Do we need hobbies?

The things that matter most are appreciated for what they are, not for where they lead

Where should we draw the line?

It’s too demanding for most people to think things through clearly when they are in the grip of a powerful desire

Is it OK not to have an opinion?

Having fixed opinions on subjects we know little about can be a problem

Is the whole really greater than the sum of its parts?

‘While we can easily take individual problems in our stride, when they exceed a certain load it can all become too much’

Who should we trust?

‘The philosophic soul trusts herself no more than she does anyone else’

What is wisdom?

‘It does not automatically come with age. Many older people never put their life experience to good use’

Must we agree with ourselves?

‘Within each of us is a number of different voices that achieve just enough harmony to sing as one melodious choir’

What happens when empathy isn’t enough?

It seems that feeling for others is necessary for living with others

Should we grow old disgracefully?

‘What matters is retaining some zest for life, in whatever way is appropriate for us. Bungee jumping is strictly optional’

Illustration by Laura Carlin of a tourist taking photos inside a temple
©Laura Carlin

The Shrink & the Sage: Should we travel?

There remains a lingering feeling that there is something wrong with being uninterested in travel

How do you evaluate a life?

‘To say that all life is of equal value is to say that every life should be treated with the same respect’

Is better off really better?

‘We should aim to enjoy things in the genuine understanding that they will not last for ever or give meaning to our life’

How can we improve our wellbeing?

‘By acting as though wellbeing is measurable, the government is glossing over contested issues of value’

Should we avoid avoidance?

‘We avoid thinking about the meaningless suffering of millions. And who could blame us? It’s impossible to take it all on board’

How open should we be?

‘In general, if you’re interested in the person you’re talking to, you might want to share something of yourself’

Should we avoid ‘shoulds’?

‘Should’ has become a kind of dirty word. Say it and you often get the retort, ‘Says who?’

Is envy diabolical?

‘Envy needs to be managed. While a certain amount is probably inevitable, you don’t have to indulge it’

Is it OK to objectify people?

‘It’s fine to treat people as means to an end as long as we don’t reduce them to just that’

Should we avoid value judgments?

‘The contradiction in vehemently telling people they are wrong to say some things are wrong is usually missed’

Should we mind our language?

‘We create prisons for ourselves by talking in certain ways. Shifting the way we use words can be enough to let us out’