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The Book of Life

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On the Sorrows of Work. Almost certainly, you’ve been having a bad time at work.

On the Sorrows of Work

In a perfect world, work should do so much for us: lend us purpose and a sense of achievement, offer us meaning and comradeship. But invariably, something goes wrong: our talents feel like they’re not being recognised, the company seems unfit to sacrifice a life for, the day-to-day tasks are mundane and stressful and many in management are like grown-up versions of playground bullies. We are readily drawn to blaming ourselves for the mess: we were impulsive in our career choices, we were vain and lazy; we haven’t got the drive of a classmate from university (she now runs an empire). Yet for all the truths that self-condemnation might contain, many of the factors that cause our dreams to run into the sand in fact lie outside of our direct control, in the very structure of employment within the capitalist system. To blame ourselves is to misunderstand the nature of reality. 1. 2. 3.

In the olden times, it was easier on this score. On the Origins of Motivation at Work. Getting people to work hard and do their best – to be highly motivated – is a central problem not only of individual businesses but of the economy as a whole.

On the Origins of Motivation at Work

Everyone can recognise in themselves what a huge difference being fired-up makes: you confront challenges with energy, you sail through routine tasks, you stay calm under pressure, you come up with solutions to problems. If only we could unlock this kind of attitude in ourselves, we would, more widely, produce a much higher productivity and a flourishing economy. There are lots of ideas in circulation about how to enhance motivation: it might help if an office or workplace is light, airy and pleasant; has a pizza day once a month; makes space for a table-tennis table. But such suggestions only hover around the edges. On Anger. Views: 10204 It is, of course, a form of madness.

On Anger

You pick up the largest jam jar and fling it to the floor. You go up to the attendant at the counter and deliver a stream of obscenities. You accelerate and overtake on a narrow country lane bordered by oak trees. On Self-pity. Views: 831 It was a sunny Sunday afternoon; you were nine years old.

On Self-pity

Your parents wouldn’t let you have any ice cream if you didn’t do your maths homework. It was achingly unfair. On Melancholy. Melancholy is not exactly a word on everybody’s lips.

On Melancholy

People don’t go around gossiping about how melancholic the new regional IT director is or drawing up lists of the more melancholy-inducing bits of natural scenery (Brighton Beach on an overcast morning; Rannoch Moor in Scotland; the West Siberian Plain). But we should pay more attention to melancholy and even seek it out from time to time. Melancholy is a species of sadness that arises when we are open to the fact that life is inherently difficult and that suffering and disappointment are core parts of universal experience. Why You’re (Probably) Not a Great Communicator. One of the ideals of modern relationships is that both parties will be ‘good communicators’.

Why You’re (Probably) Not a Great Communicator

‘Communication’ is held to lie at the heart of a thriving partnership. But what is ‘communication’? It isn’t – of course – merely talking. One wouldn’t count as a good communicator simply on the basis of being able to keep up a lively patter about the weather or serving up witty anecdotes about the local team. Good communication means the capacity to give another person an accurate picture of what is happening in your emotional and psychological life – and in particular, the capacity to describe its very darkest, trickiest and most awkward sides in such a way that others can understand, and even sympathise with them. Yet where we don’t ‘communicate’ a message, we still manage to get our points across, but just in toxic forms.

Developing Emotional Intelligence. On the Dangers of the Internet. Views: 4064 Over the past century, technologies have completely changed the way we connect with each other.

On the Dangers of the Internet

The benefits of the internet are obvious and all around us. But the risks and dangers are more subterranean. Here are two videos that consider why we need to start taking digital sabbaths and remember what it is to be bored again: Status Anxiety. Resolutions. What is the Point of the Humanities? Free Trade - or Protectionism?

What is the Point of the Humanities?

POLITICAL THEORY - Marx. PHILOSOPHY - Plato. PHILOSOPHY - Aristotle. Why We Love Disaster News. CALM: Insomnia. The School of Life. PSYCHOTHERAPY - Freud. Anna Freud. We’re particularly down on people we call ‘defensive’.

Anna Freud

They blame others for what’s probably their own fault. They hear reasonable criticism as a cruel attack. They deny they have a problem when they clearly do. But, of course, we must be doing this ourselves even if we find it hard to notice exactly when – or indeed why. The finest guide to defensive behaviour is the psychoanalyst, and daughter of Sigmund, Anna Freud. In 1934 she published The Ego and Mechanisms of Defence – the book that laid out for the first time the core idea that we instinctively try to protect our ‘ego’ (our acceptable picture of who we are) with a variety of defences. Anna Freud highlighted ten key types of defence mechanism. Wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Ten-Virtues.pdf. PhilosophicalMeditation.pdf.