Other bestsellers include How Proust Can Change Your Life (1997), Status Anxiety (2004) and The Architecture of Happiness (2006).
He co-founded The School of Life in 2008 and Living Architecture in 2009.
Nowhere do we realistically teach ourselves and our children how love deepens and stumbles, survives and evolves over time, and how that process has much more to do with ourselves than with what is right or wrong about our partner. So we have this ideal of what love is and then these very, very unhelpful narratives of love. Love is at its most necessary when we are weak, when we feel incomplete, and we must show love to one another at those points. The only conditions — as we know with children, the only conditions under which anyone learns are conditions of incredible sweetness, tenderness, patience. But the problem is that the failures of our relationships have made us so anxious that we can’t be the teachers we should be. And not to infantilize them, but when we’re dealing with children as parents, as adults, we’re incredibly generous in the way we interpret their behavior. I think there’s a certain wisdom that begins by knowing that of course you, like everyone else, is pretty difficult. Our parents don’t tell us, our ex-lovers — they knew it, but they couldn’t be bothered to tell us. And often, you can be way into your 40s before you’re starting to get a sense of, “Well, maybe some of the problem is in me.” Because of course, it’s so intuitive to think that of course it’s the other person. There are islands and moments of beautiful connection, but we have to be modest about how often they’re going to happen. If I can be indiscreet on air, my wife used to say to me, in the early days of our marriage, she sometimes would say to me things like, “My father would never have said something like” — I would say something, or it’s not my turn to make the tea or something. He would always to do this for us.” And then I had to point out that there was really a — she wasn’t comparing like with like. And so one of the things we do as parents is to edit ourselves, which is lovely, in a way, for our children. Today, we are exploring the true hard work of love with the writer and philosopher Alain de Botton. Tippett: I’d like to go a slightly different place with all of this. And I think if we just try and explore the world “political,” “political” really means “outside of private space.” And we’re highly socialized creatures who really take our cues from what is going on around us. And we need to build a world that recognizes that if somebody goes “mm-hmm” rather than “this” or “thanks” rather than “yes” or whatever it is, this can ruin our day.
How different would our relationships be, de Botton says, if the question we asked on an early date was, “How are you crazy? So we’ve got these two contrasting stories, and we get them muddled, and… Tippett: And also — and I feel like this should be obvious — but you just touched on art and culture and how that could help us complexify our understanding of this. Tippett: Your most recent book on this subject is , which is a novel, but it’s a novel that actually I feel you kind of weave a pedagogical narrator voice into it. And therefore, some often genuine legitimate things that we want to get across are just — come across as insults, as attempts to wound, and are therefore rejected, and the arteries of the relationship start to fur. Tippett: Someone recently said to me — I’m curious about how you would respond to this. So as — now that I have young adult children, when you hear that coming out of the mouth of your 21-year-old, “He should know. And if a child says — if you walk home, and a child says, “I hate you,” you immediately go, OK, that’s not quite true. So to begin with that sense of, “I’m quite tricky and in these ways.” That’s a very important starting point for being good at love. I think if you’re lonely with only — I don’t know — 40 percent of your life, that’s really good going. There’s this wonderful line from about these two parents with children: “The tired child in each of them is furious at how long it’s been neglected and in pieces.” Mr. She was comparing this man, her father, as a father but not as a lover. But it gives our children a really unnatural sense of what you can expect from another human being because we’re never as nice to probably anyone else on Earth as we are to our children. The things you’ve been saying, pointing out about how love really works, that people don’t learn when they’re humiliated, that self-righteousness is an enemy of love. And if we see an atmosphere of short tempers, of selfishness, etc., that will bolster those capacities within ourselves. And we should think about that as we approach, not just our personal relationships, but also our social and political relationships.
Once we’re over about 12 years old, we’re seldom encouraged to be nice.
Gilbert went to live and work in Switzerland, where he co-founded an investment firm, Global Asset Management; his family was estimated to have been worth £234 million in 1999.
Alain spent the first twelve years of his life in Switzerland where he was brought up speaking French and German.
Whatever disagreements one might have with their definitions of goodness or the practical implementations of their own creeds, religions do not stop trying to encourage their followers to be good.
They give them commandments and rituals, they deliver them sermons and ask them to rehearse lessons in prayers and in songs.