• All posts,  Well-being

    Minimalism as the examined life

    A couple of thousand years ago, an uncompromising Athenian philosopher by the name of Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. It’s a provocative idea. Similar sentiments surface and resurface across history, and across cultures. Perhaps we need to hear this message again and again precisely because we find it so hard to take on board. Perhaps, as Simon Longstaff has suggested, it is because living an examined life can be challenging that Socrates adopted such strident language. (Or perhaps that was the doing of one of his students. We’ll never know, as Socrates didn’t make free and loose with a pen.) Socrates’ message is as relevant…

  • All posts,  Well-being

    Our ironic attitude to death

    As a culture, we avoid talking about death. Whether it’s because of existential angst (the worry about what’ll happen to us after we die?), a simple association with sadness and sorrow (we’ve experienced other peoples deaths but by definition we’ve never died ourselves), or because of an empathic understanding of how sad our death may make our friends and loved ones (at least, we assume so). This is very understandable but it’s counterproductive all the same. By treating death as something unspeakable we avoid it’s consideration at all cost. The effect of this avoidance is huge. Though it might feel like bringing a sledgehammer to break a nut, remembering that…