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Young woman laughs while hugging her boyfriend.

Love — in its many shades and contexts — can feel like too vast an experience to articulate with any coherence, but this week’s On Being makes an attempt. We’re re-airing one of our most popular episodes: Krista’s conversation with philosopher and writer Alain de Botton (you might know him from his 2016 New York Times essay “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person”). These words from the beginning of the interview have accompanied me this week:

“Love is a painful, poignant, touching attempt by two flawed individuals to try and meet each other’s needs in situations of gross uncertainty and ignorance about who they are and who the other person is, but we’re going to do our best.”

Alain de Botton has never shied away from examining the dark truths about love. His (unsentimental!) theory of love helps articulate how our journey to cultivate self awareness is intimately connected to the relationships that make up our lives, romantic or otherwise. It reminds me of some of Sharon Salzberg’s wisdom, both in her book Real Love, as well as these words from her On Being column:

“Connection — to the world and to yourself — is the foundation of the love that is abundant in our lives.”

Both Sharon Salzberg and Alain de Botton’s words on the interplay between our hearts and our worlds have helped deepen my understanding of what Brené Brown means when she talks about authenticity as a daily practice:

“Choosing authenticity means...nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we let go of what we are supposed to be and embrace who we are.”

Not one of these wise voices has said anything about this being easy, but perhaps we can all find solace in venturing forth together. As Rumi wrote centuries ago, “Wherever you are, whatever you do, be in love…”

Kristin Lin
Editor, On Being Studios

P.S. — I’d love to open the newsletter with topics that touch you. What ideas and questions would you like us to explore as a community? You can write to me at

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This Week At On Being Studios
Our Latest Episodes
Young woman sits across from her partner in a crowded city square.
On Being
Alain de Botton
“The True Hard Work of Love and Relationships”

The philosopher and School of Life creator. The question we should ask on an early date is, "How are you crazy? I'm crazy like this"? The real work of love that is in the stumbling and evolving, skill and surviving — not in the falling. The joy of flirting.

Listen on:
Our Website | Apple Podcasts | Google Play
Krista Tippett in contemplation at On Being headquarters.
Living the Questions — #3
“What is the value of boredom in our lives?”

“If my kids ever said, ‘I'm bored,’ I would say, ‘That is great. I'm so glad to hear that. Maybe you're gonna get creative right now.’” Krista reflects on the role of mental downtime in our lives. 

Listen on:
Our Website | Apple Podcasts | Google Play
From the On Being Blog
Photo collage containing an image of a young man, an older couple, and a young woman staring to camera.

Here are three essays that explore the vast terrain of love: 

“Living Through Death: Love at the End of Marriage” by Lara Dotson-Renta
An affirmation of presence, a victory of joy, a connection maintained: these are the things a young mother observes in her elderly next door neighbors, as a husband gently tends to his wife in her final days. A beautiful account of what love truly looks like.

“Loving Your Enemies: Possible and Necessary” by Audrey Thompson
In wrestling with the commandment to “love your enemies,” it may be helpful to consider the concept of love as agape — a transcendental relationship that moves beyond the interpersonal and toward something larger. 

“Great Love Is Softened and Worn” by Omid Safi
The greatest love is not extravagant or glamorous, but like good leather or a favorite pair of jeans, wears in and softens with us through the years.

“For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.”

Carl Sagan –
What We’re Loving

Listen | Reckonings | Stephanie Lepp
“I've been loving Reckonings! It's a podcast that explores the question ‘Can people change?’ — which is such an important one to wrestle with in our current political climate. I particularly enjoyed the episode on ideological extremism.”
Recommended by editor Kristin Lin

Read | Awake at the Bedside | Koshin Paley Ellison and Matt Weingast
Recommended by Impact Lab engagement manager Eddie Gonzalez

Read | “White threat in a browning America” | Vox
“This piece is an intense, often uncomfortable, and revealing analysis of America's racial landscape, now and to come. It forces us to ask big questions about how we are to be together as people.”
Recommended by producer Tony Liu

Image: Banner for the Fetzer Institute — "Helping build the spiritual foundation for a loving world."
News & Announcements
The On Being Blog is on hiatus!

We're in the midst of a major website redesign as we think about the best way to serve our wonderful community through our digital presence. To really invest time and energy into supporting this new home and structure for the blog, we are on a brief hiatus. In the meantime, we will still share essays from our archive through our newsletter and on our social media platforms and hope you will enjoy revisiting some of our essays from years past. We deeply appreciate any time you’ve spent reading and look forward to returning soon with something fresh. 

A friendly reminder about the On Being App

As of August 3, 2018, the On Being App is no longer being updated with new weekly shows. However, the content you’ve previously downloaded and gathered on the On Being App will have eternal life on your phone. (Well, maybe that's a bit overstated, but you know what we mean — you can still replay John O’Donohue as before, as needed.)

Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, and an expanding array of podcast platforms also allow you to subscribe and receive On Being every week, just as our app now does, and can be listened to without internet. These platforms are constantly updated and improved — and when you subscribe on Apple in particular, you will be helping others find our show. Our little app has been ailing for some time, and the number of users doesn't justify the cost of serious rebuild and upkeep.

The good news is that we are investing in a major way to create whole new pathways into the far-flung community of listening, reading, and living that On Being has become. Watch for that in the fall.

For a basic tutorial on how to subscribe to On Being on Apple Podcasts, please copy and paste the links below in your browser or go here: 

Apple Users:
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And for anything that has not been addressed here, or as other questions arise, please write to We are here for you!


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The On Being Project is an independent non-profit public life and media initiative. We pursue deep thinking and social courage, moral imagination and joy, to renew inner life, outer life, and life together.

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