This year, The School of Life presents purposeful gifts
During the festive period, when gift-giving takes up so much time and energy, we can easily become impatient with the things we buy. Joining in with all those who, when they want to pinpoint the root cause of corruption in our age, only need to point the finger at our attachment to material things. We’re apparently sick because we’re so materialistic, so fixated on brand products and nice new things. Yet, crucially, enjoying our possessions is never really the problem. We’re simply struggling to distinguish between good and bad versions of materialism. Too often, we pursue a bad version – forgetting that other options exist.
Let’s try to understand this through a slightly unusual route: religion. We tend to think of religion as a pure, spiritual undertaking, which is why it can be surprising to note how good religions are at using material things. They have spent a lot of time making and thinking about scrolls to hang in your house, art-works for temples or monasteries, clothes and objects for ceremonial use.
This is because they want to create objects which serve a noble purpose: inspiring our better selves. They are designed to remind us of higher more positive ideals – incorporating valuable psychological qualities in tangible, physical things. Objects which are there, daily, to influence our thoughts with positive intent.
The beauty of a gift is often found at this deeper level of personal enrichment. When we say of a present – ‘it’s the thought that counts’ – we recognize that the hopes and wishes which surround a gift are as important as the object itself. Buying something for someone else is an opportunity to ensure that the objects we invest in are those that lend most encouragement to our higher, better natures.
The collections below have been curated to help you give your loved ones gifts that do more than the latest covetable gadget or fashion item ever can. They will give them gentle encouragement in areas of life we all, sometimes, need to work on, helping them embody the virtues that help us live happier, more fulfilling lives.
We all have that one friend or family member who is helplessly prone to distraction: the Procrastinator. Using reassuring motivation to help the receiver think wisely about daunting tasks, the products in our Focus Collection will give those experiencing a motivation deficit a nudge in the right direction.
2016 has been a tumultuous year. The changing political landscape has left us thinking the world has gone mad. Where can we seek reassurance? Luckily, there is solace to be found in the thinkers of the past and the ideas they have to impart. Our Knowledge Collection features the best of the best.
The festive season is a time of year when we naturally start ruminating on the past 12 months. The tools in the Self-Reflection Collection use the Ancient Greek aphorism 'Know Yourself' as a springboard for understanding who we really are, in turn aiding us to make better decisions in relation to work, relationships and inner life.
Few life skills are as neglected as the ability to remain calm. Our worst decisions and interactions are almost invariably the result of a loss of calm, and a descent into anxiety. The gifts in our Calm Collection help us to remember the value of calm, to practise summoning our calmest selves so we can approach worries and fears more rationally.
Browse the full Christmas Collections at theschooloflife.com/shop