About the Author
The School of Life is devoted to developing emotional intelligence. It addresses issues such as how to find fulfilling work, how to master the art of relationships, how to understand one’s past, how to achieve calm and how better to understand and – where necessary – change the world. These ideas are delivered though a range of channels: from videos, books and products, to classes, events and one-to-one therapy sessions.
Headquartered in London, it operates around the globe with twelve international branches (Antwerp, Amsterdam, Berlin, Istanbul, Melbourne, Paris, São Paulo, Sydney, Seoul, Tel Aviv and Taipei). The School of Life is a rapidly growing global brand, with 3.7 million YouTube subscribers, 295,000 Facebook followers, 70,000 Instagram followers and 140,000 Twitter followers. The hugely successful School of Life Conference took place in San Francisco in March 2018, with 400 guests in attendance.
The School of Life Press brings together the writing of teachers, psychologists and philosophers under the creative direction of series editor, Alain de Botton. The aim of all the titles is to share a coherent message with one voice.
Alain de Botton was born in Zurich, Switzerland in 1969 and now lives in London. He is a writer of essayistic books that have been described as a ‘philosophy of everyday life.’ He’s written on love, travel, architecture and literature. His books have been bestsellers in 30 countries.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
What creates Emotional Identity? Why do we have the Emotional Identity we do and not a different one?
A big modern response looks to genetics for answers: it tells us that we have a specific genetic inheritance and (via many complex processes) that this inheritance shapes our adult personality. We’re not saying that genetics are irrelevant, but we want to focus attention on another kind of inheritance: Emotional Inheritance.
One of the characteristic possessions of all European nobles for many centuries was an elaborate depiction of their family tree, showing their lineage down the generations. The idea was that the person sitting at the bottom of the tree would see themselves as the product of – and the heir to – all who had come before them. The tree came a quick visual guide to who they were and what others should know about them. If two aristocrats were contemplating marriage, the first thing they would do was to carefully examine each other’s trees.
It can seem like a quaint preoccupation, wholly tied to another age and solely of interest to members of a few grand and ancient families. But the idea of such a tree sits upon a universal and still highly relevant concern: irrespective of the financial and status details of our families, we all have another significant legacy to grapple with, in that each of us is the recipient of an emotional inheritance, largely unknown to us, yet enormously influential in determining our day-to-day behaviour, and normally in rather negative or complex directions. We need to understand the details of our Emotional Inheritance a little before we are able to ruin our own and others’ lives by acting upon its often antiquated and troublesome dynamics.