Friday, October 25, 2013

Seven Lessons from Brain Picking

Happy birthday to Brain Picking, a blog by Maria Popova. Over the years she has become one my favorite writers (yes writer) and here are the seven lessons she learned from the past seven years:

  • Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind - It’s enormously disorienting to simply say, “I don’t know.” But it’s infinitely more rewarding to understand than to be right — even if that means changing your mind about a topic, an ideology, or, above all, yourself.
  • Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone - Those extrinsic motivators are fine and can feel life-affirming in the moment, but they ultimately don’t make it thrilling to get up in the morning and gratifying to go to sleep at night 
  • Be generous - To understand and be understood, those are among life’s greatest gifts, and every interaction is an opportunity to exchange them.
  • Build pockets of stillness into your life  - Meditate. Go for walks. Ride your bike going nowhere in particular. 
  • When people tell you who they are, Maya Angelou famously advised, believe them. Just as importantly, however, when people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them. 
  • Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity - for, as Annie Dillard memorably put it, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
  • Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time - This is borrowed from the wise and wonderful Debbie Millman, for it’s hard to better capture something so fundamental yet so impatiently overlooked in our culture of immediacy.

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