The Smarter Brain
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“There are more things…that frighten us than injure us, and we suffer more in imagination than in reality.”

​—Seneca, Epistulae ad Lucilium

Worth Reading

1. That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief

Scott Berinato | HBR | 23rd May 2020

Expert on grief, David Kessler, puts words to our feelings of collective trauma.”If we can name it, perhaps we can manage it…We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way…Anticipatory grief is that feeling we get about what the future holds when we’re uncertain…When you name it, you feel it and it moves through you. Emotions need motion.” (6 min read)

2. Joan Didion on Grief 

Maria Popova | Brain Pickings | 5th December 2013

Legendary Novelist, Joan Didion, describes the depths of her grief following the death of her husband (40-year marriage) and the severe illness of her daughter. “Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it…Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself.” (2 min read)

A Sunday long read…

3. Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]

King, Martin Luther Jr. | African Studies Center – University of Pennsylvania | 16th April 1963

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea…Justice too long delayed is justice denied.” (27 min read)​

For the science nerds…

4. Young Children Think It’s Wrong to Fly and Impossible to Lie.

Shtulman, A., & Phillips, J. | Differentiating “could” from “should”: Developmental changes in modal cognition | Journal of Experimental Child Psychology | 2018

Whilst children, like adults, believe it’s impossible to violate physical laws (i.e. the law of gravity) and wrong to violate moral laws, young children believe that it’s immoral to violate physical laws (e.g., flying) and impossible to violate moral laws (e.g., lying to a parent). Over the first 10 years of life, young children learn to differentiate between what could and should occur.

For the curious mind…

5. Digital Calendars Are Designed to Steal Your Time.

Aaron Z. Lewis | AZL.Blog | 12th February 2019

Calendar apps are empty by default, which encourages others to fill the empty slots and steal your time. How can we design a calendar to help people respect your time? “Digital calendars misrepresent the default state of your time. It’s far from empty. You’re working, thinking, talking, problem-solving, Being. Blankness shouldn’t be an invitation to interrupt. It’s yours, it’s sacred! But when someone sets up a meeting with you, the calendar app never makes them feel like they’re taking something away from you. The UX is additive, rather than reductive. We’re always “putting time on” calendars, never “taking it off.” (6 min read)


Worth Watching

We don’t “move on” from grief. We move forward with it

Nora McInerny | TED | 2018 | 14m58s

Grief is love with nowhere to go.”That memory is always going to be sad. That memory will always hurt. Even when I’m 600 years old and I’m just a hologram…What can we do other than try to remind one another that some things can’t be fixed, and not all wounds are meant to heal.”


Worth Listening to

The New Normal

Episode: “Normal” | Podcast: The Digital Human | 29m

Are we living in a false sense of normality in these uncertain times? As it turns out, ‘normal’ is shaped by our sense of morality: it changes based on what we think is right or wrong. “The norms are changing much faster right now…what’s difficult for us is negotiating the fact that norms themselves are not stable….we want the predictable, but it’s just not possible yet…normalcy bias fools us into thinking that we’ve just experienced a temporary aberration and normal services can now resume…Human beings are capable of thinking in a purely statistical way about what kind of things people usually do. And human beings are also capable of thinking in a purely prescriptive way about which things people ought to do….most of the time we don’t keep these two questions separate…we blend them together into a single way of thinking.”


Today I Learned: Death rates fall during economic recessions (source).

Food for thought: Can happiness exist without sadness?

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