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.
Okay, the Christmas frenzy is over and it’s time for resolutions. What’s it going to be in 2014? For the coming year I’m going to borrow a mantra from the 19th century naturalist Henry David Thoreau, who preached the pleasures and virtues of ‘simplicity, simplicity, simplicity’.
And for a bit more inspiration, I’ve written an article on what we can learn today from the great simple livers from history (including Thoreau). Check it out over at YES! Magazine.
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…)
Here is the video of a talk I gave on my latest book, How to Find Fulfilling Work, at the Union Chapel in London in May. Filmed live in front of nearly 1000 people, it was part of the launch of The School of Life’s practical philosophy book series, edited by Alain de Botton and published by Macmillan. In 15 minutes I offer five essential ideas for career change, drawing on career advice from Leonardo da Vinci, Aristotle and a woman who gave herself the unusual 30th birthday present of trying out 30 different jobs in one year – a radical sabbatical.
There were five other talks on the night, each of them full of wise, witty and useful ideas for the art of living:
My book How to Find Fulfilling Work is also available in several translations, including Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese and German. This weekend I’ll be launching the Dutch edition at the LIFE! philosophy event in Amsterdam.
And for anybody who missed it, I recently had a new article on The Six Habits of Highly Empathic People published by the good folk at the Greater Good Science Center, at the University of California.
Roman Krznaric is the author of two popular books that came out this year – The Wonderbox: Curious histories of how to live and How to Find Fulfilling Work – and is also one of the founding faculty members of The School of Life, which teaches the art of living to its clientele. He talked to me about his work in the past with Theodore Zeldin, how The School of Life came to be, and how the practical philosophy movement can do more than offer lifestyle tips, and might even help to tackle the great problems of the age.
Would you say there is such a thing as a ‘practical philosophy movement’?
Yes, though it’s a very broad movement. What’s happened is that over the last 20 years there’s been a revolutionary rise of interest in the question of how to live. And that question has taken a practical focus in many ways, through philosophy clubs and organisations like the School of Life and Oxford Muse. Continue reading →
Over a million rain-soaked loyal subjects watched the Queen’s barge and a thousand support vessels bobble along the Thames this weekend to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee. And around the country many more millions joined the festivities at street parties, country fairs, community dances and cake sales.
But now the Union Jacks have been put away, we can sit back calmly and consider the big question raised by this extraordinary spectacle: How is it possible, in a modern democratic age, that 80% of British people (I’m Australian, by the way) still support the institution of monarchy – an unelected, hereditary head of state? Continue reading →
This is the video of a talk I gave at the Royal Society of the Arts, which describes six ways to expand our empathic potential, drawing on everything from the empathy experiments of George Orwell to developments in industrial design, from the struggle against slavery in the eighteenth century to the Middle East crisis today. Discover why the 21st century needs to become the Age of Outrospection.
The full version of this talk is available as a podcast.