The Future of Happiness

Brad Pitt

What kind of future does happiness have in an anti-science culture? 

In The Future of Happiness, author Amy Blankson, cofounder of the global positive psychology consulting firm GoodThink, unveils five strategies that successful individuals can use to not just survive but to actually thrive in the Digital Age:

  • Stay grounded to focus and channel your energy with intention
  • Know thyself through app-driven data to strive toward your potential
  • Train your brain to develop and sustain an optimistic mindset
  • Create a habitat for happiness to maximize the spaces and places in which you live, work, and learn
  • Be a conscious innovator to actively shape your future beyond social media obsession and distraction

By rethinking when, where, why and how you use technology, you will not only able to influence your own well-being, but also help shape the future of your community. Discover how futuristic technologies can transform the idea of “I’ll be happy when …” to your way of being now.

Speaking of a habitat for happiness, what constitutes a sense of place, and how is that sense forged in homes and neighborhoods and cities in order to meld function with style and beauty? What is beauty, anyway? In THE ARCHITECTURE OF HAPPINESS author Alain de Botton delves into the philosophy and psychology of art and architecture, describing how art affects our emotions and leads us to a higher understanding of ourselves and our desire for the pursuit of ideals. More a collection of essays than a textbook, it provokes reflection on where we have come from, and where we may be going. Narrated by Simon Vance, the audiobook shows that all the arts are mysterious and cannot be defined or owned, and so are more like pointers toward a higher goodness represented by perfection and ultimate truth. Yet art is only real when felt by and within the heart. An interesting and literate philosophical journey. Brad Pitt has long been a fan of architecture. Outside of making movies, it is his passion. My interview with Alain is HERE.

Greenville

The How of Happiness

Sonja LyubomirskyIt’s a 2008 book by Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside. Her research—on the possibility of permanently increasing happiness—was honored with a Science of Generosity grant, a John Templeton Foundation grant, a Templeton Positive Psychology Prize, and a million-dollar grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. The How of Happiness has been translated into nineteen languages. If you missed it, it’s worth a look. It is “a comprehensive guide to understanding the elements of happiness based on years of groundbreaking scientific research. It is also a practical, empowering, and easy-to-follow workbook, incorporating happiness strategies, exercises in new ways of thinking, and quizzes for understanding our individuality, all in an effort to help us realize our innate potential for joy and ways to sustain it in our lives. Drawing upon years of pioneering research with thousands of men and women, The How of Happiness is both a powerful contribution to the field of positive psychology and a gift to people who have sought to take their happiness into their own hands.” Regarding the other books on the video below, the Flat Earth people have gone viral on Youtube (one of the reasons for this blog: to inspire literacy there. Read previous post for interview with the author of THE WAR ON SCIENCE.) One of the best science books to debunk this is THE BEGINNING OF INFINITY. Consider this: most of the Flat Earth believers (over 100,000 videos preaching it) are lucky to have a GED or high school diploma. Richard Feynman (clip seen in video) was a Physicist, a graduate of MIT and Princeton, and taught at Cornell and CIT. He was the recipient of the Albert Einstein Award, the Nobel Prize, the Oersted Medal, and the National Medal of Science. Question: who is MORE likely to arrive at an explanation for how science works: someone who doesn’t know how science works, or a genius who spent his entire life studying science? …Someone who believes we are at the end of science, or someone who believes we are nearer the beginning? Someone who looks backward to the Dark Ages, or someone who looks to the future? “We are not at the end of new knowledge,” said David Deutsch, a pioneer in quantum computing, in THE BEGINNING OF INFINITY. “The search for better explanations has infinite reach.” Past static societies wanted to have what we enjoy today, but they didn’t because they did not create new knowledge or use science as a tool. They were mired in dogma, and it never occurred to them to think differently. When, by accident or idea, they discovered new things, they progressed. But it was always an uphill push against the forces of ignorance. Einstein said that, “Nationalism is the measles of humanity,” and “ignorance and violence go hand in hand.” Which path will YOU choose? Despair, greed, and narcissism…or literacy, hope, and love? Be a BAWSE…and not just with makeup. 

Lilly Singh

 

Science Under Attack

Shawn Otto

Jonathan Lowe) You describe three areas in which science is under attack. How are they related philosophically, and is the intent short term profits at long term expense?

Shawn Otto) All three areas are motivated by protection of their vested interests, and they do this by attacking the objectivity of science. Science creates knowledge, knowledge is power, and that power is political because it either confirms or challenges someone’s power base. In the war on science, attacks are coming from the postmodernist academic left, the fundamentalist religious right, and industry whose business models are threatened by new advances in health or environmental science. Postmodernists argue that science is just one of many ways of knowing, and that there is no such thing as objectivity. What gives one authority to speak on a subject is one’s membership in a political identity group, eg, one’s race, creed, sexual orientation, gender, political party, etc. Instead of objectivity, authenticity is viewed as having more authority. But science was developed to strip what we actually know away from all those subjective biases. If it rains and we both stick a ruler in a bucket, we’re going to get the same objective result no matter out identity subgroup. Yet this false idea has been taught in journalism and education schools for forty years and has eroded the public’s capacity to think about what is real. Journalists are especially guilty of this when they take the view that the only thing they can do is be fair and balanced. They will present in one half of the story a scientist relaying all the objective knowledge created by scientists over thousands of experiments, and in the other half, to be “balanced,” they will present someone with an opposing opinion. This false equivalence of facts and opinions elevates extreme voices on our public dialog. And, it opens the way to authoritarianism, because if there is no objective standard on which we all agree, how do we settle arguments of contested facts, such as those made by Donald Trump? The only means left is by the person with the biggest stick or the loudest megaphone funded by the biggest wallet. Around the same time postmodernism was taking root in academia, fundamentalist religion found its power base threatened by advances in the bio sciences, particularly around human origins, especially reproduction and sexuality. So we began to see a very sophisticated development of alternative theories to compete with, attack, and cast doubt on or outright deny science around evolution, birth control, when pregnancy begins, sexuality, gender, sexual orientation, stem cells, abortion, HPV vaccination, sex education, and in-vitro fertilization. They took advantage of the foundation laid down by the postmodernists to argue that science was something you either believed in or not, rather than a matter of know-how. This view was also adopted by industries who sought to forestall or prevent science-based regulations that affected their business model. So we see industries opposed to pesticide regulation, tobacco regulation, CO2 regulation, farming regulation, pharmaceutical regulation, sugar regulation, and mining/extractive industries regulation all mounting sophisticated public relations campaigns taking advantage of postmodernist ideas to create public uncertainty about the science, and then argue that since we are uncertain it’s premature to do anything.

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To read the rest of this interview, go HERE.

sins of our fathers

Will You or Will You Not?

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WILLNOT by James Sallis is a unique novel by the author of DRIVE (made into a movie starring Ryan Gosling, and also on audio:) “In the woods outside the town of Willnot, the remains of several people have suddenly been discovered, unnerving the community and unsettling Hale, the town’s all-purpose general practitioner, surgeon, and conscience. At the same time, Bobby Lowndes—a man being followed by the FBI—mysteriously reappears in his hometown at Hale’s door. Over the ensuing months, the daily dramas Hale faces as he tends to his town and to his partner, Richard, collide with the swerves and turns of life in Willnot. And when a gunshot aimed at Lowndes critically wounds Richard, Hale’s world is truly upended.” The thing that separates this novel from many with such plots is the tone and point of view, almost stream of conscious. It is philosophical, like Ian McEwan (whose “Enduring Love” is new to audio.) He doesn’t limit himself to the events of the novel, but ruminates and dreams about how he got where he is. (McEwan also wrote “The Daydreamer.”) What makes it irresistible is narrator Kevin Kenerly, who was great in TO LIVE FOREVER. Kenerly imbues the text with a grandeur and significance that is not easily forgotten. Sallis has published more than a dozen novels; multiple collections of short stories, poems, and essays; the definitive biography of Chester Himes; several books of musicology; and a translation of Raymond Queneau’s novel Saint Glinglin. His works have been shortlisted for the Anthony, Nebula, Edgar, Shamus, and Gold Dagger awards. The film version of his novel Drive won the Best Director Award at the Cannes International Film Festival, and his Lew Griffin books are in development for film. He plays guitar, French horn, mandolin, fiddle, sitar, and Dobro, both solo and with the band Three-Legged Dog. 

Chanel

Highly Anticipated Books of 2017

advertising

Here is the audiobook blurb from The End of Advertising: The ad apocalypse is upon us. Today millions are downloading ad-blocking software, and still more are paying subscription premiums to avoid ads. This $600 billion industry is now careening toward outright extinction, after having taken for granted a captive audience for too long, a choice that has led to lazy, overabundant, and frankly annoying ads. Make no mistake, Madison Avenue: Traditional advertising as we know it is over. In this short, controversial manifesto, Andrew Essex offers both a wake-up call and a road map to the future. Essex helped run what was generally considered to be the hottest shop in the industry, Droga5. He is therefore uniquely qualified to report on the industry’s demise—and what it must do to reinvent itself. He gives a brief and pungent history of the rise and fall of Adland—a story populated by snake-oil salesmen, slicksters, and search-engine optimizers. But his book is no eulogy. Instead, Essex boldly challenges global marketers to innovate their way into a better ad-free future. Rather than clutter our world, ambitious marketing campaigns could provide utility, services, gifts, investment, and even patronage of the arts and blockbuster entertainment. Ads could become so enticing that people would pay—yes, pay—to see them. With trenchant wit and razor-sharp insights, Essex presents an essential new vision of where the smart businesses could be headed, to the cheers of brands and consumers alike.  Interesting, huh?

Change of Seasons

 

Review of CHANGE OF SEASONS by John Oates HERE.

sex-scandal

kelly-osbourne

 

Could You be a Hermit?

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Have you ever thought about just getting away from it all, whatever “it” is? (A cubicle job, McNews, social media, traffic.) A 20 year old named Christopher Knight did just that permanently: just walked away, into the woods. In an amazing story chronicled in THE STRANGER IN THE WOODS, written by journalist Michael Finkel, Knight left his home in Massachusetts and drove to Maine, where he set up camp in the wilderness in 1986…and stayed there for the next twenty-seven years. Not speaking to anyone. You’ve seen the show “Naked and Afraid” and “Survivor.” What if the show never ended? Why did he do it? “I never fit in anywhere,” Knight said. He was shy, but intelligent. He learned how to store water and food. He hunted. He stole from the nearest town, and left cabins in such a way that one could ever be sure anyone was there. He never visited a doctor. “I was never sick,” he said. “You get sick by being around other people.” He read books, and was eventually caught and jailed…then released. He felt remorse, but also contentment. He preferred to be alone, to be private, with no desire for money or fame or what American culture thinks vitally important. Subtitle is “The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit.” On audio it is narrated by actor Mark Bramhall. It is profound in parts, and reflective. Often we need someone with a completely different viewpoint to hold up a mirror to what we are doing to ourselves. Is his a good example for others? Obviously not. But there is a middle ground between fanaticism and being a hermit or monk, and we can all learn from such a story.

Carol Burnett Wins Grammy

grammy-winners

Congrats to Carol Burnett for winning the Grammy in the best Spoken Word album category for IN SUCH GOOD COMPANYCarol Burnett is widely recognized for her work on stage and screen, most notably The Carol Burnett Show, which was named in 2007 by Time magazine as one of “100 Best Television Shows of All Time.” A highly acclaimed actress for her comedic and dramatic roles on television, film, and Broadway, Burnett has been honored with twelve People’s Choice Awards, eight Golden Globes, six Emmy Awards, the Horatio Alger Award, the Peabody Award, and the Ace Award. She has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, is a Kennedy Center honoree, and has been inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. She is also a New York Times bestselling author.

We also recommend the new young novelist Catherine Ryan Howard, who scored well with accolades for her first novel DISTRESS SIGNALS, a suspense set on a cruise ship. And just for fun, with the upcoming Oscar Show, a throwback full cast album OSCAR’S HIJACK is a mystery with satire recommended by Audiofile and produced by Blackstone.