By Alain De Botton on “Emotional Education”

What seemed a convincing call to action at 8 a.m. will be nothing more than a dim recollection by midday and an indecipherable contrail in our cloudy minds by evening. Our enthusiasms and resolutions can be counted upon to fade like the stars at dawn. Nothing much sticks.

It was the philosophers of ancient Greece who first identified these problems and described the structural deficiencies of our minds with a special term. They proposed that we suffer from akrasia, commonly translated as “weakness of will,” a habit of not listening to what we accept should be heard and a failure to act upon what we know is right. It is because of akrasia that crucial information is frequently lodged in our minds without being active in them, and it is because of akrasia that we often both understand what we should do and resolutely omit to do it.

How to overcome akrasia and live with life-enlarging emotional intelligence — by absorbing the beauty and wisdom encoded in literature and art, by harnessing the power of ritual, by undertaking the difficult, immensely rewarding and redemptive work of self-knowledge — is what De Botton offers in the remainder of the throughly helpful The School of Life: An Emotional Education. 

Thanks to Maria Popova for her beautiful musings and sharings. God Bless.

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