The Fourth Quality of the Heart

A practice for developing equanimity By Pascal Auclair Equanimity is part of a group of four, which I’ll call the “qualities of the heart.” This group is made up of benevolence or lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. Benevolence is a very natural, basic wish for well-being that we have when the heart is not hindered. It’s a basic wish that we have for others or for ourselves, and when this wish meets what is difficult, it becomes compassion—a particular kind of love or care in the face of what is challenging. When benevolence meets beauty or success or goodness, naturally it … Continue reading The Fourth Quality of the Heart

Book Excerpt: Why Do We Insist on Lying to Ourselves?

Visual: Igor Stevanovic/500Px Plus via Getty Images Self-deception is part of the human condition, and psychologists have long studied our ignorance of our own ignorance. BY LIXING SUN THE PREVALENCE OF SELF-DECEPTION is truly staggering — and long studied. In regard to our personal health, for example, most people in one 1995 analysis believed they live a healthier lifestyle and have a longer lifespan than their peers. In an even earlier study, around 90 percent of people in the U.S. believed they were better-than-average drivers. In social skills, 70 percent of high school students considered themselves above average in leadership, and on their ability to … Continue reading Book Excerpt: Why Do We Insist on Lying to Ourselves?

The Swedish theory of love

Solna Centrum subway station, Stockholm. Photo by Jonas Bendiksen/Magnum Photos All countries must balance the freedom of individuals with the demands of the community. Sweden’s solution is unique Lars Trägårdh is professor of history at Uppsala University, Sweden. His most recent book, co-authored with Henrik Berggren, is The Swedish Theory of Love: Individualism and Social Trust in Modern Sweden (2022). It was confusing. When the novel coronavirus hit the world in early 2020, Sweden of all countries chose to ignore the global consensus that favoured lockdowns and severe restrictions. Better known for its interventionist welfare policies, Sweden suddenly seemed to have become a … Continue reading The Swedish theory of love

The cult of being confident and why it doesn’t help women

Photo by Jacob Silberberg/Panos By making women solely responsible for their own empowerment, the culture of confidence masks the true causes of inequality Rosalind Gillis professor of social and cultural analysis at City, University of London, and is the author of several books, including Confidence Culture (2022) with co-author Shani Orgad. Her latest book is Perfect: Feeling Judged on Social Media (2023). Shani Orgadis professor of media and communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her recent books are Confidence Culture (2022) with co-author Rosalind Gill, and Heading Home: Motherhood, Work, and the Failed Promise of Equality (2019). The imperative for women to be self-confident is … Continue reading The cult of being confident and why it doesn’t help women

The joy of sulk

Napoleon at Fontainebleau by Hippolyte Paul Delaroche. Painted in 1846, the painting depicts Napoleon on the day Paris capitulated to the invading allied armies on 31 March, 1814. Courtesy the Royal Collection Full of implicit rules and paradoxes, sulking is a marvellous example of intense communication without clear declaration Rebecca Roache is a senior lecturer in philosophy at Royal Holloway, University of London. She works on various issues in applied philosophy, and hosts The Academic Imperfectionist podcast. She lives in Oxfordshire. Homer’s Iliad opens with some epic ancient Greek sulking. Agamemnon, leader of the Greeks, is forced to return Chryseis, the woman he won as a … Continue reading The joy of sulk

Neuroscientist Sam Harris on Our Misconceptions About Free Will and How Acknowledging Its Illusoriness Liberates Us Rather Than Taking Away Our Freedom

“Understanding this truth about the human mind has the potential to change our sense of moral goodness and what it would mean to create a just society.” BY MARIA POPOVA “When you come right down to it, how much of that was free will?” teenage Sylvia Plath pondered as she looked back on her life-choices in reflecting on what makes us who we are. “Before we raise such questions as What is happiness, what is justice, what is knowledge, and so on,” Hannah Arendt argued a quarter century later in her intellectually exquisite 1973 inquiry into what free will really means, “we must have seen happy … Continue reading Neuroscientist Sam Harris on Our Misconceptions About Free Will and How Acknowledging Its Illusoriness Liberates Us Rather Than Taking Away Our Freedom

Saudade: The bittersweet emotion you never knew you felt

We know that everything changes, but we long for something more permanent. KEY TAKEAWAYS by Jonny Thomson Not all homecomings are happy. After you’ve moved out of your hometown and spent years building a new life, it can be bittersweet to come back for a visit. You walk by shops with new names and new streets that never existed. Your old jaunts and favorite hangouts now belong to someone else. Once, friends and neighbors were a brief walk in any direction, but not anymore. A few places are the same, but that just makes it worse. You remember yourself at … Continue reading Saudade: The bittersweet emotion you never knew you felt

Faulty Memory Is a Feature, Not a Bug

Forgetting and misremembering are the building blocks of creativity and imagination. BY CODY KOMMERS In 1942, the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges published a short story called “Funes the Memorious.” The unnamed narrator recounts a story from his memory, which centers on a Uruguayan man named Ireneo Funes. The narrator learns Funes has fallen off his horse, hitting his head and leaving him housebound. Not long after, Funes contacts the narrator, asking to borrow some of his books in Latin, which is the narrator’s specialty. He gives Funes a selection of his most difficult Latin texts, ones that he has … Continue reading Faulty Memory Is a Feature, Not a Bug

A new paganism

Mit dem Adler (‘With the Eagle’) (1918) by Paul Klee. Zentrum Paul Klee. Photo by AKG Now is the time to revitalise our relationship with nature and immerse ourselves in the little wonders of the universe Ed Simon is the executive director of Belt Media Collaborative and the editor-in-chief for Belt Magazine; a contributing editor for the History News Network; and a staff writer at the literary site The Millions. His books include the anthology The God Beat: What Journalism Says about Faith and Why It Matters (2021), co-edited with Costica Bradatan; Binding the Ghost: Theology, Mystery, and the Transcendence of Literature (2022); and Pandemonium: A Visual … Continue reading A new paganism

Terminal lucidity: Dementia patients “rally” just before death, and scientists want to know why

Neuroscientists hope to learn more in the hope of finding a way to reverse dementia. KEY TAKEAWAYS By Kristin Houser New research into terminal lucidity — a strange phenomenon in which people with severe dementia suddenly regain their mental faculties right before death — could transform our understanding of dementia, and maybe even point to a way to reverse it. Terminal lucidity Dementia involves the loss of memory, cognition, and speech. It’s caused by changes in the brain due to injury or disease, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, and it’s progressive, meaning the symptoms get more severe over time.  More than 55 million people are … Continue reading Terminal lucidity: Dementia patients “rally” just before death, and scientists want to know why