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7 Must-Read Books on the Art & Science of Happiness

7 Must-Read Books on the Art & Science of Happiness
by Maria Popova From Plato to Buddha, or what imperfection has to do with the neuroscience of the good life. If you, like me, are fascinated by the human quest to understand the underpinnings of happiness but break out in hives at the mere mention of self-help books, you’re in luck: I’ve sifted through my personal library, a decade’s worth of obsessive reading, to surface seven essential books on the art and science of happiness, rooted in solid science, contemporary philosophy and cross-disciplinary insight. From psychology and neuroscience to sociology and cultural anthropology to behavioral economics, these essential reads illuminate the most fundamental aspiration of all human existence: How to avoid suffering and foster lasting well-being. The question of what makes us happy is likely as old as human cognition itself and has occupied the minds of philosophers, prophets and scientists for millennia. Human rationality depends critically on sophisticated emotionality. Donating = Loving Related:  kkinzinhoStudies in consciousness

(Almost) Everything You Need to Know about Culture in 10 Books by Maria Popova What the limits of the universe have to do with the history of jazz and the secret of happiness. Last week, I was reorganizing my library and realized that some of my favorite books are ones that introduced me to subjects I either admired but knew little about or was unaware of altogether. The kinds of reads that profoundly enrich one’s lens on the world. So I thought I’d put together a modest reading list of essential primers for, well, everything. Okay, maybe not everything — I’m keenly aware of how laughable that proposition is — but a fair amount to offer a basis for the kind of cross-disciplinary understanding of culture that I believe is crucial to contributing to the world in a meaningful way. Images courtesy of insect54 The idea of a ragtime ballet or opera must have seemed an oxymoron to those on both sides of the great racial divide that characterized turn-of-the-century American society. Popular films are a special kind of drama. Share on Tumblr

Top 40 Useful Sites To Learn New Skills | This and That... The web is a powerful resource that can easily help you learn new skills. You just have to know where to look. Sure, you can use Google, Yahoo, or Bing to search for sites where you can learn new skills , but I figured I’d save you some time. Here are the top 40 sites I have personally used over the last few years when I want to learn something new. Hack a Day - Hack a Day serves up fresh hacks (short tutorials) every day from around the web and one in-depth ‘How-To hack’ guide each week.eHow - eHow is an online community dedicated to providing visitors the ability to research, share, and discuss solutions and tips for completing day-to-day tasks and projects.Wired How-To Wiki - Collaborate with Wired editors and help them build their extensive library of projects, hacks, tricks and tips.

Improve Your Life: What 10 Things Should You Do Every Day To Improve Your Life? 10 things that scientific research shows can help improve your life. 1) Get out in nature You probably seriously underestimate how important this is. 2) Exercise We all know how important this is, but few people do it consistently. 3) Spend time with friends and family Harvard happiness expert Daniel Gilbert identified this as one of the biggest sources of happiness in our lives. 4) Express gratitude It will make you happier. It will improve your relationships. It can make you a better person. It can make life better for everyone around you. 5) Meditate Meditation can increase happiness, meaning in life, social support and attention span while reducing anger, anxiety, depression and fatigue. 6) Get enough sleep You can’t cheat yourself on sleep and not have it affect you. Naps are great too. 7) Challenge yourself Learning another language can keep your mind sharp. 8) Laugh 9) Touch someone Touching can reduce stress, improve team performance, and help you be persuasive. 10) Be optimistic Tags:

7 Essential Books on Music, Emotion, and the Brain by Maria Popova What Freud has to do with auditory cheesecake, European opera and world peace. Last year, Horizon’s fascinating documentary on how music works was one of our most-liked pickings of 2010. But perhaps even more fascinating than the subject of how music works is the question of why it makes us feel the way it does. We love the work of neuroscientist and prolific author Oliver Sacks, whose latest book, The Mind’s Eye, was one of our favorite brain books last year. Why music makes us feel the way it does is on par with questions about the nature of divinity or the origin of love. As if to drive a stake through the heart of Levitin and Pinker’s debate, Music, Language, and the Brain by Aniruddh Patel — both a musician himself and one of the greatest living neuroscientists — dissects the unique neuropsychological relationship between two of the most unique hallmarks of our species. Patel also offers this beautiful definition of what music is: Donating = Loving Share on Tumblr

7 Essential Books on Optimism by Maria Popova What the love of honey has to do with ancient wisdom, our capacity for hope, and the future of technology. Every once in a while, we all get burned out. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, one of our must-read children’s books with philosophy for grown-ups, is among the most poetic and hopeful reflections on human existence ever penned. Here is my secret. Published in 1943, translated into 180 languages since and adapted to just about every medium, Exupéry’s famous novella is one of the best-selling books of all time. Martin Seligman is a Brain Pickings regular — known for his research on learned helplessness and revered as the father of positive psychology, his Authentic Happiness is one of the 7 most essential books on the art and science of happiness, and his Flourish made our 2011 Summer Reading List. As you read this book, you will see that there is an epidemic of depression among young adults and among children in the United States today. Full review here.

dropping knowledge :: Table of Free Voices There’s a Word for That: 25 Expressions You Should Have in Your Vocabulary Recently I came across this amazing little Tumblr named ‘OtherWordly‘ – itself a play on words. It consists of a collection of strange and lovely words from different languages through different times. What I like most about this selection of consonants and vowels – little meaning-carrying packages of vibration – is that they all try to point to the unspeakable, the transient or the neglected. That which we forget in the busyness of our daily grind. Words have the power to remind us – and therefore we should choose our words carefully so we are reminded of the things that nourish our souls. You can find my favourite words below – pick five that resonate most, write them down, yes seriously – go grab a pen -, make sure to learn them by heart, teach them to your inner voice and share them with others to guide our collective attention to what truly matters. 1 – Sophrosyne 2 – Vorfreude pronunciation | ‘for-froi-duh 3 – Numinous 4 – Nemophilist pronunciation | ne-‘mo-fe-list 5 – Sillage

Burpees - 25 Most Deceiving Exercises (They Tone More than You Think!) - Shape Magazine - Page 3 By combining squat thrusts with a return to standing in between each rep, the burpee is the ultimate full-body exercise. Just one seemingly simple movement challenges the muscles in your chest, arms, thighs, hamstrings, and abs. And because you're using your full body when doing burpees, it's one of the best exercises to burn fat. Tip: Make your burpees more challenging by adding in a push up before the squat thrust and/or a tuck jump when you come back up to your feet. You can use your keyboard to see the next slide ( ← previous, → next) Promo Subtitle Image Alt Text 25 Most Deceiving Exercises (They Tone More than You Think!) Title Text Media Folder: Media Root By Charlotte Andersen

Creative Cartography: 7 Must-Read Books about Maps by Maria Popova From tattoos to Thomas More’s Utopia, or what Moby Dick has to do with the nature of time. We’re obsessed with maps — a fundamental sensemaking mechanism for the world, arguably the earliest form of standardized information design, and a relentless source of visual creativity. Today, we turn to seven fantastic books that explore the art and science of cartography from seven fascinating angles. Map As Art, The: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography is the definitive overview of today’s bravest, boldest creative cartography, featuring 360 colorful creations by well-known artists and emerging visual experimenteurs alike, including Brain Pickings favorites Maira Kalman, Paula Scher and Olaful Eliasson. Matthew Cusick, 'Fiona’s Wave,' 2005 Cusick's oversized collages are painted with fragments of vintage atlases and school geography books from the golden era of cartography, 1872-1945. Qin Ga, 'Site 22: Mao Zedong Temple,' 2005 We reviewed it in full here. Donating = Loving

Existential Crisis and How to Overcome it An existential crises is that point in our lives where we encounter the absurd as a formidable opponent. It has crept into our lives, uninvited, and challenging the very meaning of existence. The crisis is strong: it can take away the colors of the world around us making it dull. Time, rather than a friend can become the enemy, and life, rather than a blessing, turns into a problem. Crisis occur either when the answers to our fundamental questions are found or not found, either way, it poses a challenge that involve the whole of our being. Once we have emerged victorious, we feel a huge amount of vital energy that drives us to self-fulfillment. We face questions like: what does it mean to be alive, what does it mean to be existing as a human being? Existential is a philosophical current captured mainly in literary works, which revolves around how we experience life with our human condition, that is, life as we live it, alongside with the good and troublesome parts.

9 Ways To Become The Master Of Your Own Mind Many of us spend an exorbitant amount of time and energy -- not to mention money -- taking care of our bodies, and trying to keep ourselves looking and feeling our best. But when it comes to the mind, less attention (literally) is paid. Taking care of the mind can come as an afterthought, and often we think of the mind as something outside of our own control. "Our life is the creation of our mind," according to Buddhist scripture. Buddhist philosophy developed an entire science of training the unruly mind to help anyone overcome its constant fluctuations to achieve stillness, and eventually, enlightenment. But even if it's not enlightenment you're after, developing a good relationship with your mind is critical to building a life that is successful on your own terms. Make time for stillness. Meditation has been around for thousands of years, and it's perhaps the single most powerful tool out there for gaining mastery over your mind. Pursue meaning over pleasure. Read, read, read. Let it be.

Chemical & Engineering News: Science & Technology - What's That Stuff? Nail Polish Volume 86, Number 32 p. 42 What's That Stuff? Radio New Zealand Hear C&EN's Carmen Drahl speak on This Way Up with Simon Morton about Nail Polish. of car paint really shouldn't have been all that shocking. The key ingredient in nail polish is nitrocellulose, a long-lasting, film-forming agent derived from cellulose. Shutterstock Nail polish was not a new idea in the 1920s, although in terms of technology, the period marked a "quantum leap in both formula and production," says history of science expert Gwen Kay at the State University of New York, Oswego. The modern formula isn't likely to be in cookbooks because the ingredients aren't exactly tasty. Pigments and sparkling particles, such as mica, are also added. iStock Since the 1920s, "the nail polish formula hasn't really been modified except to replace ingredients in response to consumer demand," says formulations chemist and consultant Nick Morante, a former head of product development at Estée Lauder Cos. Chemical & Engineering News

The Greatest Books of All Time, As Voted by 125 Famous Authors “Reading is the nourishment that lets you do interesting work,” Jennifer Egan once said. This intersection of reading and writing is both a necessary bi-directional life skill for us mere mortals and a secret of iconic writers’ success, as bespoken by their personal libraries. The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books asks 125 of modernity’s greatest British and American writers — including Norman Mailer, Ann Patchett, Jonathan Franzen, Claire Messud, and Joyce Carol Oates — “to provide a list, ranked, in order, of what [they] consider the ten greatest works of fiction of all time– novels, story collections, plays, or poems.” Of the 544 separate titles selected, each is assigned a reverse-order point value based on the number position at which it appears on any list — so, a book that tops a list at number one receives 10 points, and a book that graces the bottom, at number ten, receives 1 point. In introducing the lists, David Orr offers a litmus test for greatness:

We are all core receivers.

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