The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton

As if I didn’t have enough on my list of non-edible things to consume, I had to go and discover The School of Life, a youtube channel that satisfies my craving for the well-designed and informative and earnest and twee. There are a bunch of different channels catering to different topics. I like the ones about relationships and maximizing happiness. There are a few characters in books I wish had these videos to watch to educate them about where they’re going wrong in their relationships and their life choic

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carried this book around with me and it never ceased to make me gape with its revelations! 

 

But in addition to discovering the School of Life I also have the founder, Alain de Botton, himself. And I have the book The Architecture of Happiness, which has spewed incredible trips down hypotheticals for me, in a way that fiction just can’t. In this book, de Botton acts as the smart, kind friend willing to hold your hand and walk you through exciting ideas that keep building up. What de Botton is arguing in this book is tremendously appealing. He’s trying to get to the heart of why we like the things we like, and how the buildings we live in impact our mood. Why do we decorate the way we do? How do we surround ourselves with pieces of ourselves that we want reflected in OBJECT form? Essentially, he says the objects and buildings we buy, covet, and love, are manifestations of the qualities that we admire. WOW!

“To speak of home in relation to a building is simply to recognise its harmony with our own prized internal song.”

He has this one part of the book where he essentially conjectures that we give human traits to pieces of furniture, cars, and so on. So we choose what type we’d like to be “friends” with. That cold, sleek faucet, or the ornate, floozy one? Which one seems more trustworthy? More fun? Who’d we want to be friends with? It was ausch an interesting way of framing a thought process, and one that actually made a lot of sense to me.

What we call “home” is, in essence, a physical space that aligns with who we are. It affirms the truths within us.

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the friend who manages to be wicked smart AND kind

It was a humanist approach to architecture. A way to understand buildings in the way that regular people (ie us) live in them and experience them. And an affirmation that buildings shape our happiness, because we make them ours, and the ones that align with what we think we need are the best ones.

Reading this felt like talking to a very smart and articulate friend who wanted to make you a better, more observant person. The kind of friend, say, that I’d like to be myself! It is so thought provoking that surely, after reading it, not only will you look at buildings differently but you’ll be looking at faucets and wondering: would I be your buddy?

 

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