Have you ever wondered why the art of living a good life isn’t a topic that is taught in school? As much as I enjoyed school (I’m a proud Ravenclaw and a notorious book hoarder), the importance of emotional intelligence wasn’t widely discussed. Philosopher Alain de Botton is on a mission to rectify this lack of discussion and to promote widespread emotional intelligence. Several years ago, de Botton founded The School of Life, an organization that examines topics such as love, work, and the self to inspire people to live a fulfilling life.
According to its website, “The School of Life is a global organisation dedicated to developing emotional intelligence. We apply psychology, philosophy, and culture to everyday life.” In addition to being a well-respected philosopher, Alain de Botton is an accomplished author who has written fiction and non-fiction books regarding relationships, literature, religion, and travel. My first experience with his work was stumbling across his popular New York Times piece, “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person.” After reading his acclaimed article, I’ve enjoyed his work in various other forms, which eventually led me to The School of Life. De Botton’s realistic, intelligent approach to life’s difficult questions explores beyond the surface of mere self-help resources, and seeks to discover what it truly means to live well.
With physical locations in twelve cities around the world (although unfortunately none in the States), The School of Life offers in-person classes and one-on-one therapy. For those of us who don’t live near one of their locations, the school produces a plethora of other learning options. Its YouTube channel boasts well over two million subscribers, and its blog, The Book of Life, provides an in-depth discussion of the themes that are explored in the videos. The blog is divided into six “chapters”: Capitalism, Work, Relationships, Self, Culture, and Curriculum; each one containing multitudes of articles that delve into all aspects of its respective chapter. For those who are looking to delve a bit deeper into the topics examined by the school, it publishes an ever-expanding collection of books on various topics related to emotional intelligence.
Available for free download, The School of Life app allows individuals to connect with each other and discuss the ideas that are presented on the videos and blog. Users can chat over messages and engage with questions on the forum, providing community and engagement to people who aren’t able to attend in-person classes.
The School of Life is a unique place for people to learn about the role emotional intelligence plays in life. Personally, I’ve enjoyed learning more about myself and my relationships through the discussions that the program has started. The school doesn’t claim to have all the answers, but its approach to life’s complexities promotes living the best way possible, an enormous (but always worthy) undertaking.