SOTT FOCUS: MindMatters: Living the Good Life – The Stoic Way

What good is philosophy? For the Stoics, among other schools, philosophy is dead if it is not fully lived. That's why the Stoics presented not just a system of logic and cosmology, but also a way of living - to put into practice the principles on which the system is built. But while the Stoic schools that taught this way of life died out many years ago, that doesn't mean that Stoicism is no longer an option for people today. Stoicism has experienced a revival in recent years. Today on MindMatters we take a look at one modern presentation of practical Stoicism, laid out in William B. Irvine's Guide to the Good Life, as well as complementary methods and practices from other systems, like G. I. Gurdjieff's "Fourth Way." Whether you go "full Stoic", like Irvine, or merely adopt some...

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Writing science fiction not reports provided greater understanding of concepts – study

Abstract: Students in an introductory college geology course engaged in one of two exercises to learn more about the concept of cross cutting relationships, a major principle in stratigraphy. One exercise involved writing a report on the concept, the other involved writing a science fiction story based on the concept. Preliminary results suggest that students who engaged with the material within the context of science fiction writing gained a deeper understanding. As a professor of geology and a science fiction writer, I became curious this past academic term about how science fiction writing might influence students' perceptions of science or their understanding of science ideas. Science fiction is fiction of course, and not intended to be real science. However I thought that science fiction writing might engage students in thinking about science concepts and perhaps provide an educational tool comparable...

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Learning is consolation for sorrow: What to do when the world gets you down

In his wonderful contribution to A Velocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader, Yo-Yo Ma tells children about how books helped him survive his own childhood, listing King Arthur among his three great heroes; as a young boy born in France to Chinese parents, trying to find his mooring as an immigrant in America, he reaped great consolation and inspiration from the tales of the legendary medieval leader — stories of "adventure, heroism, human frailty and accidental destiny" that emboldened him to believe in the power of the quest for holy grails and improbable dreams — dreams as improbable as a small boy with no homeland growing up to be the world's greatest cellist. And, indeed, buried inside the adventure-thrill of these Arthurian tales are treasure troves of wisdom on fortitude, courage, and the art of honorable living, nowhere...

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The Power of Bad: How to overcome your brain’s ‘negativity bias’

Why can't we pull our attention away from a traffic accident or stop watching news about the latest viral outbreak? Why are we waylaid by criticism or unable to get past a minor snub from our best friend? That's our negativity bias. We humans have a propensity to give more weight in our minds to things that go wrong than to things that go right — so much so that just one negative event can hijack our minds in ways that can be detrimental to our work, relationships, health, and happiness. Overcoming our negativity bias is not easy to do. But a new book, The Power of Bad: How the Negativity Effect Rules Us and How We Can Rule It, coauthored by social psychologist Roy Baumeister and New York Times writer John Tierney, inspires hope. The book not only covers...

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