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Happy Birthday, Brain Pickings: 7 Things I Learned in 7 Years of Reading, Writing, and Living

Happy Birthday, Brain Pickings: 7 Things I Learned in 7 Years of Reading, Writing, and Living
by Maria Popova Reflections on how to keep the center solid as you continue to evolve. UPDATE: The fine folks of Holstee have turned these seven learnings into a gorgeous letterpress poster inspired by mid-century children’s book illustration. On October 23, 2006, I sent a short email to a few friends at work — one of the four jobs I held while paying my way through college — with the subject line “brain pickings,” announcing my intention to start a weekly digest featuring five stimulating things to learn about each week, from a breakthrough in neuroscience to a timeless piece of poetry. Illustration by Maurice Sendak from 'I'll Be You and You Be Me' by Ruth Krauss, 1954. Illustration from 'Inside the Rainbow: Russian Children's Literature 1920-35.' Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind. One of Maurice Sendak's vintage posters celebrating the joy of reading. Then, just for good measure, here are seven of my favorite pieces from the past seven years. Share on Tumblr Related:  Creativity

11 Things I Wish Every Parent Knew After 25 years practicing pediatrics, and caring for thousands of children, I’ve noticed some patterns that offer me a deeper vision of health. Here are some of those invaluable lessons: 1. Growth and development are not a race. These days we’re in such a rush to grow up. In our mechanized, post-industrialized world of speed and efficiency, we’ve forgotten that life is a process of ripening. 2. This takes time and practice. 3. There is a rhythm and pulse to each child’s life – sometimes fast and intense, sometimes slow and quiet. Growing in cycles means that we don’t get just one chance to learn something. 4. We are not in the business of raising little kings and queens. Encouragement means putting courage in your child, not doing things for him. There is spaciousness in encouragement. 5. You don’t need an expensive spiritual retreat to become enlightened. Children watch our every move when they’re little, studying our inconsistencies as they try to figure out this crazy world. 6. 7. 8.

Train Your Brain To Let Go Of Habits – 10 Methods For Creating New Neural Pathways When you understand how neural pathways are created in the brain, you get a front row seat for truly comprehending how to let go of habits. Neural pathways are like superhighways of nerve cells that transmit messages. You travel over the superhighway many times, and the pathway becomes more and more solid. You may go to a specific food or cigarettes for comfort over and over, and that forms a brain pathway. I used to drive with one foot on the brake and the other on the accelerator, and I wanted to train myself to drive with one foot only. Because of neuroplasticity, the brain’s ever-changing potentials, anything is possible. Whether you work with others on their habits or you work with your own (or both), you can apply these understandings to boost your success. Some Powerful Ways to Retrain the Brain 1. You may remember the punch line “The light bulb has to want to change.” 2. 3. This is very important. 4. 5. 6. This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. 7. 8. Look at what’s in the way. 9. 10.

My Teacher Is a Monster: A Sweet Modern Fable About Seeing Through the Othern... by Maria Popova A gentle illustrated reminder that we can’t love what we don’t know. “Love,” wrote Leo Tolstoy in his poignant letters to Gandhi on why we hurt one another, “represents the highest and indeed the only law of life, as every man knows and feels in the depths of his heart (and as we see most clearly in children)…” Tolstoy believed that if only we managed to see through our superficial differences and our fear of the other’s otherness, we’d recognize instantly the universe’s basic “law of love” — something to which we are born attuned, only to forget as we enter adulthood. Kids, of course, can often be especially cruel in their inability to accept otherness — but that’s why it’s especially enchanting to witness, let alone spark, the precise moment in which a child lets go of some learned bias and sees in another person his or her intrinsic goodness, a return to innocence and Tolstoy’s “law of love.” Suddenly, the leisurely environment strips them of their weekday roles.

201 Ways to Arouse Your Creativity Arouse your creativity Electric flesh-arrows … traversing the body. A rainbow of color strikes the eyelids. A foam of music falls over the ears. It is the gong of the orgasm. ~ Anais Nin Creativity is like sex. I know, I know. The people I speak of are writers. Below, I’ve exposed some of their secret tips, methods, and techniques. Now, lie back, relax and take pleasure in these 201 provocative ways to arouse your creativity. Great hacks from Merlin Mann of 43 Folders

Escape Your Shape: How to Work Out Smarter, Not Harder - Edward J. Jackowski, Edward Jackowski The Individualized Fitness Prescription for Your Body Type Do you wonder why the latest fitness fad doesn't work for you? Have you lifted weights for months, dreaming of toned, defined muscles, with no results? Have you exercised regularly for months -- or even years -- without seeing any changes in your body? If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are your exercise routine is incomplete and wrong for your body type. Everyone -- men and women alike -- has a natural shape: Hourglass® Spoon® Ruler® Cone® And there's a right and a wrong way to exercise for each. You don't need to buy expensive equipment or devote hours a day to this program.

The most popular 20 TED Talks, as of now UPDATED: To see all these talks at one click, check out our updated Playlist: The 20 Most Popular Talks of All Time. As 2013 draws to a close, TED is deeply humbled to have posted 1600+ talks, each representing an idea worth spreading. So which ideas have had the most widespread impact? Some fascinating things to notice on this list, if you’d like to compare and contrast it to the most popular talks in 2012, and to the list we shared back in 2011: Amy Cuddy, Susan Cain, David Blaine and Pamela Meyer are all newcomers to the list, with Cuddy’s talk storming to spot #5 thanks to you sharing it. But what really makes this list so incredible is the fact that it spans so many areas of interest, from education to happiness, statistics to creativity, tech demos to illusions. UPDATED: To see all these talks at one click, check out our updated Playlist: The 20 Most Popular Talks of All Time.

8 tips to make your life more surprising — from a “Surprisologist” A closeup of Tania Luna, with glow stick. Photo: James Duncan Davidson In today’s talk, Tania Luna shares her experience of immigrating to the United States from Ukraine as a little girl. Perfectly happy with her family’s outhouse and with chewing a single piece of Bazooka gum for a week, Luna found herself blown away by the wonders of her new country. Commit to the mindset and process of surprise. Luna believes we can all be surprisologists. Tania Luna leads a TED audience in a glowstick dance, during a talk given a year prior to the one posted today.

Learned Optimism: Martin Seligman on Happiness, Depression, and the Meaningfu... by Maria Popova What 25 years of research reveal about the cognitive skills of happiness and finding life’s greater purpose. “The illiterate of the 21st century,” Alvin Toffler famously said, “will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Last week, Oliver Burkeman’s provocatively titled new book, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, prompted me to revisit an old favorite by Dr. Seligman begins by identifying the three types of happiness of which our favorite psychology grab-bag term is composed: ‘Happiness’ is a scientifically unwieldy notion, but there are three different forms of it if you can pursue. He then defines optimism and pessimism, pointing out the challenge to self-identify as either, and offers a heartening, heavily researched reassurance: The optimists and the pessimists: I have been studying them for the past twenty-five years. Optimism is invaluable for the meaningful life. Donating = Loving

18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently This list has been expanded into the new book, “Wired to Create: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind,” by Carolyn Gregoire and Scott Barry Kaufman. Creativity works in mysterious and often paradoxical ways. Creative thinking is a stable, defining characteristic in some personalities, but it may also change based on situation and context. Neuroscience paints a complicated picture of creativity. And psychologically speaking, creative personality types are difficult to pin down, largely because they’re complex, paradoxical and tend to avoid habit or routine. “It’s actually hard for creative people to know themselves because the creative self is more complex than the non-creative self,” Scott Barry Kaufman, a psychologist at New York University who has spent years researching creativity, told The Huffington Post. While there’s no “typical” creative type, there are some tell-tale characteristics and behaviors of highly creative people. They daydream. They observe everything.

Psychedelics Don't Harm Mental Health; They Improve It Psychedelics like psilocybin mushrooms and LSD not only don't cause mental health problems, they may actually improve mental health, say Norwegian researchers. Those are the findings by neuroscience researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, who reported that LSD, psilocybin and mescaline not only don't cause long-term mental health problems, but that in many cases the use of psychedelics is associated with a lower rate of mental health problems. The study pulled data from the US National Survey on Drug Use and Health, observing 130,152 randomly-selected respondents from the adult population of the US. 13.4% of that group (21,967 individuals) reported lifetime use of psychedelics. Teri S. Krebs and Pål-Ørjan Johansen, the Norwegian researchers, additionally noted that “psychedelic plants have been used for celebratory, religious or healing purposes for thousands of years” and that: Credits: Collective Evolution, Ultra Culture, Altering Perspectives

#5 The Four Most Powerful Types of Creative Thinking Considering I’m a creative coach, some people are surprised to learn I’m a little sceptical about creative thinking techniques. For one thing, there’s a lot more to creativity than thinking. It’s possible to sit around having lots of creative thoughts, but without actually making anything of them. But if you start making something, creative ideas seem to emerge naturally out of the process. So if I had to choose, I’d say creative doing beats creative thinking. And for another thing, a lot of ‘creative thinking techniques’ leave me cold. Having said that, here are four types of creative thinking that I use myself and which I know for a fact are used extensively by high-level creators. The text below introduces the four types of creative thinking, and the worksheet will show you how to apply the techniques to your own work. 1. Image by stuartpilbrow Reframing opens up creative possibilities by changing our interpretation of an event, situation, behaviour, person or object. 2. 3. 4.

Viktor Frankl on the Human Search for Meaning by Maria Popova “Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!” Celebrated Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, born on March 26, 1905, remains best-known for his indispensable 1946 psychological memoir Man’s Search for Meaning (public library) — a meditation on what the gruesome experience of Auschwitz taught him about the primary purpose of life: the quest for meaning, which sustained those who survived. For Frankl, meaning came from three possible sources: purposeful work, love, and courage in the face of difficulty. In examining the “intensification of inner life” that helped prisoners stay alive, he considers the transcendental power of love: Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. Frankl illustrates this with a stirring example of how his feelings for his wife — who was eventually killed in the camps — gave him a sense of meaning: Donating = Loving

Why Your Creativity Needs Boundaries to Thrive The first few years after I decided to take my creative writing seriously, I couldn't overcome the nagging feeling that my fiction was simply a glorified hobby—like knitting or fishing. Plenty of people helped reinforce that. I'd be at a party filled with people who worked sensible office jobs when someone would find out I was writing a novel and tell me they'd been meaning to take up the hobby themselves—if only they had more time. But it's hard to justify carving out time every day in your busy schedule for "just a hobby." Creative work is hard. An interview with Godin appears in the book, Manage Your Day-to-Day, put out by 99U. 1. Setting aside time every day to do creative work keeps your momentum going. Cal Newport, a writer and professor at Georgetown University, calls these periods of uninterrupted creative work "daily focus blocks." 2. Most of us compulsively check email without stopping to think about it. 3. 4. Try making rules for yourself and see what happens. 5.

Sensory Deprivation Chamber: Would You Get Into One? First introduced by Neuro-psychiatrist John C. Lilly in 1954 A Sensory Deprivation Chamber is a light-less, soundproof enclosure, filled with salt water that is kept at skin temperature. In this chamber a person will float weightless on the water with their senses deprived (Hence the name Sensory Deprivation Chamber). They are unable to see or hear anything, all while because of the water being the same heat as your body, subjects have been noted to have said “it all just fades away” and all that’s left is the mind. In this pitch black pod, you float on the surface of a pool of water set at body temperature. Sight, sound and eventually touch are all muted so only your thoughts remain. It’s first use was in Neuro-physiology, to answer a question as to what keeps the brain going and the origin of its energy sources. From then on it has been used for various treatments such as Stress Therapy, Alternative Medicine, and Meditation. Source:

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