philosophy

Leonard Michaels’s Playful and Poignant Meditations on the Enigma of Our Feline Companions and How They Reveal Us to Ourselves – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

“A cat must have three different names,” T.S. Eliot proclaimed in the iconic verses that became the basis of one of the longest-running and most beloved Broadway musicals of all time. “You can never know anyone as completely as you want. But that’s okay, love is better,” Caroline Paul wrote generations later in her gorgeous memoir of finding the meaning of life through a lost cat. Between our longing for love, our urge to name what we barely understand, and…

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The Benefits of Thinking About Thinking – Self Improvement Article

Metacognition means “thinking about thinking.” It’s essentially introspection into the nature of one’s mind. A question that has likely been around since the dawn of man’s ability to think, included the oldest philosophers who wondered…”Who am I?” or “What is a mind?” or “What are thoughts?” Today, psychologists are beginning to apply the principles of metacognition to mental health. Metacognitive therapy (MCT) is a newly growing form of therapy that explores how we view our thoughts, and our beliefs about…

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I’m Too Smart To Be Happy: Debunking Depressive Realism – Self Improvement Article

One common belief I come across (especially in many truly smart and talented individuals), is the thought that “I’m too smart to be happy.” Many believe that there is a direct relationship between being too intelligent and being depressed. This is sometimes referred to as depressive realism, which is the idea that depressed people have a more accurate and rational view of the world. To people that have an “I’m too smart to be happy” mindset, they see their intelligence…

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Poet and Philosopher David Whyte’s Gorgeous Letter to Children About Reading, Amazement, and the Exhilaration of Discovering the Undiscovered – Brain Pickings – Personal Development Article

I remember the feeling of first seeing the Moon through the small handheld telescope my father had smuggled from East Germany — how ancient yet proximate it felt, how alive, as though I could glide my six-year-old finger over its rugged radiance — the feeling of electric astonishment at something so surprising yet so inevitable, something that seemed to have always been waiting there just for me to discover it. I remember next having that feeling nearly a decade later,…

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Kierkegaard on the Spiritual and Sensual Power of Music, the Essence of Genius, and the Key to a Timeless Work of Art – Brain Pickings – Happiness Article

“Without music life would be a mistake,” Nietzsche bellowed his unmistakable baritone of buoyant nihilism into the vast chorus of great thinkers extolling the singular power of music. A year before his birth, Søren Kierkegaard (May 5, 1813–November 11, 1855) — another thinker of soaring lucidity, unafraid to plumb the darkest depths for the elemental truths — took up the subject in a portion of Either/Or: A Fragment of Life (public library) — the 1843 masterwork that furnished his insight…

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Physicist Brian Greene on Mortality, Our Search for Meaning, and the Most Important Fact of the Universe – Brain Pickings – Personal Development Article

“Death is our friend precisely because it brings us into absolute and passionate presence with all that is here, that is natural, that is love,” Rainer Maria Rilke wrote in letter to his grief-stricken friend, the Countess Margot Sizzo-Noris-Crouy, in 1923 — the year he published, after a decade of work, his miraculous Duino Elegies. Nearly a century after Rilke’s death, the theoretical physicist and mathematician Brian Greene — who is reading and reflecting on the ninth of Rilke’s ten…

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Mary Shelley on What Makes Life Worth Living and Nature’s Beauty as a Lifeline to Regaining Sanity – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

Half a century before Walt Whitman considered what makes life worth living when a paralytic stroke boughed him to the ground of being, Mary Shelley (August 30, 1797–February 1, 1851) placed that question at the beating heart of The Last Man (free ebook | public library) — the 1826 novel she wrote in the bleakest period of her life: after the deaths of three of her children, two by widespread infectious diseases that science has since contained; after the love…

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Ryan Holiday — How to Use Stoicism to Choose Alive Time Over Dead Time (#419) – The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss – Self Improvement Article

“Anger is often what pain looks like when it shows itself in public.” — Krista Tippett Ryan Holiday (@RyanHoliday) is one of the world’s foremost thinkers and writers on ancient philosophy and its place in modern life. He is a sought-after speaker and strategist and the author of many bestselling books, including The Obstacle Is the Way, Ego Is the Enemy, and The Daily Stoic. His books have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold more than two million copies worldwide.…

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Virginia Woolf on Finding Beauty in the Uncertainty of Time, Space, and Being – Brain Pickings – Happiness Article

“How should we like it were stars to burn with a passion for us we could not return?” asked W.H. Auden in one of the greatest poems ever written — a subtle, playful, poignant meditation on what it takes to go on living — to go on making poems and symphonies and equations, to go on loving — when faced with something so much vaster than we are, so beyond our control and so rife with uncertainty, be it the…

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Finding Flow to Escape Stuck-at-Home Captivity! – Motivational, Self Improvement Article

“I kind of entered a flow state. I’ve been there before while climbing. You are not thinking ahead. You are just thinking about what is in front of you each second.” Aron Ralston            Feeling isolated or penned in like most of your fellow humans? While you can’t host a party or travel in this era of social distancing and quarantining, you can escape into your mind. When you find a state of flow, concerns and anxieties evaporate. In this subtle form of transcendence, you can…

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How Ernst Haeckel Turned Personal Tragedy into Transcendent Art in the World’s First Encyclopedia of Medusae – Brain Pickings – Personal Development Article

“I hope you are able to work hard on science & thus banish, as far as may be possible, painful remembrances,” Charles Darwin wrote in the spring of 1864 to a young and obscure German correspondent who had just sent him two folios of his stunningly illustrated studies of tiny single-celled marine organisms — a masterwork that enchanted Darwin as one of the most majestic things he had ever seen. But Ernst Haeckel (February 16, 1834–August 9, 1919), who would…

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Astrophysicist Janna Levin Reads Walt Whitman’s Stunning Serenade to Our Interlaced Lives Across Space and Time – Brain Pickings – Happiness Article

How few artists are not merely the sensemaking vessel for the tumult of their times, not even the deck railing of assurance onto which the passengers steady themselves, but the horizon that remains for other ships long after this one has reached safe harbor, or has sunk — the horizon whose steadfast line orients generation after generation, yet goes on shifting as each epoch advances toward new vistas of truth and possibility. Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819–March 26, 1892) was…

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Rebecca Solnit on Growing Up, Growing Whole, and How We Compose Ourselves – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

“I am convinced that most people do not grow up,” Maya Angelou wrote in her stirring letter to the daughter she never had. “We carry accumulation of years in our bodies and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are still innocent and shy as magnolias.” In that same cultural season, from a college commencement stage, Toni Morrison told an orchard of human saplings that “true adulthood is a difficult beauty, an intensely hard won glory.”…

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How to end your “if only” list and accept yourself as you are – Motivational, Self Improvement Article

By Cheryl Melody Baskin If only I didn’t have to work anymore, THEN I’d be happy. If only I could land a job, THEN I’d be happy. If only I could find the right partner, THEN I’d be happy. If only I could get some peace and quiet around here, THEN I’d be happy. If only I could become rich and famous, THEN I’d be happy. Do you have similar thoughts? Although I know better, there are days when I…

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Walt Whitman on Women’s Centrality to Democracy – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

“I can conceive of no better service,” Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819–March 26, 1892) wrote in contemplating the mightiest force of resistance in times far more troubled than ours, “than boldly exposing the weakness, liabilities and infinite corruptions of democracy.” To Whitman, who declared himself “the poet of the woman the same as the man,” the gravest weakness of democracy was the artificial, culturally manufactured inequality of the genders, which he recognized not only as a corruption of democracy but…

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Poet Lisel Mueller, Who Died at 96, on What Gives Meaning to Our Ephemeral Lives – Brain Pickings – Happiness Article

“When you realize you are mortal you also realize the tremendousness of the future. You fall in love with a Time you will never perceive,” the poet, painter, and philosopher Etel Adnan observed as she beheld impermanence and transcendence at the foot of a mountain. “By the grace of random chance, funneled through nature’s laws,” the poetic physicist Brian Greene wrote in his beautiful meditation on our search for meaning in a cold cosmos, “we are here.” And then we…

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Physicist Brian Greene on the Poetry of Existence and the Wellspring of Meaning in Our Ephemeral Lives Amid an Impartial Universe – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

“Praised be the fathomless universe, for life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious,” Walt Whitman wrote as he stood discomposed and delirious before a universe filled with “forms, qualities, lives, humanity, language, thoughts, the ones known, and the ones unknown, the ones on the stars, the stars themselves, some shaped, others unshaped.” And yet the central animating force of our species, the wellspring of our joy and curiosity, the restlessness that gave us Whitman and Wheeler, Keats and…

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The Future Stoic Philosopher and Roman Emperor’s Passionate Teenage Love Letters to His Tutor – Brain Pickings – Personal Development Article

“Who we are and who we become depends, in part, on whom we love,” a trio of psychologists wrote in their wonderful inquiry into limbic revision and how love rewires the brain. But whom we love equally depends on who we are and who we want to become. Love, like time, is as much a function of us as we are a function of it. An especially striking illustration of this equivalence, both for its intensity and its unexpectedness, comes…

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How to be Self-Aware in a Troubled World – Personal Development Article

You’re reading How to be Self-Aware in a Troubled World, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles. Right now, it’s a challenging thing to stay connected, listening, and loving. To have a tender heart and an alive intelligence. From global to personal, so many issues press in from all sides. Admitting to yourself that sometimes no matter what you do, it all feels impotent.…

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Anne Gilchrist on Inner Wholeness, Our Greatest Obstacle to Happiness, and the Body as the Seedbed of a Flourishing Soul – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

“So few grains of happiness measured against all the dark and still the scales balance,” Jane Hirshfield wrote in her stunning poem “The Weighing.” In how we chip from the monolithic weight of the world those osmian grains of happiness lies the promise of an answer to the abiding question: How, in this blink of existence bookended by nothingness, do we attain completeness of being? That is what Anne Gilchrist (February 25, 1828–November 29, 1885) — a woman Walt Whitman…

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How to Live and How to Die – Personal Development Article

“Leave something of sweetness and substance in the mouth of the world.” A year ago, I lost my darling friend Emily Levine (October 23, 1944–February 3, 2019). Figuring, in which she rightly occupies the first line of the acknowledgements, was just being released. The book would not have existed without her, nor would The Universe in Verse — several years earlier, Emily had swung open for me the doorway to the world of poetry in an incident of comical profundity…

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Michael Pollan on How the Transcendent Power of Music Allays the Loneliness of Being and the Ache of Regret – Brain Pickings – Personal Development Article

Some of humanity’s greatest writers have extolled the singular enchantment of music. Walt Whitman considered it the profoundest expression of nature. Maurice Sendak found in its fusion of fantasy and feeling the key to great storytelling. “Without music life would be a mistake,” Nietzsche proclaimed with his characteristic drama of finality. Music can save a life, allay the shock of death, and permeate the living flesh of memory. “After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music,”…

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7 Steps To Greatness – Self Improvement Article

You’re reading 7 Steps To Greatness, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles. Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them”.William Shakespeare As a life coach, my clients often come to me and say, “I want to be great”! Then their follow up question comes shortly after, “how can I do that”? It…

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How to Develop a Growth Mindset From an Early AgePick the Brain – Personal Development Article

One of the most important parental roles is to help your child develop a growth mindset at an early age. Knowing the techniques to employ and the right steps to take is all you need to ensure your child develops a powerful growth mindset early and fast. In this post, we will look into certain techniques that can help your child develop a growth mindset early and how to expose your kids to them. 1. Teach Them How The Brain…

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Mary Shelley’s Father on Parenting and How an Early Love of Books Paves the Way for Lifelong Happiness – Brain Pickings – Personal Development Article

In the final years of the eighteenth century, the radical political philosopher and novelist William Godwin (March 3, 1756–April 7, 1836) entered into a pioneering marriage of equals with another radical political philosopher and novelist: Mary Wollstonecraft, founding mother of what later ages termed feminism. While Wollstonecraft was pregnant with their daughter — future Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, a Romantic radical in her own unexampled right — Godwin began channeling their nightly conversations about how to raise happy, intelligent, and…

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Kahlil Gibran on Befriending Time – Brain Pickings – Happiness Article

I have been thinking about time lately, as I watch the seasons turn and wait for a seemingly endless season of the heart to set; I have been thinking about Ursula K. Le Guin’s lovely “Hymn to Time” and its kaleidoscopic view of time as stardust scattered in “the radiance of each bright galaxy” and the “eyes beholding radiance,” time as a portal that “makes room for going and coming home,” time as a womb in which “begins all ending”;…

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How to Heal your Soul for Utmost HappinessPick the Brain – Personal Development Article

To achieve utmost happiness, you need to find a way to heal your soul. This is an elongated process that can take days weeks or years But, more than a process to follow a disciplinary life, healing begins with compassion. One needs to be kind to themselves for the process of healing to work. We live in a world that exposes us to constant stress, trauma or illness. Healing your spiritual self can help you overcome these problems. The process…

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Potter and Poet M.C. Richards on What She Learned at the Wheel About Non-Dualism, Creative Wholeness, and the Poetry of Personhood – Brain Pickings – Happiness Article

Looking back on the first thirteen years of Brain Pickings, I termed my thirteen most important life-learnings “fluid reflections on keeping a solid center.” But how exactly do we locate our center and master its osmotic balance between fluidity and solidity? That is what poet, potter, and manual philosopher M.C. Richards (July 13, 1916–September 10, 1999) explores in her 1964 counterculture classic Centering: In Pottery, Poetry, and the Person (public library) — an inspired inquiry into “how we may seek…

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The Best of Brain Pickings 2019 – Brain Pickings – Happiness Article

Love, poetry, friendship, solitude, and lots of trees. By Maria Popova In this annual review, following the annual selections of the year’s loveliest children’s books and overall favorite books, “best” is as usual a composite measure of what I most enjoyed thinking and writing about over the course of the year, and what you most ardently read and shared. It has been curious to observe, in this most difficult year of my life, the patterns that emerge — strong women’s…

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Edmund Burke’s Remarkable Letter to His Children About Generosity and the Importance of Honoring the Dignity of Those in Need – Brain Pickings – Happiness Article

The Anglo-Irish statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke (January 12, 1729–July 9, 1797) was a rare centaur of a creature. Although in the centuries since his death his ideas have been somewhat hijacked to conservative ends, in his own day they were embraced by liberals and conservatives alike. A staunch champion of freedom and a vocal critic of British colonialism, he influenced minds as vast and varied as Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, her radical philosopher father William Godwin, Romantic poetry beacons…

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