In a New Years resolution to halt the ossification of my brain via cat videos, cult memes and fake news, I decided to ditch the habit of mindless scrolling and invest my time on the internet only in stuff that truly interests me, or makes me think. And it has definitely been not so much an eye-opener as a brain-opener! If you take the time to look, the web is filled with the creations of so many talented people, sharing their own little snippets of wisdom on the world.
Partly to aid my own memory, I thought I would regularly share three or four insights that have particularly resonated with me for one reason or another. Expect a mixture of articles, podcasts and documentaries about absolutely anything at all – the only unifying characteristic will be that their message cannot be summarised into 140 characters, or a handy Facebook ‘share’. These are ones to mull over…
So, fix yourself a cuppa and take a pause in your day to sit down and enjoy these gems!
Alain de Botton: How Philosophy Can Change Your Life | Podcast Interview on The Tim Ferriss Show [2hrs]
Alain de Botton can best be described as a philosopher who has the rare ability to de-jargon the academic lingo of philosophy, in order to explain it in a way that applies to our everyday lives today. Its a long interview – but it is honestly so worth taking the time to hear the whole thing through. As a taster, here is what Alain had to say on the rise of individual identities and the decline of people self-identifying as part of a tribe/family/village community…
“Nowadays, everybody is meant to reinvent themselves. That is wonderful and liberating… but it’s also deeply troubling for many of us, it crushes us, because what a burden to bear! You can’t rely on where you’ve come from, you can’t define yourself by your group, your family, your ancestors… you have to be proud only of yourself and what you have achieved in the years since you finished your college education. It’s good to realise that we are under this pressure… to be able to know: hmm – no wonder I’m a little twitchy on Sunday evenings as the sun goes down. No wonder I get that Sunday feeling where I’m thinking I’ve got my dreams on the one hand and my reality on the other and the gap is too large and I feel desperate! …That is what the system makes us feel.”
That’s a deep bit, but there’s a lot of funny stuff in there too, like on the value of pessimism, pomegranates and his favourite Japanese pens. A good one for the commute to work! (Available to stream or download online or from iTunes podcasts)
Ask the Aged | Article by Karl Pillemer on aeon
“Who better to answer questions about the purpose of life than someone who has been living theirs for a long time?” It’s a sad fact of life that we live in a society that kind of writes off old people. We prize youthful looks and physical vigour over wisdom and reflection, we live in terror of ageing, we see it as decline, degeneration, decrepitude. I’ve thought for a while that perhaps some happiness can be found in actually looking forward to becoming the old people we one day will be. This article does a good job at explaining why… And it will definitely get you on the phone to your Grandma.
Why You Can Change The World | The School of Life
Narrated by Alain de Botton, who is also the founder of The School of Life, this 5 minute reflection is a good rebuttal to send to anyone who hates on the value of your history degree!