Sunday, June 22, 2014

The School of Life

I was shopping in the city sales (again!) today and browsing around Pigeonhole I came across a series of books by The School of Life titled Toolkit for Life, volume 1. I recognised them from when I catalogued them at the Library vendor where I work on a casual basis, and I remember thinking at the time - these look good, will have to add them to my 'to read' list. The books have titles like How to Deal with Adversity, How to be Alone, and How to Connect with Nature. They sound like self help books, but they are actually philosophy, and seem very well written.

So when I got home I looked them up and found that The School of Life was more than just a series of books, it was a whole organisation with various divisions - a classroom, therapy, business consultancy, shop, library, and blog, with offices around the world.

The About Us page of their website explains that the organisation is "devoted to developing emotional intelligence through the help of culture". They will "direct you towards a variety of ideas from the humanities - from philosophy to literature, psychology to the visual arts - ideas that will exercise, stimulate and expand your mind". Sounds wonderful, and what an interesting idea for an organisation!

I work for a company which has a set of organisational values, one of which is happiness. It has always seemed to me that this value is a tricky one to work with - try telling an unhappy person to cheer up and see what kind of reaction you get! And sometimes the means to happiness that are suggested seem so cliched and meaningless because we've heard them so many times - be kind to others, eat well, enjoy nature etc., etc... I like the idea that The School of Life has come up with - aiming for emotional intelligence rather than happiness, and getting there through culture rather than cliches. 

I think I'll borrow the set of their books from the library and see where they take me!