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The Science and Philosophy of Friendship: Lessons from Aristotle on the Art of Connecting

The Science and Philosophy of Friendship: Lessons from Aristotle on the Art of Connecting
by Maria Popova “Friends hold a mirror up to each other; through that mirror they can see each other in ways that would not otherwise be accessible to them, and it is this mirroring that helps them improve themselves as persons.” “A principal fruit of friendship,” Francis Bacon wrote in his timeless meditation on the subject, “is the ease and discharge of the fulness and swellings of the heart, which passions of all kinds do cause and induce.” For Thoreau, friendship was one of life’s great rewards. Philosophers and cognitive scientists agree that friendship is an essential ingredient of human happiness. Happiness is influenced, as one might expect, by all of the “big five” personality traits: agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism, and openness. … As research conducted by Meliksah Demir and Lesley Weitekamp also clearly shows, however, friendship augments happiness above and beyond the basic effect of personality. Answers for Aristotle is excellent in its entirety.

George Saunders on the Power of Kindness, Animated With his gentle wisdom and disarming warmth, Saunders manages to dissolve some of our most deeply engrained culturally conditioned cynicism into a soft and expansive awareness of the greatest gift one human being can give another — those sacred exchanges that take place in a moment of time, often mundane and fleeting, but echo across a lifetime with inextinguishable luminosity. In this immeasurably wonderful animated teaser for the book, narrated by Saunders himself, illustrator Tim Bierbaum brings to life the author’s words: I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.In seventh grade, this new kid joined our class. Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter.

How to Find Fulfilling Work | Brain Pickings 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.” Indeed, the quest to avoid work and make a living of doing what you love is a constant conundrum of modern life. The desire for fulfilling work — a job that provides a deep sense of purpose, and reflects our values, passions and personality — is a modern invention. … For centuries, most inhabitants of the Western world were too busy struggling to meet their subsistence needs to worry about whether they had an exciting career that used their talents and nurtured their wellbeing. Krznaric goes on to outline two key afflictions of the modern workplace — “a plague of job dissatisfaction” and “uncertainty about how to choose the right career” — and frames the problem: There are two broad ways of thinking about these questions.

How to Navigate the Murky Waters of Workplace Friendships: Wisdom from Adam Smith and Aristotle by Maria Popova “Is not mistaking relationships for what they are not — that is being blind to their ambiguity — arguably the greatest cause of disappointment and failure?” “A condition of friendship, is the abdication of power over another, indeed the abdication even of the wish for power over one another,” Andrew Sullivan wrote in his beautiful meditation on why friendship is a greater gift than romantic love. Vernon, who echoes Rilke’s memorable words and notes that “the value of asking about friendship lies in the asking, not necessarily in coming to any incontestable conclusions,” argues that one of the defining characteristics of friendship is its inherent ambiguity — unlike social institutions of belonging like marriage or the workplace, it doesn’t operate by clear social norms or contractually defined roles, it comes with “no predetermined instructions for assembly or project for growth.” Illustration by Maurice Sendak from 'I’ll Be You and You Be Me' by Ruth Krauss, 1954.

Georgia O’Keeffe on Art, Life, and Setting Priorities | Brain Pickings In her heyday, Georgia O’Keeffe (November 15, 1887–March 6, 1986) was written about as America’s first great female artist. The great social critic Lewis Mumford once remarked of a painting of hers: “Not only is it a piece of consummate craftsmanship, but it likewise possesses that mysterious force, that hold upon the hidden soul which distinguishes important communications from the casual reports of the eye.” In 1946, O’Keeffe became the first woman honored with a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. The lifetime of letters between the two women, full of O’Keeffe’s spirited expressiveness and peppered with her delightfully defiant disregard for punctuation, is collected in Lovingly, Georgia: The Complete Correspondence of Georgia O’Keeffe and Anita Pollitzer (public library) — a revealing look at the inner life of one of the past century’s greatest artists, brimming with her unfiltered views on art, work ethic, love, and life. One can’t work with nothing to express.

A “Dynamic Interaction”: Leo Buscaglia on Why Love Is a Learned Language by Maria Popova From developmental psychology to Timothy Leary, a reframing of love as deliberate mastery rather than magical thinking. Love might be one of the most quintessential capacities of the human condition. And yet, for all our poetic contemplation, psycho-scientific dissection, and anthropological exploration of it, we greatly underestimate the extent to which this baseline capacity — much like those for language, motion, and creativity — is a dynamic ability to be mastered and cultivated rather than a static state to be passively beheld. Despite what we know about the value of “deliberate practice” in attaining excellence in any endeavor, the necessary toil of mastery, and the psychology of what it takes to acquire new habits, we remain gobsmackingly naive about the practice of love, approaching it instead with the magical-thinking expectation that we’re born excellent at it. He writes: Love is a learned, emotional reaction. One cannot give what he does not possess.

How To Lose Your Mind & Create A New One | Breaking the habit of being yourself requires – dare I say it? – discipline. Daily discipline. And once you embark on it, it’s the most wonderful process in the making. It is exciting and fun, and it becomes easier and easier with every time you practice, just like training a muscle. You do indeed create your life! So why not actively create your life, instead of mostly running in automatic-reactive-survival mode? Interacting with the quantum field Nobody is doomed by their genetic makeup or hard wired to live a specific way for the rest of their lives. Says Dr. “You… broadcast a distinct energy pattern or signature. In essence, we influence the quantum field through our Being-states (and not only through what we want). Vision and creative mode A brain region called the frontal lobe plays a key role in envisioning the life you desire. This is exactly what we admire in great leaders: Gandhi, Dr. Mechanics of change and the art of ‘becoming familiar with’ Mind is what the brain does.

Taming the Mammoth: Why You Should Stop Caring What Other People Think | Page 2 of 2 | Wait But Why | Page 2 This is Part 2. Part 1 is here. Part 2: Taming the Mammoth Some people are born with a reasonably tame mammoth or raised with parenting that helps keep the mammoth in check. Others die without ever reining their mammoth in at all, spending their whole lives at its whim. Whatever your situation, there are three steps to getting your mammoth under your control: Step 1: Examine Yourself The first step to improving things is a clear and honest assessment of what’s going on in your head, and there are three parts of this: 1) Get to know your Authentic Voice This doesn’t sound that hard, but it is. There are cliché phrases for this process—”soul-searching” or “finding yourself”—but that’s exactly what needs to happen. 2) Figure out where the mammoth is hiding Most of the time a mammoth is in control of a person, the person’s not really aware of it. The most obvious way to find the mammoth is to figure out where your fear is—where are you most susceptible to shame or embarrassment? No. So like… Recognizing Each Other in the Commons: The Basis for an Alternative Political Philosophy of Systemic Change? | Kosmos Journal By Helene Finidori Time is running short for a paradigm shift. When it comes to our individual and collective engagement in making the world a better place, we often talk about uniting in diversity: uniting in harmony to multiply outcomes and uniting in diversity for multiple focus and resilience. But how can this concretely be achieved? We all acknowledge the critical need for systemic change and for collective intelligence, but we all have different opinions about the challenges our world is facing and the ways to address these challenges. We each try to convince others that we hold the best solutions and methodologies, which often prevents us from coordinating or communing in effective ways. As agents of change, we gather around the social objects that our engagement and action logics attract us to, those that resonate the most with the way we see the world and that determine our priorities and the pathways we envision. We are facing a paradox.