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Calm: Educate Yourself in the Art of Remaining Calm, and Learn how to Defend Yourself from Panic and Fury

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Few life skills are as neglected, yet as important, as the ability to remain calm. Our very worst decisions and interactions are almost invariably the result of a loss of calm - and a descent into anxiety and agitation. Surprisingly, but very fortunately, our power to remain calm can be rehearsed and improved. We don't have to remain where we are now: our responses to ever Few life skills are as neglected, yet as important, as the ability to remain calm. Our very worst decisions and interactions are almost invariably the result of a loss of calm - and a descent into anxiety and agitation. Surprisingly, but very fortunately, our power to remain calm can be rehearsed and improved. We don't have to remain where we are now: our responses to everyday challenges can dramatically alter. We can educate ourselves in the art of remaining calm not through slow breathing or special teas but through thinking. This is a book that patiently unpacks the causes of our greatest stresses and gives us a succession of highly persuasive, beautiful and sometimes dryly comic arguments with which to defend ourselves against panic and fury.


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Few life skills are as neglected, yet as important, as the ability to remain calm. Our very worst decisions and interactions are almost invariably the result of a loss of calm - and a descent into anxiety and agitation. Surprisingly, but very fortunately, our power to remain calm can be rehearsed and improved. We don't have to remain where we are now: our responses to ever Few life skills are as neglected, yet as important, as the ability to remain calm. Our very worst decisions and interactions are almost invariably the result of a loss of calm - and a descent into anxiety and agitation. Surprisingly, but very fortunately, our power to remain calm can be rehearsed and improved. We don't have to remain where we are now: our responses to everyday challenges can dramatically alter. We can educate ourselves in the art of remaining calm not through slow breathing or special teas but through thinking. This is a book that patiently unpacks the causes of our greatest stresses and gives us a succession of highly persuasive, beautiful and sometimes dryly comic arguments with which to defend ourselves against panic and fury.

30 review for Calm: Educate Yourself in the Art of Remaining Calm, and Learn how to Defend Yourself from Panic and Fury

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jack Ramírez

    It's a great and quick book that focuses all the attention into the realm of self awareness, compassion and understanding of the context that causes our most agitated and exhausting periods of anxiety. It goes straight into the real problem and the understanding of the requirements for a real way to perceive calm. It's a great and quick book that focuses all the attention into the realm of self awareness, compassion and understanding of the context that causes our most agitated and exhausting periods of anxiety. It goes straight into the real problem and the understanding of the requirements for a real way to perceive calm.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Russon

    This book is beautifully written and incredibly comforting. The writing itself makes you feel calm, and it seems to instil a seed of hope in you that you really can lead a more calm and peaceful life. It's not a self help book as such, so steer clear if you're looking for quick fixes. But if you want to explore the idea of calm and understand why it's so easy to lose your cool in modern society, it's a must. Thanks School of Life, you legends. This book is beautifully written and incredibly comforting. The writing itself makes you feel calm, and it seems to instil a seed of hope in you that you really can lead a more calm and peaceful life. It's not a self help book as such, so steer clear if you're looking for quick fixes. But if you want to explore the idea of calm and understand why it's so easy to lose your cool in modern society, it's a must. Thanks School of Life, you legends.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Vania Llewell

    This was the right book at the right time for me.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Anna Gunn

    Nothing in the book is new - and yet it is revolutionary the way it is put together as a tool for emotional development.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amy Jane

    The School of Life should be national curriculum. I love these books because they make philosophy so useful and understandable.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    5 stars, on the proviso that you haven’t already read the free essays on the School of Life website, upon which much of this book is based. De Botton evokes calm through the smooth beauty of his expression just as readily as through the sensitivity and soothing compassion of his observations. This is a book that delivers on its name.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    A nice little write up, but quite repetitive. If you've read a number of TSOL books prior to this one, I would give it a miss as it just seemed to be an accumulation of other writings rather than anything new or an expansion of similar essays found on their website. I found their Self-Knowledge book was a better investment. A nice little write up, but quite repetitive. If you've read a number of TSOL books prior to this one, I would give it a miss as it just seemed to be an accumulation of other writings rather than anything new or an expansion of similar essays found on their website. I found their Self-Knowledge book was a better investment.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    I didn’t enjoyed this book. I was looking for a book that would provide me with some tangible advice and tools to achieve a state of calm. Instead, this read was more philosophical, art-oriented and historical than helpful for my life. I am dissapointed that it did not meet my expectations.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Warren Cann

    Beautifully written application of philosophy to everyday life. Highly recommended.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Camila

    Wonderful reminders of how important it is to take one day at a time -- philosophically inspired by many schools of thought.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brett Waggoner

    Why is being able to remain calm so important in life? Well, simply because many of the circumstances and situations that we find ourselves in throughout life will be instances fueled with high anxiety, stress, and irritation. Being able to remain calm throughout such events will help us manage these situations with more clarity and composure, maintaining our mental well-being in the process. Therefore, the skill of remaining calm in the face of adversity is a useful skill that will serve us wel Why is being able to remain calm so important in life? Well, simply because many of the circumstances and situations that we find ourselves in throughout life will be instances fueled with high anxiety, stress, and irritation. Being able to remain calm throughout such events will help us manage these situations with more clarity and composure, maintaining our mental well-being in the process. Therefore, the skill of remaining calm in the face of adversity is a useful skill that will serve us well in multiple areas of life. The book begins by exploring the ways in which calm can help us in one of the most rewarding, yet also troublesome aspects of human existence: relationships. One of areas where calm can help us in our relationships is by helping us manage the dissatisfaction that arises from having too high of an expectation for our partners. We may come to believe that our partner must know us inside and out, and therefore, must be in prime position to know exactly what we need and what we can’t stand. However, the reality is that everyone, given their humanity, is vastly flawed and hard to deal with in one way or another, and because of this, they are eventually going to let us down. When our high expectations of our partner collide with the reality of people and their flaws, we feel as if things should be better. Things should be closer to what we imagined during our initial high expectations. In Calm, the authors suggest that what we need to implement is a healthy sense of pessimism regarding love. This pessimism disposes of the high standards we are prone to have, and reminds us that if our partner isn’t always aware of what is irritating us, tends to have annoying quirks, or isn’t particularly effective in communicating their needs, then this doesn’t strike us as an unpleasant surprise, but rather as something to be expected, and something we are prepared for, making it easier to accept. Other ways the book claims that we can attain calm in our relationships is through a deep understanding that the fuzzy feelings we feel in the beginning of a relationship won’t last forever, that everyone has experienced things in their childhood that makes them difficult to deal with at times, and that it is important to balance an authenticity that leads one to speak one’s mind and be completely transparent, with a politeness that considers how delicate people are to some of the harsh truths we may feel inclined to throw their way. Additionally, when we first meet someone there may be something about them that we find breathtaking and charming. We admire a certain characteristic someone has and feel that it is central to what makes them a partner worth having and someone worth loving. However, as we get to know them better, we become aware of qualities that might not be so worthy of admiration. We might feel that this ugly side to them is something that needs to be changed. The book describes this as the Principle of Weakness of Strength. I really love this principle, because I think it is so true. The principle states that in many cases, a person’s weaknesses, or the characteristics we tend to dislike in a person, are related to their strengths. For example, initially upon meeting someone, we might come to admire their sense of humor and their ability to make us laugh at a moment’s notice. However, as time goes on, we may start to notice that they have difficulty taking certain things serious in life. The Principle of Weakness explains that their flaw of not taking things serious in some situations is connected to the sense of humor that we initially fell for. Recognizing that weaknesses come with strengths, makes the weaknesses more bearable and acceptable. Another area that the book explores is keeping calm when dealing with the bureaucracy of everyday life. I have definitely lost my calm when I have had to wait on hold to talk to someone on the phone or waiting in a long line or waiting room for a long period of time, and I know that some of you have too. The book does a fantastic job of reminding us that while the bureaucracy we deal with in life may be annoying, it ultimately is a necessary part of an efficient society. Industries and governments function at a large scale, and in order to function properly it is important that they function in a very structured and systematic way. While the slow and impersonal structure of bureaucracy might be annoying at times, remembering that such processes are necessary for a large society to function efficiently can help us remain calm when we’ve been waiting on hold for some time. Work and career can also interfere with our sense of calm. Specifically, our ambition is a part of ourselves that motivates us to be everything that we are capable of being. Our human imagination can imagine numerous goals, aspirations, and things that we could strive for and accomplish. The world is ours for the taking, and there is no limit to what we could build. The fact that we can imagine so much makes it hard to be satisfied with what we’ve accomplished, because our vivid imagination will always outrun our human capabilities. Even if we work hard and fulfill most of our goals, the ability for our work to catch up with the scope of our dreams is impossible, because we can imagine so much. It’s simply a characteristic of the human imagination. When we understand this unfortunate tragedy about our inability to reach our fullest realized potential, then we can experience more calm in the realm of work. Additionally, given the vast size of our imagination, the scope of our dreams can lead us to be excited to get to work and accomplish what we can. The desire to reap the results from our hard work may result in us being unsatisfied with how long it is taking us to reach a certain point that we want to reach in our career. The book mentions that patience in accomplishing certain goals in our careers is a valuable method for remaining calm in work. The book concludes with a discussion of the “sources of calm”, or avenues that we might explore in developing calm. They mention five: sight, sound, space, time, and touch. The book explains how relaxing around a peaceful and calming scenery can help us relax, how soothing music can help us calm our nerves, or how a certain space/environment can connect us to the sublime and deeply personal aspects of life. Additionally, knowing history and the way of life in times passed can help calm us by reminding us that things that go badly tend to get better over time, and that touch can help us stay calm through the reassurance that a hug can bring to those who need one, no matter how old they are. The book mentions that in the end, we can never attain a life that is completely devoid of anxiety and consists only of perfect calm. There will be stress and problems until the day we die. However, using some of the avenues that the book suggests, and being able to remain calmer in life is something that can help us be the best self that we can possibly be. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone seeking ways to diminish their stress and increase their sense of calm.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Affad Shaikh

    Engaging. Insightful. Well thought out arc of ideas on and around ‘calm’ with tangible activities one can immediately implement. What was, and is, difficult about the School of Life is that they treat religion and faith as a bygone deadend. To accept that is to neglect the billions that continue to take strides with faith in the same efforts that these series of books presents. I accept that many are leaving the ‘Church’ and are more spiritual, and that the trend is for less faith; so this speak Engaging. Insightful. Well thought out arc of ideas on and around ‘calm’ with tangible activities one can immediately implement. What was, and is, difficult about the School of Life is that they treat religion and faith as a bygone deadend. To accept that is to neglect the billions that continue to take strides with faith in the same efforts that these series of books presents. I accept that many are leaving the ‘Church’ and are more spiritual, and that the trend is for less faith; so this speaks to those that have found faith lacking in modern times and in their lives. However, I felt keenly in this book that the audience is truly Western. Which, is more a self registration of the content then a condemnation of the book. This does lead me to the observation that helped me come to this point: the focus is very much on Christianity’s effort to provide for, and in ways fail, at things like ‘calm’. The assertion being that one doesnt need the Christian theology to still achieve this, other traditions have engaged with this endeavor as well, these are the ways that we can boil down this human effort without one needing to profess their belief in Jesus. I suppose as a non-Christian I shouldnt have qualms with this approach, but as a person of faith, I do believe faith provides such a deeper sense of what the human spirare needs that simply taking the boiled down sum of human endeavors simply can not compenstate for. Label me silly, as a believer in a higher power and guided by the context of that faith, I reject this idea that the form alone can provide the human spirit the shelter it craves. If you notice my star rating, its not affected by this written reflection. I still find this book engaging, insightful, and would recommend it to others. The one star down is simply a reflection that its incredibly focused on Western traditions and norms to a greater extent then what other traditions and norms are shared. I wish there were more from non-Christian traditions.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Daniëlle Van den Brink

    "Being calmer doesn't at all mean that we think everything can be fine; it just means we are in a better state of mind to cope with the genuine challenges of our lives." A wonderful book that explores all aspects of being calm. It starts out with our unrealistic expectations that need altering, builds up to how the ways of our modern society make it harder for us to find calmness and maintain it and ends with a comforting conclusion that we are all just deeply complicated beings who are faced wit "Being calmer doesn't at all mean that we think everything can be fine; it just means we are in a better state of mind to cope with the genuine challenges of our lives." A wonderful book that explores all aspects of being calm. It starts out with our unrealistic expectations that need altering, builds up to how the ways of our modern society make it harder for us to find calmness and maintain it and ends with a comforting conclusion that we are all just deeply complicated beings who are faced with too much to get it right all the time. Losing your mind every now and then is perfectly normal. After that, it is essential to get back in touch with yourself. I got this book two years ago from a family that has since become very dear to me. I was completely out of touch with myself but managed to regain footing with their support. They gave this to me as a parting-present to help me maintain my newly gained state of mind. For some reason, it ended up on the bottom of a pile of books. I finally managed to pick it up and regret not doing so sooner. It is comforting without getting too close to the reader, honest without unnecessary bluntness. This is not a self-help book. There are no ready-made answers or tips on how to battle your every day triggers for stress and anxiety. There is a general origin story that lays out how things happen, which not only makes you feel understood but brings a bit of comfort. I loved the implementation of (political) philosophers and artists from all walks of life. Beautiful examples that really make you stop and think for a moment. What helped me most is to realise that there is no such thing as obtaining a permanent state of clamness. It is not possible and we shouldn't strive for that either. It is just important to realize when your balance is shifting to anxiety and find a way to groung yourself. This book certainly does it for me.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nina

    An excellent read and covers so much more than I expected. Relationships, communication and just life altogether. The style of writing really appeals to me. The below is not necessarly a spoiler but it is exactly as per my favourite section from the 'Touch' chapter: ... It's tricky to admit how normal and actually reasonable regressive tendancies are; they are an affront to individualism and dignity. They can be cast as pathetic and self-indulgent. It's awkward to acknowledge that they exist in some An excellent read and covers so much more than I expected. Relationships, communication and just life altogether. The style of writing really appeals to me. The below is not necessarly a spoiler but it is exactly as per my favourite section from the 'Touch' chapter: ... It's tricky to admit how normal and actually reasonable regressive tendancies are; they are an affront to individualism and dignity. They can be cast as pathetic and self-indulgent. It's awkward to acknowledge that they exist in someone who is 1m 74cm tall and has a day job as a dental hygienist or commercial litigation specialist. ... The periodic need to regress should be seen not as a sign of a failure of maturity but as an aspect of a wise adult acceptance of one's own deep imperfection and ultimate inadequacy. It can be interpreted as a frank admission that one has taken on too much. ...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jen Warner

    This book presents counter-cultural perspectives on how to intentionally lower your expectations. Similar in its message to the popular "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck," but with practical and structured suggestions on how to chill. I especially liked the discussion of how we got here -- through dueling cultural movements of Romanticism and Classicism. That said, the writing should have been edited more thoroughly. SO MANY run-on sentences and repetitive adjectives. This book presents counter-cultural perspectives on how to intentionally lower your expectations. Similar in its message to the popular "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck," but with practical and structured suggestions on how to chill. I especially liked the discussion of how we got here -- through dueling cultural movements of Romanticism and Classicism. That said, the writing should have been edited more thoroughly. SO MANY run-on sentences and repetitive adjectives.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    “It might sincerely be possible for someone to decide not to take the better-paid job, not to publish another book, not to seek high office – and to do so not because they had no chance, but because – having surveyed the externalities involved – they chose not to fight for them.” The School of Life books are so uplifting! They make you conscious of the small things and reassure you that it is ok to be you.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cherie

    The calm mind flourishes and is vital for us to do well, especially in a culture that does not promote calm. The voices we grew up with internalises within us, and it's a skill to filter out those that are unhelpful and grow your own voice. Everyone have anxieties but calmness allows you to rationalise them Love the touch of philosophy and examples from history reflecting how calmness is seen in different religions and cultures The calm mind flourishes and is vital for us to do well, especially in a culture that does not promote calm. The voices we grew up with internalises within us, and it's a skill to filter out those that are unhelpful and grow your own voice. Everyone have anxieties but calmness allows you to rationalise them Love the touch of philosophy and examples from history reflecting how calmness is seen in different religions and cultures

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tess O'Brien

    Covers off a lot of the same stuff in their book 'relationships' word for word in the beginning, so if you're looking for something new be prepared to skip ahead a few chapters. Regardless, love the structure & content of this book, its pages certainly did what its title suggests for me. Covers off a lot of the same stuff in their book 'relationships' word for word in the beginning, so if you're looking for something new be prepared to skip ahead a few chapters. Regardless, love the structure & content of this book, its pages certainly did what its title suggests for me.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Luiz Alberto Infanti

    Map to become a calmer person I love the author's work, not only his books. I truly believe he is helping to create a new better world. He elegantly and kindly unfolds complex subjects to clear understanding. It's really enlightening. Map to become a calmer person I love the author's work, not only his books. I truly believe he is helping to create a new better world. He elegantly and kindly unfolds complex subjects to clear understanding. It's really enlightening.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Apostolis Tsiaras

    The book provided some good insight on what calm can mean and what we can gain by achiving a calm state - from philosofical standpoint. Ssome parts where the text was garrulous and wordy, but overall it was an interesting read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nicola

    Chapter on relationships is excellent. Recommended.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Xinyu Wu

    Well said!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Armando Ricalde

    The only thing I don't like is at the very beginning, they didn't know what meditation is really about, and it is not about getting your mind empty. The only thing I don't like is at the very beginning, they didn't know what meditation is really about, and it is not about getting your mind empty.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    Yeah, I quite liked this book - 80% was useful the rest seemed redundant or I didn't agree with. Yeah, I quite liked this book - 80% was useful the rest seemed redundant or I didn't agree with.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Milad Beigi

    Sometimes it was hard for me to follow and keep reading, however, I found it useful in many ways, and I would recommend this book to anyone who seeks peace and calmness.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Elodie

    Really interesting book with lots of relevant reminders how to find calm in a busy and demanding modern life. Particularly like the emphasis on our choice on what we place Value in

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alan Eyre

    Makes sense to me.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Anton

    Love idea behind books like this. Important topic, simple language.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Elsabeat Hernández

    This book has helped me in an unimaginable way. I have been coping with a lot of stress and I have always thriven for a simpler yet miningful (for me at least) life. And all the chapters have help me to understand better the areas I have been struggling. Love this book!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ahmed yousry Ragab

    Very thoughtful and mind altering book about the bases for all our anxiety and unmet passions in life and how to approach them in a calmer and more logical manner so as to appreciate more our lives and understand more than assume how life really is.

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