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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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Motivational Stories

Poet and Philosopher George Santayana on the Formation and Confirmation of Our Standards and Sensibilities – Brain Pickings

Why We Like What We Like: Poet and Philosopher George Santayana on the Formation and Confirmation of Our Standards and Sensibilities

In the 1850s, Emily Dickinson’s passionate first love shaped her uncommon body of work for a lifetime to come, shaped the spare and searing poems that would go on animating lives for generations to come. In the 1950s, Rai Weiss fell in love with a pianist, fell in love with his lover’s passion for music,…

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Motivational Stories

Toni Morrison on the Body as an Instrument of Joy, Sanity, and Self-Love – Brain Pickings

Toni Morrison on the Body as an Instrument of Joy, Sanity, and Self-Love

Thinking lately about what it means to have the right heart, which intimates the question of what it means to tend to one’s own heart rightly, I was reminded of a passage from what may be the loveliest, truest, most quietly transcendent thing ever written about the art of growing older: “The main thing is…

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Motivational Stories

Physicist Brian Greene Reads and Reflects on Rilke’s Profoundest Elegy – Brain Pickings

How to Live with Our Human Limitations: Physicist Brian Greene Reads and Reflects on Rilke’s Profoundest Elegy

In the bleak winter of 1922, a “hurricane of the spirit” swept the ailing and downtrodden Rainer Maria Rilke (December 4, 1875–December 29, 1926) into a rapture of creative vitality. Within a week, he had written his now-iconic Sonnets to Orpheus and completed the suite of ten elegies he had begun a decade earlier amid…

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Motivational Stories

Muriel Rukeyser on the Root of Strength in Times of Crisis – Brain Pickings

Our Need for Each Other and Our Need for Our Selves: Muriel Rukeyser on the Root of Strength in Times of Crisis

“My one reader, you reading this book, who are you?” Muriel Rukeyser (December 15, 1913–February 12, 1980) asks with the large forthright eyes of her words in one of the most beautiful and penetrating books ever written on any subject. “What is your face like, your hands holding the pages, the child forsaken in you,…

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Motivational Stories

Control, Chance, and How the Psychology of Poker Illuminates the Art of Thriving Through Uncertainty – Brain Pickings

The Biggest Bluff: Control, Chance, and How the Psychology of Poker Illuminates the Art of Thriving Through Uncertainty

Decades before Simone de Beauvoir contemplated how chance and choice converge to make us who we are from the fortunate platform of old age, the eighteen-year-old Sylvia Plath — who never reached that fortunate platform, her life felled by the same conspiracy of chance and choice — contemplated these indelible forces in the guise of…

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Motivational Stories

The Four Buddhist Mantras for Turning Fear into Love – Brain Pickings

The Four Buddhist Mantras for Turning Fear into Love

“Fearlessness is what love seeks,” Hannah Arendt wrote in her magnificent early work on love and how to live with fear. “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.” This notion of presence…

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Motivational Stories

Alain de Botton on Emotional Generosity and the Difficult, Largehearted Art of Charity of Interpretation – Brain Pickings

Alain de Botton on Emotional Generosity and the Difficult, Largehearted Art of Charity of Interpretation

Goethe, who lived and died by the indivisibility of art and life, insisted that we ought to treat the works of others, however imperfect, the way we treat their actions — with “a loving sympathy.” And yet one of the most damning paradoxes of our condition is that, again and again, we withhold from others…

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Motivational Stories

A Rewilding of the Human Heart in a Lyrical Illustrated Invocation of Nature – Brain Pickings

The Lost Spells: A Rewilding of the Human Heart in a Lyrical Illustrated Invocation of Nature

“A leaf of grass is no less than the journey work of the stars,” the young Walt Whitman sang in one of the finest poems from his Song of Myself — the aria of a self that seemed to him then, as it always seems to the young, infinite and invincible. But when a paralytic…

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Motivational Stories

Walt Whitman on What Makes a Great Person and What Wisdom Really Means – Brain Pickings

Walt Whitman on What Makes a Great Person and What Wisdom Really Means

Twenty-four centuries after Pythagoras contemplated the purpose of life and the meaning of wisdom as he coined the word philosopher to mean “lover of wisdom,” Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819–March 26, 1892) contemplated the meaning of personhood and the measure of wisdom as he revolutionized the word poet to stand for “lover of life.” Tucked…

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Motivational Stories

Stunning Sylvan Drawings by Indigenous Artists Based on Indian Mythology – Brain Pickings

The Secret Life of Trees: Stunning Sylvan Drawings by Indigenous Artists Based on Indian Mythology

Reverie and reckoning with our relationship to nature between the branches and the birds. By Maria Popova Ever since we climbed down from the trees, we have been looking up to them to understand ourselves and our place in the universe. “Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree,” Hermann Hesse…

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Motivational Stories

Musician Meshell Ndegeocello Rekindles the Fire of Truth for This Time – Brain Pickings

The Gospel of James Baldwin: Musician Meshell Ndegeocello Rekindles the Fire of Truth for This Time

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.” By Maria Popova The history of the world is the history of telling others who and what we are — from tribal markings to national flags to family crests to pronoun-specifying email signatures. Every war that…

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Motivational Stories

Astronomer Natalie Batalha Reads Dylan Thomas’s Cosmic Serenade to Trees and the Wonder of Being Human – Brain Pickings

Being but Men: Astronomer Natalie Batalha Reads Dylan Thomas’s Cosmic Serenade to Trees and the Wonder of Being Human

Trees are unworded thoughts, periscopes of perspective. They are both less alive than we think and more sentient than we thought. In them, we see what we are and see what we can be. From them, we draw our best metaphors for love, for art, for happiness. Crowning the canon of branched reflections on what…

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Motivational Stories

Essential Life-Learnings from 14 Years of Brain Pickings – Brain Pickings

Part of the Milky Way, from a study made between 1874 and 1876

Brain Pickings was born on October 23, 2006, as a short email to seven friends. Seven years and several incomprehensible million readers into its existence, I began what has since become an annual tradition — a distillation of the most important things I have learned about living while reading and writing my way through life;…

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