Scattered all over the world wide web, you’ll find a startling influx of information sources and numerous avenues connecting like-minded people, along with your fair share of viral (animal) videos. In the new-age civilization that is technology, it’s no surprise how carried away we can get with deserting off to our own reclusive island of select media. What this means for individuals is thankfully, freedom of choice, but also disgracefully, egocentrism. Countless are those quick to jump to and defend their case, and attack those whom express even the slightest bit of disagreement.
Yet, what has spurred from this individualism and seems to be ingrained all Internet citizens is a sense of viciousness. We need to learn to revert to our non-solipsistic selves and revel in the importance of constant self-improvement, not only for a better life, but also for further understanding and development of modern society. So, it was to my great intrigue that I stumbled across The School of Life’s Youtube channel. Often the videos I find floating around the Internet happen to be of either a light-hearted or deceiving nature. (Years on the Internet had no doubt given me trust issues.) In retrospect, deciding to invest in this particular viewing experience was one of the best decisions I’ve come to make.
What initially lured me in – and what I never tire to admire – is The School of Life’s didactic daringness to tackle even the most complex of concepts and philosophies. The way this is undertaken is through their visually and aurally appealing videos, which make for easy watching. Paired with this, for the most part, is calming narration by British-based founder Alain de Botton. These elements allow one to both savour the intellectual and formulate the self-awareness they may have (un)consciously detracted from their inner selves. The School of Life harnesses a panorama of the infinite aspects of life, embracing each in full consideration – worthy of some serious food for thought after.
The School of Life’s take on developing emotional intelligence is essentially met with its frankness. Of the issues mankind tends to shy away from, the most remarkable are not those involved with secularism but rather those that encompass human emotion. Through The School of Life’s learning initiatives (not just limited to their carefully curated videos), even first-world concerns are appraised and addressed with care. Even if you’re not looking for enlightenment per se, you can surely get a daily dose of wisdom via their absorbing content.
The process to discovery and acceptance of self is immense, and The School of Life acts as a compelling adjunct to encourage self-actualisation. In order to better understand The School of Life, Lost Magazine spoke with Sarah Stein Lubrano, a researcher from the organization.
What are the core principles The School of Life abides by and looks to promote?
The School of LIfe: As a global brand, we want to help people across the world become more emotionally healthy and emotionally intelligent. In general, we try to use the insights of psychology (especially psychoanalysis) and culture to help people understand their own emotions and those of others. Moreover, we’re committed to explaining these insights in simple, accessible, and appealing language rather than the obscure writing and jargon that psychologists and academics often use. In our view a good idea should always be made seductive. We want the most important ideas about happiness and maturity to be accessible, popular and even loved. Finally, we believe in the value and importance of deriving insights from thousands of years of culture: from literature, art, history, music, sociology, and philosophy.
Why is emotional intelligence so overlooked, and why is it of prime importance to tend and nurture it?
The School of Life: We think that emotional intelligence has been overlooked in part because our current culture makes “toughness” seem glamorous. Stern rationality is often seen as the only appropriate mode for a wide range of activities. We think toughness can only ever be a slim façade; underneath we are all anxious, troubled, needy, vulnerable (and also: loving, imaginative and passionate!) We’d like to instead make sensitivity and wisdom more glamorous; we see them as the true and rewarding path through all kinds of challenges.
Moreover, we believe that too many people take the romantic view that either you’ve got the right emotional qualities and abilities from the start or you don’t. We’d like to suggest a more classical approach: just because you’ve learned something — rather than done it instinctively the first time — it doesn’t make your response less sincere or valuable. We can all learn to be better listeners, more empathic people, more sophisticated in our understanding of ourselves and of others. We can improve our relationships and our own happiness — if we’re willing to work at it with a little humility.
Mindfulness. Interaction. Acceptance. Perspective. The School of Life is excellent in teaching the real lessons of life. What is the true impact of learning to improve one’s own life, self and community?
The School of Life: We believe that if given time to reflect, a supportive community, and regular reminders of key meaningful ideas we can all become calmer, more sane, more resilient, and better able to connect with others. We hope that people will find our classes, products, and media help them to be better friends, partners, children, and parents. And we also hope to help people find a sense of meaning so that they can actively seek jobs and causes that will mean that —far down the road — they can go to their deathbeds feeling satisfied with the lives they’ve chosen.
I would presume much research explored could perhaps lead to darker places, and that the depth of work your personnel engage in has the possibility of affecting them adversely. How does The School of Life maintain itself as a grounded institution, amongst all the investigations into the essence of humanity?
The School of Life: Life really does have many dark things about it, and part of the task of emotional maturity facing each of us is to learn to cope with loss, sacrifice, and disappointment. But we are fortunate in that our facilitators are highly trained; they are capable of exploring these topics in a healthy way for both themselves and our participants. Many of our faculty work as psychotherapists, psychologists, and life coaches, and are used to dealing with difficult topics and people when they are vulnerable. Finally, there’s no shame in having sad, angry, frustrated, unhappy feelings per se — there’s only the error of not being willing to address them and learn to handle them more gracefully.
What goes into the process of global expansion of The School of Life?
The School of Life: We hold a regular summit for prospective international partners. These have led to the launch of nine international hubs Melbourne: Amsterdam, Paris, Antwerp, Sao Paulo, Belgrade, Istanbul, Tel Aviv and Seoul. A lot goes into choosing a new hub. We’re ambitious but careful to get it right. Everything must line up: our partners have got to have a good team, the city must be right, the region ready, the finances and market sufficient… But even then, it’s a highly selective process. We’re only a small team here at headquarters, and we get more than 1,000 inquiries a year. So we have to choose a few and focus. We hope that in ten years’ time there will be many, many more international hubs. In 2016 we’re hoping to move our focus towards finding the first international partner in North America.
In regards to The School of Life’s Youtube channel and filmmaking:
The School of Life: Our multimedia team is especially excited as we’ve lately begun to make films not only for our own channel but in partnership with other organizations and brands, in order to help our partners spread their message in a more meaningful way. Just as we try to make films on our own channel that touch on important emotional topics, we also are eager to help other organizations and companies and better engage with people’s underlying psychological needs. We have also begun to work with businesses and their brands in a broader fashion, in order to help them improve their products and spread their message in wiser and more inviting ways. This means we not only make films but design products and campaigns, but also create magazines and customised books, throw special events, and much more. And finally we’ve begun to help businesses by providing them with training programmes, classes, and coaching so that they can work better as individuals, teams and entire companies to address their customer’s needs.
I understand there are hubs and even pop-up workshops in various locations. For example, in Melbourne, there exists a newly opened The School of Life. How can members of the public get involved with and contribute to The School of Life?
The School of Life: Melbourne is one of our international hubs, (in fact one of the first!) As with any of our hubs, people can come join us for events, talks, and classes; they can buy our products online and in our shops, they can receive coaching and therapy, they can subscribe to our newsletter and our YouTube channel. There’s so much that’s fascinating and thrilling happening at the School locally and internationally. Come join us!
Images provided by The School of Life.