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  • >> JAMES: WELCOME BACK.

  • OUR GUEST IS A BESTSELLING AUTHOR, PHILOSOPHER, AND THE

  • FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN OF 'THE SCHOOL OF LIFE.'

  • HE'S SOMEONE WHO, WHENEVER I LISTEN TO HIM, HE MAKES ME THINK

  • ABOUT THE WORLD DIFFERENTLY AND HE'S HERE FROM HIS HOME IN THE

  • U.K.

  • HE IS THE BRILLIANT ALAIN DE BOTTON.

  • >> .I HAD SURGERY ON MY LIE LAST WEEK WHERE I HAD TO LIE WITH

  • FLANNEL ON MY EYE LAST WEEK AND I THINK I'VE LISTENED TO EVERY

  • RECORDED PIECE OF PODCASTRY YOU'VE DONE OVER THE LAST SIX OR

  • SEVEN YEARS.

  • YOUR VOICE HAS BEEN RATTLING AROUND MY HEAD.

  • >> I'M AMAZED YOU MADE A RECOVERY.

  • >> I FOUND IT DEEPLY -- T SENT YOU BACK TO REAL ILL

  • HEALTH, BUT THANK YOU, THAT'S GREAT.

  • >> James: I FOUND IT DEEPLY CALMING.

  • WHAT I FOUND INCREDIBLE WHEN WE TALKED BEFORE THAT THE NEWS IS

  • SO SCARY A LOT OF THE TIME, EVERYTHING WE'RE HEARING IS

  • SCARY, BUT YOU ACTUALLY HAVE QUITE AN OPTIMISTIC TAKE ON WHAT

  • WE'RE GOING THROUGH.

  • CAN YOU EXPLAIN THAT OPTIMISM AND WHY IT'S THERE?

  • >> LOOK, YOU KNOW, IN A WAY, IT'S A SILVER LINING RATHER THAN

  • OPTIMISM.

  • I THINK ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS ABOUT THIS TIME IS WE ARE

  • REDISCOVERING ONE ANOTHER.

  • MOST OF TIME WE ARE SO BUSY, BUT ALSO WE HAVE SUCH A FRONT.

  • ALL OF US PRETENDING TO BE THIS AND THAT, AND AT THIS TIME, I'M

  • LOVING THE NEW VULNERABILITY.

  • I'VE HAD SO MANY CONVERSATIONS WITH PEOPLE WHO WERE JUST ABLE

  • BE HUMAN IN A WAY THAT VERY OFTEN THEY'RE NOT THE REST OF

  • THE TIME.

  • IT'S SUCH A GIFT.

  • YOU KNOW, WHEN A FRIEND CALLS YOU UP AND THEY SAY HOW ARE YOU

  • DOING, IF YOU'RE ABLE TO JUST TAKE THEM INTO THE REALITY OF

  • YOUR LIFE, THAT IS SUCH A PRESENT THAT YOU'RE GIVING THEM

  • BECAUSE SO MANY OF US THINK I'M UNUSUAL, I'M SO STRANGE, OTHER

  • PEOPLE ARE ALL HAVING A GREAT LIFE, THEY'RE HAVING A GREAT

  • TIME.

  • THIS IS A TIME WHEN THERE'S NO MORE FOMO, THERE'S NO FEAR OF

  • MISSING OUT DURING THE PANDEMIC.

  • THERE'S NO GREAT PARTY SOMEWHERE ELSE.

  • IT'S ALL OF US FRAGILE, SUFFERING, VULNERABLE HUMANS

  • TRYING TO HOLD IT TOGETHER WITH, YOU KNOW, SOMETIMES FRIGHTENING

  • MOMENTS, AND IN A WAY, YOU KNOW, THE KIND OF PRETENSES OF THE

  • NORMAL WORLD THAT WE'VE PUT UP AND SUFFER FROM HAVE KIND OF

  • GONE.

  • ALSO A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY TO ME THINGS LIKE I'M FEELING ANXIOUS,

  • IS IT GOING TO BE OKAY?

  • AND I ALWAYS SAY, IF YOU REALLY WANT TO CALM SOMETHING DOWN,

  • DON'T ALWAYS STRESS EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE GREAT AND

  • TERRIFIC.

  • LOOK AT SOME OF THE DARKNESS IN THE FACE.

  • YOU KNOW, THE STOIC PHILOSOPHERS OF ANCIENT GREECE AND ROME WERE

  • FANTASTIC BECAUSE RATHER THAN SAYING THE BAD STUFF WON'T

  • HAPPEN, THEY CHOSE A DIFFERENT VIEW -- LOOK AT THE BAD STUFF

  • AND SEE THAT IT CAN ACTUALLY BE SURVIVED.

  • WE ARE ALL OF US MUCH STRONGER THAN WE THINK.

  • WE ALWAYS THINK, IMAGINE IF I COULDN'T GO OUT, IMAGINE IF THIS

  • HAPPENED OR THAT HAPPENED.

  • WE'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF A CRISIS AND BROADLY SPEAKING, TOUCH

  • WOOD, MOST OF US ARE STILL COPING.

  • AND EVEN IF WE'RE NOT COPING, NOT COPING'S OKAY.

  • SO IT WILL MAKE US STRONGER BY REVEALING WE DON'T HAVE TO BE

  • PERFECT.

  • THESE ARE NOT PERFECT DAYS BUT STILL WE'RE OKAY.

  • >> James: I THINK THAT'S A GOOD THING THE NOTION OF

  • EVERYTHING DOESN'T HAVE TO BE OKAY AND IT'S OKAY TO

  • ACKNOWLEDGE THAT BECAUSE YOU SAID SOMETHING A COUPLE OF WEEKS

  • AGO ON SOMETHING I HEARD YOU DO BUT YOU SAID THAT THE BRAVE FACE

  • COULD BE THE BIGGEST VILLAIN OF THIS, THE NOTION OF PUTTING ON A

  • BRAVE FACE.

  • TELL ME ABOUT THAT.

  • >> YOU KNOW, THE BRAVE FACE HAS ALWAYS BEEN A PROBLEM.

  • MEN HAVE HAD IT WORSE THAN WOMEN IN THIS REGARD.

  • IT'S ALL THIS IDEA THAT, IN ORDER TO BE A DECENT HUMAN

  • BEING, YOU HAVE TO BE AN UNAFRAID HUMAN BEING.

  • SO MOST OF US FEEL SO WEIRD BECAUSE WE HAVE ACCESS TO OUR

  • OWN THOUGHTS AND FEARS AND FRAGILITIES.

  • WE CAN ONLY GUESS WHAT'S GOING ON FROM OUTSIDE OTHER PEOPLE'S

  • MINDS FROM WHAT THEY TELL US AND GENERALLY THEY EDIT THE

  • INFORMATION HEAVILY.

  • A LOT OF US THINK WE'RE WEIRD BECAUSE WHAT'S GOING ON IN MY

  • HEAD DOESN'T SEEM TO ECHO WHAT'S GOING ON IN SOMEBODY ELSE'S

  • HEAD.

  • ALL OF US EXPERIENCE MANY OF THE SAME THINGS.

  • WE'RE FULL OF SELF-DOUBT, REGRET, SHAME, BUT ALSO WE HAVE

  • LONGINGS FOR LOVE.

  • WE WANT TO BE GENEROUS TOWARDS OTHER PEOPLE.

  • JUST ACTUALLY LIFE IS STRANGER THAN WE'RE ALLOWED TO ADMIT THAT

  • IT IS, AND I THINK GREAT WORKS OF ART, GREAT WORKS OF COMEDY,

  • GREAT SONGS, THEY'RE ALWAYS ABLE TO STRETCH OUR IDEA OF WHAT IS

  • NORMAL, AND THAT'S WHY WE APPRECIATE THEM.

  • THINK OF THE BEST MOVIES.

  • THEY'RE ABLE TO SHOW WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE A PARENT TO BE IN

  • LOVE, TO GO ON A JOURNEY AND THEY GIVE US A REAL PICTURE.

  • SO OFTEN WE LIVE INSIDE THESE VERY EDIT IMAGES.

  • I THINK LET'S USE THE CRISIS TO BE MORE HONEST ABOUT WHAT IT'S

  • LIKE TO BE HUMAN.

  • LIFE IS ALWAYS AN EMERGENCY.

  • YOU DON'T NEED A PLAGUE TO BE REMINDED.

  • IT CAN BE USEFUL JUST TO BE REMINDED THAT, YOU KNOW, WE'RE

  • ALL SUFFERING, WE'RE ALL AFRAID, WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE AT SOME

  • POINT.

  • KEEPLE THOSE THINGS RIGHT AT THE CENTER OF OUR COMPASS HELPS US

  • TO MAYBE FOCUS ON THE ESSENTIALS.

  • IT'S SO EASY TO GET DISTRACTED TANNED TO IMAGINE THAT OTHERS'

  • LIVES ARE SHINY AND PERFECT, THEY'RE NOT.

  • SO THIS IS ALL A GENTLE REMINDER FROM THE PLAGUE.

  • >> James: BUT ONE PEOPLE ARE WORRIED ABOUT, YOU KNOW,

  • MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WORRIED ABOUT THEIR JOBS, WORRIED ABOUT WORK,

  • WORRIED ABOUT FINANCES.

  • WHAT DO YOU SAY TO PEOPLE WHEN THEY FEEL POWERLESS IN THOSE

  • FEELINGS?

  • >> LOOK, I MEAN, YOU KNOW, A LOT OF THE TIME, IN MODERN SOCIETY,

  • WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE TOTALLY IN CHARGE OF OUR DESTINIES, AND THE

  • NUMBER ONE QUESTION THAT PEOPLE WILL ASK YOU WHEN THEY MEET YOU

  • FOR THE FIRST TIME IS WHAT DO YOU DO, AND YOU BETTER HAVE AN

  • IMPRESSIVE ANSWER TO WHAT YOU DO.

  • YOU ARE YOUR JOB AND YOUR PERFORMANCE IN THE MARKETPLACE,

  • WHICH MAKES IT SO GUILT BECAUSE, ON TOP OF OUR FINANCIAL WORRIES,

  • WE'VE GOT OUR STATUS WORRIES, WE FEEL PEOPLE WON'T LIKE US UNLESS

  • WE'RE DOING TERRIFICALLY.

  • IN A WAY, AGAIN, THE SILVER LINING OF THIS TIME IS, IF

  • THINGS ARE NOT GOING TERRIFICALLY FOR YOU AND THE

  • ECONOMY IS WOBBLING IN LOTS OF POTS, IT'S GENERALLY NOT YOUR

  • FAULT.

  • WE ARE NOT ALWAYS RESPONSIBLE FOR WHATEVER HAPPENS TO US.

  • YOU KNOW, YOUR BIOGRAPHY IS NOT WHO YOU ARE.

  • YOU KNOW, SOMETIMES WE CAN BE TERRIBLY SNOBBISH.

  • WHAT I MEAN BY SNOBBISH IS WE TAKE A SMALL PART OF WHAT

  • PEOPLE, ARE WHAT'S ON THEIR BUSINESS CARD, HOW THEY HAVE

  • BEEN DOING THIS MONTH, AND THAT BECOMES THE WHOLE OF WHO THEY

  • ARE.

  • IT NEVER IS.

  • WE'RE ALL FAR RICHER THAN MERELY OUR JOBS.

  • AND I THINK THIS CRISIS IS FORCING US FOR BETTER OR FOR

  • WORSE TO SEE EACH OTHER IN A FAR LARGER KIND OF CONTEXT.

  • WE ARE MUCH MORE THAN THE ECONOMY TELLS US WE ARE, AND

  • WHEN THE ECONOMIES GO MAD, WE DESERVE TO REDISCOVER ONE

  • ANOTHER AS HUMAN BEINGS.

  • >> James: CAN I ASK YOU -- UST WANT TO SAY ONE THING.

  • WE'VE GOT A LOT OF PARENTS, RIGHT.

  • A LOT OF PARENTS ARE GOING I'M NOT TEACHING MY CHILD --

  • >> James: THAT'S WHAT I WAS ABOUT TO ASK YOU ABOUT PARENTING

  • AND WHAT DO I SAY TO MY CHILDREN WHEN THEY'RE GOING THROUGH THESE

  • THINGS.

  • >> WELL, THIS IS IT, SO MUCH WORRY IT COMES DOWN TO BECAUSE

  • WE'VE GOT THIS BACKGROUND IDEA THAT THE ONLY GOOD PARENT IS THE

  • PERFECT PARENT.

  • HERE'S THE TRUTH, IF YOU ARE TRYING TO BE A PERFECT PARENT,

  • YOU ARE PUTTING YOUR CHILD ON A ONE-WAY ROAD TO PSYCHOSIS.

  • NO CHILD NEEDS A PERFECT PARENT.

  • AND YOU KNOW WHY?

  • BECAUSE THE WORLD IS IMPERFECT AND, ULTIMATELY, THE JOB OF

  • BEING A PARENT IS TO PREPARE YOUR CHILD FOR WHAT THE WORLD IS

  • ACTUALLY LIKE.

  • SO IF YOU PREPARE YOUR CHILD FOR AN IDEA THAT THE WORLD IS

  • PERFECT AND YOU AS THE PARENTAL REPRESENTATIVE IS THIS SOME

  • SUPERHUMAN BEING, YOU'RE DOING THEM A DISSERVICE.

  • THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE A TERRIFIC CRASH WITH REALITY AND IT'S

  • GOING TO BE GRIM.

  • MUCH BETTER THEY MEET THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF LIFE THROUGH

  • YOU AN ORDINARY, FLAWED BUT LOVING AND GENTLE SOUL AS THE

  • AVERAGE PARENT IS, AND THAT IS HOW YOU'RE PREPARING YOUR KID

  • FOR REALITY.

  • SO DITCH THE MANDARIN, THE PERFECTION, THE S SOURDOUGH AND

  • JUST REVEAL YOURSELF TO YOUR OWN CHILD AS A LOVING, HARD WORKING

  • BUT ULTIMATELY HUMAN BEING, AND THAT IS THE MUCH GREATER GIFT

  • THAN TRYING TO BE PERFECT MOM OR DAD.

  • AS I SAY, NO ONE NEEDS A PERFECT MOM OR DAD.

  • THEY ONLY NEED A GOOD ENOUGH MOM OR DAD, THAT'S ALL WE EVER NEED.