The Best of Brain Pickings
20+ most popular Brain Pickings articles, as voted by our community.
These are currently making the rounds on Refind.
What It Takes to Grow: Pioneering Psychoanalyst Karen Horney on the Key to Self-Realization
“Self-knowledge… is not an aim in itself, but a means of liberating the forces of spontaneous growth. In this sense, to work at ourselves becomes not only the prime moral obligation, bu…
«under the forces of convention and compulsion; it requires living amicably with who we have been in order to fully live into who we can be.»
Jealousy and Its Antidote: Pioneering Psychiatrist Leslie Farber on the Tangled Psychology of Our Most Destructive Emotion
“Every jealous person knows jealousy to be a brutally degrading experience and resists with all his might revealing the extent of his degradation.”
«the glorification of a despotic»
Brain Pickings on Art
200 Years of Great Writers and Artists on the Creative and Spiritual Rewards of Gardening
Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf, Oliver Sacks, Rebecca Solnit, Bronson Alcott, Michael Pollan, Jamaica Kincaid, and more.
«The first pure joy of the garden… weeding all day to finish the beds in a queer sort of enthusiasm which made me say this is happiness.»
Hemingway’s Advice on Writing, Ambition, the Art of Revision, and His Reading List of Essential Books for…
“In any art you’re allowed to steal anything if you can make it better.”
Brain Pickings on Consciousness
Atoms with Consciousness: Yo-Yo Ma Performs Richard Feynman’s Ode to the Wonder of Life, Animated
“Out of the cradle onto the dry land… here it is standing… atoms with consciousness… matter with curiosity… I… a universe of atoms… an atom in the universe…
How Panpsychism and Its Fault Lines Shade in the Ongoing Mystery of Consciousness
“We’ve barely begun to understand our place in the cosmos. As we continue to look out from our planet and contemplate the nature of reality, we should remember that there is a mystery right h…
«Humanity is young, and we’ve barely begun to understand our place in the cosmos. As we continue to look out from our planet and contemplate the nature of reality, we should remember that there is a mystery right here where we stand.»
Brain Pickings on Creativity
Nietzsche on Walking and Creativity
“Our first questions about the value of a book, of a human being, or a musical composition are: Can they walk? Even more, can they dance?”
«Our first questions about the value of a book, of a human being, or a musical composition are: Can they walk? Even more, can they dance?»
How to Grow Up: Nick Cave’s Life-Advice to a 13-Year-Old
“Fill yourself with the beautiful stuff of the world… Get amazed. Get astonished. Get awed on a regular basis, so that getting awed is habitual and becomes a state of being.”
«Fill yourself with the beautiful stuff of the world. Have fun. Get amazed. Get astonished. Get awed on a regular basis, so that getting awed is habitual and becomes a state of being»
Brain Pickings on Meaning Of Life
The Ocean and the Meaning of Life
“Contemplating the teeming life of the shore, we have an uneasy sense of the communication of some universal truth that lies just beyond our grasp… the ultimate mystery of Life itself.&…
Brain Pickings on Meditation
The Secret to Superhuman Strength: An Illustrated Meditation on the Life of the Body, the Death of…
Shared by 268, including Charles Duhigg, debbie millman
«If we are lucky enough, if we are alive enough, we go on making art, making meaning, making an effort to “leave something of sweetness and substance in the mouth of the world.”»
Proximity: A Meditative Visual Poem for Those Reaching for Something They Can’t Quite Grasp, Inspired by Trees
Soulful sylvan consolation partway between David Byrne, Bill T. Jones, and the Buddha.
Brain Pickings on Mindfulness
Against the Trap of Efficiency: Mortality, Meaning, and the Antidote to the Time-Anxiety That Syphons the Joy…
“Productivity is a trap. Becoming more efficient just makes you more rushed, and trying to clear the decks simply makes them fill up again faster… Since finitude defines our lives… livi…
«Annie Dillard captured this sentiment best in her haunting observation that “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives”»
Can People Change? The Psychological Möbius Strip That Keeps Us from Ending Painful Relationships
Facing the logical fallacies that fuel painful emotional patterns and what it takes to break them with dignity, mindfulness, and emotional maturity.
«While the death of a loved one can make the notion of moving on unfathomable at first, it also makes it, by definition, inevitable — there is no other recourse, for such loss is unambiguous and irreversible.»
Brain Pickings on Philosophy
Resolutions for a Life Worth Living: Attainable Aspirations Inspired by Great Humans of the Past
Life-tested wisdom on how to live from James Baldwin, Ursula K. Le Guin, Leo Tolstoy, Seneca, Toni Morrison, Walt Whitman, Viktor Frankl, Rachel Carson, and Hannah Arendt.
«You should respond with kindness toward evil done to you, and you will destroy in an evil person that pleasure which he derives from evil.»
The Faith of the Naturist: John Burroughs’s Superb Century-Old Manifesto for Spirituality in the Age of Science
“Communing with God is communing with our own hearts, our own best selves, not with something foreign and accidental. Saints and devotees have gone into the wilderness to find God; of course …
«The beauty of natural religion is that you have it all the time; you do not have to seek it afar off in myths and legends»
Brain Pickings on Poetry
C.S. Lewis on Our Task in Troubled Times
“Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or your happiness to the future… The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.”
Ursula K. Le Guin’s Playful and Profound Letter-Poem to Children About the Power of Books and Why…
“…for every book contains a world.”
Brain Pickings on Spirituality
Life and Death and More Life: Leo Tolstoy on Science, Spirituality, and Our Search for Meaning
“A caterpillar sees itself shrivel up, but doesn’t see the butterfly which flies out of it.”
«Tolstoy writes in his: I’m beginning to get used to regarding death and dying not as the end of my task, but as the task itself.»
Love Lessons from a Tree
“I think of good love as something that roots, not rots, over time, and of the hyphae that are weaving through the ground below me, reaching out through the soil in search of mergings.”
Brain Pickings on Zen
How the Great Zen Master and Peace Activist Thich Nhat Hanh Found Himself and Lost His Self…
“To live, we must die every instant. We must perish again and again in the storms that make life possible.”
The Four Buddhist Mantras for Turning Fear into Love
An ancient antidote to our greatest vulnerability from the great Buddhist teacher and Zen elder Thich Nhat Hanh.
These are some all-time favorites with Refind users.
How to Do Nothing with Nobody All Alone by Yourself: A Timely Vintage Field Guide to Self-Reliant…
“These days, you see a kid lying on his back and looking blank and you begin to wonder what’s wrong with him. There’s nothing wrong with him, except he’s thinking… He is trying to arriv…
Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives
How to fine-tune the internal monologue that scores every aspect of our lives, from leadership to love.
Bertrand Russell on the Secret of Happiness
“Let your interests be as wide as possible, and let your reactions to the things and persons that interest you be as far as possible friendly rather than hostile.”
«The attainment of happiness is then less a matter of pursuit than of surrender — to the world’s wonder, ready as it comes.»
Chance, Choice, and the Avocado: The Strange Evolutionary and Creative History of Earth’s Most Nutritious Fruit
How a confused romancer that survived the Ice Age became a tropical sensation and took over the world.
How to Stop Waiting and Start Living: A Jolt from Henry James
“It wouldn’t have been failure to be bankrupt, dishonoured, pilloried, hanged; it was failure not to be anything.”
«“The things we want are transformative, and we don’t know or only think we know what is on the other side of that transformation,” Rebecca Solnit wrote in her exquisite Field Guide to Getting Lost.»
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