This is the first of the Alain De Botton books that I have read (I plan to read them all at some point). He was recommended by a friend from Australia who has read most of them. He suggested to read this book first before moving onto the others.
The book moves through six major themes (unpopularity, not having enough money, frustrating, inadequacy, a broken hard and difficulties) and aligns them to various great philosophers of our time. Learning about Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca etc. and their history was a great introduction. There are so many great quotes and lessons throughout the book to ponder on. Looking forward to reading his other books.
Three key takeaways from the book:
1. Epicurus has written over 300 books on just about everything; including human life (4 books) and nature (37 books). His philosophy had a strong emphasis on the importance of sensual pleasure. For example he quoted that … “Pleasure is the beginning and the goal of a happy life.”
2. That people can be incorrect in all various levels in life and work. Someone will argue an incorrect point based primarily on their beliefs. Socrates simply said that people need to examine their beliefs logically, or put differently validating that the statement cannot be rationally contradicted. His approach to thinking was based on the following:
a. Locate a statement confidently described as common b. Imagine for a moment that, despite the confidence of the person proposing it, the statement is false. Search for situations or contexts where the statement would not be true
c. If an exception is found, the definition must be false or at least imprecise
d. The initial statement must be nuanced to take exception into account
e. If one subsequently finds exceptions to the improved statements, the process should be repeated.
3. Love these two quotes in the book: “How badly we react to frustration is critically determined by what we think of as normal.” And “… reassurance can be the cruelest antidote to anxiety.”