prove that who in this room is happy to be married but not in love?

  • Married, but not in love.

  • And if you happy to be married, but no, you know, tolerating tolerating the part.

  • He's nice as you turned towards his.

  • Okay.

  • All right.

  • But what were what was sensing is that there is a broad consensus that you guys would like to be married.

  • Unhappy.

  • Okay, Interesting.

  • Who here is happy to be in a job where you're earning money, but you're not fulfilled.

  • Okay, A few people.

  • But broadly speaking, this is why you need an emotional education because you have very high expectations.

  • It's very, very hard to be married and happy.

  • It's very, very hard to be in a job and fulfilled not merely earning money.

  • These are new expectations that we have of our lives.

  • And yet we continue to cling to an ancient model that somehow the knack for knowing how to pull off a successful emotional life is something that we should pick up by intuition.

  • 10 years ago with colleagues, I started Open Organisation called the School of Life.

  • I'm here to present a new book, which is simply called the School of Life, an emotional education.

  • It's 10 years worth of our thinking around the business of how we might become emotional adults.

  • You know how to become an adult.

  • You just eat cereal and food and wait for time to pass, and you'll get that, Um, emotional adult is a different thing.

  • Most of us will be pushing 300 years old before we've really got the hang of it, But it's an aspiration, you know.

  • We're operating in a world in which religion no longer guides us as it once did, and it's within the context of a secularizing world that I and colleagues set up the school of life.

  • You know, when religion first went into decline in the mid 19th century in England and other parts of Western Europe, people asked, Where were people going to get the emotional and spiritual guidance that churches had once given?

  • And there was a legitimate sense that there was going to be troubled because we're all mortal.

  • We need consolation.

  • We're isolated with lonely, were confused on the church's for better and for worse, dispensed guidance in these areas.

  • Where was that gonna come from if it worked out, If one worked out that the whole story, the biblical story waas scientifically speaking nonsense.

  • Well, one answer came to the fore.

  • That culture would replace Scripture, and that's why there was an extraordinary boom in the development off the humanities.

  • In the 19th century, giant libraries were built, theaters were built, a university courses in the arts was started for the very first time on dhe.

  • Ah, huge push was made towards the idea that what we have previously been able to gain from religion, we would now be able to source from the plays of Shakespeare the novels of Jane Austen, the paintings of Rembrandt, Caravaggio that these sort of things would be able to give us, what previous ages it found in religion.

  • It's a lovely idea.

  • Partly is why we're here today.

  • You know, this is in some ways part of what we're doing by gathering, but without any insult on the fantastic host of this festival and giant real success of this festival.

  • Broadly speaking, culture has not replaced Scripture.

  • And you know this because if you show up at the Tate Modern and you go on your knees and you say I'm lost, I don't know how to live.

  • I'm confused, redeemed me.

  • You will be very swiftly ushered out by some guards.

  • This is simply not what you two or three show up at the University of Oxford and you're reading philosophy, Say, the home of the largest questions you say.

  • I don't know where I should seek guidance for the largest questions.

  • How can I be good?

  • How can I make sure my life is properly letter again?

  • They would look atyou.

  • Very strange.

  • One could say that those who are the guardians of culture in our society have a certain coolness about them.

  • It's only as though the sort of people who there imagine dealing with Don't wake up at three in the morning as many of us here do, I hope wondering what on earth it's all about and what we meant to be doing on this planet, There's a sort of sense that most of us know how to live.

  • Well, the starting assumption of the school of life is, of course, we don't know how to live on.

  • Do we need guidance now?

  • There is, of course, an industry devoted to guidance in this area.

  • It's called the self help industry, now being sophisticated, intelligent and cultured people, all of you would have steered well clear of anything.

  • Redland of Return.

  • Self help.

  • I mean, it's really it's a It's a horror term.

  • It's often associate ID.

  • Forgive me if there any Californians in the room with a sort of naive West Coast utopianism.

  • The covers a garish, the promises are over blown.

  • There's a sort of sense of, you know you can change your love life in five minutes of the perfect sex life made a $1,000,000 in a year, etcetera, in other words, overblown, naive, sentimental promises designed to cover up a much harder reality.

  • Now, the starting point off the school of life is that actually trying to tell people that life is a perfect business that can be made ideal is one of the quickest ways to depress them.

  • The best way to cheer anyone up is to tell them life is difficult for everyone.

  • We suffer all of us alone, thinking that we are massively unique in our sufferings were not there.

  • Actually.

  • What binds us together on Dhe being able therefore to say we are a broken species is the first step towards consolation on an act of friendship.

  • All religions knew this move.

  • I mean, think of Buddhism.

  • The first tenet of Buddhism is life is suffering.

  • Well, thanks very much.

  • It goes, and it goes on from there on the grimness of existence.

  • Far from an acknowledgment of that grimness being a route to ultimate despair, it's actually the birth off, compassion towards ourselves and compassion towards others.

  • Knowing that we are broken creatures, as I say, is a sort of beginning off a fringe of it also makes you a nicer person.

  • Imagine two people on a dinner date, right?

  • They met each other.

  • They don't know each other well, and one of them starts saying, Well, I'm pretty perfect and the other one does.

  • I'm pretty perfect to my job's doing well, the other ones as well.

  • You know, things have been going pretty great for me to insufferable a rigid, insufferable perfectionism.

  • How much nicer it would be if this couple got together.

  • And they said, How are you crazy?

  • I'm crazy in these ways.

  • How about your broken nous?

  • What's your broken?

  • This look like they were able to build a friendship and a sense of neutrality precisely on on an acknowledgment off.

  • How much in them was not perfect, isn't it?

  • I should say the goal of life is not the god of emotional life should never be to try and be entirely sane.

  • There are no sane people.

  • We've done some surveys.

  • We've sent out scouts.

  • No one is saying on the Earth.

  • However, the best possible kind of sanity you can aim for is what we like to call sane insanity, whereby you have what Michael handle on What's wrong with you?

  • There's still something wrong with you because of something wrong with everybody.

  • But you can describe it in eloquent and reassuring terms to those who live near with Andi.

  • If you don't want to harm too much, that is the best that we can do.

  • But it's a lot on.

  • This is in many ways the goal off.

  • The self help that the school of after Spencer were uniquely we like to think quietly, pre Brexit were quite a English institution, in the sense that one of the great exports of this country traditionally was always melancholy on melancholy.

  • Melancholy is not sadness or despair.

  • A nor is it rage and bitterness.

  • It's It's an elegant negotiation with tragedy on.

  • I think that that's what we might be able Thio aim for.

  • We live in a cruel world on.

  • I'll tell you how cruel it is because one of the first questions that we face whenever we meet somebody new is what do you do on according to how you answer that question.

  • People are incredibly pleased to see you or a little bit fearful and just leave you alone by the nuts and you know that you are not going to get the respect, the kindness, the owner that all of us crave because you have not performed well enough in a very fast moving, very competitive capitalist economy.

  • On dhe, this is hardwired into us.

  • Whether we're conscious of it or not.

  • We know that's the way it is on the opposite.

  • I should say this in a way.

  • We live in a world of snobs.

  • Snobbery is often associated with an old fashioned English concern with aristocracy, with titles Duke Toms etcetera on DDE that the snob is on the lookout for someone with it with a certain lineage and bloodline.

  • No one's a snob like that anymore or five people on the planet.

  • The dominant form of snobbery nowadays is, of course, job snobbery and snobbery is any way of judging another human being whereby you take a small and arguably not central part off them and use that to come to a rigid, non negotiable verdict on who they are.

  • And so for this, not if you need to clothe snow, for example, you say to them you know my trousers from the gap.

  • That's it, you know, you could be the nicest person.

  • Most interesting person finished right?

  • And so you know this now the the opposite of a snob is your mother.

  • No, not necessarily Your mother read my mother.

  • But what is it with the ideal mother?

  • She doesn't care.

  • How you doing?

  • How you're performing.

  • She cares how you are, ideally ideally.

  • But most people are not our mother's.

  • Most people judge very quickly, and we feel that judgment is lovely, quite frightening.

  • Quit from George Orwell, who says after 20 No one cares if you're nice or not, and that captures something rather tragic, you know.

  • Nowadays, we often hear critics saying that we live in incredibly materialistic times that never before people being so greedy and focused on acquiring money, I don't think that we're living in particularly materialistic times.

  • I think we're living in times that have for a whole variety of reasons, connected up emotional rewards to the possession off material goods.

  • It's not ultimately the material goods that we want.

  • It's the emotional rewards that we feel rightly that they're a conduit to that we're after, but we know that we can't get to them without first passing through the gate off material success.

  • And that, in a way lends a certain poignancy to the way in which we pursue material success and the way in which our eagerness for material and status goods plays itself out.

  • I mean, look, you know, to be compassionate the next time you see somebody driving buying a Ferrari, don't think this is somebody who's for greedy Think this is somebody with an unusually intense and very poignant need for love They're expressing through through automotive means.

  • Um, many, many features of society nowadays are almost designed to ramp up the tension that we feel all of us feel and that we pick up at the school of life.

  • One of those things is the notion that nowadays we live in a meritocracy.

  • Now.

  • Meritocracy is one of those words that politicians on left and right off the spectrum are really keen on Soviet all saying that the golden nirvana of their political efforts is to create a more meritocratic world.

  • Let's try and unpick that word for a moment.

  • What?

  • What do people mean by meritocracy?

  • They mean a society where those who deserve certain rewards will get them.

  • That merit will lead to certain kinds of success.

  • So if you're hardworking, doesn't matter who your parents were when you went to school, you should be able to get to the top.

  • This'll sounds fantastic.

  • I mean, who on earth would ever argue with this idea?

  • But there's a very nasty sting in the tail.

  • That power is a big psychological burden.

  • If you genuinely believe in a world in which those who get to the top deserve to get to the top, you'll also be creating logically a world in which those who are at the bottom deserve to be at the bottom.

  • In other words, a meritocratic worldview turns success but also failure from something that might have bean a chance phenomenon to something that is determined and says a huge amount about who you are.

  • And this is very different from all other societies.

  • Most other societies have described what happens to a person over their life, at least in part at least half to the intervention of non human forces.

  • Let's call them divine.

  • We don't believe in these divine forces to know that that's what previous societies believed in.

  • So if you look at ancient Rome, for example, so ancient Rome had a cult of the goddess of fortune.

  • She was known as Fortuna, and there were estimated to have bean over 8000 shrines and statues of Fortuna in public places across Roman Italy.

  • And the notion waas that if something went right for you in your life or you had a difficult moment coming up, you would immediately go and pray and give an offering to the goddess of Fortune because what happened in your endeavor was held to reside, at least substantially in the hands of this goddess.

  • The goddess was represented an interesting way.

  • She was depicted holding a cornucopia which was filled with the symbols off prosperity and success and worldly glamour.

  • So money and fruit and on medals and other such things.

  • And then, in her other hand, she was depicted holding a tiller on.

  • This was meant to represent a capacity to change very lightly with a light touch of her hand, the course off men and women's lives.

  • So she was held to be fickle, have immense power over us and on distribute her favours slightly willy nilly as the mood took her.

  • So for the goddess of fortune, a central figure we'd We don't believe in fortune anymore.

  • We don't believe in luck anymore.

  • You pick this up in language, you know, in medieval English, if you came across somebody who had absolutely no financial resources, the word that you would use to describe that was an unfortunate literally somebody not blessed by the goddess of fortune.

  • Unfortunate.

  • Nowadays, taking United States what you call such a person, a loser, a bit of a loser and feel the punitive quality of that term loser Loser is what you get when a society thinks it's running a race, that that race is broadly speaking.

  • Fair.

  • Now what does it matter if if if this happens well, not believing in luck makes life a lot tougher.

  • For example, if I said I published a book on It's very Good, but unfortunately it's sold no copies.

  • But the problem is, it's not my problem.

  • It's fortunate.

  • The goddess of fortune has somehow not blessed my book, but it's really very good you'd go.

  • No, that's not true.

  • You've done something wrong.

  • You immediately would say, How can the guy be telling me that he has value and there is no external reward for that value.

  • It's hard wired into us.

  • That's what it means to live in that period of history that historians called modernity on modernity as an idea as an ideology was thought to have begun at some point in the tail end of the 19th century.

  • On one of the first great students off the mentality of modernity was the French sociologist Emile Dirk.

  • I'm and has a fascinating role to play in this story.

  • Big Cause Dark I'm studied many of the differences between agrarian societies and industrial societies, in other words, societies that live together in villages where most of the money was earned through agriculture, where people believed in God and where family kinship clans were very important on.

  • Deacon translated this with modern societies, where people live in cities where money is earned, it often in large, anonymous factories where people are not connected up with large family groupings but often isolated in a romantic dia DHS.

  • Andi contrasted thes and made lots of fascinating observations, but there was one which continues to stick out in a way, haunts the modern imagination.

  • And it's this.

  • The rate off people killing themselves in modern societies is 20 times as high as that in pre in agrarian societies.

  • In other words, despite all the advantages of modernity, something is a little awry on that.

  • Something was very clear to Dirk I'm, which is Modern societies ascribe people's biography solely to them.

  • You are a success.

  • You are a failure, not the gods, not your family, not where you came from.

  • Doesn't matter about any of that.

  • It's how you're performing and because of capitalism in the way it works, in the fact that there must always be victims and inefficiencies that are weeded out.

  • This is going to leave a certain number of people every year who cannot face what they have become in the eyes off others.

  • Their need for respect and honor is not going to ever be realized.

  • Andi, Andi, The only way out is the most tragic way that humans are.

  • No, um, look, in a way, a lot of what we do when we try and succeed in life is by the goodwill off other people, right?

  • That's what we're trying to do.

  • We're trying to buy the kindness off.

  • Strangers were trying to ensure that when we walk in a room people are not ashamed and embarrassed and look the other way.

  • We're trying to hope that when somebody greets us, there will be a certain energy to their greeting.

  • Now here's the good and bad news, right?

  • For those of you who are on that treadmill on, many of us are, you know, it's a very natural path.

  • It doesn't really work.

  • It sort of works.

  • But actually, you know, you could be the richest person in Britain if you're obnoxious.

  • No one really wants to know you.

  • This sort of pay a sudden amount of respect, but not really ultimately.

  • And this is a sort of strange secret.

  • You know, the thing that really turns strangers into friends.

  • And it sounds very odd because we think it's the opposite, right?

  • Failure, vulnerability.

  • The display of vulnerability is actually the only route to friendship.