It was a huge privilege and pleasure to give one of The School of Life’s Sunday Sermons at London’s historic Conway Hall recently. Last time I’d been there was to discuss the power of vulnerability with emotions researcher Brené Brown. This time I was there to talk about my new book Empathy, but that was just part of it. The 500-strong congregation stood at the beginning and end to sing two great empathy-related songs: Stevie Wonder’s Living for the City and Nina Simone’s Feeling Good. There were even little shoe-shaped biscuits from Biscuiteers.
Here’s the video from the Sermon in full, where I talk about the six habits of highly empathic people and how to make them part of your everyday life.
Today is launch day for my new book, Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution. More than ten years in the making, I explore the six habits of highly empathic people, and how stepping into other people’s shoes can both transform everyday life and create radical social change.
My new talk from TEDx Athens has just gone online – How to Start an Empathy Revolution. From human libraries to babies teaching empathy, here are the ingredients for transforming empathy into a force for social change. I hope you enjoy it! Please share with friends, family, colleagues and strangers.
We’re all pretty sophisticated when it comes to ordering a cup of coffee – do you want a latte, a cappuccino, a mocha or maybe a double espresso? But we are incredibly crude in the way we talk about love, using a single word to describe so many kinds of relationship. Those clever Ancient Greeks, though, recognised six different varieties of love.
I’ve just written an article about the six Greek loves, which you will find at Yes Magazine. Have a read and see if makes you rethink our culture’s obsession with the idea of romantic love.
It’s launch day for my new book How Should We Live? Great Ideas from the Past for Everyday Life, which has just been released in the US. Previously published in the UK under the title The Wonderbox (sorry, a bit confusing, I know), it’s about what history can teach us about the art of living. What might we learn from the Ancient Greeks about the different varieties of love, from the Renaissance about creativity and death, or from the industrial revolution about rethinking our attitudes to work, money and family life?
But rather than tell you all about the book myself, there’s a fascinating review and discussion of it by the brilliant Maria Popova from Brain Pickings, which came out today. She describes it (most flatteringly) as ‘an illuminating and awakening read in its entirety’. Check out her full article, which focuses on the topics of love, time and empathy.
Empathy has a reputation as a fuzzy, feel-good emotion that many people associate in some vague way with everyday kindness. So it comes as something as a surprise when major political figures start talking about it as a key to resolving violent conflicts and peace building. This was exactly the point that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair made in a recent article in the Guardian. Continue reading →
Here’s an article I just wrote for the Wall Street Journal on the dilemmas of balancing work and family life. Is Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, author of Leaning In, right to think that women can ‘have it all’ if only they really believe in themselves? My approach is not to answer the question ‘Is it possible to have it all?’ but to put it under the microscope and rethink it. (And this is an issue for men too…)
To celebrate the launch of the US edition of my book How to Find Fulfilling Work, I’ve written a short essay that draws out what I think are the most important, useful and hopefully inspiring ideas within its pages. It’s called Six Ways to Stop Worrying and Find Work You Love, and is published by the good folk at YES! Magazine. Please share it around with the dissatisfied workers of the world.
There is also an excellent overview of the book at Brain Picker, the brainchild of the remarkable curator of interestingness Maria Popova.
How to Find Fulfilling Work is dedicated to the late and great oral historian Studs Terkel. Here is my tribute to him, and his extraordinary 1974 book Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do.
The Ancient Greeks would have considered us modern creatures incredibly unsophisticated in the way we talk about love. We tend to use a single word to cover so many different kinds of relationships and emotions. On Valentine’s Day you may well whisper ‘I love you’ to your soulmate over a candlelit meal, but then the next morning casually sign an email ‘lots of love’. The Greeks would have been shocked at the crudeness of our expression, because they identified six different varieties of love. What were the Greek loves? And how might they revolutionise the way we think about love today? Find out in this video on The Six Varieties of Love, which is based on the chapter on love in my book The Wonderbox. Happy Valentine’s Day!
So you’ve drawn up your list of New Year’s resolutions. Some are probably achievable, like giving up eating chocolate for breakfast. Others may be more daunting because they represent a long-held desire to take your life in a new direction, anything from changing career to renewing family relationships. If you’ve resolved to make a big change, I suggest having a companion by your side who’ll give you encouragement and inspiration. An ideal choice is the eighteenth-century German writer and natural scientist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. In his book Italian Journey, Goethe describes an episode from his own life that offers three essential lessons for making 2013 a year of New Year’s adventuring. Continue reading →