Should you feel guilty about doing nothing? Or just appreciate the beauty of it.

To a culture of productivity, unscheduled time is a cardinal sin. Idle time is discouraged because it is often collapsed with laziness. We fear that stillness indicates stagnation, as if inaction is an opportunity cost to possible joy or success. We fear silence most of all, believing it signifies emptiness, and we rush to fill it with stimulation and communication, publicly cataloging our thoughts and memories as evidence that we are alive. But there is value in unoccupied time, empty space, and silence. Doing things without a purpose gives us a chance to consider the purposes of things around us.

The complete article

Julien Baker — Oxford American

Image source


Stephen Hawking’s advice for a fulfilling career


“Work gives you meaning and purpose, and life is empty without it.”

Last month, the American Psychological Association published an article that synthesised findings on this topic that stretch back as far as 1993. Research from Harvard professor Teresa Amabile found that “no matter the size of a goal – whether curing cancer or helping a colleague – having a sense of meaning and feeling a sense of progress can contribute to happiness in the workplace.”

But finding work with purpose can be hard for many.

The complete article

Bryan Lufkin — BBC

Image source

How the internet is transforming death


Have you ever got a notification or a reminder from a friend who has died? The social profiles of people who have left us are still there and they look no different than that of a friend who you have not reached out to in a long time.

A fortnight ago, a friend sent me a light-hearted reminder that it was her birthday in a few days. She does this every year.

The problem is that she died a couple of years ago, and I simply cannot bear to block her (and her digital messages) from my account. I wouldn’t want to either: her satirical messages still make me smile. Like millions of other people, her continued digital life serves as a reminder of her unique identity. Her messages from the grave are a profound example of a contemporary revolution in dying and death.

The complete article

Joanna Bourke — Prospect

Image source



Have you ever felt an inexplicable sadness because you were alone? I felt such a sadness on a weekend when I was in London away from my family during Holi, one of the biggest festivals in India.

We live in a society that admires independence but derides isolation. Yet for many old people the two go hand in hand. Back in the summer of 1960, following the death of his wife, Joy, C.S. Lewis wrote of the agony of becoming a free agent. “I’d like to meet,” he wrote to Peter Bide, the priest who had married them, “for I am – Oh God that I were not – very free now. One doesn’t realise in early life that the price of freedom is loneliness. To be happy is to be tied.” This was exactly Barry’s experience. He finds it hard to say where grief ends and loneliness begins, but together he experienced them as “a penetrating hurt that doesn’t dissipate – a mental thing that becomes physical and robs you of all motivation. I got very near to losing the will to live: despair is always knocking on the door for the lonely.”

The complete article

Maggie Fergusson — 1843

Image source

A Personal Journey Through the Mental Map of Bharat


Spirituality is still the core strength of India.

For the next two weeks, I travel all around, exploring every sculpture, touching pillars and stones, applying on my forehead every bit of sacred ash that is offered to me. I recite hymns that I learnt from my grandfather. But it is the sum total of the journey that I am hoping will provide the scaffolding. As Diana L Eck writes in her book, India: A Sacred Geography: ‘The mental map of India envisioned in the narratives of the sages, enlivened by the eruptions of the divine, and imprinted in the soil with the footsteps of millions of pilgrims is still a powerful and compelling force in India today.’

The Complete article

Rahul Pandita — OPEN

Image source

How to Accept Anxious Feelings So You Can Let Them Pass


This last one is the most difficult but the most important. Often anxiety is so painful that we become fascinated, obsessed even, with understanding and solving our worries. We want to get rid of the pain of anxiety as soon as possible.

Sometimes this is useful, as we come up with strategies to manage our emotions, but a lot of the time it validates the power of our anxiety and adds fuel to the fire. The mind will only focus on what it values; if you can manage to become bored with your anxiety, it will loosen its grip on your life.

The complete article

Benjamin Fishel — Tiny Buddha

Image source

Why willpower is overrated


The famous marshmallow experiment showed that children who showed self-restraint went on to do better in their lives. But, what if people who look like they are resisting the temptation are not actually feeling the temptation that strongly in the first place.

If resisting temptation is a virtue, then more resistance should lead to greater achievement, right? That’s not what the results, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Sciencefound.

The students who exerted more self-control were not more successful in accomplishing their goals. It was the students who experienced fewer temptations overall who were more successful when the researchers checked back in at the end of the semester. What’s more, the people who exercised more effortful self-control also reported feeling more depleted. So not only were they not meeting their goals, they were also exhausted from trying.

The complete article

Brian Resnick — Vox

Image source