Hello to all, a pleasure to be here. I will try to answer as many things as possible.
In answer to Lily-Eva, I think the whole idea that we must fall in love with The Right Person is deeply unhelpful. Everyone is quite substantially wrong for us, because human beings are incredibly complex creatures, for whom happiness is not a constant or a given. Therefore, rather than hunting forever for this ideal being, we should take on board the eternal imperfection of everything and everyone - angels only exist in heaven for a reason.
A lot of happiness is created by things outside our control. This is very worrying in a way - but should lead us to humility and an acknowledgement of how much we rely on fate. This should teach us compassion for ourselves and others at moments when the context lets us down.
For the Rockstar question: I have zero interest in personal fame and vanity (I did when I was younger, but one outgrows it). However, it's really important that serious ideas and wisdom has Glamour. Why should glamour go only to clothes and to models and movie stars... I look here to the example of the Christian church, which knew the importance of allying Beauty with Ideas. Part of the problem of our society is that Beauty is in the stupid corner and seriousness is often in the Ugly corner. I suggest a partnership. In a small way, this is what we are trying to do with the new Youtube School of life channel: www.youtube.com/theschooloflifetv - which tries to marry up attractiveness with profundity.
The idea of a royal family is a fascinating one: because really it's the idea of an exemplary family; a set of people one should look up to. I like the idea of looking up to people and modelling myself on their behaviour, but then they really need to deserve it. And I'm not sure many royal families quite deserve it. But I'm keen to preserve the idea of respect for those who are better than you. But then they really have to be better!
@LanderLenaard: I have never thought about writing a direct sequel, but in a sense a lot of my work is in one way and another a sequel to my book. Particularly my latest book, which exists only online: www.thebookoflife.org
@DriesDeSmet: It's hard for train drivers to write books, because they have places to go. But in general, being in a place conducive to writing doesn't always mean one will be able to write. There are people who've seen amazing things who've hardly been able to explain what it is they saw (astronauts), and others who've stayed in bed all their lives who've seen galaxies (Marcel Proust).
@elie: I agree, how to cope with loneliness is in a way the flipside of love. And no one can ever end up in a good relationship who doesn't know how to be alone. It's a topic I am fascinated by.
@MathiasMas: I think the important thing is that whether we are free or not, we FEEL free. It feels like our destiny is in our hands, and this is what creates the crisis of possibility known as an 'existential crisis': there is so much to choose from, and no way of knowing in advance what will be the optimal choice.
@EliseD.: What we have to remember about the news always is that it is a product that needs to be SOLD. And the best way to sell news is through FEAR and ANGER. Do you ever wonder why the news leaves you afraid and angry? Don't wonder any more: it is because news organisations - even so called 'public ones' - need you to keep coming back, through fear and anger.
@EliseD.: I always welcome the recommendation not to be too hopeful. That way, one will always be pleasantly surprised.
@EwoudP.: There are many philosophers who I don't believe have very much to say to us now. That's OK, and very normal. It's just that sometimes, the canon of 'great philosophers' is fixed and doesn't allow for changes in contemporary taste. Right now, I believe that Descartes has very little of interest to tell us.
@DriesDeSmet: All my interests are held together by one overriding theme: the fulfilled life - and how we might reach it. This is also the animating idea behind my new project, www.theschooloflife.com/antwerp - which is just open in Antwerp .
@EwoudP.: Because this was a question I get a lot, I decided to build a book recommendation app: please go to www.booksastherapy.com
@Julie: Thanks for the generous words. I think everyone can find something that would give their life meaning. But it's extremely hard to a) understand oneself b) understand oneself before one has to get a job, any job c) make money from meaning - this is why so many people are confused about work. We simply fail to treat it with the seriousness with which it deserves. Satisfying work really means the capacity to help other people through the exercise of one's deepest talents. Only maybe a few percent of the population ever have a chance to do this. It's nothing less than a tragedy.
@primal: I think in the future, we will be able to use technology to help us understand ourselves better, particularly in the areas of Work and Love.
@BartVerdeyen: There is a risk, and the solution is Art. By art i mean the example of all those amazing artists - Van Gogh, Matisse etc - who didn't travel that far, but painted things like peaches and lemons - and did so with such grace that they permanently inoculate all those who appreciate them against the dangers of ennui.
@nathalieleblanc: To return to a previous mention, I would give them the URL of: www.thebookoflife.org
@Lily-Eva: To overcome my narcissism faster.
@EvelineLemmens: I am not happy every day because my goal isn't happiness, but a fulfilled life - which is different. It means a life where you feel you are on the right track, not where everything goes right. Often I am frustrated because there are bumps on the road. For example, right now, our website at www.theschooloflife.com has crashed. It's very annoying. We have 12 engineers working on it. Everyone is stressed in the office. But deep deep down, it doesn't matter. It will be fixed. And deep down, I am content. I am leading the right life for me. Thanks to you guys, my readers. I am so grateful.
@mingusdolphy: I am finishing a new book in february about what happens to love as you grow up and grow older.; a vision of mature love. It's a follow up to my first book, Essays in Love.
@EvelineLemmens: I love Seneca's aphorism: What need is there to weep over parts of life? The whole of it calls for tears.
@SofieVG: We are so afraid of being humiliated and judged. We are right to be scared. A lot of our secret thoughts are very dangerous - this is what Freud and psychoanalysis have taught us. Much of human reality is 'unacceptable' to the average person, and can only be shared in a context of great trust, intimacy and friendship. SHowing ourseles as we really are,that's a daunting challenge and we should do it only selectively.