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S6, Ep2 How to Fail: Alain De Botton

S6, Ep2 How to Fail: Alain De Botton

By Elizabeth Day

This week on How To Fail, we are doing something slightly different. I know, I know, we don't like change, but sometimes IT'S GOOD FOR US. It's especially good for us when it comes in the form of Alain de Botton, one of the most intelligent, eloquent and thoughtful people on the planet.

And because it's Alain de Botton, modern philosopher, founder of The School of Life and bestselling authors of life-changing books such as Essays In Love, I decided to allow him a little leeway. Instead of choosing personal failures, Alain wanted to talk about three philosophical 'failure concepts' and I'm so glad he did, because it led to one of the most fascinating and enlightening discussions I've ever had on the topic.

We discuss the idea that we can be good people and yet fail, and the concept (which I'm forever banging on about) that failure is the norm, and that we should find contentment in the average rather than constantly expecting the exceptional. He also has brilliant insights into why romantic break-ups are not, in and of themselves, tragic, because each relationship teaches you something you need to know, and when the time is right, it is ok to move on. Along the way, I also ask him about X Factor, so fear not, I'm there to pepper his brilliance with my usual lowbrow content, as per.

It was such a delight to meet Alain. An hour in his company left my brain fizzing with new (and reassuring) ideas, and I hope it has the same effect on you.


The new book from The School of Life, co-authored and introduced by Alain de Botton, is out now and available to buy here. 


I am thrilled to be taking How To Fail on tour around the UK in October, sharing my failure manifesto with the help of some very special guests. These events are not recorded as podcasts so the only way to be there is to book tickets via

The Sunday Times Top 5 bestselling book of the podcast, How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day, is out now and is available here.


This season of How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp and sponsored by Sweaty Betty. Sweaty Betty are offering listeners 20% off full-price items with the code HOWTOFAIL

To contact us, email

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Alain de Botton @alaindebotton


Sweaty Betty @sweatybetty







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