Why do we feel so guilty all the time?


Do you feel guilty when you are happy?

Liberal guilt has become a shorthand for describing those who feel keenly a lack of social, political and economic justice, but are not the ones who suffer the brunt of it. According to the cultural critic Julie Ellison, it first took hold in the US in the 1990s, on the back of a post-cold-war fragmentation of the left, and a loss of faith in the utopian politics of collective action that had characterised an earlier generation of radicals. The liberal who feels guilty has given up on the collective and recognises herself to be acting out of self-interest. Her guilt is thus a sign of the gap between what she feels for the other’s suffering and what she will do actively to alleviate it – which is not, it turns out, a great deal.

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Devorah Baum — The Guardian

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What If Working From Home Goes on … Forever?


What if, just what if..

The truth, as I heard from many of the newly remote workers I interviewed, is that as much as our offices can be inefficient, productivity-killing spreaders of infectious disease, a lot of people are desperate to get back to them. At the Zoom “happy hour” at GoNoodle, when the employees talked about their newly renovated office, they sounded wistful. They yearned for the tricked-out kitchen, the plants and big dark couches, ideal for lounging. “We had this killer sound system,” Tracy Coats said, with a sigh. She’s an extrovert, she said, who longs to hang out with her “peeps.” “You know — we’re drinking coffee, or maybe, Hey, want to take a walk? I miss that.”

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Clive Thompson — The New York Times Magazine

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That wonderful pen


I have always been very fond of pens. But, my taste and sensibilities have changed over the years. I have been in love with ball point pens, gel pens, roller ball pens, pilot pens and use & throw pens at various stages of my life. When any of my relatives asked my choice for a gift, I would invariably ask for a pen.

When I prepared for my engineering entrance exam, I would use cheap use & throw pens and would practice solving problems on the blank side of used papers. My father would bring loads of these waste papers from office. I would judge my preparation for the exam by looking at the number of used pens and the stacks of paper I had filled.

Using fountain pen was mandatory in our school. At that time, I would crave for ball point pens as they would help me write faster in exams. Fountain pens leaked a lot creating blue spots on my fingers and sometimes on my clothes.

But, ever since I became a salaried professional, I have started writing with fountain pens. I yearn for that old world charm of writing mindfully on a piece of paper in this age of touchscreen.

About 25 years ago, my father had taken me to the best stationery shop of the small town that we lived in. My heart had gone out to a fountain pen priced at Rupees 120. But, my father bought me a much cheaper pen as the pen was not affordable and I might have ruined it quickly.

The image of that pen is still imprinted on my mind. I have tried to look for it but have been unable to find it.

Today, I bought a nice German pen priced at Rupees 2,700 for myself. As I write this piece in my notebook with the ultra smooth German pen, my heart pines for that wonderful pen from my childhood.

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Yes to Life, in Spite of Everything


“Viktor Frankl’s Lost Lectures on Moving Beyond Optimism and Pessimism to Find the Deepest Source of Meaning.”

Let us imagine a man who has been sentenced to death and, a few hours before his execution, has been told he is free to decide on the menu for his last meal. The guard comes into his cell and asks him what he wants to eat, offers him all kinds of delicacies; but the man rejects all his suggestions. He thinks to himself that it is quite irrelevant whether he stuffs good food into the stomach of his organism or not, as in a few hours it will be a corpse. And even the feelings of pleasure that could still be felt in the organism’s cerebral ganglia seem pointless in view of the fact that in two hours they will be destroyed forever. But the whole of life stands in the face of death, and if this man had been right, then our whole lives would also be meaningless, were we only to strive for pleasure and nothing else — preferably the most pleasure and the highest degree of pleasure possible. Pleasure in itself cannot give our existence meaning; thus the lack of pleasure cannot take away meaning from life, which now seems obvious to us.

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Maria Popova — brainpickings

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The Wallowing Monkey


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I was reading a Ruskin Bond story which was about his father. Suddenly, I recalled somewhere reading that he has a brother. But, there is rarely any mention of his brother in his stories. So, I got curious about his brother.

I quickly checked on Google. Google showed that he has a brother called William who is settled in Canada, but there was no other information available about him. Then, I searched for William Bond Canada. It showed a LinkedIn search result. So, I went to William Bond’s LinkedIn page but the profile did not look like that of Ruskin Bond’s brother. For one, the person was much younger.

Then, I saw button notifications on my LinkedIn page. After quickly browsing through my notifications, I thought of giving a cursory glance to the home page. On my homepage was an article by a fairly popular young VC. Popularity judged by number of likes, shares and comments off course.

I browsed through the VC’s article about his learnings from chatting up with a startup founder. These founders are the most learned these days espousing pearls of wisdom as they speak. In the article, the founder had shared that how being a founder is uncomfortable because one has to try new ideas each and every day.

Then, I got curious about the founder. So, I clicked on the VC’s podcast link which was at the bottom of his article. I did not listen to the podcast but read the summary. I learned that the founder was a young lady and her name was Payal Sharma. My curiosity still not satisfied, I searched for Payal Sharma on Google. The search took me to her LinkedIn profile. I found on her profile that prior to founding her startup, she had worked in another small company. Now, this company was founded by my ex-colleague Ankur. I had worked with Ankur around 10 years ago. As the surnames of both my ex-colleague and the female founder was same, I had a hunch that they were related to one another.

I further searched for both of them on Google. In one of the article, I found that they were husband and wife. I further read that they were settled in Mumbai and had a kid. Then, I did some further Googling on my ex-colleague to find out that he had turned serial entrepreneur and manages some 3-4 startups.

I remembered the time when we worked together. I wondered how he had managed to achieve so much professionally.

Finally, my thoughts came down to how I had not been able to achieve anything in life and had wasted all those youthful years.

This was another of the usual series of thoughts that I have been having lately. From Ruskin Bond’s calming stories to another bout of self-pity in 20 minutes.

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Audible’s assault on leisure time


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“My writing time needs to surround itself with empty stretches,” the poet Maxine Kumin once wrote in an essay about how caring for her horses made her work possible, providing “the mindless suspension of doing simple, repetitive tasks—mucking out, refilling water buckets, raking sawdust—that allows those free-associative leaps out of which a poem may occasionally come.” The “empty stretches” are enforced by busyness but uncompressed by the pursuit of efficiency; farm work has “no beginning and no apparent end,” and within it the poet’s “contentment in isolation” can expand. I don’t have a barn full of horses, but I’m attempting to take more dog-walks in silence. Instead of doing chores, I’ve been listening to audiobooks while lying in bed—which takes far longer than silent reading, especially when my thoughts wander and I have to rewind. Right now, that torpor is what I like most. I think it’s good for me to waste some time.

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Nora Caplan-Bricker — The Baffler

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‘Why Do I Always Have a Crush on Someone?’


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I can’t remember the last time I truly didn’t have a crush on someone. Looking back on my adolescence, I was always fixated on some boy or girl who more often than not didn’t return my feelings. I can only think of two distinct phases in my life where I didn’t “like” anyone in that way — between fifth and sixth grade, where I have memories of intense creativity, and right before I met my ex, where I was so fed up with dating that I “gave up.” Online dating makes it easy to always HAVE someone around in some capacity — and if I have chemistry with someone, I tend to obsess over them. These crushes get so all-consuming I’ve even considered attending a sex- and love-addicts anonymous meetings. If nothing else, I feel like I’m constantly pining over someone from my past. I look at all the goals I have for myself and think about all the things I could accomplish if I just had a little more negative space in my mind and heart.

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Heather Havrilesky — The Cut

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What is life?


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Remarkably, What Is Life? appeared at the height of World War Two. Schrödinger had fled his native Austria to escape the Nazis and, after a brief sojourn in Oxford, settled in Dublin at the invitation of the prime minister, Éamon de Valera, accompanied by both his wife and mistress. Ireland was a neutral country, so Schrödinger felt free to pursue his academic work, unlike many of his scientific colleagues who assisted the Allies’ war effort. Schrödinger was best known as one of the founders of quantum mechanics, the most successful scientific theory ever. It explained at a stroke the properties of atoms, molecules, subatomic particles, nuclear reactions and the stability of stars. In practical terms, quantum mechanics has given us the laser, the transistor and the superconductor. For de Valera, Schrödinger was quite a catch.

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Paul Davies — The Monthly

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On observing one’s past


An apt one today to observe my past.

Let me share a memory with you. It’s a childhood memory, about an event from when I was around 13 or 14 years old. My father and I are playing soccer together. He is the goalkeeper, standing between the posts, I am the striker, taking shots from outside the box. My dad has been encouraging me to shoot with my weaker left foot, to develop the skills that come more easily on my more natural right side. He throws the ball to me, I control it on my chest, let it drop, and hit a sweetly-timed volley with the outside of my left foot. The ball arcs perfectly towards the goal. My dad moves across to save, although I’m not sure he has it covered, and then the ball thunders off the crossbar. Even though I didn’t score, I have an intense feeling of satisfaction, of executing a near perfect left foot volley, the quality of which I have struggled to reproduce in the intervening years. This memory has a rich phenomenology: it involves visual and motor imagery as well as emotion. Yet there’s an important feature of this memory, which is perhaps not apparent in the way I describe it. As this dynamic and evocative memory unfolds, I see not only my father, the ball, and the goal, but myself too. I see myself in the remembered scene, from the outside, as if someone had filmed us playing together and I am watching the old footage.

Such memories are called “observer memories.”

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Christopher McCarroll — OUPblog

What can we learn from people who succeed later in life?


Late bloomers.

The key to long-term success from a creator’s perspective is straightforward: let the qualities that give you your Q-factor do their job by giving them a chance to deliver success over and over. In other words, successful people engage in project after project after project. They don’t just count their winnings; they buy more lottery tickets. They keep producing. Take writer J.K. Rowling, who followed Harry Potter by creating a successful mystery series (under the name Robert Galbraith). Each time she publishes a new book, her new fans go back and read the older volumes as well. Each new book, then, breathes life into her career, keeping her whole body of work present and relevant.

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Albert-Laszlo Barabasi — TED