background preloader

Meaning and Happiness

Facebook Twitter

The Differences Between Happiness and Meaning in Life. “Humans may resemble many other creatures in their striving for happiness, but the quest for meaning is a key part of what makes us human, and uniquely so.” — Roy Baumeister et al. (2013)

The Differences Between Happiness and Meaning in Life

Sense of purpose in life linked to lower mortality and cardiovascular risk. People who have a higher sense of purpose in life are at lower risk of death and cardiovascular disease, reports a pooled data analysis in Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, the official journal of the American Psychosomatic Society.

Sense of purpose in life linked to lower mortality and cardiovascular risk

"Possessing a high sense of purpose in life is associated with a reduced risk for mortality and cardiovascular events," according to the study by Drs. Randy Cohen and Alan Rozanski and colleagues at Mt. Sinai St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, New York. Nietzsche on How to Find Yourself and the True Value of Education. “Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”

Nietzsche on How to Find Yourself and the True Value of Education

Elizabeth Gilbert asked in framing her catalyst for creative magic. This is among life’s most abiding questions and the history of human creativity — our art and our poetry and most empathically all of our philosophy — is the history of attempts to answer it. Friedrich Nietzsche (October 15, 1844–August 25, 1900), who believed that embracing difficulty is essential for a fulfilling life, considered the journey of self-discovery one of the greatest and most fertile existential difficulties.

In 1873, as he was approaching his thirtieth birthday, Nietzsche addressed this perennial question of how we find ourselves and bring forth our gifts in a beautiful essay titled Schopenhauer as Educator (public library), part of his Untimely Meditations. Nietzsche, translated here by Daniel Pellerin, writes: Julian Treasure: How to speak so that people want to listen. Hipsters and Squares: Psychologist Jerome Bruner on Myth, Identity, “Creative Wholeness” and How We Limit Our Happiness.

By Maria Popova How our cult of creativity, which replaced religion, is becoming a source of anguish rather than happiness.

Hipsters and Squares: Psychologist Jerome Bruner on Myth, Identity, “Creative Wholeness” and How We Limit Our Happiness

Today, we hang so much of our identity on our capacity to create, often confusing what we do for who we are. And while creativity, by and large, is a positive force in the external world, its blind pursuit can be damaging to the inner. So admonishes the influential Harvard psychologist Jerome Bruner (b. October 1, 1915), celebrated for his contributions to cognitive psychology and learning theory in education, in his altogether fantastic 1962 anthology On Knowing: Essays for the Left Hand (public library) — the same wonderful collection of essays that gave us Bruner’s theory of “effective surprise” and the 6 essential conditions for creativity.

Bruner begins with some essential definitions: Do Not Despise Your Inner World: Advice on a Full Life from Philosopher Martha Nussbaum. Whitman Illuminated: “Song of Myself,” in Breathtaking Illustrations by Artist Allen Crawford. By Maria Popova “He exalted the nature around and within us.

Whitman Illuminated: “Song of Myself,” in Breathtaking Illustrations by Artist Allen Crawford

His work is an expression of primal joy: He celebrated our animal senses, and the pleasures of being alive.” Visual artists have long been drawn to the literary classics, producing such masterful homages as William Blake’s paintings for Milton’s Paradise Lost and for Dante’s Divine Comedy, Picasso’s drawings for a naughty ancient Greek comedy, Matisse’s etchings for Ulysses, John Vernon Lord’s illustrations for Joyce’s Finnegans Wake and Salvador Dalí’s prolific illustrations for Don Quixote in 1946, the essays of Montaigne in 1947, The Divine Comedy in 1957, Alice in Wonderland in 1969, and Romeo and Juliet in 1975.

Stop Making Plans: How Goal-Setting Limits Rather Than Begets Our Happiness and Success. By Maria Popova “Uncertainty is where things happen.

Stop Making Plans: How Goal-Setting Limits Rather Than Begets Our Happiness and Success

It is where the opportunities — for success, for happiness, for really living — are waiting.” Everyday Routines Make Life Feel More Meaningful. Think about the most meaningful experiences in your life.

Everyday Routines Make Life Feel More Meaningful

You will probably recall your wedding, or a trip across Europe, or your first skydive. You won't name brushing your teeth. Writing Exercises Scientifically Proven To Redirect Your Life. We're total suckers for self improvement: The self-help industry brings in billions of dollars each year from countless books.

Writing Exercises Scientifically Proven To Redirect Your Life

All that encouraging advice can feel empowering and commonsensical, offering a simple path to a better life. But there's a problem with this approach. "Reading a self-help book is like buying a lottery ticket," writes social psychologist Timothy Wilson in his newest book Redirect. "For a small investment, we get hope in return; the dream that all our problems will soon be solved without any real expectation that they will be.

" While the power of positive thinking—the seeming bread and butter of self-help as we know it—is a nice thought, according to Wilson, there's no evidence that simply thinking positively actually works. What It Takes to Design a Good Life. Why Kids Need Spirituality. You are Jewish; your husband, a lapsed Catholic.

Why Kids Need Spirituality

Neither of you believes, much, in God, although occasionally you like to meditate and you both would go hiking more if you could. You’ve had those moments — who hasn’t? Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions. Whatever You Are, Be a Good One. By Maria Popova From Tolstoy to Tumblr, a compendium of timeless wisdom on life.

Whatever You Are, Be a Good One

In March of 1884, Leo Tolstoy resolved in his diary to create a “circle of reading” for himself, probing “the great philosophers of all time and all people” for wisdom on how to live well. This was the birth of his famous Calendar of Wisdom, which he spent the remaining seventeen years of his life piecing together. Now comes a wonderful modern-day counterpart that falls partway between Tolstoy and Tumblr: Whatever You Are, Be a Good One (public library) — an impossibly charming compendium of 100 wise and timeless thoughts from some of history’s greatest minds, hand-lettered by illustrator and Brain Pickings collaborator Lisa Congdon.

Helen Keller on Optimism. By Maria Popova “Doubt and mistrust are the mere panic of timid imagination, which the steadfast heart will conquer, and the large mind transcend.” Decades before the dawn of the positive psychology movement and a century before what neuroscience has taught us about the benefits of optimism, Helen Keller — the remarkable woman who grew up without sight and hearing until, with the help of her teacher Annie Sullivan, she learned to speak, read, write, and inhabit the life of the mind with such grace and fierceness that made her one of history’s most inspired intellectual heroes — penned a timeless treatise on optimism as a philosophy of life. Simply titled Optimism (public library; public domain), it was originally published in 1903 and written — a moment of pause here — after Keller learned to write on a grooved board over a sheet of paper, using the grooves and the end of her index pencil to guide her writing.

Once I knew only darkness and stillness. A Guide for the Perplexed: Mapping the Meaning of Life and the Four Levels of Being. By Maria Popova How to harness the uniquely human power of “consciousness recoiling upon itself.” “Never to get lost is not to live, not to know how to get lost brings you to destruction,” Rebecca Solnit wrote in her sublime meditation on how the art of getting lost helps us find ourselves, “and somewhere in the terra incognita in between lies a life of discovery.” How We Know What We Know: The Art of Adaequatio and Seeing with the Eye of the Heart.

By Maria Popova A timeless guide to “understanding the truth that does not merely inform the mind but liberates the soul.” “What is essential is invisible to the eye,” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry memorably wrote in The Little Prince. Indeed, in our quest to perfect thinking, could we be neglecting those deeper, more intuitive gateways to accessing the essential? Susan Sontag memorably argued that the false polarity of intuition vs. intellect imprisons us, but the question remains — how do we really know what we know? By what mechanism can we truly make sense of the world and our place in it? A decade after his influential clarion call for prioritizing people over goods and creativity over consumption, British economic theorist and philosopher E.F. Kierkegaard on Our Greatest Source of Unhappiness. By Maria Popova Hope, memory, and how our chronic compulsion to flee from our own lives robs us of living.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,” Annie Dillard memorably wrote in reflecting on why presence matters more than productivity. Fascinating psych experiments. Andrew Solomon: How the worst moments in our lives make us who we are. Share this with your favorite Child. Must Watch: Russell Brand Destroys Everything We’re Being Told. A Spiritual Response to the Ecological Crisis. Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work. Matthieu Ricard: The habits of happiness. Chip Conley: Measuring what makes life worthwhile. Dan Ariely: What makes us feel good about our work?

Dan Gilbert: The psychology of your future self. Elizabeth Lesser: Take "the Other" to lunch. The Poetics of the Psyche: Adam Phillips on Why Psychoanalysis Is Like Literature and How Art Soothes the Soul. By Maria Popova “Everybody is dealing with how much of their own aliveness they can bear and how much they need to anesthetize themselves.” “A writer is someone who pays attention to the world — a writer is a professional observer,” Susan Sontag once said.

When Einstein Met Tagore. How to Find Fulfilling Work. By Maria Popova “If one wanted to crush and destroy a man entirely, to mete out to him the most terrible punishment,” wrote Dostoevsky, “all one would have to do would be to make him do work that was completely and utterly devoid of usefulness and meaning.” It’s a “Story Problem”: What’s Behind Our Messed-Up Economy by David Korten. The peoples of earlier times prospered from the guidance of simple stories that offered answers to their deepest questions. Helen Keller on Optimism. 5 Everyday Moments You Didn't Realize Were Spiritual. There are moments in your life that will take your breath away, ones that will make you weep, and others that will fill you with joy.

The Nature of the Self: Experimental Philosopher Joshua Knobe on How We Know Who We Are. Big Thinkers on the Only Things Worth Worrying About. Conformity and the Instinct of Rebellion: Norman Mailer Channels His Departed Friend, the Pioneering Psychologist Robert Lindner.

Can Money Buy Us Happiness? The Psychology of Materialism, Animated. The Ego and the Universe: Alan Watts on Becoming Who You Really Are. By Maria Popova. A Short Guide to a Happy Life: Anna Quindlen on Work, Joy, and How to Live Rather Than Exist. Does having choice make us happy? 6 studies that suggest it doesn’t always. Alain de Botton: A kinder, gentler philosophy of success. Theconversation. Australian government policy and happiness research are pointing in very different directions.

A prime goal of government policy is economic growth. You too can be happy. Really. A Q&A with Shawn Achor. Photo courtesy TEDxBloomington. “We think we have to be successful, then we’ll be happier. But the real problem is our brains work in the opposite order,” said Shawn Achor in his charming, immensely popular TED Talk from TEDxBloomington, “The happy secret to better work.” Eleanor Roosevelt on Happiness, Conformity, and Integrity. Event on Monday: What happened to ‘the soul’? Viktor Frankl on the Human Search for Meaning. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Flow, the secret to happiness.

Happy Birthday, Jack Kerouac: The Beat Icon on Kindness, the Self Illusion, and the “Golden Eternity” Godliness in the Known and the Unknowable: Alan Lightman on Science and Spirituality. From Ptolemy to George Eliot to William Blake, Celebrating the Private History of Everyday Happiness. Isaac Asimov on the Thrill of Lifelong Learning, Science vs. Religion, and the Role of Science Fiction in Advancing Society. Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work. Ten years later: Dan Gilbert on “The surprising science of happiness” An Antidote to the Age of Anxiety: Alan Watts on Happiness and How to Live with Presence.

The 6 Secrets Of America's Happiest Workplaces. The 13 Best Psychology and Philosophy Books of 2013. We Were Made for These Times. How to Worry Less About Money. 5 Top Regrets People Have At the End of Their Lives. Eleanor Roosevelt on Happiness, Conformity, and Integrity. Buddhist Extremist Cell Vows To Unleash Tranquility On West. Tchaikovsky on Work Ethic vs. Inspiration. The Science of How Your Mind-Wandering Is Robbing You of Happiness. Barry Schwartz: The paradox of choice. Maira Kalman on Identity, Happiness, and Existence. Richard Feynman on the Meaning of Life. Gandhi's Top Ten Fundamentals For Changing The World. Brain Pickings. Maira Kalman on Identity, Happiness, and Existence. Do Something Meaningful: Neil deGrasse Tyson and Ann Druyan on Carl Sagan.

The Influence of Urban Natural and Built Environments on Physiological and Psychological Measures of Stress— A Pilot Study. Rory Sutherland: Perspective is everything. 10 Ways Children show us the way to True Happiness. How Art Can Save Your Soul. Letting Go: What it means. How to do it.

What motivates us at work? 7 fascinating studies that give insights. Spiritual Ecology. Earth Talk: Science and Spiritual Practices - Dr Rupert Sheldrake. Alice in Quantumland: A Charming Illustrated Allegory of Quantum Mechanics by a CERN Physicist. Intention, resonance and sacred places. Einstein on Why We Are Alive. Learned Optimism: Martin Seligman on Happiness, Depression, and the Meaningful Life. The Habits Of Supremely Happy People. Jeanette Winterson on the Value of Art to the Human Spirit.

Maira Kalman on Curiosity, Courage, Happiness, and the Two Keys to a Full Life. The Powerlessness of Positive Thinking. Viktor Frankl on the Human Search for Meaning. Wild Ones: What an Obscure Endangered Butterfly Teaches Us About Parenthood, Legacy, and Being Human. David Byrne’s Hand-Drawn Pencil Diagrams of the Human Condition. The Ego and the Universe: Alan Watts on Becoming Who You Really Are. How To Discover The Message You're Meant To Share With The World.