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Motivational Stories

Thich Nhat Hanh’s Simple, Profound Mindfulness Practice to Magnify Your Capacity for Joy – Brain Pickings

Tangerine Meditation: Thich Nhat Hanh’s Simple, Profound Mindfulness Practice to Magnify Your Capacity for Joy

My poet friend Marie Howe gives the students in her ecopoetry class a lovely assignment: At the outset of the semester, each young poet is asked to name the animal they find most repulsive, then to learn everything they can about it — scientifically, historically, culturally. By the conclusion of the course, they have to…

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Motivational Stories

Naomi Shihab Nye’s Beloved Ode to Kindness, Animated – Brain Pickings

Naomi Shihab Nye’s Beloved Ode to Kindness, Animated

“Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness,” Leo Tolstoy — a man of colossal compassion and colossal blind spots — wrote while reckoning with his life as it neared its end. “Practice kindness all day to everybody and you will realize you’re already in heaven now,”…

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Motivational Stories

Poet Joy Harjo’s Reflections on Science and Meaning in Response to an Astronomer’s Otherworldly Photographs of Earth – Brain Pickings

Secrets from the Center of the World: Poet Joy Harjo’s Reflections on Science and Meaning in Response to an Astronomer’s Otherworldly Photographs of Earth

“Place and a mind may interpenetrate till the nature of both is altered,” the trailblazing Scottish mountaineer and poet Nan Shepherd wrote into the void of self-elected obscurity decades before her work was posthumously rediscovered as a rare masterpiece of landscape poetics irradiated by the human search for meaning. A generation later, another trailblazing woman…

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Motivational Stories

Hasui Kawase’s Stunning Japanese Woodblock Prints from the 1920s-1950s – Brain Pickings

Hasui Kawase’s Stunning Japanese Woodblock Prints from the 1920s-1950s – Brain Pickings

“After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, love, and so on — have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear — what remains?” the aging Walt Whitman asked in his diary as he contemplated what makes life worth living while recovering from a paralytic stroke, then answered: “Nature…

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Motivational Stories

Alan Watts on the Meaning of Freedom, the Only Real Antidote to Fear, and the Deepest Wellspring of Love – Brain Pickings

Alan Watts on the Meaning of Freedom, the Only Real Antidote to Fear, and the Deepest Wellspring of Love

“Fearlessness is what love seeks,” Hannah Arendt wrote in her superb 1929 meditation on love and how to live with the fundamental fear of loss. “Such fearlessness exists only in the complete calm that can no longer be shaken by events expected of the future… Hence the only valid tense is the present, the Now.”…

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Motivational Stories

A Meditative Visual Poem for Those Reaching for Something They Can’t Quite Grasp, Inspired by Trees – Brain Pickings

Proximity: A Meditative Visual Poem for Those Reaching for Something They Can’t Quite Grasp, Inspired by Trees

When I am sad, I like to imagine myself becoming a tree. Branches that bend without breaking, fractal with possibility, reaching resolutely toward the light. Roots touching the web of belonging beneath the surface of the world, that majestic mycelial network succoring and nurturing and connecting tree to tree — connection so effortless, so imperturbable,…

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Motivational Stories

How Pythagoras and Sappho Radicalized Music and Revolutionized the World – Brain Pickings

How Pythagoras and Sappho Radicalized Music and Revolutionized the World

“To create today is to create dangerously,” Albert Camus told a gathering of young people at the peak of the Cold War, shortly after becoming the second-youngest laureate of the Nobel Prize. “The question, for all those who cannot live without art and what it signifies, is merely to find out how, among the police…

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Motivational Stories

Olivia Laing on What the Lives of Great Artists Reveal About Vulnerability, Love, Loneliness, Resistance, and Our Search for Meaning – Brain Pickings

Art and the Human Spirit: Olivia Laing on What the Lives of Great Artists Reveal About Vulnerability, Love, Loneliness, Resistance, and Our Search for Meaning

The composite creation of a doctor, a philosopher, a poet, and a sculptor, the word empathy in the modern sense only came into use at the dawn of the twentieth century as a term for the imaginative act of projecting yourself into a work of art, into a world of feeling and experience other than…

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Motivational Stories

A Soulful Animated Poem About Getting to the Other Side of Heartbreak – Brain Pickings

A Scientist’s Advice on Healing: A Soulful Animated Poem About Getting to the Other Side of Heartbreak

“Love your heart. For this is the prize,” Toni Morrison wrote in an exquisite passage from Beloved as she considered the body as an instrument of sanity, joy, and self-respect a century after William James asserted in his groundbreaking work on how our bodies affect our feelings that “a purely disembodied human emotion is a…

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Motivational Stories

Charles Darwin, His Beloved Daughter, and How We Find Meaning in Mortality – Brain Pickings

Charles Darwin, His Beloved Daughter, and How We Find Meaning in Mortality – Brain Pickings

This essay is excerpted from the thirteenth chapter of Figuring, titled “The Banality of Survival.” In the spring of 1849, ten years before On the Origin of Species shook the foundation of humanity’s understanding of life, the polymathic astronomer John Herschel — coiner of the word photography, son of Uranus discoverer William Herschel and nephew…

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Motivational Stories

The Decades-Old Classic That Became the Ultimate Pandemic Poem – Brain Pickings

The Decades-Old Classic That Became the Ultimate Pandemic Poem

I will never forget the day I first encountered, in the midst of heartache, “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop (February 8, 1911–October 6, 1979) — a poem I have lived with for years, a poem that has helped me live. Composed when Bishop was sorrowing after a separation from her partner, Alice Methfessel, it is…

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Motivational Stories

The Inspiring Illustrated Story of How Edwin Hubble Revolutionized Our Understanding of the Universe – Brain Pickings

The Boy Whose Head Was Filled with Stars: The Inspiring Illustrated Story of How Edwin Hubble Revolutionized Our Understanding of the Universe

In 1908, Henrietta Swan Leavitt — one of the women known as the Harvard Computers, who revolutionized astronomy long before they could vote — was analyzing photographic plates at the Harvard College Observatory to measure and catalogue the brightness of stars when she began noticing a consistent correlation between the luminosity of a class of…

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Motivational Stories

What the Mysterious Color-Markings on Storm Drains Have to Do with Rachel Carson’s Legacy and the War on a Deadly Virus – Brain Pickings

What the Mysterious Color-Markings on Storm Drains Have to Do with Rachel Carson’s Legacy and the War on a Deadly Virus – Brain Pickings

I noticed them first in my neighborhood — dots of paint hovering over the grate of the storm drain in a blue-green spectrum punctuated by white. I noticed them probably because I had been writing about the wondrous science of the color blue and my brain had formed, as brains tend to, a search image…

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Motivational Stories

A Stunning Illustrated Celebration of Nature’s Rarest Color – Brain Pickings

The Blue Hour: A Stunning Illustrated Celebration of Nature’s Rarest Color

Blue, Rebecca Solnit wrote in one of humanity’s most beautiful reflections on our planet’s primary hue, is “the color of solitude and of desire, the color of there seen from here… the color of longing for the distances you never arrive in, for the blue world,” a world of many blues — a pioneering 19th-century…

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