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Sam Harris on Spirituality without Religion, Happiness, and How to Cultivate the Art of Presence

“Our world is dangerously riven by religious doctrines that all educated people should condemn, and yet there is more to understanding the human condition than science and secular culture generally admit.” Nietzsche’s famous proclamation that “God is dead” is among modern history’s most oft-cited aphorisms, and yet as is often the case with its ilk, such quotations often miss the broader context in a way that bespeaks the lazy reductionism with which we tend to approach questions of spirituality today.

A Sweet Celebration of Connection and Inner Softness in a Culture That Encourages Hard Individualism and Prickly Exteriors

What a baby cactus can teach us about empathy, free will, and the art of finding one’s tribe. A hug is such a simple act.

Nobel-Winning Playwright Eugene O’Neill on Happiness, Hard Work, and Success in a Letter to His Unmotivated Young Son

“Any fool knows that to work hard at something you want to accomplish is the only way to be happy.” By the time he was fifty, playwright Eugene O’Neill had just about every imaginable cultural accolade under his belt, including three Pulitzers and a Nobel Prize.

Anne Truitt on Compassion, Humility, and How to Cure Our Chronic Self-Righteousness

“Love … is the honoring of others in a way that grants them the grace of their own autonomy and allows mutual discovery.” Countless great minds have attested to the creative and psychological value of keeping a diary, but few have manifested that more beautifully than artist Anne Truitt — perhaps in large part because Truitt’s formal training as a psychologist before she turned to art gave her higher-order powers of introspection and self-awareness, which, coupled with an artist’s penchant for patient observation, produced a true masterwork of psychological insight.

Micro Manager vs. Macro Planner: Zadie Smith on the Two Types of Writers and the Secret of Editing Your Work

“It’s a feeling of happiness that knocks me clean out of adjectives. I think sometimes that the best reason for writing novels is to experience those four and a half hours after you write the final word.” On March 24, 2008, two years before she penned her oft-cited ten rules of writing, the immeasurably brilliant Zadie Smith delivered a lecture at Columbia University’s Writing Program under the brief “to speak about some aspect of your craft.” Appropriately titled “That Crafty Feeling” and included in Smith’s altogether enchanting collection Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays (public library), the lecture outlines the ten psychological stages of writing a novel.

Jeff Buckley on Music and Life: A Rare Interview with One of Creative History’s Most Tragic Heroes

“Be awake enough to see where you are at any given time and how that is beautiful and has poetry inside” In 1995, while working for a local radio station in the town of Correggio, Italian journalist Luisa Cotardo conducted what would become the most candid, soulful, and profound conversation with legendary musician Jeff Buckley.

Happy Birthday, Theodor Adorno: The German Philosopher on the Art of Punctuation

A manifesto for the “friendly spirits whose bodiless presence nourishes the body of language.” Mary Oliver once joked — perhaps semi-seriously, as is the poet’s prerogative — that each writer has a finite lifetime quota of punctuation, which should be used judiciously to shepherd language into as much elegant submission as the writer is capable of.

The World’s First Children’s Book about a Two-Mom Family

A pioneering picture-book with an enduring message of equality. “Many homosexuals live together in stable relationships.

The Memory of an Elephant: A Most Unusual Children’s Book for Lovers of Mid-Century Modern Design

An immeasurable treat for kids and introspective grownups alike. Psychologists believe that our capacity for creative work hinges on our memory and the ability to draw on our mental catalog of remembered experiences and ideas.

Happy Birthday, Mary Oliver: The Beloved Poet on the Magic of Punctuation

“All eternity is in the moment.” It’s hard to be human and be unmoved by the grace with which Mary Oliver (b.

100 Ideas That Changed the Web

From the mouse to the GIF, by way of the long tail and technology’s forgotten female pioneers. In his now-iconic 1945 essay “As We May Think,” Vannevar Bush considered the problem of organizing humanity’s knowledge, which he poetically termed “the common record,” in an intelligent way amidst an era of information overload.

Legendary Composer Aaron Copland on the Conditions of Creativity, Emotion vs. Intellect, and the Trap of Public Opinion

“The main thing is to be satisfied with your work yourself. It’s useless to have an audience happy if you are not happy.” In 1970, long before our present barrage of books on creativity, even before Vera John-Steiner’s pioneering investigation of the creative mind and the influential tome The Creativity Question, psychologists Lawrence E.

Wisdom in the Age of Information and the Importance of Storytelling in Making Sense of the World: An Animated Essay

Thoughts on navigating the open sea of knowledge. For my part in the 2014 Future of Storytelling Summit, I had the pleasure of collaborating with animator Drew Christie — the talent behind that wonderful short film about Mark Twain and the myth of originality — on an animated essay that I wrote and narrated, exploring a subject close to my heart and mind: the question of how we can cultivate true wisdom in the age of information and why great storytellers matter more than ever in helping us make sense of an increasingly complex world.

Maurice Sendak’s Darkest, Most Controversial Yet Most Hopeful Children’s Book

A moving cry for mercy, for light, and for resurrection of the human spirit at a time of hopeless darkness.

C.S. Lewis on True Friendship

“Friendship … has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which gave value to survival.” “What is so delicious as a just and firm encounter of two, in a thought, in a feeling?

The Little Red Schoolbook: An Honest Vintage Guide to Teenage Sexuality, Education Reform, and Independent Thinking

“Leaders remain leaders only as long as you let them.” In 1969, shortly after the Summer of Love swept America, Danish schoolteachers Søren Hansen and Jesper Jensen penned a slim and provocative book for teens as “a protest against the Victorian/authoritarian school system with its robotic discipline,” encouraging young people to think for themselves, to question social rites, to demand more of their education, and to explore their sexuality without shame.

Incomparable Things Said Incomparably Well: Emerson’s Extraordinary Letter of Appreciation to Young Walt Whitman

“I rubbed my eyes a little, to see if this sunbeam were no illusion.” One concentrated effort I’ve made in the past year has been the regular practice of sending notes of appreciation to strangers — writers, artists, varied creators — whose work has moved me in some way, beamed some light into my day.

C.S. Lewis on True Friendship

“Friendship … has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which gave value to survival.” “What is so delicious as a just and firm encounter of two, in a thought, in a feeling?

The Book of Miracles: Rare Medieval Illustrations of Magical Thinking

A visual record of humanity’s most eternal fears and our immutable longing for grace, mercy, and the miraculous.

Montaigne on Meditation

“There is no exercise that is either feeble or more strenuous, according to the nature of the mind concerned, than that of conversing with one’s own thoughts.” “We all have the same inner life,” beloved artist Agnes Martin said in a wonderful lost interview.