Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

31 MARCH, 2011

Viliam: Slovakian Short Film about Happiness & Delusion

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We love doodling, paper-cutout art and stop-motion, and have a soft spot for Eastern Europe. Naturally, we’re all over Viliam — an absolutely wonderful stop-motion, paper-cutout short film by Slovakian animator Veronika Obertová.

The film tells the story of a boy who develops an obsession with doodling. After losing his parents to a tragic accident, Viliam escapes from reality by drawing his own animated world.

Part Flatland, part Lars and the Real Girl, Viliam poses, poetically, one of life’s greatest questions: Are we empowered architects of our own happiness or misguided slaves to our own delusion? And, more importantly, does it really matter which it is?

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23 MARCH, 2011

The Longevity Project: Insights on Life from an 80-Year Study

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Immortality has long been humanity’s existential pipe dream, but its holy grail has evaded us scientists and philosophers alike since time immemorial. But as modern science continues to strive for eternal youth, the true secrets of longevity may lie where we least expect to find them. In The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study, social psychologists Leslie Martin and Howard Friedman dissect one of the most famous studies in the history of psychology to reveal the character traits, habits and mindsets that make some people live longer than others. And the findings are guaranteed to surprise you.

The project is based on an 80-year longitudinal study of that began in 1921, when researchers started following 1,500 then-kids to investigate the habits and behaviors that made them thrive and perish. Its revealing conclusions, rather than didactically overwhelming you with long to-do lists of thing to keep you forever young, help you develop simple patterns that lay the foundation for a healthier, longer life.

The most surprising thing to me in The Longevity Project was the differences that we found for men versus women when they encounter divorce. Divorce certainly is stressful and a bad things for anyone, but men were really able to improve their odds and ameliorating their risks by getting remarried after a divorce. That wasn’t really so much the case for women.” ~ Leslie Martin

Both deeply fascinating and remarkably readable, The Longevity Project is essentially a pop culture mythbuster that offers compelling and counter-intuitive insight into the art and science of being our best selves for the longest possible time.

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01 MARCH, 2011

Before I Die: Reclaiming Urban Aspiration

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I love the work of artist, designer and TED Fellow Candy Chang. Today, I caught up with her at TED 2011, where she shared her brilliant new project in New Orleans: Before I Die I Want To — an abandoned house turned into a giant chalkboard, on which people share their deepest existential aspirations.

I never expected such an amazing outpouring of responses so quickly. Within 24 hours, the entire wall was completely filled out. And the responses range from humorous to overwhelmingly thoughtful — from ‘be a YouTube sensation’ to ‘go 200 mph’ to ‘be completely myself.’ I hear that people are gathering at the house and it’s stopping traffic. I’m blown away.” ~ Candy Chang

The notion of turning neglected space into an active invitation to engage with your community and get to know your neighbors is a wonderful embodiment of enlightened urbanism. What’s more, it’s a reminder that not all meaningful social platforms are accessed through a screen — an inspired antidote to the Foursquarification of urban social quasi-interaction.

For live coverage of TED 2011 this week, follow my Twitter feed and check Brain Pickings nightly for exclusive photos and speaker quotes. And don’t miss this primer of 5 must-read books by TED 2011 speakers.

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Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.