How Philosophy Can Change Your Life, Alain de Botton (#118)


“We’re not very good at understanding what it is that we really want. We’re extremely prone to latch onto suggestions from the outside world.” – Alain de Botton

Alain de Botton (@alaindebotton) is many things, but I think of him as a rare breed of practical philosopher.

In 1997, he turned away from writing novels and instead wrote an extended essay titled How Proust Can Change Your Life, which became an unlikely blockbuster.

His subsequent books have been described as a ‘philosophy of everyday life’ and subjects include love, travel, architecture, religion and work. His other bestsellers include Essays In Love, Status Anxiety, and The Architecture Of Happiness. More recent works include The News: A User’s Manual, which looks at the impact our obsession with checking news has on our minds, and Art as Therapy, co-written with the art historian John Armstrong.

In 2008, de Botton helped start The School of Life in London, a social enterprise determined to make learning and therapy relevant in today’s uptight culture. His goal is (through any of his mediums) to help clients learn “how to live wisely and well.”

In our wide-ranging conversation, we cover many things, including:

  • Real-world versus academic philosophy
  • The value of rituals and tribes
  • Practical pessimism
  • “Ordinary genius”
  • The magic of pomegranates
  • Lesser-known modern thinkers
  • Why “mean” is often simply “anxious”
  • His favorite Japanese pens
  • And much more!

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#118: How Philosophy Can Change Your Life, Alain de Botton

Want to hear another podcast related to emotional intelligence? — Listen to my conversation with Brené Brown. In this episode, we discuss vulnerability and home run TED talks (stream below or right-click here to download):

#100: Brené Brown on Vulnerability and Home Run TED Talks

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What life stressors do you wish you could handle better? What do you currently do to solve the problem(s), and what do you think is missing? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…


Selected Links from the Episode

John Armstrong | Martha Nussbaum | Jamie Oliver

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Show Notes

  • How do you answer the question, “what do you do?” [7:43]
  • How Alain de Botton started with his studies in emotional intelligence [11:23]
  • On gaining mainstream success and the importance of “proving” oneself [17:08]
  • On mixing nonfiction and fiction writing [21:23]
  • Alain de Botton’s most influential writers and books [22:58]
  • The impact of How Proust Can Change Your Life [24:38]
  • How writing a book on daily habits changed Alain de Botton’s life [30:23]
  • How to balance setting low expectations and striving to achieve great things [35:38]
  • Complex philosophy vs useful philosophy [39:53]
  • Alain de Botton’s pre-Cambridge years [59:38]
  • Best practices to help status anxiety [1:03:08]
  • Where Alain de Botton would like to be in three years [1:10:08]
  • On developing the skill of listening [1:16:23]
  • When you think of the word successful, who is the first person that comes to mind and why? [1:25:13]
  • Most gifted books [1:29:28]
  • What is something you believe that other people think is insane? [1:30:38]
  • Utilitarian philosophers, artificial intelligence and future roles of philosophy [1:36:08]
  • Favorite documentaries and movies [1:40:08]
  • What purchase of $100 or less purchase has provided the most positive effect on your life [1:41:58]
  • Valuable daily rituals and routines [1:44:18]
  • If you could put a billboard anywhere and write anything on it, where would it be and what would it say? [1:47:18]
  • Advice to your 30-year-old self [1:48:08]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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95 Replies to “How Philosophy Can Change Your Life, Alain de Botton (#118)”

  1. Looking forward to this one. FINALLY a guest I have read BEFORE Tim puts out a podcast about them. (I must be on the right track.)

  2. Aging and time seem to be my biggest life stressors. The things I’d like to experience in my lifetime seem to be more than time will allow, so it becomes a matter of making choices, which at times I end up making no choice at all. As far as aging and death go, I haven’t been able to solve those problems, but I am going to try my best to make it to a happy and active 100 years old. Other than that, I’ve just been trying to say “yes” to most opportunities, without spending energy worrying about money, time or other issues.

  3. This is awesome tim, just skimmed through it. What’s an impactful philosophy towards your own life you’ve picked up from these podcasts?

  4. Hi Tim,

    My partner and I live in Sydney Australia. You are welcome if you come to OZ and would like a place to stay.



  5. I love his stuff. I read the art of travel while on a plane to live in Asia for a year. Pitstop in the UK I found his book and was reading the chapter on Heathrow while at Heathrow …which was a weird coincidence. Status Anxiety is something I am often found quoting and sharing the concept with people. It’s such a simple thing but perhaps it is at the core of our current existence…well in the western world at least. Thanks for sharing him with Americans Tim 🙂

  6. Alain reminded me of one my favourite questions taken from Wade Davis author of ‘The Wayfinders’ – “What does it mean to be human and be alive”

  7. “We’re not very good at understanding what it is that we really want. We’re extremely prone to latch onto suggestions from the outside world.” – Alain de Botton

    This quote relates as well to art. I have seen many times those wary of deeper conversations over an artistic piece that is new and unique. Too many times have I seen people flock to generic paintings of superheroes and landscapes because they have been given meaning and are familiar.

  8. Thanks for getting Alain de Botton on your podcast Mr Ferriss !

    l’m a big fan of his and The School of Life.

    Keep up the great work champ.


    Gregor Brown

  9. Great episode Tim. I’ve been listening mainly to your ‘body’ podcasts and this discussion on the ‘mind’ was a revelation. You mentioned coming to Australia… (when?)

  10. Thank you for hosting guests like Alain de Botton, Brene Brown and Naval Ravikant. These three, and yourself, are providing people with the tools to live happier, healthier, more fulfilling lives. I particularly liked Alain de Botton’s comments about love, his comments were helpful and well-researched.

    It would be very interesting if you pursued the topic of “love relationships” further with Drs. Harville and Helen Hendrix [Moderator: link removed] or Drs. Julie and John Gottman [Moderator: link removed]. These four individuals are world renowned experts on relationships.

    A round two with the first Alain de Botton, Brene Brown and Naval Ravikant would also be excellent.

  11. Rather than the nanny state, what about a service that you could pay to join that would provide guidance, and you could provide input (maybe a wiki)? I totally agree with Alain that we could all use guidance, and I think if we moved it away from the government and into a service people couldn’t really complain or fight it, they just wouldn’t join, until they see everyone really loving it and then they’d join. I think this could be so powerful it could change everything. [Moderator: link removed]

    1. I agree. I think in general governments do terrible job advising people. I also fear the one potential for only supporting one voice. Look at the food pyramid. It may have done a lot of damage to people’s health.(plus with government providing guidance there is a big potential for influence from one lobby. Also see Taleb on many people each making a choice vs one entity – government – making the decision for all. If the decision maker is wrong then in the government’s case millions of people are effected. If individuals make the decision then it is more likely that fewer will be wrong.) I agree that people need guidance. Finding guidance is getting more available. There are schools who publish their courses.(eg MIT) Or provide helpful videos (Khan Academy, You tube), and many more.

  12. making people around me to love me in a way I would really feel that.

    I am trying to struggle my lack of patience sometimes and thinking of ways that I can change myself for that

    I think that I need some advices to how to love myself more and better

  13. I think my biggest life stressor is family. Pressures, making sure others are happy, making sure I am staying connected, and then also worrying about my mom’s financial future. As a young professional, I am starting my life and career and to think about my money situation AND my mother’s is tough. To help cope with that, I believe just talking it out helps. With my wife, with my friends, etc. It is important to not keep things bottled up.

  14. I think my biggest life stressor is family, sadly. Making sure my mother and sister are happy. Making sure we stay connected. Making sure my widowed mother is set financially. It is tough, especially when I am just starting my own professional career and setting up my future financially. What helps with all of this is talking it out with my wife and friends. Like most things, keeping things bottled up only makes it worse. Thanks for all you do, Tim!

  15. I’m a big believer in education to reduce stress – going and looking for answers. The mere action of taking action sometimes gives me hope and reduces stress.

    I also do a lot of self-experimentation, which is why I spend a lot of time at this blog. I’m not an either science or religion person – I pray while I observe and experiment and revise, and things usually work out best for me that way.

    Something that I do wish I could do better on is seeing and eliminating my own negative biases – I know when I see them in others so easily, that I’m full of them myself, but they’re not so easy to ferret out of myself. I just saw Shankar Vedantam talk about this the other day – pretty fascinating and frustrating stuff.

  16. I’ve decided jump in with a friend to him with a startup company that will collide with a global industry. I think it’s dangerous work taking the industry on. It’s stressing me out. But I think I have to do it if I am going to be true to my goals. Any advice?

  17. That was a truly terrific interview! I was intrigued and inspired throughout, and now have a wealth of content from Mr. de Botton that I will eagerly explore. THANK YOU, Tim, for making me aware of yet another source of wisdom and vital knowledge.

  18. Awesome. My dad bought me a copy of Consolations of Philosophy when I was about thirteen. It continues to inform the way I live my life today.

    I don’t know how you get these amazing people to come on your podcast but keep it up!

  19. Tim,

    I’ve yet to hear this episode, but had to thank you for providing such a rare and precious commodity: Information from true experts in their fields in an accessible format that people can actually use to improve their lives. I’m sure you’ve been called a latter-day George Plimpton, but you provide SO much more than Plimpton did.

    Although obviously a great writer, editor, and intellect, Plimpton delved into myriad aspects of life that most people would never consider, but you actually bring the who and the why of those experiences to others in a way that’s not only relevant, but truly useful. I recognize that these experiences enrich your life as well, but thanks so much for enriching mine and so many others as well.

  20. Great podcast, many thanks. Based on his body of work, Alain was a promising choice for an interviewee, and he more than lived up to the promise. I learned a ton and plan to explore his work further.

  21. Tim, I f*ing love you for this episode! Everyday Practical philosopher – that’s me since I can remember myself, that’s what I write about daily, I just didn’t know the name for it. I had an idea for school of life but then googled it and it was created already. I’d love to get involved with school of life. how can I do that? I write daily on the subjects Alain de Botton was talking about. I even eat pomegranates the same way! 🙂

  22. hello ! i really enjoy the show! i recommend getting a de-esser or new microphone because the “s” sounds in your podcast are quite harsh on the ears. a little de esser application or maybe a new microphone would fix it =) just a thought

    thanks for listening and thanks for making this wonderful podcast

  23. Tim, it would be great if you can include transcripts for your podcasts for those who are hearing-impaired. I would love to ‘hear’ all your podcasts.

  24. I had fallen in deep platonic love with Alain de Botton when I first read his literature and listened to him on media a few years back. He is eloquent, extremely sharp, gentle yet unapologetically expressive of his greatness. Surely, in a humble and centered way. Absolutely my favorite contemporary philosopher. Thank you Tim, for finally interviewing Alain.

  25. De Botton just 2 days ago participated in a Munk debate. “Progress:

    Be it resolved humankind’s best days lie ahead…” Pro: Steven Pinker and Matt Ridley. Con: Malcolm Gladwell and Alain de Botton.

    Watch it on Munk! Can’t say de Botton’s argumentation did it for me. For many commentators, as for me, he did a terrible job, but then, his position was the one that’s hard to argue for if you look at facts and figures (see Pinker’s intro).

    I wonder, in debates, do panelists often argue for views they don’t personally share- just as a rhetoric exercise?

  26. We’re not very good at understanding what it is that we really want. We’re extremely prone to latch onto suggestions from the outside world.” – Alain de Botton

    Love that. really great.

  27. This made me chuckle when you said … “This is mostly a therapy session for myself disguised as a podcast.” … You’re just leading the charge Tim, we’re all doing the same!

  28. Tim, that was by far my favourite episode so far. That’s saying something when you’ve had guests like Arnie, Laird, General McCrystal and many of the others you’ve had. I was utterly mesmerised the entire time and would happily have listened for several more hours, in fact I was disappointed that it didn’t go for several more hours.

  29. Great podcast, my favourite so far. Although Tim is a great interviewer, I felt that he was a bit out of his depth on this one.

  30. The life stressors I deal with is my depression and my anxiousness I can’t sit in one place for too long because I’m always waiting for whats ahead. I’ll usually stay up all night hating myself in combination. I stay up late at night to solve the problem. I think what’s missing is company, I feel alone. Yeah. That’s all.

  31. What life stressors do you wish you could handle better? Dread of going back to work on Monday.

    What do you currently do to solve the problem(s), and what do you think is missing? I stay up too late on Sunday night. Can’t sleep until I feel that I’ve maxed out my weekend.

  32. Thought-provoking guest. Had me thinking for hours. I agree with Alain – 7 up is the best and most moving documentary series out there. Watch it – it will make you want to live a better life.

  33. Like Alain, I have to admit that I haven’t learned to communicate very well and that does bring on stress. Learn to be a better teacher? A new path for me. Probably starts with learning to listen completely, to what’s being said and not said. Good to know that at almost 60, it’s never too late to start.

  34. Thanx for at good episode! A thought I have in relation to thr ability to stop and appreciate the moment, and also in men versus women, is that perhaps men are more instinctivly driven to push for improvement. Pretty much find food and shelter etc ever faster and better. Perhaps women also have this, but are a bit more balanced due to the role of mother etc. What do you think?

  35. Greetings Tim, From Daniel Young Istanbul Turkey!

    Thank you Very Much, for all you do in providing Excellent Excellent Content to me, on a regular basis through these “Interviews”. I Wish You Much Success both personally and professionally!!!

    Thank you Again,


  36. Wow, I really wish Ferriss had read “Consolations of Philosophy” before doing this podcast. He was at one point asking de Botton how to get into philosophy without reading the dense prose of philosophers. Amazing restraint by de Botton to not say “how could you have not read, or at least been aware of, my book on this?” It seems like Ferriss didn’t know about that book, and even left it off of the list of books he ran through at the beginning of the show, despite it being de Botton’s best selling work.

    Still, an admirable job by Ferriss of staying with de Botton and getting some great insights. Ferriss really managed to draw out some biographical background on de Botton that I hadn’t heard before.

    1. I do notice the book you mention in the list here, perhaps that was an edit – or a leading question?

      Now, getting back to philosophy. While I will give de Botton a pass as he is based in Britain, I am bit surprised to find no mention of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, although a quick search shows that Tim’s astute readers have recommended both ZAMM and the book that inspired Pirsig, Eugen Herrigel’s Zen and the Art of Archery. Maybe this is a case of “dude’s personal book was not mentioned! Zounds!”, however I can’t think of another book that brought philosophy to the mainstream, and had such a huge impact on a generation. Okay kids, yes, it was written in the 70s, but an amazing book. I’ll quote from the link below:

      “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig – Is there a more definitive modern philosophical treatise? If so, I’ve never seen one.”

      That said, I am excited to learn about de Botton, and Proust. My parent’s generation, at one of their halligallis (think Animal House, wild parties, ivy league) acted out scenes from Proust.

      Tim, keep up the inspiring podcasts. As one of my German friends said “I love the podcast! I listen to it every Sunday!”

  37. ~min 43.5 approximate quote: “philosophy is based on reason while religion relies on the supra-natural”. This is wrong on several levels.

    Everyone reasons and we still come up with different answers because Reason is a lot more than just Logic that you can program into a calculator. Second, the word supernatural has no meaning. Nuclear energy was “supernatural” in 1900 but very much “natural” in 1950. Third, if you have a Belief System, you have Religion, like it or not. [Moderator: link removed]

  38. The issue with the Nanny State is not just that can lead to abuse, but also that the state has no answers. It’s unlikely that success depended more on the group than on the individual in the old days – everyone had to pull his/her weight before being invited into the community. The community enhanced but did not replace the individual.

  39. I’m not qualified to call anything wonderful (not over 40 and not Brittish) but if I were that podcast would be a shoe in! I loved Alains views on the Nanny state. It would be great for him to have a written debate with a published Libertarian. A bit like Sam Harris with Noam Chomsky, hopefully the libertarian wont clam up though. Great job Tim.


    One of the best podcasts you’ve done Tim, with one of the most recognizable figures of contemporary philosophy, Alain de Botton! Thank you for this, I’ve been following The School of Life for some time now and this was a huge surprise for me.

    Keep up the good work. This was both inspiring and revealing!

  41. “In ALL of us, cannot be understood by another human being perfectly and that there is an area of loneliness inside everybody.

    And to blame someone for not understanding you fully, is deeply unfair. Because first of all, we do not understand ourselves. And even if we do understand ourselves, we have such a hard time communicating ourselves to other people.

    And therefore, to be furious, or in rage and bitter that people don’t get All of who we are,

    Is a real cruel piece of immaturity.” – Mr. Alain de Botton commentary on Proust (audio 33:30)

    Very touching conversation about love, emotional intelligence and emotional health – thank you for sharing.

  42. [55:30] Great question and love the discussion that followed [57:39]… “Feel totally at home with failure” .. Explore the answer to “what if” and realize that it is never that bad.

  43. Enjoyed the many unique aspects to Alain’s thinking and answers: definition of success (and humble mention of the “external” impulse to say Jobs!), comments on the Nanny state, discussion of his background. “Ordinary genius” and “the contamination of success”. Humbling. A student forever!

  44. I loved this episode. Alain is not only incredible wise, he also has the perfect radio / podcast voice.

    I liked you connection Buddhism and Stoic philosophy. I pretty much had the same thoughts, reading “The Restful Mind” by his Eminence Gyalwa Dokhampa parallel to my long-term reading project “Meditations”. The Restful Mind includes a nice little contemplating change meditation:

    “Anything that is born must die, anything that is accumulated will be spent one day, any gathering will disperse, any building will one day crumble, friends can change, enemies can change, happiness will change, suffering will change, concepts will change, emotions will change. Whatever happened yesterday is today’s dream, whatever we experience today is tomorrow’s dream”.

    This is really pretty much the mantra of Marcus Aurelius too.

    Keep up the good work, your podcast is truly inspirational.

  45. I loved this episode. Alain is not only incredible wise, he also has the perfect radio / podcast voice.

    I liked you connection Buddhism and Stoic philosophy. I pretty much had the same thoughts, reading “The Restful Mind” by his Eminence Gyalwa Dokhampa parallel to my long-term reading project “Meditations”. The Restful Mind includes a nice little contemplating change meditation:

    “Anything that is born must die, anything that is accumulated will be spent one day, any gathering will disperse, any building will one day crumble, friends can change, enemies can change, happiness will change, suffering will change, concepts will change, emotions will change. Whatever happened yesterday is today’s dream, whatever we experience today is tomorrow’s dream”.

    This is really pretty much the mantra of Marcus Aurelius too.

    Keep up the good work, your podcast is truly inspirational.

  46. Apologies if this is a repost – not sure what happened to my first attempt…

    This was an outstanding interview, Tim! I think the Bay Area would be a perfect place for the US branch of The School of Life. Would you team up with Alain de Botton to make that happen?? Please consider. Seriously. Thanks, as always, for the thought provoking!

  47. This podcast reminds me of two books I read in about the year 2000: “Plato Not Prozac!” by Lou Marinoff, Ph.D., and “A New Guide to Rational Living” by Albert Ellis, Ph.D. & Robert A Harper, Ph.D.

  48. I enjoyed this episode and thought Alain made a lot of sense, but I wanted to say that I think he’s wrong on the ‘nanny state’ idea. You asked if there was anything he believed in that people would think he’s crazy for believing. The ‘nanny state’ was his answer and yes I do think he’s crazy for this.

    Based on Alain’s life experience, he seems to think there’s a need for people to be guided. I agree that guidance is incredibly important for success, but I disagree that this guidance should come from a government. People need to seek guidance on their own terms, just like Alain himself did. Suggesting that BBC TV stations should be more prescriptive and involved in the lives of citizens is not helpful at all and it’s kind of scary.

    The only way a person can succeed is if they seek out what they want on their own terms. This doesn’t mean to go at it alone. It means that advice and counseling is not going to fall into everyone’s lap. People have to go find this and work to make necessary connections. The people who are wired for this will rise to the occasion top and the people who aren’t wired for this won’t, no matter what public service announcement they come across.

    Also, I’m not sure what qualifies BBC employees to prescribe ways of living to other citizens. I don’t think they are equipped better than anyone else in society. And what happens when innocent suggestions suddenly become mandatory or when people don’t agree with the messages coming from central planning? Is it just too bad for them? Doesn’t sound like utopia to me.

    I understand the draw of the nanny state and the need to be nurtured, but I think is a dangerous road to go down. People should find their own paths and seek guidance along the way. I’d rather live with the risks and stress of being a free person and choose the people who I want to seek advice from, rather than having it forced on me.

      1. IMHO, Not crazy but not very well thought out and very pessimistic view of humanity. His recommendation “7 up” is a very negative documentary as well.

  49. I hope I can handle my finances well. I believe that my income is enough to cover my expenses but I always end up with a negative budget at the end of the month. I just need to manage my spending habits.

  50. Wow, this is one of the best podcasts I have listened to (and I have listened to many). Such an interesting conversation and relevant for everyone. I love the school of life website. Great work Alain and I agree that communicating properly is essential for many people to say what you really mean instead of resorting to reacting in other ways. Keep the amazing podcasts coming!

  51. gawd damn! came for the profound revelations stayed for the eloquence.

    Never heard of Alain before, THANK YOU (#underlinebolditalics) for the introduction.

    I don’t want to make Naval Ravikant (I know he values my opinion tremendously) nervous but I may have a new favorite episode.


  52. I tried to “Pocket” this podcast in the “RSSRadio” app, and it was saved as your site’s /podcast/ page instead of this one. Thought you might want to know.

  53. Tim, you said somewhere around the 1-hour-mark that you wouldn’t call yourself an artist, but you absolutely should.

    At least, by the definition Seth Godin gives of artists:

  54. Definitely one of my favorite non-technical (i.e. data geek) podcasts in a while! Your mention of Jamie Oliver did bring up another author/TV food person that I think you should sit down with: Alton Brown!!! At the very least, his cook books should be on your shelf next to Jamie’s!

  55. Hey Tim,

    About the moral questions of commiting crimes on a virtual reality simulation – as you briefly mention at the end of the podcast, I can’t recommend you enough a play by Jennifer Haley called “The nether” either in its book form or even better if you have the chance to see it live.

    This was a brilliant podcast, and you both have tought me lots today.

  56. One time in my life i thought that phylosophy was something really boring. And even now i still think that is something like extremely weird for reading and stuff. But with this positions I will be changing my thoughts about this… 🙂

  57. Hey, Tim. Just listened to you and Alain talk…best 2 hours I’ve ever spent in a car. Life changing ideas, well presented and simply riveting to listen to. Thanks!

  58. “We’re not very good at understanding what it is that we really want. We’re extremely prone to latch onto suggestions from the outside world.” – Alain de Botton — I totally agree on this. People don’t actually know or understands what they want, especially teenagers. Most teen’s decisions nowadays are just products of influences and what’s hot and what’s not, they decide based on what others think or what their idols does.

  59. I just loved this podcast — one of my favorites. Among other things, I could listen to Alain de Botton talk about just about anything. He has the most eloquent, melodious voice! Beautiful…

    A few people got their shackles up about the nanny state idea. My guess is that Mr. de Botton was riffing on how to provide the support and guidance that most people need in life, but wouldn’t necessarily vote for a “nanny state.” I took his words lightly.

  60. I’m slowly going through all of the pod casts and getting caught up. I just about skipped this one thinking I had no interest in Philosophy. Glad I didn’t. This one blew me away – and came at a time in my life when I need it the most.

  61. This interview was fascinating. I was driving…so your show notes are awesome. I will listen again soon…so much great ideas to consider.

  62. This podcast has totally changed my life at a very difficult time. Halfway through I had ordered Alain’s book and by now have already read chapter 1. I’m enthralled and excited to learn as much as I can. Thank you, Tim, for bringing this topic to the Four Hour Workweek and into my life, you may have just saved a poor lost soul.

    1. I’m with Damon112377 – Both this podcast and the Brene Brown podcast have radically changed my life and my views on it. Thanks Tim. Please keep digging.

  63. I love this podcast, and even at 2hrs it seems too short! Bringing the work of Alain de Botton to a new/wider audience is a true service to the world.

    I want to make one comment on the “nanny state” discussion because I think some listeners have taken this as meaning some kind of government-led directive on telling people how to think. I believe this couldn’t be further from what Alain de Botton is suggesting.

    Surely if podcasts such as this one could be made into a TV series and broadcast on the BBC that would be incredibly beneficial to anyone who watches it, right? Currently, the majority of TV that people watch in the UK is degrading to the human spirit and intellect, and as the BBC is a national organisation funded by taxation, it should be more responsible for providing programmes that help people discover more about themselves and make better decisions?

    This podcast and Alain’s books and website are relatively unknown to the majority of people, so the BBC could play a role in getting more of this life-changing material out there to people who need it most?

    Anyway, I love Tim Ferriss’ podcast and this discussion with de Botton has made me respect it even more. I can’t wait for Tim’s material on Stoicism.

  64. I enjoyed this podcast so much that I listened to it twice. Alain De Botton is a true philosopher. I say this because I’ve met some people who has PhD in philosophy, and they couldn’t go deeper than mumbling some regular quotes you would come across on social media everyday. In fact, after I posted a couple of comments in one guy’s blog, he started stalking me on social media. Apparently he thought I was smart and he could take advantage of my opinions for his own benefit. He literally copied everything I said in my twitter page and used them in his articles. Moreover, this guy is one of the co-writers of a so-called NYT best-seller. I found out that the book he claimed to write is the copy of a book written by a Harvard prof. on the same subject. I am not giving his name because I don’t want to advertise him here. That was a big eye opener for me. I stopped putting my opinions on other people’s blogs, except for real intellectuals like Sam Harris, for example. I was naive. I also stopped twitting personal opinions. Instead, I am writing them at night for myself. Some day, they will turn into a book. I have had more than enough personal experience with so-called educated people who have no integrity and have no grasp of real life. School labels don’t mean anything anymore, just a tool to get a job if any, those ‘ordinary geniuses’ can inspire, encourage and appreciate free thinkers much more than wanna-be intellectuals. In case someone who reads this comment thinks I’m just bitter about my own education, I have MBA. I wanted to get a PhD, but couldn’t afford it at the time. Now I am thinking I’m glad I didn’t waste anymore money and time on it like I did with MBA.

    This episode was so good. So so good.

    Thank you very much for bringing some great thinkers to your podcast and providing us with the ultimate mind-f*ck, Tim Ferriss. 🙂

    Best xx

  65. Hi Tim,

    Amazing interview, his voice alone is soothing. Throw in his message and its 100% spot on.

    Quick mundane question. What software did you use to offer the ‘share on social media’ and get 5 extra entries?

    Thanks again for all of your stuff….love it!



  66. This was a GREAT episode. I went back to it after finally getting to Alain’s chapter in Tools of Titans (p 486). I had not heard of Alain de Botton before but listening to him did remind me of Alan Watts, which is why I was surprised Alan did not come up while discussing the lack of philosophers in the 20th century. Based off of the little knowledge of Alain de Botton it seems that both Alain and Alan share a passion for finding joy in simple life and they are both focused on bringing seemingly complex philosophical ideas to the main stream. If you have Alain back on the podcast I would be interested to hear what he thinks about Alan Watts and the insane following his lectures have on YouTube despite the fact that he has been deceased almost 45 years.