Not to pitch it to you, but I believe they’re providing a decent service that more and more of us can benefit from, so I’ll tell you a little about it.
It was set up by the philosopher, Alain de Botton (that bald, clever chap who seems to have more time in a day than the rest of us… That wasn’t an attack on the baldies, Alain. I’m going bald, too…).
The sole intention behind TSOL, if you don’t already know, is to promote emotional intelligence and wellbeing, by providing classes on a variety of topics, such as How to Stay Calm, How to Face Death and How to Fill the God-Shaped Hole (I currently run the former two).
Each class allows a maximum 26 people to attend. It’s an ideal number that allows you to mingle with like-minded people and possibly forge new friendships. The classes are set up so that the participants get involved in discussions and activities; questions are asked and answers are questioned.
This is philosophy after all.
Each class runs for about 2 and half hours, with breaks in between. As Jim Rohn said, “The brain can only absorb what the seat can endure.”
He meant ass.
And breaks can be needed, too, for some of the classes aren’t exactly light. On the contrary, some are heavy, such as the How to Face Death class for obvious reasons. Even the How to Stay Calm class goes into unpleasant examples of survival stories, as to demonstrate how we can learn from the survivors.
TSOL also have their own selection of books you can buy - and they’re decent, too. I’ve read four of them so far.
The “Life Lessons” collection is a great way to get to know the people you may have heard so much about, but have never dared to dive into their work for fear of not understanding it. At least that’s why I never read their work. Kiergaard’s philosophy, for example, is not easy to read at all, but these small books are written to explain things in an accessible way, so even the most complex philosophical theories can be understood.
Talking of making philosophy easy and interesting, I’m reading Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder at the moment. I’m loving it. I can't believe I've never read it before. It’s a history of philosophy, infused with the story of a fifteen-year old girl, who finds a letter addressed to her, and on it are the words, “Who are you?”
Asking ourselves that very question is exactly how we become philosophers of our own life.
You know those periods you go through when all of a sudden you’re super productive?
All of a sudden you feel an urge to get things done, to step up a gear and move forward towards a goal that’s dear to you.
Last weekend (I’m writing this on Saturday, so it’s exactly a week ago) I started to watch videos by fellow bloggers, with the intention of learning from them. If they were doing this full time, then so could I - but how?
The reason I’ve been writing on here every day was because I wanted to take this writing business seriously. I told myself it was now or never. I was so close to deleting this blog but something inside me told me to give it one last shot. That’s when I decided to write 300 words a day.
It was a way for me to create a writing habit.
And it worked.
But I needed to find a way to reach a wider audience.
That’s when I began to look for ways to move forward.
I finished it on Sunday morning, in a cafe, with my small white dog on my lap. Come to think of it, I must’ve looked not too dissimilar to James Bond’s Dr No, but I wasn’t planning world domination - at least not in that sense.
I realized one thing: I had to have a basic foundation. Well, I had a basic foundation - it was this blog, so I needed to go to the next stage.
I needed a website.
Come Monday morning I had a meeting with a friend, and he informed me of several options for creating a site.
I should say that I’m not tech-savvy in the slightest. When it comes to computers and the inner-workings of the internet, I’m pretty clueless. (My mum showed me how to work an iPad.)
When I got home from the meeting, I continued to do some research… and then I plunged straight in to creating a website.
I’m pleased to announce that my website, gavinwhyte.org is now up and running. I’ve been working on it since Monday, and I will continue to tweak it here and there, but, as it stands, I’m pretty happy with it.
When you sign up to my monthly newsletter (which can be done when you visit my site, or you can simply click HERE and it will take you directly to where you input your name and email address), you’ll get a free copy of Memento Mori: A Sneak Peek into a Seeker’s Diary. I hope to see your name on my subscriber’s list, so we can keep in touch.
I haven’t decided whether or not to continue posting on here; I'm edging more towards giving my new site my full attention. We'll see.
So it’s a new chapter for me.
And I always welcome new chapters. There’s nothing like change to move things forward.
I hope you will continue on this journey with me, for I see nothing but a promising horizon ahead. Oh, and if you have any blogging tips I'm all ears!
So many of us are afraid of doing this one thing. Without it we get nowhere, or we get somewhere slowly; and the road was probably a treacherous one when it didn’t need to be that treacherous.
We’re afraid to do this one thing because we’re afraid of how we might look in the eyes of others - at least that’s one of the reasons we’re afraid to do it.
It’s a pride thing.
(Pride + Fear = Suffering alone when there’re 7 billion of us under the sky.)
Silly, really, not just because of the hefty numbers that are working in our favour, but because behind the eyes the other is exactly the same as you. It really is like looking in a mirror, once you bypass surface appearances.
I’m digressing, but my point is there’s nothing to be afraid of by doing this one thing.
Okay, here it is. Here’s the one thing you can do today that can make life so much easier for yourself.
You can… ask for help.
There’s nothing new under the sun, as they say, so I’m sorry if you feel a little let down.
Maybe I built it up too much…
But asking for help is so unbelievably effective!
Not to mention helpful…
Whether it’s related to your current workload in the office; your turbulent relationship you feel trapped in; maybe you’re afraid to ask for help with something health-related (have you found a lump? A new mole? What is it? Go and ask and find out). Maybe there’s a form you need to fill out and you’ve no idea how to do it. It just feels too complicated and now you’re feeling anxious. Check online for instructions. Find an email address; a phone number.
We’re connected like never before, what with the internet and social media. Help is at our fingertips.
Ignore that voice in your head that feeds you scary what-if scenarios. I have that voice too. I put it in its place and it shuts up - until next time.
Here’s something to remember… the reason there’s help out there is because, most often than not, someone has gone through what you’re currently facing - or at least something similar.
And they made it out alive to tell the tale.
Who better to receive help from than the person who’s familiar (or even vaguely familiar) with the path you’re on and the obstacles you’re facing?
Then you know you were never alone; for if there’s one thing not asking for help creates within, it’s a feeling of isolation and loneliness.
There’re too many of us for you to feel lonely. Reach out your hand and somebody, somewhere, will grab it.
What I’ve found is that most of us like to help. It makes us feel good. We don’t help because it feels good or to feel good; we feel good for helping because when we help we're helping ourselves. We’re one and the same, remember?
Be nice to the person looking back at you in the mirror, and see how you feel.
So, please, if you’re feeling stuck, for whatever reason, reach out. There’re so many of us, at least one of us will be able to help you.
So the Sun plodded ever so slowly over to the West and laid its head down to rest. And the Moon shone proudly and watched over the people as they slept.
On one clear night the Moon noticed a small child pointing in its direction. The Moon was over itself with delight.
It had been spotted!
It almost went and woke up the Sun with utter excitement. To the Moon's amazement the child wasn't finished, for then it yelled,
'Mum! Dad! Come and look at the Moon! Look how big and bright it is!'
The Moon puffed itself up and lit up the night sky, like never before. It was full of itself (this is where the term Full Moon originally comes from).
People couldn't help but notice.
Poems were written about it.
Songs were Sung.
Paintings were painted.
The seas and lakes chose to reflect on it.
The tides began to listen to it.
People would take late night walks and thank it for its guidance along their path.
'I no longer envy the Sun,' uttered the Moon, one night as it sat reflecting. 'All this time I thought the Sun and I should share the same purpose, but I was wrong. I am happy for the Sun to shine so brightly during the day, because I'm able to shine so brightly at night.'
Not many people know this, but the Sun gets many nightmares. It ends up being all hot and bothered and comes out in a fever. So on clear nights, when the Moon is nowhere to be seen, please know it hasn't grown impatient and left its post.
It is quietly humming the Sun to sleep and will be back in no time at all.
There was a time when the Sun and the Moon were so close that they rose and set together.
The people who populated Young Earth looked up in delight at the amazing exhibition of two heavenly bodies, side by side.
What the people didn't know was that their lives were on the verge of changing forever.
The Sun was always the optimist of the two, always looking on the bright side of every occasion. This irritated the Moon and naturally it began to fall into the shadows. Whatever the Moon could do the Sun could do it brighter.
Because of this, the Moon began to foster feelings of envy.
'People adore you,' the Moon complained.
'They adore you, too,' consoled the Sun.
‘I doubt it! When you appear, they give thanks. They're not bothered when I come along. In fact, the majority of them go to bed! Every time we rise and set together I see eyes of millions staring at you.’
This sad state of affairs continued for quite some time, until, one day, the Moon saw the Sun yawning.
'Are you tired, Sun?' asked the Moon, rather taken aback.
‘I think so,' said the Sun. 'We might have to set earlier today.'
The Moon felt an idea stirring beneath its chalk-like surface, for its scars that we see today didn't come until much later.
‘Why don’t you go and have some rest, over there in the West?' it said.
'Are you sure?' said the Sun, taking another deep yawn and stretching its rays of deep amber.
'Of course, my friend. You shine so brightly all the time, I'm not surprised you're exhausted.'
'But what about our people?'
The Moon smiled. ‘I'll look after them until you rise, and then I’ll take a rest whilst you take over.’ To be continued...