Bookable Calendar Adds Custom Questions to Drive Better Meeting Outcomes – Productivity Article

I recently read an article in the Huffington Post about US presidential hopeful Joe Biden’s climate justice plan that would direct nearly half the benefits of its proposed $2 trillion clean electricity investment to poor and minority communities. This is certainly a noble plan.  Climate change debates aside, what struck me most is how complicated, disorganized and confusing the process has been for the two New York state panels (who have been tasked with how to implement and measure the…

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Amanda Palmer Reads Poet Jane Hirshfield’s Miniature Masterwork of Insistence, Persistence, and Compassionate Courage – Brain Pickings – Happiness Article

“When we come to it,” Maya Angelou beckoned in her stunning cosmic vision for humanity, “when the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate…” Then, she bent the mind in language to remind us, and only then will we have risen to our cosmic destiny — a destiny built on the discipline of never forgetting, never daring let ourselves forget, our shared cosmic belonging. “For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.    Remember?” But we do forget,…

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Octavio Paz on Being Other, the Courage of Responsibility, the Meaning of Hope, and the Only Fruitful Portal to Change – Brain Pickings – Personal Development Article

I came to this country not having inherited its sins, not being afforded many of its rights, but eager to share — and having by now devoted my adult life to sharing — in its responsibilities, its atonements, its healing. I came alone, barely out of my adolescence, into a country not yet out of its adolescence — that developmental stage when the act of taking responsibility is most difficult, and the impulse toward evasion and escapism most intense. “I…

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The Illustrated Story of How a Little Boy Who Grew Up to Be a Trailblazing Astronaut Fought Segregation at the Public Library – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

“Knowledge sets us free… A great library is freedom,” Ursula K. Le Guin wrote in contemplating the sacredness of public libraries. “Freedom is not something that anybody can be given; freedom is something people take and people are as free as they want to be,” her contemporary James Baldwin — who had read his way from the Harlem public library to the literary pantheon — insisted in his courageous and countercultural perspective on freedom. Ronald McNair (October 21, 1950–January 28,…

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Grammy Award-Winning Jazz Vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant Reads Audre Lorde’s Poignant Poem “The Bees” – Brain Pickings – Happiness Article

Bees hum the essential harmonics in the symphony of life — crucial pollinators responsible for our planet’s diversity, responsible for the flourishing of the entire food chain, responsible even for Earth’s resplendent colors. It is hardly a wonder that they have long moved poets, those essential harmonizers of human life, to rapture and reverie. Emily Dickinson reverenced “their velvet masonry,” Walt Whitman their “their perpetual rich mellow boom” and “great glistening swelling bodies,” and Ross Gay their murmured assurance, “saying…

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How to Make Sense of the Chaos and Uncertainty – Self Improvement Article

It might seem impossible to make sense of a nation-wide racial revolt being dropped into the middle of a pandemic in a country that’s already seething with bitter cultural divides, but let’s try anyway.Don’t worry, I’m not going to get political here. Instead, I’d like to use this as an opportunity to walk you through how I go about processing extremely emotional and upsetting public events such as this. I think this is important because right now, due to social…

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Nobody Knows What Is Going On – Personal Development Article

I’m reposting the Monday newsletter on the site because I believe it’s important. It’s an effort to cut through a lot of the confusion and bullshit out there with regards to the current pandemic. Things have gotten contentious around the world with a lot of blaming, arguing, and finger-pointing going on. So, I’d like to use this as an opportunity to dispel anyone’s sense of certainty about, well, anything.Let’s dive right in.No one has any idea what the fuck is…

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Coronavirus: Surviving the Looming Mental Health Crisis – Self Improvement Article

This morning I stayed in bed until nearly 11:30AM. Last night, I stayed up until 3 AM watching that mullet trainwreck of a documentary, “Tiger King”, on Netflix, allowing myself to be shocked and bamboozled into another episode, just one more episode…For the past two weeks, my sense of time and agency has completely gone out the window. Work usually gets done… later rather than sooner, and sometimes never. My life now possesses a background ambiance of anxiety, whispering that…

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The Story of the 1964 Alaska Earthquake and the Remarkable Woman Who Magnetized People into Falling Together as Their World Fell Apart – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

We might spend our lives trying to discern where we end and the rest of the world begins, but we save them by experiencing ourselves — our selves, each individual self — as “the still point of the turning world,” to borrow T.S. Eliot’s lovely phrase from one of the greatest poems ever written. And yet that point is pinned to a figment — our fundamental creaturely sense of reality is founded upon the illusion of absolute rest. On March…

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Separating fact from deadly fiction: the London team factchecking the coronavirus – Positive News – Positivity Article

As Covid-19 spreads, misleading information in the news or on social media can be at best confusing and at worst fatal. Full Fact, the UK’s independent factchecking charity, is working flat out to tackle a flow of falsities The arrival of the new coronavirus has sent factchecking charity Full Fact into overdrive. It’s no exaggeration to say that at a time like this, ensuring the accuracy of information that people receive is a matter of life or death. In our…

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Coronavirus: The Real Risks and Human Biases behind the Panic – Self Improvement Article

Note: This was originally written for my weekly newsletter. You can sign up for it here. Welcome to a special coronavirus edition of MFM, the only weekly newsletter that refuses to cancel its flights and believes eating fruits and vegetables is more useful than wearing a face mask. Each week, this newsletter breaks down three ideas that usually revolve around social psychology, cognitive biases, and some light philosophy.This week, I’d like to use coronavirus as a case study to talk about…

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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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Life, Death, Chance, and Freeman Dyson – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

In her stunning “Hymn to Time,” Ursula K. Le Guin observed how death and chance course through “space and the radiance of each bright galaxy,” through our “eyes beholding radiance” — death and chance meaning death and life, for each of us is a wonder of improbability made by an immense Rube Goldberg machine of chance: If the Big Bang had churned out just a little more antimatter than matter, if the ratio of hydrogen and helium in the baby…

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On saying goodbye to Europe – Adventures in Career Development – Career Development, Self Improvement Article

I woke up this morning outside of Europe. This was strange, because I went to bed in Europe and so in the night, the borders of the continent withdrew from my bed and my country leaving with nothing but my Britishness to console me in the morning. It has been a long and bumpy ride this Brexit business. I know it is not over, but today at least marks the beginning of a new phase of indecision and brinkmanship. I’ve…

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Neil Gaiman Reads His Humanistic Poem for Refugees, Composed from a Thousand Definitions of Warmth from Around the World – Brain Pickings – Personal Development Article

“There is a huge abyss within every mind. When we belong, we have an outside mooring to prevent us from falling into ourselves,” the late, great Irish poet and philosopher John O’Donohue wrote as he channeled ancient Celtic wisdom on belonging. But given this mooring is already difficult enough a triumph in the privacy of each personhood, given the abyss already gapes fathomless enough in each inner world, what happens when the outside world — a world in which, as…

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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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Favorite Books of 2019 – Brain Pickings – Happiness Article

Long ago, when the present and the living appealed to me more, I endeavored to compile “best of” reading lists at the close of each year. Even then, those were inherently incomplete and subjective reflections of one person’s particular tastes, but at least my scope of contemporary reading was wide enough to narrow down such a selection. In recent years, these subjective tastes have taken me further and further into the past, deeper and deeper into the common record of…

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How Compassion Helped One Woman Leave an Extremist Group – Happiness Article

I first became aware of the Westboro Baptist Church when it threatened to picket my son’s preschool, which was at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. Megan Phelps-Roper I wondered: Why in the world would anyone do that? Some Googling revealed that Westboro was based in Topeka, Kansas, and for a quite a few years had been very active in picketing Jewish organizations and the funerals of people who died of AIDS/HIV or gay-bashings, with signs that famously said…

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Responding To Tragedies: More Than Thoughts and Prayers – Spiritual Article

When tragedy occurs we naturally want to reach out with words of comfort. We have to do better than “thoughts and prayers.” We’ve been pelted with tragedies — some human created and others of nature — and many of us are reflecting and praying. Texas mass shootings, multiple other mass shootings, Hurricane Dorian, many other hurricanes that left swaths of populated areas devastated, and the deadly California dive-boat fire are just a few of the tragedies we have grieved over…

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Year of the Monkey: Patti Smith on Dreams, Loss, Love, and Mending the Broken Realities of Life – Happiness Article

“Life is a dream. ‘Tis waking that kills us,” Virginia Woolf wrote in Orlando — her groundbreaking novel that gallops across centuries of history, across lines of logic and convention, to telescope a vision for a different future of the human heart. There are moments in life when it is no longer clear whether we dream our dreams or are dreamt by them — moments when reality presses against us with such intensity, acute and overwhelmingly real, that all we…

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The Devonshire town that transformed local democracy – Positive News – Positivity Article

As part of our United Kingdom of Solutions focus, we meet deputy mayor and deputy chair of Buckfastleigh town council, Pam Barrett. The south Devon town’s ‘indie council’ aims to prove that local democracy doesn’t have to be boring, archaic or ineffectual “I always say to people, if you’re going to wait for your district council, county council or the national government to sort out the social issues in your town, you’re going to be waiting an awfully long time.”…

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What Does It Mean to Be an Engaged Citizen? – Happiness Article

This year’s Independence Day marks the 243rd birthday of the United States—a country that today has a population of around 330 million people from all walks of life. Our growing diversity, combined with an increasingly polarized politics, challenges us to imagine what a modern American civic identity looks like. America is not the same country it was decades ago, so it makes sense that our view of what it means to be a citizen in today’s America would evolve, as…

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What Are the Solutions to Political Polarization? – Happiness Article

What drives political polarization? Is it simply disagreement over the great issues of the day? Not necessarily. Recent research by the More in Common Foundation found that more than three-fourths of Americans support both stricter gun laws and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought here as children. Roughly the same number of Americans agree “that our differences are not so great that we cannot come together.” Are they right? Advertisement X Oct. 10-12, 2019: Greater Good Institute for…

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How John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor’s Pioneering Intimate Partnership of Equals Shaped the Building Blocks of Social Equality and Liberty for the Modern World – Brain Pickings – Happiness Article

Half a century after the 18th-century political philosophers Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin pioneered the marriage of equals, and just as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller were contorting themselves around the parameters of true partnership, another historic power couple modeled for the world the pinnacle of an intimate union that is also an intellectual, creative, and moral partnership nourishing not only to the couple themselves but profoundly influential to their culture, their era, and the moral and political development…

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William Godwin’s Stunning 1794 Advice to a Young Activist on How to Confront the Status Quo with Self-Possession, Dignity, and Persuasive Conviction – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

In the autumn of 1793, the thirty-year-old West Indian political reformer Joseph Gerrald set out for Edinburgh as a delegate for a convention of British reformers gathering there to advance the then-radical causes of universal suffrage and annual parliaments. During the trip, he toured the Scottish countryside to promote the ideals of the reform movement and soon published a fiery pamphlet addressed to the people of England, unambiguously titled A Convention, the Only Means of Saving Us from Ruin. Although…

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The Remarkable Illustrated Story of Wangari Maathai, the First African Woman to Win the Nobel Peace Prize – Brain Pickings – Happiness Article

Walt Whitman saw in trees the wisest of teachers and Hermann Hesse found in them a joyous antidote to the sorrow of our own ephemerality. “The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in the way,” William Blake wrote in his most beautiful letter. “As a man is, so he sees.” Many tree-rings after Blake and Whitman and Hesse, another visionary turned to trees as an instrument…

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In a Divided World, We Need to Choose Empathy – Happiness Article

As I dialed the number, my palms began to sweat. The person on the other end wasn’t a loan officer or angry lawyer; he was an old friend and we were about to catch up. This should all be mildly pleasant but was instead nerve-wracking. You see, I had reached out to him because we had a problem.  Over the years, my friend’s politics and my own had taken incompatible turns. On social media, I saw him growing reactionary; he…

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A Manifesto for Peripatetic Empowerment – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

“Every walk is a sort of crusade,” Thoreau exulted as he championed the spirit of sauntering in an era when the activity was largely a male privilege — for a woman, these everyday crusades meant the dragging of long skirts across inhospitable terrains, before unwelcome gazes. It would take a century and a half of bold women conquering the mountains and reimagining the streets before Rebecca Solnit could compose her exquisite manifesto for wanderlust, reclaiming walking as an activity that…

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Shelley’s Prescient Case for Animal Rights and the Spiritual Value of Vegetarianism – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals,” the great nature writer Henry Beston wrote in 1928 as he contemplated belonging and the web of life, adding: “In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.” Since the dawn of our species and its consciousness, we have reverenced other animals…

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