Brain Pickings

Reads by Maria Popova

The Radical Act of Letting Things Hurt: How (Not) to Help a Friend in Sorrow
The Radical Act of Letting Things Hurt: How (Not) to Help a Friend in Sorrow

Why our instinctive efforts to salve another’s sadness tend to only deepen their helpless anguish and broaden the abyss between us and them — and what to do instead.

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Alfred Russel Wallace’s Prophetic Prescription for Course-Correcting Away from Ecological Catastrophe and Toward Widespread Human Happiness
Alfred Russel Wallace’s Prophetic Prescription for Course-Correcting Away from Ecological Catastrophe and Toward Widespread Human Happiness

“The final and absolute test of good government is the well-being and contentment of the people — not the extent of empire or the abundance of the revenue and the trade.”

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If You Come to Earth: A Tender Illustrated Celebration of the Many Ways to Be Human and What Makes Our Miraculous Planet a World
If You Come to Earth: A Tender Illustrated Celebration of the Many Ways to Be Human and What Makes Our Miraculous Planet a World

A humanistic love letter to who and what we are, together on this lonesome, wild, and wondrous rock adrift around a common star.

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The Four Buddhist Mantras for Turning Fear into Love
The Four Buddhist Mantras for Turning Fear into Love

“When you love someone, the best thing you can offer that person is your presence.”

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

How to master a singular flavor of kindness we rarely afford others but always demand for ourselves.

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

“In time of struggle… all people think about love.”

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

“That’s the thing about life: You can do what you do but in the end, some things remain stubbornly outside your control.”

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Undoing as Remaking: How Abraham Lincoln Drew Poetry and Power from His Suicidal Depression
Undoing as Remaking: How Abraham Lincoln Drew Poetry and Power from His Suicidal Depression

Life-affirming inspiration from a man who knew intimately “that intensity of thought, which will some times wear the sweetest idea thread-bare and turn it to the bitterness of death.”

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American Utopia: Maira Kalman’s Spare Visual Poems Drawn from David Byrne’s Masterpiece of Anticynical Humanism
American Utopia: Maira Kalman’s Spare Visual Poems Drawn from David Byrne’s Masterpiece of Anticynical Humanism

A painted dance in praise of the best we can do.

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As If to Demonstrate an Eclipse: Comedian Chuck Nice Reads Billy Collins’s Ode to the Quiet Wellspring of Gratitude
As If to Demonstrate an Eclipse: Comedian Chuck Nice Reads Billy Collins’s Ode to the Quiet Wellspring of Gratitude

…with a funny and poignant meditation on the personal gravity of gratitude and why being grateful is “one of the most powerful things that any one person can do.”

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