Start Where You Are PDF Summary

Start Where You Are PDF Summary

No matter who you are, you can achieve nirvana and peace.

The only thing you need to do is just initiate the journey.

Pema Chödrön is here to lead you.

And she doesn’t care about your starting point.

In the title of one of her most important books, she says straightforwardly:

Start Where You Are.

Who Should Read “Start Where You Are”? And Why?

Anyone who knows who Pema Chödrön is needs no recommendation: Start Where You Are is once again the beautiful mixture of Buddhist wisdom and American sense for applicability we’ve grown to expect from her books.

Subtitled “A Guide to Compassionate Living,” Start Where You Are is also an excellent book for everyone who wants to become a better person and develop his skills for compassion.

Interestingly enough, the inner peace and the blissfulness are byproducts of the process.

About Pema Chödrön

Pema Chödrön

Pema Chödrön – born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown – is an American Tibetan Buddhist.

After obtaining a B.A. in English literature from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. in Elementary Education from Berkeley, Deirdre started studying with Lama Chime Rinpoche in London; soon after, she became one of the most prominent disciples of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche in San Francisco.

In 1991, she published her first book, The Wisdom of No Escape. Three years later, in the midst of a struggle with chronic fatigue, Chödrön wrote Start Where You Are and When Things Fall Apart, perhaps the most beloved of her numerous books.

Find out more at https://pemachodronfoundation.org/

“Start Where You Are PDF Summary”

“We already have everything we need,” says Pema Chödron at the very beginning of Start Where You Are.  And then she goes on to claim something which would surprise most Westerners:

There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves – the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds – never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.

In other words, self-improvement is not attaining something you don’t have; it is merely awakening something which is already inside you.

In Start Where You Are, Pema Chödrön teaches you how you can awake that hidden potential, how to achieve nirvana and bodhicitta, or the awakened heart.

Chödrön has a nice analogy (which sounds much like a novel you like): “It’s as if we were poor, homeless, hungry, and cold, and although we didn’t know it, right under the ground where we always slept was a pot of gold. That gold is like bodhicitta.”

In other words, “our confusion and misery come from not knowing that the gold is right here and from always looking for it somewhere else. When we talk about joy, enlightenment, waking up, or awakening bodhicitta, all that means is that we know the gold is right here, and we realize that it’s been here all along.”

The Surprising Beauty of Emptiness: The Story of the Empty Boat

The bodhicitta has three distinct qualities:

Compassion, i.e., it is soft and gentle;
Prajna, i.e., it is clear and sharp;
Openness, i.e., it is unfilled and receptive;

This last quality is also called shunyata and can be referred to as emptiness.

Now, emptiness is not exactly something you – or any other Westerner – strives for; here, in the West, it is almost always a negative quality: cold, distant, unsatisfied.

However, as far as Buddhists are concerned, emptiness is neither of those things; on the contrary, it is a relief.

Chödrön explains what kind of relief via a very educational Zen story.

It concerns a man enjoying himself in a river at dusk. In the midst of his enjoyment, he notices another boat coming in his direction.

It bothers him not one bit: he is happy, and he supposes that the guy on that boat is happy as well, enjoying himself in much the same manner.

However, then he realizes that this new boat keeps on nearing his and at a faster pace. He starts shouting: “Hey, hey, watch out! For Pete’s sake, turn aside!”

But the boat doesn’t do that. Instead, it smashes right into him. Inside – there’s no one. It’s just an empty boat.

“This is the classic story of our whole life situation,” Chödrön concludes. “There are a lot of empty boats out there that we’re always screaming at and shaking our fists at. Instead, we could let them stop our minds. Even if they only stop our mind for one point one seconds, we can rest in that little gap.”

The Tools for Peace: Three Supportive Practices

There are many ways to learn how to not get angry at the empty boats around you. Start Where You Are is mostly focused on three of them.

Shamatha-Vipashyana Meditation

The name of this meditation stems from two things Buddha valued especially: shamantha, i.e., tranquility, and vipashyana, i.e., insight.

In shamatha-vipashyana meditation, you start by sitting upright with your eyes open and your legs crossed, hands resting on your thighs.

Now, you start becoming aware of your breath.

Why?

Because that is the same as becoming aware of your most immediate environment.

And that is the goal of this practice: to relieve you from your past worries or future expectations and to allow you to experience the power of now.

Saying, “Be right there with the breath as it goes out,” – says Pema Chödrön – is the same thing as saying, “Be fully present.”

Tonglen

Tonglen is the practice of taking in and sending out.

It is a Tibetan word meaning “giving and taking” (or sending and receiving) – yeah, we know this made you think of Friends’ Joey – and it refers to a meditation breathing practice which should train you in being a more altruistic person.

The goal is to visualize the suffering of others on the in-breath and to give compassion in the out-breath.

Just like shamatha-vipashyana meditation, tonglen leads to the realization that opposites exist and that they aren’t in war with each other.

Lojong

Lojong is the practice of working with slogans, with which Start Where You Are is filled.

These slogans – or aphorisms – are called the seven points of mind training; however, there are more than seven; in fact, there are 59 of them.

Chödrön cites and analyzes all of them in her book; unfortunately, we don’t really have the space to even list them; however, if you like, you can get acquainted with them here.

Life Is Glorious – in All of Its Duality

“Life is glorious,” writes Pema Chödrön at one place, “but life is also wretched. It is both.”

The point is to find a way to accept them both.

“Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us,” writes Chödrön. “We feel connected.”

The problem?

Well, “if that’s all that’s happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others, and there is a sense of making ourselves a big deal and being really serious about it, wanting it to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction.”

The solution is straightforward: embrace the pain. Be it Jesus or Mother Teresa, they did exactly that, starting with other people and ending with themselves.

Gloriousness makes as arrogant, but wretchedness – life’s painful aspect – softens us up considerably.

Chödron concludes:

Knowing pain is a very important ingredient of being there for another person. When you are feeling a lot of grief, you can look right into somebody’s eyes because you feel you haven’t got anything to lose – you’re just there.
The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We’d be so depressed, discouraged, and hopeless that we wouldn’t have enough energy to eat an apple. Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together.

How to Embrace Your Weaknesses: the Beautiful Story of Milarepa

Now, most of the self-help books written by Western authors boil down to a simple mantra: ignore the negative thoughts and concentrate on the positive aspects of life.

Pema Chödrön and most Buddhists think otherwise.

As far as they are concerned, just like “gloriousness and wretchedness need each other” in the universe, they need each other in your being as well.

The point is not to ignore your weaknesses; but to accept them and learn to live with them.

Chödrön makes this point through the beautiful Tibetan tale of Milarepa.

A Buddhist, one evening Milarepa returned to his cave only to find it filled with demons. They had taken over his habitat, and Milarepa didn’t know how to get rid of them.

He tried talking them about dharma, and then about compassion and shunyata. Unfortunately, nothing happened. The demons were still there.

Then, he lost his patience and got angry at them. However, the demons were still there, laughing at his anger.

Milarepa didn’t know what to do. So, finally, he gave up, sat down on the floor and said: “I’m not going away and it looks like you’re not either, so let’s just live here together.”

And a miraculous thing happened: at that point, all of the demons left his cave.

Except for one.

“We all know that one,” writes Pema Chödrön. “Sometimes we have lots of them like that. Sometimes we feel that’s all we’ve got.”

Milarepa thought, “Oh, this one is particularly vicious. He will probably never live.”

And he surrendered totally: he walked over to the demon and put his head right into his mouth.

“Just eat me up if you want to,” he whispered.

And then – the final demon disappeared as well.

Key Lessons from “Start Where You Are”

1.      You Don’t Need to Improve: Find the Gold Within You
2.      The Three Tools to Help You Achieve Peace
3.      Embracing Your Weaknesses and the Emptiness

You Don’t Need to Improve: Dig Out the Gold Within You

Contrary to what most Western self-help books advise you, Pema Chödrön explicitly states that there is no need for self-improvement. That’s just society’s way of telling you “you are not worthy.”

However, you are: the only thing you need to do is accept yourself with all of your weaknesses and flaws.

Because, in the end, the thing that matters is your happiness, peacefulness, and wellbeing; not the money you’ll earn or the gala dinners you’ll attend.

The Three Tools to Help You Achieve Peace

If you want to achieve peacefulness and lead a kinder life, then you need to use these three practices to guide yourself to that destination:

Shamatha-Vipashyana meditation: a particular type of meditation aimed at helping you achieve tranquility and insight;
Tonglen: a breathing practice during which you breathe in the suffering of your fellow human beings and breath out compassion and recognition;
Lojong: a mind-training exercise based on a set of 59 aphorisms or slogans.

Embracing Your Weaknesses and the Emptiness

Nothing you ever accomplish will satisfy you: you’ll always feel like there’s a room for something more.

Stop feeling that way!

Just accept yourself the way you are, and embrace the emptiness. That way, you’ll be happy with what you already have.

That seems like the better path, doesn’t it?

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“Start Where You Are Quotes”

If someone comes along and shoots an arrow into your heart, it’s fruitless to stand there and yell at the person. It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there’s an arrow in your heart. Click To Tweet True compassion does not come from wanting to help out those less fortunate than ourselves but from realizing our kinship with all beings. Click To Tweet Affirmations are like screaming that you're okay in order to overcome this whisper that you're not... maybe you're not okay. Well, no big deal. None of us is okay, and all of us are fine. Click To Tweet In truth, there is enormous space in which to live our everyday lives. Click To Tweet If we are willing to stand fully in our own shoes and never give up on ourselves, then we will be able to put ourselves in the shoes of others and never give up on them. Click To Tweet
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Our Critical Review

“Pragmatic and to the point,” says a review in the Tantra magazine, “Pema Chödrön cuts to the very heart of practice, right to the tender pink spot we want to cover over and keep safe.”

And then it goes on: “In the context of being kind to ourselves, Start Where You Are shows how our greatest asset is our own vulnerability that we so desperately protect. Pema Chödrön guides us to the understanding that, rather than hiding from or resisting the pain of our existence, we can learn to relax with the situation just as it is.”Not exactly as good as When Things Fall Apart – but still exceptional.

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Note to Self PDF Summary

Note to Self PDF Summary

Inspiring Words from Inspiring People

Truthfully, you can’t be at your best at all times!

Some people say that when you are in your prime, you ought to give everything you got to build a career and start a family.  

But sometimes, life and all the uncertainty can get the better of you.

What would you say to yourself if you had the chance? What would the letter say?

In this book, you’ll have a glimpse into some inspiring insights that will keep you on your toes.

Who Should Read “Note to Self”? And Why?

Having the wind at the back or the tap on the shoulder is all it takes to turn the odds in your favor. But, what if that support you so desperately need should come from you?

Yeah, we know – there are a lot of self-help books up for grasp, but that’s not enough.

Let’s give Gayle the benefit of the doubt before we start making assumptions and drawing conclusions.

As such, we firmly believe that “Note to Self” would be a great addition on your bookshelf regardless of your beliefs.

About Gayle King

Gayle King

Gayle King is a TV show host, journalist, author and the co-anchor of the CBS News morning show.

She appeared on the big screen for the first time in the 1980s, as a production assistant at WJZ-TV in Baltimore and later on as a news anchor for WFSB in Hartford.

In 1991, she co-hosted a talk show with Robin Wagner “Cover to Cover.”

“Note to Self PDF Summary”

Some would say it’s just shocking, while others might be appalled at the reality which permeated the American society back in the days. When Gayle was in elementary school, a boy sitting next to her said: If it weren’t for Abraham Lincoln, you’d be my slave.

Lightning bolt straight from the sky!

Little Gayle stormed back into the house, curious to find out whether that’s true? Her mom told her not to worry too much about it, and to move on.

The concept which raises many eyebrows is predicated on the idea of telling your younger self a thing or two about life. For instance – how would you instruct your 15-year-old self if you had the chance to do so?

Would you tell him/her not to worry too much about not getting a certain job, or perhaps ending up heartbroken?

Writing that special letter could really be the turning point of that person’s life, but what should be written remains a personal thing.

Do you reckon that putting the younger self on guard about something is the right solution?

If you think that reading these letters is just as easy as doing the laundry, you are in for a big surprise. The note to that “self” is provoking and life-altering experience that could revive the bright side in those dark moments.

It may compel you to look beyond your comfort zone, and question the hard-won enlightenment, but it’s a valuable transition. Many people underwent all sorts of life tests; some ended up victorious while others had their ideas challenged and destroyed.

What about Oprah?

Nowadays, there’s rarely a person on this planet who hasn’t heard of Oprah! The renowned TV producer, talk-show host, philanthropist, and author was as scared as the next person when she was first starting out with an intention to make a name for herself in the industry.

As a young 20-year old reporter and a TV Host in the making, she was dead-scared about the challenges lying ahead.

You are proud about getting a certain job because you know very well what you’ve been through, but there’s this dreadful thought that implies – you are just not good enough.

The feeling of discomfort and doubt take over your mind and leaves you to drown in the endless chatter of destructive thoughts.

From where I sit now viewing your journey, there really are very few regrets. Which means a life well lived. Even then you understood that success was a process and that moving with the flow of life and not against it would be your greatest achievement.

What about Ryan O’Callaghan?

For those of you who don’t know, Ryan O’Callaghan is an openly declared gay former NFL player.

You’ve lived your life in fear of resentment, fear of being labeled as “fag.” You decided that it’s in your best interests not to share this secret with your friends and family. You don’t think that avowing your homosexuality will be meet with acceptance and encouragement.

Sometimes, you feel them talking about you, nagging you and it still hurts.

The goal is to make sure that nobody finds out because if they do, you’ll be rejected and mostly condemned for something you have no control of.

The truth is, people are much more supportive than you think, and you have to battle your way through to see that.

Breathe, take as much time as you need to address the problem and find what works for you. The bottom line is – tackling this inner chaos is easier said than done.

Just keep breathing and calm your monkey mind, which prevents you from opening up.

Even though people are disparaged for being gay or whatever, you mustn’t succumb to the pressure. It’s your job to live the life you’ve always wanted, without any restrictions whatsoever.

Just hang in there!  

So again, breathe. Really. Breathe. Believe it or not, it gets better for you, and soon you will want to share this newfound happiness and love with the world.

What about Joe Biden?

Don’t underestimate the traditional family values! You’ll learn a lot from your parents; your loved ones who mean you no harm and push you to follow your dreams. At the end of the day, it’s not about the paycheck; it’s about dignity and respect.

If you don’t want to impute these values to your parents, that’s fine, but life will compel you to look differently.

Whatever you do, defines your character, helps you to forge relationships and urges you to build up from there.

As times goes by, you’ll understand why change is inevitable, and staying rigid heralds a painful defeat. It’s not always easy, but it’s expedient, and you mustn’t run away from it.

Keep up the good spirit, Joey.

What about Dr. Ruth?

You are a small girl, loaded on a train. You see your mother and grandmother waving at you, while your father is taken by the Nazis. You don’t know whether the journey is worth it, and what follows next?

Over six million Jews suffered even worst fate, and you are one of the lucky ones who managed to get out alive. Life is taken from them, not because of a crime they committed but because they were born in a wrong uniform.

Being Jewish is a capital offense, and you have nowhere to go.

With the passing of time, you begin to realize how fortune and some mystical force played a role in your life. Now, you must make up for it, and live not just for yourself, but also for the people you hold in your heart.

And so, you become more emotional, more fragile but stronger, to say the least. This vulnerability is portrayed as a courageous act, and you understand it because you’ve been through it.

The story of your life is put under the spotlight, as you try to slow down your breathing and control your emotions.  

Your bravery will be rewarded.

What about Tyler Perry?

What do you see in those smirk eyes?

Do they reflect the painful past that evokes nothing but trouble and sadness? Does it hurt watching your mom getting knocked around and beat up?

Do you see an end in sight?

People will always try to rob you of your innateness, and that’s no secret. You must hold your ground, and stop the molesters, but how?

The uncertainty and fear that penetrate your mind are hard to deal with. You have a lot of challenges ahead, and you must embrace them in order to grow up. Practice your faith in God, and follow the inner voice that speaks to you!

I just want you to know, you beat everybody who beat you. And all that time you spent trying to make your mom smile by imitating her and dancing and laughing, keep that up, boy . . . it pays off big-time.

What about Jimmy Carter?

Never jeopardize the relationships with the rural part of America. True champions are not those filled with prejudice and hatred; it’s a group of people who don’t see color but character. Racial discrimination is a disease that plagues the community, stifles free speech, harasses and harangues those who want their voices to be heard.

You wanted to be an Army General, or perhaps a Submarine officer, and you ponder about the likelihood of achieving your dreams. You do your best to learn, and you’re ready to sacrifice yourself to that end.

That incentivizes you to lead the US to become a nation of peace. A country where racial intolerance is at its minimum, and you are the instigator of such a perspective.

Also, bear in mind that one of the greatest achievement in life is to be happily married. Your wife and the family you create together will always stand beside you and support you no matter what.

There will be people who scornfully despise this outlook on life, but you must set your ideas.

What about Tim Howard?

What’s next, are you going to pursue your football(soccer) dreams? You are not even 25, and you are about to make a decision that will change your life! You dreamed about playing for Manchester United, but are the odds against you?

Deep down, you know that you deserve it, and you will do anything to make it through. It takes years to develop into a world-class goalkeeper and play for the best teams in Europe, and even then, there’re plenty of other guys just as passionate as you.

Sir Alex Ferguson puts you in the starting eleven; you have to act tough and unleash your talent by appearing confident.

It will take time before the skeptics begin to come out of the closet and start questioning your potential.

And one other thing, try not to wear colors that resemble the jersey of their fierce hometown rival, Manchester City!

Enjoy these years; it will be the time of your life.

Key Lessons from “Note to Self”

1.      The thing you want isn’t the thing you need to have
2.      Keep it cool
3.      You don’t know what’s coming next

The thing you want isn’t the thing you need to have

Inasmuch as we wanted to include all stories laid out by Gayle, it was impossible.

In the stories summarized above, you’ll find out how luck can play a major rule in your life by giving you more than you’ve ever bargained for.

Nurture the open-minded approach, because flexibility will help you get more from life.

Keep it cool

Yes, life doesn’t always unfold in the way we want it.

We have to cope with uncertainty, struggle, and resentment. By doing so, you’ll train your mind not to press the “panic button” and raise undue concerns when things get out of hand.

Stay cool, and refrain yourself from taking unnecessary actions.

You don’t know what’s coming next

Indeed, the desire to minimize risks goes against the tide. You never know what’s coming your way; the only thing you should do is keep pedaling.

Eventually, you’ll hit the shores, and claim your prize.

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“Note to Self Quotes”

And I use the word beautiful because I know that’s never a word you would call yourself. I look into your eyes and see the light and hope of myself. Click To Tweet The bad news is, you nearly killed yourself on the road to success, fueled by fear of failure, crippling anxiety, and insecurity. You will become severely bulimic and anorexic, and the worse your disease gets, the more praise you will get… Click To Tweet You’re so uncertain about a lot of things. Right now the most important thing to you as a man-child is growing up to be able to take care of your mother. Click To Tweet You’ll come to feel that you have to be perfect—meaning thin and pretty and appealing and certainly not angry, a good gir—if you want to be loved. Click To Tweet And trust your senses—especially your sense of taste. You probably aren’t even aware of how sensitive you are now, but, believe me, your senses of taste and smell and sight and touch are going to be your personal treasure. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

The feedback Gayle received helped her to understand the big picture.

Not just audacity and willpower, but also guidance is needed in order to get to the top. Whatever you deem the younger self should pay heed to, must be brought up by you.

Leave a blank space at the bottom, in case you have something else on your mind.

Dive deep into these notes, and find out what makes a great winner.

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The Interpretation of Dreams PDF Summary

The Interpretation of Dreams PDF Summary

The name is Sigmund Freud.

The book: The Interpretation of Dreams.

The summary: a must-read.

Who Should Read “The Interpretation of Dreams”? And Why?

Love him or hate him, together with Marx and Nietzsche, Freud is widely considered one of the three people (all of them Germans) which revolutionized how we think about the world and paved the way for modernity, the age in which man is much more than the sum of his parts.

The Interpretation of Dreams is his magnum opus.

Do we need to say more?

About Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist, widely considered the father of psychoanalysis and one of the most important intellectuals of the modern age.

Born to Jewish parents in present-day Czech Republic (then part of the Austrian Empire), Freud became a professor of neuropathology in 1902 at the University of Vienna, the city in which he spent all, but the last year of his life.

In 1938, he left Austria to escape the Nazis and died the next year in the United Kingdom at the age of 83.

Even though widely criticized today, Freud was one of the first people to explore the unconscious and to develop a more complex model of being, which scorned the idea of humans as rational beings and introduced the concept of a divided self: id, ego, and super-ego.

Freud won the Goethe Prize in 1930 and was a towering influence over a whole new generation of psychologists even while alive.

“The Interpretation of Dreams PDF Summary”

“In the following pages” – thus begins Sigmund Freud’s masterwork, The Interpretation of Dreams I shall prove that there exists a psychological technique by which dreams may be interpreted and that upon the application of this method every dream will show itself to be a senseful psychological structure which may be introduced into an assignable place in the psychic activity of the waking state.”

And he goes on:

I shall furthermore endeavor to explain the processes which give rise to the strangeness and obscurity of the dream, and to discover through them the nature of the psychic forces which operate, whether in combination or in opposition, to produce the dream. This accomplished, my investigation will terminate, as it will have reached the point where the problem of the dream meets with broader problems, the solution of which must be attempted through other material.

So, put simply, Freud unabashedly claims that in The Interpretation of Dreams he uncovers to the world the skeleton key to all dreams; moreover, he also claims that he has discovered the precise stuff dreams are made of. Literally.

Freud died four decades after having written the chapter above and even on his deathbed he still believed that his most significant contribution to the history of ideas is the theories presented in The Interpretation of Dreams.

In fact, in a 1931 preface to a later edition of this book – Freud revised his magnum opus eight times during his life – he explicitly stated that “Insight[s] such as this falls to one’s lot but once in a lifetime.”

The Interpretation of Dreams consists of seven chapters and is the book where some of Freud’s most famous ideas – dreams as wish-fulfilments and “royal roads to the unconscious,” psychoanalysis, the Oedipus complex – are first proposed and examined.

Chapter I: The Scientific Literature on the Problems of the Dreams

Since The Interpretation of Dreams is a scientific work – at least it was when first published – it is only natural that it begins with a review of the scientific literature on dreams written before Freud.

The father of psychoanalysis also reviews some philosophical notions about dreams, as well as ancient religious and folk beliefs.

Interestingly enough, he sides with the latter much more than with the former.

Why?

Because, as mysterious as it is, the object of dreams has usually been treated by folk and religious beliefs as something mysterious but also as something which has some meaning.

In other words, something which can be interpreted.

Contrary to this, “stern science, as it confesses itself, has contributed nothing beyond attempting, in entire opposition to popular sentiment, to deny the substance and significance of the object.”

Freud is very much aware of how his ideas differ from everybody else’s. “My presumption that dreams can be interpreted at once,” he states loud and clear, “puts me in opposition to the ruling theory of dreams and in fact to every theory of dreams.”

So, in other words, unlike all scientists, Freud believes dreams can be interpreted; unlike popular and religious thought, he believes that dreams should be interpreted in relation to a man’s past, and not in relation to his/her future.

You’ll understand the meaning of this in a bit.

Chapter II: Method of Dream Interpretation: The Analysis of a Sample Dream

This chapter contains one of the most famous dreams ever dreamt: the dream of Irma’s injection. Freud uses it as a sample dream, i.e., the dream to show how all dreams must be interpreted.

Now Irma – which is, of course, a pseudonym – was a patient of Freud. He treated her during the summer of 1895. The treatment went well for the most part, but, due to the unwillingness of Irma, it had to end before it was completed.

On July 23, 1895, Freud visited a colleague who knew Irma and asked him about her condition. His colleague responded: “better, but not quite well.”

And that very night, Freud dreamt the dream he narrates in this chapter.

In his dream, he and his wife receive numerous guests in a large hall. Irma is among the guests. Freud immediately confronts her and berates her for not having accepted his solution to her problems.

He says to her: “If you still get pains, it’s really only your fault.” She replies: “If you only knew what pains I’ve got now in my throat and stomach and abdomen – it’s choking me.”

Freud reexamines Irma by looking at her throat where he notices a white scab. Interestingly enough, while he does this, Irma starts looking much more like one of her friends and much less like Irma.

Surprised by the scab, Freud calls Dr. M. for a second opinion. Upon investigation, Dr. M. says: “There’s no doubt it’s an infection, but no matter; dysentery will supervene, and the toxin will be eliminated.”

The meaning of it all?

Freud’s dream releases him from the guilt he feels over not helping Irma as well as he could.

And that’s only one of the wishes fulfilled by his dream.

Could it be that all dreams are wish-fulfilments?

Chapter III: The Dream Is the Fulfilment of a Wish

Yes – and that’s Freud’s great discovery!

For example, in the dream of Irma’s injection, the very idea that Irma’s disease is the cause of an infection which should be cured by itself suggests that Freud has nothing to fret about, since Irma’s disease is actually her own fault, and not his.

Moreover, the fact that he substitutes Irma with a friend of hers suggests that Freud didn’t even want to have Irma as a patient; her friend, being a more rational and intelligent person, would have probably agreed to Freud’s solution.

The appearance of Dr. M. is also a wish-fulfilling event related to Freud’s past guilt. Long before Irma, Freud had prescribed toxic medicine to one of his patients; eventually, this led to the worsening of his symptoms.

Dr. M. saves the day in the dream – as it should have happened in reality.

This is the case with all dreams, says Freud in the third chapter of The Interpretation of Dreams: they fulfill a wish unfulfilled in reality.

And there’s a reason for that, perhaps best illustrated by a dream Freud claims to be able to dream as often as he likes.

Namely, if in the evening he eats “anchovies, olives, or other strongly salted foods,” he becomes thirsty at night and awakes to quench his thirst.

However, before waking up, he dreams that he drinks a drink as sweet as nectar.

The reason why he dreams this is simple: his body doesn’t want him to wake up and fulfills his wish in a simulated manner:

If I succeed in assuaging my thirst by means of the dream that I am drinking, I need not wake up in order to satisfy it. It is thus a dream of convenience. The dream substitutes itself for action, as elsewhere in life.

Chapter IV: Distortion in Dreams

Now, dreaming of a sweet drink when thirsty is a pretty straightforward dream. As is Freud dreaming of getting revenge over some of the acquaintances he has actual problems with in real life.

Unfortunately, in the former case, the body remains thirsty, and he needs to awake to change that; in the second, the simulated action in his dream appeases him and makes him calmer in real life as well.

However, these dreams are straightforward – i.e., they are pretty easily interpretable – because their manifest form mimics pretty closely their hidden meaning.

This is not the case with all dreams, some of which hide content at a deeper level.

Why aren’t they as clear as the others?

Well, because dreams are not always –a 1:1 simulation of a wish fulfilled; they are also often restructured – i.e., distorted – by an internal psychological censor.

To better understand this, think of politically active authors writing novels in totalitarian regimes. Their wish is almost always to ridicule the ruling parties; however, if they do it in an explicit manner, they risk being prosecuted; in addition, their novels may never get published.

However, if they write books which, on the surface – explicitly and manifestly – say one thing, but deep down – implicitly and latently – another, they may get their message across.

This is how Freud explains all unpleasant dreams; even though on the surface they appear to not fulfill any wishes, on a hidden level – they do.

And these are, usually, our most forbidden desires.

Speaking of –

Chapter V: The Material and Sources of Dreams

According to Freud, all dreams have four possible sources:

• Recent and significant experiences and memories;
• Important childhood events;
• Physical sensations during sleep (e.g., thirst or alarm clocks);
• Trivial experiences.

In this chapter Freud also analyzes some dreams which are universal, such as those of appearing naked in public, flying or hovering, failing a test, missing a train, witnessing the death of a relative…

He shows that all of them are fulfilments of a wish as well; however, since they are dreamt by almost everybody, they must reveal something profound about the human nature.

And this is where Freud first proposes his idea of the Oedipus complex, the underlying reason for all repressed desires.

Since the Oedipus complex concerns one’s wish to kill his father and sleep with his mother – the biggest no-noes of all – these are wishes which will never become a reality.

That’s why they are such an authoritative source for dreams in all people.

Chapter VI: The Dream-Work

In the unnecessarily long and pretty dull sixth chapter of The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud introduces the idea of the dream-work.

By “dream-work” Freud refers to all of the censorship-processes which transform the latent content of your dreams (aka, your thoughts and wishes) into their actual content (the narrative of your dream) when the dreams are not readily interpretable.

The most important two are the following ones:

• Condensation is a process by which many images are condensed within one; for example, some of the people you dream about are actually a combination of at least two real-life individuals;
• Displacement works by substituting abstract thoughts with more concrete representations; this is why you sometimes dream bizarre and unusual things;

In this chapter, Freud also explains how dreams find a connection between ideas and introduces the concept of secondary revision.

This is when the conscious intrudes in the spheres of the unconscious, aka the reason why your dream changes when you start talking about it.

More importantly, this is where Freud gets the idea that if we want to analyze unconscious thoughts more clearly, we have to create an environment in which the patient feels as relaxed as when in bed.

Wait… did I say “as when in bed”?

Lightbulb!

Chapter VII: The Psychology of the Dream Activities

In the seventh chapter, Freud explains his quasi-scientific theory of how the mind must work based on his still unproven theory of how dreams are created.

Consequently, you can skip this chapter and lose nothing of the book – many of the things Freud says in here are not merely speculative, but outright wrong.

Appendix A

In an “Appendix,” Freud examines a dream which seems to question his theory: one which supposedly foretells the future.

Naturally, if this is the case – if it can be proven that some dreams refer to the future and not to the past – then his theory that all dreams are wish-fulfilments must be wrong.

However, Freud successfully demonstrates that the ostensibly supernatural dream he examines is really a bizarre embodiment of – well, that was expected – a repressed sexual wish.

In other words, the dream “carries us to the future, but this future is a copy and reproduction of the past.”

Key Lessons from “The Interpretation of Dreams”

1.      All Dreams Are Wish Fulfilments
2.      Nightmares Are Your Mind’s Way of Telling You “Don’t Go There”
3.      You Love Your Mother and Want to Kill Your Father

All Dreams Are Wish Fulfilments

This is the main idea of Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams.

In a nutshell, when you’re asleep, your whole body is at equilibrium and will do anything to keep you in that condition.

Enter your dreams.

They are not an obstacle, but your brain’s way of telling you “keep sleeping, everything’s OK.” That’s the reason why your brain incorporates even external stimuli in your dreams – such as the alarm clock or the doorbell.

More importantly, that’s why you dream of drinking water when you’re actually thirsty and need to get out of bed to drink water in real life.

Put simply, each and every one of your dreams are wish-fulfilments.

Nightmares Are Your Mind’s Way of Telling You “Don’t Go There”

Yes – that goes for nightmares as well!

Even unpleasant dreams are wish-fulfilments, argues Freud; however, they look the way they do because the wishes they embody are forbidden and not exactly friendly.

That’s why your brain distorts them in a way which hides their meaning behind seemingly incongruous images. Because when your wishes are cruel, your brain censors them and turns them into something less harsh.

You Love Your Mother and Want to Kill Your Father

Which brings us to the Oedipus complex.

You know its meaning: every child wants to kill his father and sleep with his mother. And since this is a wish which, unlike your thirst, cannot be satisfied in reality, it’s so deeply repressed that it reappears over and over in many dreams.

Sometimes, it also leads to neurotic conditions and diseases.

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“The Interpretation of Dreams Quotes”

The virtuous man contents himself with dreaming that which the wicked man does in actual life. Click To Tweet Dreams are the royal road to the unconscious. Click To Tweet The dream is the liberation of the spirit from the pressure of external nature, a detachment of the soul from the fetters of matter. Click To Tweet Our memory has no guarantees at all, and yet we bow more often than is objectively justified to the compulsion to believe what it says. Click To Tweet Nothing that is mentally our own can ever be lost. Click To Tweet
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Our Critical Review

The Interpretation of Dreams is widely considered Sigmund Freud’s masterpiece – and the father of psychoanalysis shared the same belief.

Considered “epochal” by none other than Joseph Campbell, undoubtedly this is one of the greatest books of the modern age.

In a way, it doesn’t matter whether Freud was right or wrong; because even in the case of the latter – which is probably closer to the truth – this is the book which paved the way for many scientific analyses of dreams and the unconscious, none of which would have even existed without Freud.That’s why, The Interpretation of Dreams is – in one word – essential.

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Talking as Fast as I Can PDF Summary

Talking as Fast as I Can PDF Summary

From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls

Well, it’s pretty far to say that Lauren Graham is currently winning on two fronts.

As an author and actress, she is undoubtedly transforming into a real gem and inspiration for thousands of people all across the globe.

We were skeptical about the possibility of her excelling in two fields, but she proved us wrong.

Let’s delve into her message!

Who Should Read “Talking as Fast as I Can”? And Why?

How fast can you talk?

Is it the speed of uttering words, or the concept of saying the right ones?

Well, the narrative behind this interesting book places emphasis on life as a whole, and how things unfold.

As such, it would be totally imprudent to exclude a group of people or to prioritize one over the other. With that said, we believe that “Talking as Fast as I Can” deserves all the merits and as such it’s suitable for everyone.

About Lauren Graham

Lauren Graham

Lauren Graham’s recent achievements can’t be put into words. Critics describe her recent take off in the professional realm as merely a glimpse of her unwavering potential.

We couldn’t agree more.

She is the author of:

“Talking as Fast as I Can PDF Summary”

In the beginning, Lauren looks back at some of the things that hold a special place in her memory. Born in Hawaii, Lauren didn’t have enough time to work on her tan, as they moved to Japan shortly afterward.

While in Tokyo, she discovered that her favorite food is in fact: mashed peas. They had to stay with her grandmother for a while and had a Japanese nanny, who Lauren loved dearly. She even remembers that her first word in Japanese was o-heso (which can be roughly translated into belly button).

Lauren’s mother grew up in Japan and had no problems at speaking in Japanese.

Back in the days, when there were just a couple of TV channels in the States and even fewer in other countries, her mom was aired on national TV in Japan.

Appearing on a TV with the size of a tablet, Lauren’s mother as a non-native Japanese speaker got the attention of Japan.

Her rise to prominence and traveling made it difficult to fulfill the traditional duties as a mother and wife.

As a result of that, her parents decided to go separate ways, because they couldn’t make their marriage work. The urge to pursue a career as a singer urged Lauren’s mom to split up her marriage in a friendly manner. Soon afterward, Lauren was on a plane to the US.

For quite some time, she recalls of sleeping on a bunk-bed-type placed in the kitchen. Their “residence” was actually a houseboat, which from today’s perspective seems kind of weird when you think about it. So, Lauren decides to call her dad and find out what was the reason behind it.

The chit-chat didn’t pan out as well as Lauren had imagined. After a lot of beating around the bush, we finally get to the bottom of the mystery:  

It was a strange place, I’ll admit, that marina—but friendly. Very bohemian.
Everybody there was sort of dropping out from society, which we were too, in a way—for weeks after we’d left D.C., I’m pretty sure my mother still thought I worked on Capitol Hill.
But I got to spend more time with you, which was 13 the goal. It was beautiful there.
We drove around a lot and went to the beach.
It probably seems strange to you now, but it was a 1970s thing to do, I guess. And we had fun.

No one knows why, but most of the people back in the days had some weird perception regarding the life of an actor. The closest thing you’ll ever get to watch on TV was Star Search and perhaps American Idol.

Same as nowadays, there were some major publications all working in feverish haste to publish the latest scandal or rumor.

We are pretty sure that it won’t come as a shock to you but back then, you couldn’t lean on Social Platforms to get media coverage.

Despite all of this and the lack of genuine knowledge of what to expect once she unleashes her talent, Lauren was determined to enter the big door in Broadway.

In the meantime, Lauren exerted herself to become a member of Actors’ Equity to fuel her ascend. She realized that one of the ways to achieve that was to earn enough hours in order to get in line for membership.

There was a faster route, but it was even harder to pull off. She had to figure out a way to get casted in an Equity role. As it turns out, that was easier said than done. Lauren put a lot of pressure on herself, especially on the part “special skills.”

It’s hard to stand out from the rest if you don’t possess a special set of skills and flair that will eventually put you on the pedestal.

Many actors were auditioned, and Lauren miraculously managed to leave a very good first impression. Maybe even too good, for the directors and members of the Equity Company.

During the audition, Lauren was caught off guard, and her vulnerability appeared on the surface.

At one point, she felt like a failure because in her opinion some of the things could have been done a lot better. The overall embracement took a toll on her performance as she realized that there’s still a lot of ground to cover.

Yes, it became clear that Lauren wasn’t psyched up for the challenge, mostly due to her burning desire to obtain the Equity card. When you are prepared to cling on anything out of desperation, you know that something isn’t right.

Years later, Lauren pushed her way through the obstacles and made it to Broadway.

It was one of those moments; you’re so thrilled that you don’t know how to react. It was literally a dream come true.

It was not all milk and honey, to say the least, but there is some magic in the idea of exceeding your expectations day in and day out.

Lauren was also given the honors to play Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls.

The Rise of Gilmore Girls

The Gilmore Girls script was delivered to Lauren’s home, long before the whole show commenced. On the flip side, she didn’t read it the first time. Lauren acknowledged the possibility of becoming too fond of the storyline and feared that a potential bond could end in separation.

But, despite this early pessimism, she was still in the game!

The whole world turned upside down the minute Lauren got the role to play Lorelai Gilmore, the thirty-two-year-old mother of a sixteen-year-old girl.

People close to her voiced concerns about the potential twist that could happen if her character gets the wrong label as the “Mom.” Lauren Graham claimed that she never once thought about that, and even less worry about something like that.

Lauren quickly realized that she is not one of those actors/actresses who want to see and critically observe themselves onstage.

When you’re committed to such an important project that does 22 episodes per season, you must know where you draw the line. Watching every single scene could take too much of your time, and make you totally engrossed into it.

Why would someone consider Gilmore Girls to be special?

Is it really that easy to discern it from all the rest? – Lauren had fallen in love with the script, and the story it portrays.

Later on, you’ll come to some important details that explain why Lauren craved to return and be a part of Gilmore Girls, once more.

It surely wasn’t easy for Lauren to say goodbye. As an “unemployed” actor afterward, she struggled to organize her daily activities, and cope with the new lifestyle. When that transition emerges, it’s tough to move on, especially when you were a part of a successful project such as Parenthood or Gilmore Girls.

The same holds true for other professions or jobs that are just as enjoyable as Parenthood.

It was a confusing time for Lauren, as she tried to get through this tough period in life.

When things get out of hand, we feel this need to ask for help, or at least to have someone special who can lighten the burden.

On the other side of the fence, are those moments when you feel so excited about something that you can barely sit still. Don’t you just hate it when a person you know, or a celebrity can’t keep their mouth shut about having a brand-new car, or getting a raise, or whatever?

Yeah, congratulations!

Are we done here? – How lucky they feel; it’s not our primary concern!

Lauren believed that the same reaction would ensue after appearing on a show like Parenthood. Nobody actually believed that Lauren could be as annoying as that, but let’s give her the benefit of the doubt, shall we?!

In this chapter, Lauren lavishes praise upon the cast, the crew, the screenwriters, the directors, all the fellow actors, and proves her point.

One big family is how she prefers to describe it!

Key Lessons from “Talking as Fast as I Can”

1.      Keep the fire burning
2.      Find the beauty in the small things
3.      Don’t abandon your dreams

Keep the fire burning

When things get rough, people often collapse on all fronts. You must not succumb to this pressure, and keep this momentum going.

Before you know it, life will tip the scale in your favor without any preparation whatsoever.

Your job is never to give up and keep blazing the trail for others.

Find the beauty in the small things

Like we said, somewhere down the road you’ll get greedy. You’ll forget about the things that made you happy and filled you with excitement regardless of their trivial nature.

Never fall under the thumb of “more” just keep pushing but remain vigilant.

That is the formula for achieving ultimate prosperity.

Don’t abandon your dreams

If you are given the option to fast forward to all the great moments and skip the hardship, what would you do?

If you are like most people, you’d probably take the fast track to success. But in doing so, you’ll abandon your dreams, which are consisted of both dangers and rewards.

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“Talking as Fast as I Can Quotes”

Because who wants to Fast Forward anyway? You might miss some of the good parts. Click To Tweet Because here's the thing: I was fine on my own, and so are you. But it can be hard when you feel ready for Happy Couplehood, and you seem to have missed the train. Click To Tweet So don't let your plans have the last laugh, but laugh last when your plan laughs, and when your plan has the last laugh, laugh back laughing! Click To Tweet If absolutely everything important is only happening on such as a small screen, isn't that just a shame? Click To Tweet Every bit of advice below was actually given to me by a fancy person or someone who knows a fancy person and the methods they use to stay fancy. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

We highly doubt that you haven’t watched at least a single episode of Gilmore Girls, but if that’s the case, we urge you to give it a go.

Apart from that, we love how personal and enlightening this book is. It truly opens us our eyes to the fluidity of life, and how we can leverage that.

You should most definitely give it a quick read.

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You Are Not So Smart PDF Summary

You Are Not So Smart PDF Summary

So, you think you’re so smart, don’t you?

Well, David McRaney has some horrible news for you:

You Are Not So Smart.

Who Should Read “You Are Not So Smart”? And Why?

You Are Not So Smart covers 48 cognitive biases, most of which you’ve probably already heard about or read in books such as Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational.

If you haven’t, then this book is a great introduction; if you have, then read it anyways, because your memory has probably betrayed you in the meantime.

Finally, if you think that you’re a rational human being and that cognitive biases are for suckers – then definitely buy this book; you’ll be surprised how wrong you are.

About David McRaney

David McRaney

David McRaney is an American journalist and psychology aficionado.

As a journalist, he has covered Hurricane Katrina for several newspapers and magazines and has written many other articles for The Lamar Times and The Huffington Post.

However, he owes his fame to his blog YouAreNotSoSmart.com, which served as the basis of this book.

Currently, he works as director of new media for a broadcast television company, for which he has also produced a TV show about the music of the Deep South.

“You Are Not So Smart PDF Summary”

As we have told you quite a few times, your brain is a complex machine which follows a set of all but unbreakable rules.

You Are Not So Smart collects 48 of them – all of them interesting, most of them working in a counter-intuitive manner.

In other words, no matter how smart you think you are, your brain is preprogrammed to tell you lies from time to time, either because that’s what helped your ancestors survive or because you are simply built in an imperfect manner.

Our species may be rightfully dubbed sapiens when compared to other species, but the truth is, writes McRaney, that

there is a growing body of work coming out of psychology and cognitive science that says you have no clue why you act the way you do, choose the things you choose, or think the thoughts you think. Instead, you create narratives, little stories to explain away why you gave up on that diet, why you prefer Apple over Microsoft, why you clearly remember it was Beth who told you the story about the clown with the peg leg made of soup cans when it was really Adam, and it wasn’t a clown.

These lies, these narratives, these little stories are either cognitive biases, logical fallacies, or heuristics. McRaney defines them concisely and illustratively thus:

· “Cognitive biases are predictable patterns of thought and behavior that lead you to draw incorrect conclusions.”
· “Heuristics are mental shortcuts you use to solve common problems.”
· “Logical fallacies are like math problems involving language, in which you skip a step or get turned around without realizing it.”

Let’s look at the 48 of them – selected and thoroughly analyzed by McRaney for his book.

Key Lessons from “You Are Not So Smart”

1.      Priming
2.      Confabulation
3.      Confirmation Bias
4.      Hindsight Bias
5.      The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy
6.      Procrastination
7.      Normalcy Bias
8.      Introspection
9.      The Availability Heuristic
10.      The Bystander Effect
11.      The Dunning-Kruger Effect
12.      Apophenia
13.      Brand Loyalty
14.      The Argument from Authority
15.      The Argument from Ignorance
16.      The Straw Man Fallacy
17.      The Ad Hominem Fallacy
18.      The Just-World Fallacy
19.      The Public Goods Game
20.      The Ultimatum Game
21.      Subjective Validation
22.      Cult Indoctrination
23.      Groupthink
24.      Supernormal Releasers
25.      The Affect Heuristic
26.      Dunbar’s Number
27.      Selling Out
28.      Self-Serving Bias
29.      The Spotlight Effect
30.      The Third Person Effect
31.      Catharsis
32.      The Misinformation Effect
33.      Conformity
34.      Extinction Burst
35.      Social Loafing
36.      The Illusion of Transparency
37.      Learned Helplessness
38.      Embodied Cognition
39.      The Anchoring Effect
40.      Attention
41.      Self-Handicapping
42.      Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
43.      The Moment
44.      Consistency Bias
45.      The Representativeness Heuristic
46.      Expectation
47.      The Illusion of Control
48.      The Fundamental Attribution Error

1. Priming

You think that you know when “you are being influenced and how it is affecting your behavior.”

However, studies have shown that “you are unaware of the constant nudging you receive from ideas formed in your unconscious mind.”

In other words, many of the things you believe in you believe in because someone has meddled with your unconscious.

While you were casually going about your way.

Think Coca Cola and Santa Claus.

2. Confabulation

Even though you think that “you know when you are lying to yourself,” the truth is – you don’t.

“You are often ignorant of your motivations and create fictional narratives to explain your decisions, emotions, and history without realizing it.”

3. Confirmation Bias

If you are like most of the people, you want to be right about everything.

How should you not be?

After all, you’ve studied everything objectively and rationally for years!

That – of course – is not true.

The truth is that you continuously ignore information which challenges your preconceived notions; in other words, your opinions are a direct result of years of effort of trying to confirm them.

It’s a vicious circle.

This is why most of your friends agree with you.

4. Hindsight Bias

Has someone who hasn’t seen you for years told you, at a certain point in your life, that you’ve changed a lot?

That’s because you probably did – even though you think you didn’t.

Studies have shown that instead of admitting that we’ve changed, we create stories which make us seem far more consistent that we actually are.

“You often look back on the things you’ve just learned and assume you knew them or believed them all along.”

5. The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy

“If hindsight bias and confirmation bias had a baby,” writes McRaney, “it would be the Texas sharpshooter fallacy.”

Why?

Because, as Nicholas Taleb has repeatedly shown us, we tend to ignore randomness in our lives, even though it’s so important that we don’t.

In hindsight, we give random events some meaning when we want them to have one.

It’s like a cowboy shooting randomly at a wall in a bar and only afterward drawing a bull’s eye over the spot where the bullets are clustered the most.

In hindsight, it seems as if he is a great shooter.

However, that’s not the case.

6. Procrastination

Do we really need to tell you anything about procrastination?

Oh, yes – one thing: you don’t suffer from it because you’re lazy.

Procrastination is such a good friend of yours because you’re human.

It is “fueled by weakness in the face of impulse and a failure to think about thinking.”

7. Normalcy Bias

You think that, when disaster strikes, your “fight-or-flight” instincts kick in immediately and you’re ready to answer appropriately?

Well, that’s not exactly the case!

The truth is that “you often become abnormally calm and pretend everything is normal in a crisis.”

Don’t believe us?

Please, spare a moment or two and hear Anton Williams out!

8. Introspection

The misconception is that “you know why you like the things you like and feel the way you feel.”

The truth: “The origin of certain emotional states is unavailable to you, and when pressed to explain them, you will just make something up.”

9. The Availability Heuristic

You tend to believe more the things you remember well, because of your inherent bias that if you can recall something well enough, then it must be important.

This is why you tend to base your beliefs and opinions often on recent news.

And that’s why you think that most of the crimes are committed by terrorists or immigrants – when, in reality, those are merely the stories more available to you.

Stats show that you are very wrong.

And yet – you don’t believe us.

10. The Bystander Effect

Have you ever heard of Kitty Genovese?

If you haven’t, that girl was stabbed and murdered back in 1964, even though her shouts for help were heard by no less than 38 people.

Why?

Well, precisely because there were 38 and everyone expected someone else would rush to Kitty’s help.

The truth is – if there was one, he would have.

11. The Dunning-Kruger Effect

According to John Cleese, this effect is responsible for half of the things that are wrong with this world.

The problem: some people are so stupid that they have no idea how stupid they are.

Bluntly put, you can’t expect from someone to understand his own stupidity: he’s not smart enough to do that.

12. Apophenia

That funny sounding word was coined by a German only six decades ago, and yet – it explains so many things about humanity ever since it sprung into existence.

The idea behind it: our brains are constantly looking for patterns, which is why there are such things as gamblers, traders, or astrologists.

The simple truth is: coincidences are a routine part of life (it’s a matter of statistics), but any meaning applied to them is because your brain wants them to be meaningful.

13. Brand Loyalty

You drink only Coca Cola, use only Apple products and will play games on nothing but your Xbox?

Believe us, that’s not because your products are better than their rivals, nor because you’ve rationally came to that conclusion.

It’s because you’ve rationalized your past choices “to protect your sense of self.”

Simple as that.

14. The Argument from Authority

If someone you think is smart tells you something, you’re inclined to believe that something even without checking the validity of the information.

For example, if Einstein was alive today and told you he would vote for Trump, no matter how much you hate Trump, you’ll be affected by Einstein’s judgment.

However, genius is not transferrable, and, as brilliant physicist as he was, there’s no reason why Einstein should be an expert in politics.

(By the way, sorry Albert: it was only for the sake of our argument).

15. The Argument from Ignorance

You think that when you can’t explain something, you focus on what you can prove?

Well, the truth is that “when you are unsure of something, you are more likely to accept strange explanations.”

16. The Straw Man Fallacy

You know which one is the easiest way to defeat your opponent?

Reframe and simplify his position in a manner which will allow you to attack it forcefully.

Well, news flash: your brain knows this full well!

And, in any argument, it tempts you to use this tactic so that you can win the discussion.

Who cares about arguments or the truth?

17. The Ad Hominem Fallacy

While we’re on the topic of dirty tactics, this one’s the mother of them all!

And you know how it works from practically every second political debate: when you can’t attack the arguments, attack the man.

Even though what someone says and why he says it are two completely different things.

18. The Just-World Fallacy

We can translate this fallacy to you in terms of a few proverbs: “what goes around comes around;” “you reap what you sow;” and, our favorite, “everything happens for a reason.”

Well, it doesn’t.

The world is not just, and some good people suffer simply because things didn’t go their way, even though they tried their best.

Some bad people, on the other hand, are wealthy and happy because they got lucky.

And that’s it.

19. The Public Goods Game

You think private property and no regulations are the solution to all of our economic and social problems?

Guess again!

The public goods game proves – over and over again – that “without some form of regulation, slackers and cheaters will crash economic systems because people don’t want to feel like suckers.”

20. The Ultimatum Game

The misconception, in this case, is that “you choose to accept or refuse an offer based on logic.”

However, the truth is that “when it comes to making a deal, you base your decision on your status.”

21. Subjective Validation

Subjective validation explains, once again, why there is such a widespread acceptance of some paranormal beliefs and practices, such as astrology or fortune telling.

Also called Forer or Barnum effect, subjective validation says that you’ll believe any vague statement or prediction if it addresses you personally and if it is a positive one.

22. Cult Indoctrination

This is scary, but, nevertheless, true: you are not smart enough to not join a cult. Because the truth is that “cults are populated by people just like you.”

“The research on cults suggests you don’t usually join for any particular reason; you just sort of fall into them the way you fall into any social group.”

23. Groupthink

Even scarier than #22: two heads don’t think better than one.

Contrary to popular opinion, two heads tend to avoid confrontation and reach a consensus which usually leads to suboptimal results.

Groupthink, in other words, hinders progress.

24. Supernormal Releasers

Supernormal releasers are the reasons why Australian jewel beetles have sex with beer bottles.

Wait… what?!

It’s true: they do because beer bottles are bigger and shinier than any female beetle. They are better than the real thing.

Supernormal releasers are the reason why men have sex with RealDolls and why women marry eight-year-old millionaires.

Believe it or not, they are not insane or gold-diggers.

Or, at least, not necessarily.

25. The Affect Heuristic

You think: “I am capable of calculating what is risky or rewarding and even more capable of always choosing how to best maximize gains while minimizing losses.”

The truth: “You depend on emotions to tell you if something is good or bad, greatly overestimate rewards, and tend to stick to your first impressions.”

26. Dunbar’s Number

This one’s easy: there’s no way you can maintain more than 150 stable relationships with people at any one moment in your life.

But, then again, that’s more than plenty.

27. Selling Out

The misconception: “Both consumerism and capitalism are sustained by corporations and advertising.”

The truth: “Both consumerism and capitalism are driven by competition among consumers for status.”

28. Self-Serving Bias

The misconception: “You evaluate yourself based on past successes and defeats.”

The truth: “You excuse your failures and see yourself as more successful, more intelligent, and more skilled than you are.”

29. The Spotlight Effect

The misconception: “When you are around others, you feel as if everyone is noticing every aspect of your appearance and behavior.”

The truth: “People devote little attention to you unless prompted to.”

30. The Third Person Effect

The misconception: “You believe your opinions and decisions are based on experience and facts, while those who disagree with you are falling for the lies and propaganda of sources you don’t trust.”

The truth: “Everyone believes the people they disagree with are gullible, and everyone thinks they are far less susceptible to persuasion than they truly are.”

31. Catharsis

This one’s as counter-intuitive as they get!

Contrary to what everyone else says, studies have shown that cursing and venting your anger doesn’t reduce stress and doesn’t prevent you from lashing out later at your family or friends.

Oh, no: it’s the other way around!

Namely, venting increases aggressive behavior.

So, don’t use this as an excuse anymore.

32. The Misinformation Effect

Your memory is not a film recording.

It’s actually a palimpsest, i.e., a manuscript on which later writing is superimposed on an effaced earlier text.

Let us make that even clearer: you don’t remember the things you remember the way they happened; you remember them the way you’ve convinced yourself that they happened.

And every time you recall the memory – the memory gets ever more blurred and more affected by your present.

33. Conformity

Conformity is a survival instinct.

And you will conform if an authority figure or a social group pressures you a bit in that direction.

Even if that means increasing the voltage past the XXX point on the scale – despite the fact that you know the subject who’s being electrocuted might die if you do so.

Conformity is the reason why this thing happened as well.

34. Extinction Burst

You think that if you stop engaging in a bad habit, you’re done with it!

Well, think again!

Your brain will always make one last attempt to return you to your habit.

But, then again, that’s already happened to you, hasn’t it?

35. Social Loafing

The misconception: “When you are joined by others in a task, you work harder and become more accomplished.”

The truth: “Once part of a group, you tend to put in less effort because you know your work will be pooled together with others.”

36. The Illusion of Transparency

The misconception: “When your emotions run high, people can look at you and tell what you are thinking and feeling.

The truth: “Your subjective experience is not observable, and you overestimate how much you telegraph your inner thoughts and emotions.”

37. Learned Helplessness

The misconception: “If you are in a bad situation, you will do whatever you can do to escape it.”

The truth: “If you feel like you aren’t in control of your destiny, you will give up and accept whatever situation you are in.”

38. Embodied Cognition

The misconception: “Your opinions of people and events are based on objective evaluation.”

The truth: “You translate your physical world into words, and then believe those words.”

39. The Anchoring Effect

The misconception: “You rationally analyze all factors before making a choice or determining value.”
The truth: “Your first perception lingers in your mind, affecting later perceptions and decisions.”

40. Attention

The misconception: “You see everything going on before your eyes, taking in all the information like a camera.”

The truth: “You are aware only of a small amount of the total information your eyes take in and even less is processed by your conscious mind and remembered.”

41. Self-Handicapping

This is a great one – so we’ll break the pattern once again!

You think that you always do your best in order to succeed?

Well, it turns out that you don’t.

In fact, you often create conditions for failure even before you start your endeavor.

Why would you do such a thing?

Well, because that way, if you fail, you’ll have an excuse and your ego will be protected.

Your brain is a wondrous thing.

42. Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

Remember that time you justly predicted that that guy is actually a bad one and was merely faking it?

Chances are – you’ve made him act in such a manner!

Many of your predictions about people come true because you (un)consciously nudge things in that direction.

43. The Moment

The misconception: “You are one person, and your happiness is based on being content with your life.”

The truth: “You are multiple selves, and happiness is based on satisfying all of them.”

44. Consistency Bias

The misconception: “You know how your opinions have changed over time.”

The truth: “Unless you consciously keep tabs on your progress, you assume the way you feel now is the way you have always felt.”

45. The Representativeness Heuristic

The misconception: “Knowing a person’s history makes it easier to determine what sort of person they are.”

The truth: “You jump to conclusions based on how representative a person seems to be of a preconceived character type.”

46. Expectation

The misconception: “Wine is a complicated elixir, full of subtle flavors only an expert can truly distinguish, and experienced tasters are impervious to deception.”

The truth: “Wine experts and consumers can be fooled by altering their expectations.”

The even more interesting truth: there’s practically no such thing as wine tasting science; nor do older wines taste better; just different.

47. The Illusion of Control

The misconception: “You know how much control you have over your surroundings.”

The truth: “You often believe you have control over outcomes that are either random or are too complex to predict.”

The even more interesting truth: you’re no expert at trading; no one is.

48. The Fundamental Attribution Error

The misconception: “Other people’s behavior is the reflection of their personality.”

The truth: “Other people’s behavior is more the result of the situation than their disposition.”

That’s why – as quite a few smart people have said once or twice – never ascribe to malice what you can to ignorance or stupidity.

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“You Are Not So Smart Quotes”

You are a story you tell yourself. Click To Tweet If you see lots of shark attacks in the news, you think, 'Gosh, sharks are out of control.' What you should think is 'Gosh, the news loves to cover shark attacks. Click To Tweet You can't rage against the machine through rebellious consumption. Click To Tweet We reach for the same brand not because we trust its quality but because we want to reassure ourselves that we made a smart choice the last time we bought it. Click To Tweet The more pessimistic your explanatory style, the easier it is to slip into learned helplessness. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

If you want to learn all about how your brain is deluding you – then You Are Not So Smart is the book for you.

“Every chapter is a welcome reminder that you are not so smart – yet you’re never made to feel dumb, writes Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit.com.And then he goes on: “You Are Not So Smart is a dose of psychology research served in tasty anecdotes that will make you better understand both yourself and the rest of us. It turns out we’re much more irrational than most of us think, so give yourself every advantage you can and read this book.”

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We Are All Weird PDF Summary

We Are All Weird PDF Summary

Don’t take umbrage at the title, because Seth doesn’t attach a negative connotation to the concept of weirdness.

We are impelled to believe in things and opinions imposed upon us by those who don’t understand the power of individuality.

Being weird means being unique.

And whether we like it or not, society fuels this weirdness that has swept the world.

Without further ado, let’s get to the bottom of this phenomenon.

Who Should Read “We Are All Weird”? And Why?

Well, if you are a weirdo, why not?

All joking aside, the central premise behind this book explains the idea of not falling under the influence of the mass markets.

Inasmuch as we’d all enjoy developing into a self-reliant person, that’s not something everyone can pull off.

For this reason, we feel like “We are All Weird” is best suited for those people who share this fire to break out from the collective mindset.

About Seth Godin

Seth Godin

Seth is hailed as one of the top marketers of his generation. His books continue to lift the veil on various concepts that led people astray with regards to marketing, decision-making, and life in general.

He is the author of multiple bestsellers:

“We Are All Weird PDF Summary”

Before we go any further, it’s of utmost importance to list the Four Words, which Seth deems them to be genuine representatives of the trajectory of the market.

MASS is what has defined society as it is. Mass markets and mass demand have set the rules and helped us to improve our standard of living, among other things.

According to Seth, the urge to cover the basic human needs is labeled as “undifferentiated.”

NORMAL is what we call or name the middle, or someone would prefer other expressions such as “the majority.” You have to understand that being “Normal” is localized because the thing that makes you “Normal” in one area doesn’t apply in general.

So, marketers have tried to reach out to these masses and ultimately cater to their general demand.

WEIRD is when we label people who stand from the rest with regards to physical appearance, needs, and preferences.

Different by nature is not on the same wavelength as different by choice. Unlike the first part, your choices that don’t conform to the societal implications, also fall under the “Weird” category. It’s immensely helpful if you can be yourself at least to some extent and resist the temptation to take the general path.

RICH is Seth’s perspective of individuals who have the means and the wits to make choices. No one can argue that their freedom of choice is restricted in any way whatsoever, not by any stretch of the imagination.

It represents those who are entitled to utilize more resources, and allocate them in a way they deem fit. In all honesty, you don’t need a private jet nor a fancy car to be rich, because richness is predicated on your ability to interact with the market and satisfy your demands.

Enough about this, let’s take a sneak peek into why people feel the lingering need to belong somewhere.

As it turns out, people love to organize themselves in tribes or groups led by someone.

The digital age wastes no time in introducing the new outsider culture, which doesn’t resonate with the Normal part of the community.

Seth’s argument revolves around the inefficiency of pushing forward a uniform agenda that keeps all people under the same roof.

The idea of supporting the weird and eventually becoming one yourself should be the backbone of the new era.

The chances of implementing this on a larger scale are slim to none, but that mustn’t serve as an excuse to get the ball rolling.

So, how we should organize our societies and make headway in this process?

Since the beginning of time, people have been prone to select enemies and therefore justify their so-called thirst for domination.

In this book, the battle Seth is referring to is not a political standoff but manifests the stigma between the status quo of society and the Weird.

Part 1: Capitalism, Industry and the Power of Mass—and Its Inevitable Decline

As to the assertion made out by Seth, the weird aspect embedded into each and everyone one of us questions the moral high-ground of the masses. It’s by far the best way to understand the big picture and tackle the unconscious bias permeating the society.

Society prefers to stay clear of the outliers and indoctrinate young people by compelling them to lean on the good-old mass-market strategy.

It’s totally useless to rely on a system, contrived by organizations whose methods only exist to keep things running in their favor.

People are aversive to change, and the mass market only further endorses this behavior.

It all boils down to the characteristics of the mass market to create average products for average people in order to streamline their processes.

Let that sink in.

Take this for example: if the entire work of an organization pivots around the perpetual need to satisfy and sell to the masses, then a transition could prove to be costly. Even though it doesn’t seem like a big deal, it truly is.

For argument’s sake, Seth is not trying to teach you how to sell more goods, nor does he instruct you how to better position your company in the market.

The manifesto laid out here emphasizes freedom and the right to choose; a notion that correlates with weirdness.

You cannot deny the fact that we all share certain beliefs with others, but at the same time, we espouse different values and take refuge behind those values.

The 20th century had been turbulent by all accounts, and the businesses operating amid all the political and social struggles shaped the American business community.

Winning the mass market has been the end goal for every American company. In other words, the idea of selling a product to a large percentage of people, at a high price seemed to be the only driving factor.

Deserving the epithet of weird is reflected in the notion of being free to make up your mind. It manifests your fortitude to break the societal chains, and pave your own way.

Learning to appreciate your weirdness is not a foregone conclusion, but a way of life.

Part 2: The Four Forces for Weird

In his lifetime, Seth Godin has seen many changes, all of which can be attributed to the desire to stand out from the crowd. The need to be a part of a larger group and remain stuck in normality is slowly fading away.

In addition, Seth outlines four factors that affect our perception of the world.

Let’s have a glimpse into these forces:

Force One – Creation is amplified

Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to reach out to people, shift the perception of those around you, and help them adjust their mindset.

Through the power of the Internet, every person is able to take a critical view of the world, and advocate for a full-scale alteration.

Force two: Rich allows us to do what we want, and we want to be weird

It is crystal clear that one cannot undermine the continuity in the way individuals and groups address their problems. As you become richer, your instincts and interests begin to fluctuate and modify themselves.

In the last couple of years, we are witnessing an increase in productivity which also reflects in people’s weirdness in general.

As you can see, no one can deny this correlation and overlook the inevitable truth. As we are moving beyond the need for survival, we are starting to embrace aspects which appear eccentric and odd on the surface, but their depth is not questionable.

Force three: Marketing is far more efficient at reaching the weird

The barriers to entering a certain market and reaching out to people through a channel that resonates with them are slimmed down.

This opens up the door for enthusiasts and early-adopters alike to follow their vision.

Marketers no longer require an excessive budget to get the job done. Generally speaking, the preferences of the “weirdos” help marketers build their strategies along the lines of their target group.

Marketing is still the quickest way to introduce your product to the saturated marketplace; you better make it count!

Force four: Tribes are better connected

New tribes emerge on short notice, and you’ll find organizations and people dealing with overlapping interests.

Being weird is slowly taking over the scene, and leaves most of the skeptics in disarray.

Part 3: The Gradual and Inexorable Spread of the Bell Curve

So, what is the true meaning of mass-marketing?

In layman’s terms, it embodies the big, fat, juicy share of the market. The real deal, should you prefer. Governments, corporations, and businesses have realized the potential of keeping the mass consumers dependent on specific goods.

The profit generated gives impetus to the idea of sustaining this structure. But, is it the best option?

Seth Godin doesn’t think so!

For literally thousands of years, people were on their own when it comes to the production of food, clothing, and shelter.

With the rise of industrialization, society went from the culture of “every person for himself/herself” to mass markets.

With regards to marketing, marketers have realized the potential of nailing down the problems of the “weird” portion of the population. The proficient and smart ones, under no circumstances, would treat a market segment as an independent of the whole market.

The Bell Curve explains why marketing is much more than a pursuit of more sales. Although we cannot discard the notion that trade is where the money is, the true incentive is the one which promotes growth as the ultimate goal.

In addition, let’s take a look at the forces of the normal:

  • Big media
  • Manufacturers
  • Franchises
  • Large service firms
  • Many organized religions
  • Politicians
  • Law enforcement

And to add the finishing touches, let’s outline and take a closer look at the new forces predetermined for the weird ones:

  • Explosion of wealth
  • Explosion in media choices
  • Explosion in shopping choices

That’s about it.

Hope you learned something about mass markets and mass consummation that is at variance with the culture of Weird.

Key Lessons from “We Are All Weird”

1.      Get your head up
2.      Keep refilling the cup
3.      Tackle the need to belong somewhere

Get your head up

If we’ve heard it a thousand times, let’s utter those words again: Actions speak louder than words.

Work on keeping your cool when things go south, and try to subdue the immense social pressure. The cost of losing your “weirdo” nature is way too high.

It will be for the best if you apprehend the consequences of sticking to the Normal.

Keep refilling the cup

Well, the true meaning of refiling the cup is not to turn it into a brimming one. Just take a one sip at a time, and keep it from overflowing.

That way, you’ll maintain control, and preserve the weird aspects that relate to your preferences.

Tackle the need to belong somewhere

Last but not least, it’s of utmost significance to resist the urge to join a larger tribe whose program “on paper” overlaps with yours. Furthermore, it’s not something you should take for granted either.

If your agenda adds up to their broad outlook, then it’s fine, but more often than not, it’s not the case.

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“We Are All Weird Quotes”

It’s human nature to be weird, but also human to be lonely. This conflict between fitting in and standing out is at the core of who we are. Click To Tweet The epic battle of our generation is between the status quo of mass and the never-ceasing tide of weird. Click To Tweet Never fear. Marketers have shifted gears and are leading the push to weird. The smart ones are in fact co-marketing with parts of the market instead of marketing at the masses. Click To Tweet We can argue about whether the loss of a cultural center is a good thing or not, but it really doesn’t matter what one generation believes is good for the next… all of our choices are leading in just one direction, which is away from the… Click To Tweet Rich is my word for someone who can afford to make choices, who has enough resources to do more than merely survive. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

So, is it necessary to spring into action?

By all means!

It seems that we are all weird, but some people don’t feel comfortable accentuating this part of their lives.

It’s up to you to find your balance.

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The Clockmaker’s Daughter PDF Summary

The Clockmaker’s Daughter PDF Summary

Are you ready for a visit in yet another fictional haunted house?

If so – join us, as we follow the footsteps of Kate Morton and try to uncover the mystery of The Clockmaker’s Daughter.

Who Should Read “The Clockmaker’s Daughter”? And Why?

The Clockmaker’s Daughter – as a Washington Post review by Jess Righthand states – assembles all the familiar trappings of a good ghost story.

In other words: “the titular character’s death under mysterious circumstances; a delightfully haunted house; and of course, the present-day saps who decide they’d better get to the bottom of it all.”

If that strikes your fancy and you like Kate Morton’s style (The Lake House, The Distant Hours, The Forgotten Garden), then there’s no way you won’t enjoy The Clockmaker’s Daughter.

In case you don’t know Morton, do yourself a favor and read the book if you like gothic novels such as Flowers in the Attic and Turn of the Screw or are interested in the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

See why in the summary below.nul

Kate Morton Biography

Kate Morton

Kate Morton is undoubtedly one of Australia’s most shining gems due to her amazing writings and publications.

She has sold millions of copies in 40+ countries all around the globe.

Plot

The Clockmaker’s Daughter is 500-pages long and winding mystery novel covering over two centuries of history – most of them packed in the Birchwood Manor, an estate on the Upper Thames. Consequently, it has more than one narrator.

The primary one is Albertine “Birdie” Bell, which is pretty strange considering the fact that she dies the year the novel begins – which is 1862.

Yup, you’ve read that right: most of this novel is narrated by a ghost haunting the Birchwood Manor.

The life of the second most important protagonist, Elodie Winslow, is told through a third-person all-seeing narrator in the present (2017).

However, there are many other characters whose lives we learn a lot about on the pages of The Clockmaker’s Daughter.

The reason?

They all get to meet the ghost of Birdie Bell (in one way or another) since they are all inhabitants of the Birchwood Manor.

Which is undoubtedly the best place to start our summary.

The Legend of Birchwood Manor

Back in the 19th century, it was believed that the Birchwood Manor had been built on land blessed by none other than a Fairy Queen.

Why?

Because it is in that house that a loving couple, a long time ago, managed to protect its children from harm.

According to many people, these children have haunted the house ever since: supposedly, sometimes, a light turns itself on in the attic window of the house.

And that’s precisely why the main narrator of The Clockmaker’s Daughter, Albertine “Birdie” Bell, came to the house back in the summer of 1862.

Though, being a ghost now, she knows that the above story is not true one bit:

We came to Birchwood Manor because Edward said it was haunted. It wasn’t, not then, but it’s a dull man who lets truth stand in the way of a good story, and Edward was never that.
His passion, his blinding faith in whatever he professed, was one of the things I fell in love with. He had the preacher’s zeal, a way of expressing opinions that minted them into gleaming currency. A habit of drawing people to him, of firing in them enthusiasms they hadn’t known were theirs, making all but himself and his convictions fade.
I remember him. I remember everything.

Who’s this Edward guy and how did our main protagonist fell in love with him?

Well, read on to find out!

Birdie’s Back Story

Albertine “Birdie” Bell didn’t have a great childhood.

The daughter of a clockmaker, she spent her early years believing that her father had abandoned her. In fact, as she learns on the very day of her death, he wanted to make a life for both of them in America but was killed by a horse before he could achieve that.

Be that as it may, in the meantime he left her in a house of petty thieves, and in the care of Mrs. Mack, a sort of a leader of the group.

Long story short – in time, Birdie became a pickpocket herself.

This is how Morton describes the moment when Birdie is first caught stealing by an aristocratic lady:

Over the years I had prepared myself for this precise scenario. I had been through it many times in my head. I should have feigned innocence, widened my eyes and pretended that it was all a mistake, perhaps even produced some pitiable tears. But I was caught unawares… Against this lady with her fancy hat, fine manners, and wounded delicacy, I was nothing.

Luckily, a prince on a white horse comes to her rescue.

And that guy is none other but a painter, the leader of the Magenta Brotherhood.

1862: The Magenta Brotherhood at Birchwood Manor

The Magenta Brotherhood is a group of talented young artists who descend upon the art world of the 19th century with a lot of passion and enthusiasm, embodied in their leader, Victorian painter Edward Radcliffe.

If you need real-life analogs to the characters of our story, google “Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood” and “Dante Gabriel Rossetti.”

Most of the things you know about the former can be applied to the Magenta Brotherhood: they too want to enthuse art with some new energy, utilizing novel techniques and creating seductive images.

Some of the things you know about Dante Gabriel Rossetti are true for Edward Radcliffe as well. Like, for example, that he had a keen eye for artists’ models; and that he fell in love with his muse.

In the case of Rossetti, the girl’s name was Elizabeth Siddal; in the case of Edward Radcliffe, it is Albertine “Birdie” Bell, or, as we soon learn, actually, Lily Millington.

After paying an obscene amount of money to Mrs. Mack for Lily, Radcliffe wins both the time and the heart of our protagonist.

In the summer of 1862, the two visit the Birchwood Manor, together with all of the members of the Magenta Brotherhood; their intention is to spend one last summer in their company before sailing away to America in search of a better life.

However, by the end of the summer, Fanny, Edward’s estranged fiancée, is shot dead by a supposed robber, an heirloom diamond called the Radcliffe Blue has disappeared, and there’s no sign of Lily anywhere.

It isn’t difficult to connect the dots: Lily, the one-time pickpocket Birdie, made a deal with one of her old friends, who subsequently killed Fanny, stole the diamond, and together with her ran off to America.

But, of course, that’s not the whole story.

2017: The Satchel and the Archivist

Back in the present, Elodie Winslow is a young archivist at Stratton, Caldwell & Co., a London firm. The daughter of a celebrated and deceased cellist, Elodie is engaged to a domineering and bullying mama’s boy named Alastair.

One day at work, Elodie discovers an old leather satchel; in it, there’s an artist’s sketchbook and a photograph. While cataloging the items, Elodie’s attention is grabbed by some of the sketches.

One of them features a beautiful young woman wearing the heirloom diamond we mentioned above, the Radcliffe Blue. And another one is the sketch of a house which reminds Elodie a lot of one her deceased mother told her many stories about.

So, Elodie decides to discover the story behind the sketches, and her journey leads her to Birchwood Manor.

And she is merely the latest of the many guests the ghost of Lily has already entertained.

1899: Ada Lovegrove and the Blue Light

Three decades after Lily died during the events for which she was deemed the cause, Ada Lovegrove was a student at a school located at Birchwood Manor.

The school was opened by none other than Lucy Radcliffe, Edward’s little sister; Edward, in the meantime, had died, after living a few solitary and depressed years following the death of Lily.

Bullied at school, Ada nearly lost her life one day, during a boating accident which cost the life of another girl.

How did Ada survive even though she could not swim?

Lily helped her, by appearing to her underwater and telling her to follow the blue light.

After the accident, Ada wasn’t tortured anymore.

1928: Leonard and Juliet

In 1928, Leonard, a historian still in grief over the death of his brother Tom in the First World War arrives at Birchwood Manor to research the life of Edward Radcliffe and his possible love affair with Lily.

He is aided in his research by the now-elderly Lucy, Edward’s sister.

Leonard is doubly devastated by the death of his brother because he had had an affair with his fiancée, and he is somehow inclined to believe that the latter had contributed to the former.

At Birchwood Manor, Leonard crosses path with Juliet, with whom he eventually becomes friends.

1940: Juliet and Her Children

In 1940, in an attempt to escape the London Blitz (during which her house is destroyed), Juliet takes refuge at Birchwood Manor with her three children.

Her husband Alan, we learn, had been killed in the war.

Tip, Juliet’s youngest son, develops a connection with Lily, and, after a few meetings, he tells his mother.

You can’t blame Juliet for not believing him.

However, later, at a restaurant in Birchwood, Juliet meets Ada. During a conversation, Ada understands that Tip is seeing the same ghost who had saved her life.

So, she suggests Juliet that Tip is not lying, after which he starts an in-depth conversation with the boy.

1862: The Story of Lucy

Now that the stories of a few of the Birchwood tenants through the years connect, it’s time we go back to 1862 and find out what really happened during the visit of the Magenta Brotherhood.

And we learn about these events through the story of Lucy, Edward’s then thirteen-year-old sister.

We learn that Lucy was in the house when Mrs. Mack’s son, Martin Mack, entered the house to look for Lily and ask her a few things about the Blue Radcliffe.

Lucy didn’t only overhear this discussion but also saw how Martin was dragging the unconscious Lily by her wrist.

In an attempt to help her, she hit Martin on the head and then locked Lily in a secret compartment at Birchwood Manor.

However, during the struggle, she suffered a head injury herself and couldn’t explain to the police what had happened other than Lily talking to an old acquaintance of hers, Martin.

And that persuaded the police in the Lily/Martin robbery plot they had been suspicious about from the start.

Years later, however, in a suitcase she had never unpacked, Lucy discovers the Radcliffe Blue diamond.

And, in a revelatory flash, she is suddenly capable of remembering everything – not only the fact that she put the diamond in her case after the arrival of Martin, but also that she had locked Lily in the secret compartment.

After the death of her brother, that’s exactly where she finds her dead body.

Lucy buries Lily’s remains in a casket in the front yard of Birchwood Manor; besides her body, she leaves a letter detailing her life; above it, she plants a Japanese maple sapling.

The Clockmaker’s Daughter Epilogue

Back in 2017 – exactly one hundred and thirty-five years after the burial of Lily (which had occurred two decades after her death – Elodie visits the Birchwood Manor in an attempt to uncover the mystery of the artist’s sketchbook.

Due to a storm, her taxi never arrives, and she spends the night there with Jack, a man who is living in Birchwood Manor hoping to find the Blue Radcliffe there.

The storm uproots the maple tree in the front yard, and Elodie and Jack discover that there’s something hidden in the hole beneath it.

As they are waiting for the storm to pass, they agree to dig it up and see what’s under there.

Meanwhile, Lily tells us that even though the mystery of her death has finally been solved, she has no plans of leaving the Birchwood Manor.

In a way, she says, she feels as if she’s a part of the house.

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“The Clockmaker’s Daughter PDF Quotes”

People value shiny stones and lucky charms, but they forget that the most powerful talismans of all are the stories that we tell to ourselves and to others. Click To Tweet There are very few certainties in this world, Mr. Gilbert, but I will tell you something I know: the truth depends on who it is that’s telling the story. Click To Tweet No matter what evil might come one's way to be loved is to be protected. Click To Tweet I have learned that one must forgive oneself the past or else the journey into the future becomes unbearable. Click To Tweet What a dignified object was a book, almost noble in its purpose. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

At its best, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a captivating read; at worst, it’s overpopulated.

And for all its merits – mysterious, breathtaking, finely written – The Clockmaker’s Daughter would probably have been a better book if Morton had decided to leave out all of the secondary characters altogether.

The story is excellent as it is – even if Lily, Edward, and Lucy are its only protagonists.

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Brain Rules PDF Summary

Brain Rules PDF Summary

12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School

Do you know how your brain works?

Let us burst your bubble: you don’t.

Which is why it’s more than necessary that you take some time to learn the 12 most essential

Brain Rules.

Who Should Read “Brain Rules”? And Why?

Even though this book is suited for neuroscientists and psychologists as well, it probably works best as one of the best popular science books on how the brain works for laypeople and students.

It would be great if people in power read it too – Medina’s ideas on how our classrooms and business environments should look like seem to us not only great but revolutionary.

If only some of them could become reality.

About John Medina

John Medina

John J. Medina is a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant, working primarily on issues related to mental health with pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies.

The author of the “Molecules of the Mind” column in the Psychiatric Times journal, he is also the founding director of the Talaris Research Institute.

Brain Rules, part of a trilogy of similarly titled books (with Brain Rules for Aging Well and Brain Rules for Baby) is one of the many books on the subject he has so far authored, such as What You Need to Know About Alzheimer’s, The Clock of Ages and Depression.

Find out more at http://www.medinascientific.com/

“Brain Rules PDF Summary”

“I am a nice guy, but I am a grumpy scientist,” says John Medina in the “Introduction” to Brain Rules, a reader-friendly exploration of our brain powers with applicable revelations, based exclusively on peer-reviewed scientific studies.

That’s what the sentence above refers to, in fact: for a study to appear in his book, Medina goes on, “it has to pass what some at The Boeing Company (for which I have done some consulting) call MGF: the Medina Grump Factor.”

What does Medina Grump Factor mean?

“That means,” explains the guy after whom it is named, “the supporting research for each of my points must first be published in a peer-reviewed journal and then successfully replicated.”

In other words, all of the rules presented here are factual and verified; they are, as Medina calls them, “things we know about how the brain works.”

Unfortunately, it seems that most of these things are either willfully ignored by the people who have created – and carry on creating – our societies or are not known to anyone outside the neuroscientific community.

Because, in a nutshell, what they all point to is this:

If you wanted to create an education environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would design something like a classroom. If you wanted to create a business environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would design something like a cubicle. And if you wanted to change things, you might have to tear down both and start over.

Well, this is to book which can help you start off on the right foot.

Key Lessons from “Brain Rules”

1.      Rule #1: Exercise Boosts Brain Power
2.      Rule #2: The Human Brain Evolved, Too
3.      Rule #3: Every Brain Is Wired Differently
4.      Rule #4: We Don’t Pay Attention to Boring Things
5.      Rule #5: Repeat to Remember
6.      Rule #6: Remember to Repeat
7.      Rule #7: Sleep Well, Think Well
8.      Rule #8: Stressed Brains Don’t Learn the Same Way
9.      Rule #9: Stimulate More of the Senses
10.      Rule #10: Vision Trumps All Other Senses
11.      Rule #11: Male and Female Brains Are Different
12.      Rule #12: We Are Powerful and Natural Explorers

Rule #1: Exercise Boosts Brain Power

Let’s get straight to the point: your body is not built to sit 8 hours a day; your brain likes that even less.

Think of it this way: you’ve become who you are – aka homo sapiens – not because your predecessors say 8 hours a day, but because they walked at least 10 and as much as 20 kilometers a day.

The point?

Your brain still craves this experience!

All of the studies consistently prove this: exercise boosts brain power, especially in sedentary populations.

Whether it’s long-term memory (see Rule #6) or problem-solving tasks, attention (see Rule #4) or reasoning – exercisers always outperform couch potatoes.

And there’s a physiological reason for this!

Namely, exercising stimulates the production of certain hormones, one of which is the BDNF.

That acronym stands for brain-derived neurotrophic factor in the scientific community, but in layman’s terms, you can translate that to “boost dem neurons, friend.”

Because BDNF refreshes your neurons and strengthens the connections between them and that’s great both for your problem-solving capabilities and long-term memory.

To sum up in Medina’s words: “To improve your thinking skills, move… Aerobic exercise just twice a week halves your risk of dementia.”

Rule #2: The Human Brain Evolved, Too

Now, it’s important to note that when we use the word “brain,” it’s almost more appropriate to use it in the plural.

Because we don’t have one, but three brains inside our skulls.

The oldest one is the lizard brain, which is “lively as Las Vegas” and controls “most of your body’s housekeeping chores;” namely, “breathing, heart rate, sleeping, and waking.”

The second one is the (paleo)mammalian brain, which is responsible for your survival, or as some scientists say, the four F’s: “fighting, feeding, fleeing, and … reproductive behavior.”

Finally, the third one is the human brain, the one responsible for all the complex tasks, the pinnacle of evolution.

Now, everybody expects from you to have your human brain active at all times; the problem is the other two brains are still there; most of these rules concern the mammalian brain which is a large part of us and is still too powerful to be ignored.

The lesson?

Until we evolve to become something more than sapiens, we’re still part animals; and we need to react appropriately to this fact.

Rule #3: Every Brain Is Wired Differently

The brain may have evolved historically in humans as species, but it is also continually evolving (well, sort of) inside each and every one of us.

“What you do and learn in life,” writes Medina, “physically changes what your brain looks like – it literally rewires it.”

Think of your brain as an empty map containing no roads. More or less, all humans share the same blueprint (the same locations and places, the same milestones), but no two humans connect these by drawing upon the map the same, exact roads.

In other words: “no two people’s brains store the same information in the same way in the same place.”

It is wiring – connecting the different regions of the brain – which makes virtuous pianists and it is wiring which helps some people be so great at chess.

However, wiring is also the reason why some people score high at IQ tests, and others don’t.

“We have a great number of ways of being intelligent,” writes Medina, “many of which don’t show up on IQ tests.”

Rule #4: We Don’t Pay Attention to Boring Things

When it comes to paying attention, your brain is, simply put, not evolved enough to multitask.

So even though you try to talk on your cell phone while driving, the fact is that your brain is constantly switching on and off between the two; what actually happens inside your brain when you think you’re multitasking is chaotic singletasking between more than one assignment.

It is literally impossible to multitask: “the brain’s attentional ‘spotlight’ can focus on only one thing at a time.”

Also, as you know full well from every single PowerPoint presentation you’ve seen so far in your life, it is impossible for you to pay attention for more than 10 minutes at anything.

So if you want to keep your audience’s attention, do something which will arouse their emotions at 9 minutes and 59 seconds!

Rule #5: Repeat to Remember

The Romans had a nice saying: repetitio mater studiorum est; repetition is the mother of learning.

Why?

Because that’s precisely how your brain works when it tries to remember things; it first encodes them, and then stores them; however, unless you try to decode the info repeatedly, your brain just forgets the code, and, thus, you forget the information.

This is the reason why you sometimes can suddenly recall something you’ve forgotten after reproducing the environment or the immediate surrounding information of the one you’re interested in.

The more elaborate the initial encoding, the longer you’ll remember the info; the more often you visit the information stored, the more likely it will become part of your long-term memory.

Which brings us to Rule #6.

Rule #6: Remember to Repeat

“Most memories disappear within minutes,” says John Medina, “but those that survive the fragile period strengthen with time”:

Long-term memories are formed in a two-way conversation between the hippocampus and the cortex, until the hippocampus breaks the connection and the memory is fixed in the cortex – which can take years.

After this process is finalized, you don’t even need to think to remember something: your brain does it by default.

But what does this mean in practical terms?

Simply put, it means that the schools of the future should completely eliminate homework and instead focus on initiating “review holidays.”

In other words, if every third or fourth day, you repeat with your class your notes of the previous days (in summarized form), then you’ll have no need of homework.

Rule #7: Sleep Well, Think Well

Let us ask you a question: do you feel tired every day around 3 o’clock?

If so, do you know why?

No, it’s not because of your work or your kids or what not – it’s because your brain really needs a nap from time to time!

Put it this way: sleeping is not exactly something evolution should encourage; after all, it’s not a great idea to sleep for 8 hours when there are lions around you; and yet, sleeping has endured to this day.

The reason?

It’s just too essential.

Afternoon naps especially!

Because, even though “people vary in how much sleep they need and when they prefer to get it, but the biological drive for an afternoon nap is universal.”

Don’t believe us?

According to one study, a 26-minute nap improved NASA pilots’ performance by 34 percent!

So, what are you waiting for?

It’s time for a sleep revolution!

Rule #8: Stressed Brains Don’t Learn the Same Way

As we have already told you, stress is the direct product of your body’s defense mechanism.

In a nutshell, when in a fight-or-flee situation, your body switches off all the systems which are not necessary for your immediate survival and turns on all those which are.

The problem?

Your body’s defense system – the release of adrenaline and cortisol – is built for an immediate response to a serious but passing danger, such as a saber-toothed tiger. Chronic stress, such as hostility at home, dangerously deregulates a system built only to deal with short-term responses.

So, in other words, when the danger of a saber-toothed tiger attack passed, the bodies of the Neanderthals went back to normal; however, ours don’t – because saber-toothed tigers have evolved into never-ending streams of abstract fears, be they deadlines or homework assignments.

Unfortunately, chronic stress causes your brain to stop working properly, “crippling your ability to learn and remember.”

Want better schools and offices?

Make them as stress-free as possible!

Rule #9: Stimulate More of the Senses

You know why some people have unlimited memories?

Because they include more of their senses to remember things.

Just ask synesthetes, aka people who smell colors or see sounds; apparently, they also remember things unusually well.

But there’s a very understandable reason for this.

“We absorb information about an event through our senses,” reminds us John Medina, “translate it into electrical signals (some for sight, others from sound, etc.), disperse those signals to separate parts of the brain, then reconstruct what happened, eventually perceiving the event as a whole.”

Memory, as we learned above (Rules #3, #5 and #6) is all about your capability to connect the dots, aka wire the parts of the brain which keep the information.

Just imagine the power when you are hardwired to connect them because you experience everything in more than one sense!

Why not use this while learning new things?

Also, an interesting trivia: because smell signals bypass the thalamus, smells bring back memories most forcefully.

However –

Rule #10: Vision Trumps All Other Senses

Leonardo da Vinci knew this intuitively; science has all but proven it: “vision is by far our most dominant sense, taking up half of our brain’s resources.”

In fact, it’s wrong to say that we see with our eyes; we’re, in truth, seeing with our brains. Consequently, “what we see is only what our brain tells us we see.”

It’s only natural that this is not 100 percent accurate; in fact, this explains, in no uncertain terms, why some people see ghosts or visions. Simply put, their eyes are seeing what their brain tells them to see, even though there’s nothing of that sort in reality. 

Vision is so important, in fact, that, as Wittgenstein argued, it’s possible that you can’t really understand things unless you translate them into images.

That’s the reason why you use analogies and why the only way you can comprehend the beginning of Beethoven’s Fifth is by saying that it’s Destiny knocking on the door.

“We learn and remember best through pictures,” concludes Medina, “not through written or spoken words.”

Rule #11: Male and Female Brains Are Different

No matter what religions say, women are actually the more complex sex: the X chromosome (which females have two of, and men only one of) carries “an unusually large percentage of genes involved in brain manufacture.”

Also, the X chromosome carries about 1,500 genes, fifteen times more than the number of genes in the corresponding male Y chromosome.

In other words, the brains of males and females are different both structurally and biochemically; even though this explains how men and women react to stress and why men are generally the more stable sex, we don’t know if the differences go past, say, the speed of serotonin production.

Also, we don’t know whether we should encourage these differences or balance them out; and, if the latter one, in which direction.

So, anyone who says that he knows and he’s advocating either of the views, he’s lying – because science hasn’t said the final word on this just yet.

Rule #12: We Are Powerful and Natural Explorers

If you observe a baby for a while, you’ll immediately understand that we’ve evolved to learn new things “not by passive reaction to the environment but by active testing through observation, hypothesis, experiment, and conclusion.”

In other words, you posit a hypothesis (“lions are great creatures”), then look for errors in it (“wow: that look is slightly menacing”), and then, another part of your brain tells you that you need to change your behavior if you want to survive on this planet (“you better run”).

The great news?

“Some parts of our adult brains stay as malleable as a baby’s,” says Medina.

Yes, that means exactly what you think it means: you can create neurons and learn new things throughout your whole life.

Since you’re reading this summary, you’re actually doing that right now.

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“Brain Rules Quotes”

The most common communication mistakes? Relating too much information, with not enough time devoted to connecting the dots. Click To Tweet We must do a better job of encouraging lifelong curiosity. Click To Tweet One of the greatest predictors of successful aging, they found, is the presence or absence of a sedentary lifestyle. Click To Tweet Studies show that a person who is interrupted takes 50 percent longer to accomplish a task. Not only that, he or she makes up to 50 percent more errors. Click To Tweet Emotionally charged events are better remembered—for longer, and with more accuracy – than neutral events. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Brain Rules seems like one of the best candidates for the Brain 101 book you’ve always wanted to find, but never could.

It’s science-based, nicely structured, simply written, and offers many practically applicable ideas.And there’s a whole website – which includes references and a film – if you want to delve into the subject further once you finish the book.

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Joyful PDF Summary

Joyful PDF Summary

The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness

You are probably wrapping your head around the logic that surrounds this book. Well, the core message revolves around the small trivial things that could make a great difference, and give any community the edge in the fight against crime, poverty, and depression.

But most of all, it zooms in on the tones, hues, shapes, shades, and colors that could bring about the much-desired change on the outside.

Indeed, it isn’t comparatively easy to cover the external effects which if subjected to alteration could have an influence on societal well-being.

With that said, one must take them into account for achieving greater success.

Enough talking, let’s make it count.

Who Should Read “Joyful”? And Why?

More than anything else, Ingrid shares her concerns and attempts to raise awareness regarding the upsurge in violent crime and lack of prosperity in some areas.

She struggles to single out the main culprit for these difficulties that ensue as a result of ineffective policies, carelessness or simply lack of knowledge.

Whatever the case may be, we find “Joyful” amusing and educational for the wider audience.

About Ingrid Fetell Lee

Ingrid Fetell Lee

As the founder of the blog The Aesthetics of Joy, Ingrid Fetell Lee has been trying to spread the word since day one.

Because of her achievements, she has been featured in renowned magazines such as the New York Times, PRI’s Studio 360, CBC’s Spark, and others.

We are looking forward to seeing what the future holds with regards to her achievements.

“Joyful PDF Summary”

From the moment Ingrid decided to delve into the mystery of joy, she realized that it’s going to be a long an exhausting process. It didn’t herald anything other than a fierce battle to reinvigorate the dark parts of certain communities.

As it turns out, color can influence how a group of people behave and act.

The truth is that every organism regardless of its complexity strives to invigorate itself by absorbing energy through food, safety, warding off potential threats, reproduction, etc.

So, what does that has anything to do with the colorful revolution?

Ingrid lays out two examples which examine and explain why color has such a tremendous effect on people’s behavior. The first one tells the story of Edi Rama, the Mayor who rejuvenated the city of Tirana in the aftermath of the dark communist rule.

The next one covers the vision of Ruth Lande Shuman; a courageous lady who managed to breath new life into East Harlem. Namely, by brightening up the place a bit, she made huge strides to revamp the prison-like schools and give them the much-needed finishing touch.

It became clear that bright colors stimulate the brain and make everyone feel better and safer.

While chatting with multiple persons and critically observing their comfort-zone, Ingrid felt like the cultural bias is embedded deep within, making us reluctant to change things.

As if people are not comfortable to make things a bit more colorful; a move that could lift the spirits of any community.

One woman even told Ingrid that she feels extremely awkward to enjoy all the colors she finds peaceful. To some extent, the so-called cultural bias restricts and deprives us of this cheerfulness. We often find joy in decorating or let’s say embellishing some areas, such as the child’s room.

However, we also feel the societal burden when we try to apply the same logic in otherwise unusual situations.

It is crystal clear that brightness is crucial with regards to joyfulness and nurturing a positive atmosphere.

In addition, adding color tones which depict purity and vivacity can be absorbed in a greater process that extends beyond the usage of proper lumens and hues.

According to recently conducted studies in this realm, people prefer lighting over any kind of uniform display of colors.

In chapter 3, Ingrid puts forward the urges which prompted her to be more attentive of the surroundings. She decided to embark on a journey, inspired by Sam Gribley’s endeavors in My Side of the Mountain. Unlike Sam, who set up traps, ground acorns, and befriended a falcon, Ingrid was back by nightfall.

It’s not easy to live off the land, especially if you are attached to the comfort of the modern-day world. Nonetheless, she took it as a lesson and realized that you’re compelled to abide by the law of nature, it’s not like you’ve been given much of choice anyway.

Even when a person subsists on nature’s bounty and its survival is put at risk, the freedom it receives eclipses all confinements and dangers that may incurr.

In the next chapter, Ingrid tells us about the ambiguous nature of any organization. At first glance, a person might think that arranging things in perfect order, either by size or type has nothing to do with a colorful gradient that can improve the atmosphere.

On the flip side, putting everything in order conflates with the idea of finding some who can whim the whole atmosphere into shape.

Causing total mental disarray is not something we do consciously but, it’s definitely an attitude one might be lured into adopting. On the surface, life seems very spontaneous, but the original essence is not in conflict with order nor with the idea of uniformity.

Harmony, unlike disorder, is the embodiment of a positive life.

When you put up time, energy and resource into making the place a bit more colorful and energetic, it truly manifests your readiness to grab hold of life.

The author even introduces an exercise that could help you get the big picture.

If you’ve been asked to name a joyful shape, what would be the first thing that comes to your mind?

Probably a circle!

In ancient times – circles represented a geometric body that was regarded as both complex and majestic. Nowadays, we share that enthusiasm as well.  

Research has shown that people prefer to be disposed into circles, rather than sitting side by side. It was a discovery that left many researchers engrossed into this whole argument.

In an effort to sustain this feeling of asymmetric connection, which depicts inner harmony and joy, you must be eager to exercise your freedom of expression. Moreover, asymmetrical faces are considered more attractive to both sexes; a fact that only further endorses this theory.

You don’t need us telling you that since ancient times; asymmetry has had a pivotal role in architecture, different types of craftsmanship, science, and even politics.

The widespread use throughout Egypt, Rome, Greece tells us a great deal about the alignment between harmony and asymmetry.

Next in line is playfulness.

Archeologists have dug up toys originating from ancient times.

When darkness prevails, playfulness it’s the only thing standing in its path, to say the least. Ingrid believes that “play” hasn’t received much attention from the scientists and people in general.

Nowadays, the idea of analyzing the playful behavior starts to make way more sense than ever before. Furthermore, Ingrid asserts that “play” should be put on an equal footing as emotions in order to understand their combined and separate value.

Transcendence also plays an essential role in this process. Over the course of hundreds of years, people have exhibited an unusual fascination for overcoming certain obstacles such as gravity.

Prior to the construction of the first airplane, the society saw flying as a way to defy nature and crush physical boundaries.

Through my years of studying joy, I’ve noticed that people seem to have a natural attraction to things that float and fly. Most insects attract little interest, but when a butterfly appears and flits around the garden, it becomes a cherished visitor.

In the sequel, you’ll come across some pretty exciting stories and theories related to magic, celebration, and renewal.

Key Lessons from “Joyful”

1.      Get out of your bed and seize the day
2.      Bring more color into your life
3.      Don’t be afraid to question the societal norms

Get out of your bed and seize the day

Sometimes, we don’t have the courage nor do we venture to take risks that could incite change and joyfulness.

However, that’s not a valid excuse for you to remain stuck in the endless stream of destructive thoughts and patterns. Get back on your feet, and make your way through life.

Bring more color into your life

This lesson can be interpreted both symbolically and literally, whichever way you see fit will serve an equal purpose.

You feel embarrassed to make your life more colorful? Snap out of it!

Energize your life by adding different hues and shades that can rejuvenate any place, including the ones you deem unworthy.

Don’t be afraid to question the societal norms

Well, it is not as easy as it sounds, because sometimes we are sucked into the system without even knowing it.

Take for example, tradition. Probably, you like most people incline towards preserving certain cultural paradigms and do things which are an integral part of it.

Ask yourself – have you ever tried to step out of it, and perhaps make your own judgments? – As you can see, it’s not as straightforward as it appears to be.

Make your own case, and build your own life.

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“Joyful Quotes”

From the moment I first started studying joy, it was clear that the liveliest places and objects all have one thing in common: bright, vivid color. Whether it’s a row of houses painted in bold swaths of candy hues or a display of colored… Click To Tweet Burnout often has as much boredom in it as exhaustion. Click To Tweet Safety isn’t the only thing that roundness has going for it. Curved objects have a broad range of affordances, a term -designers- use to describe the different ways an object can be used Click To Tweet Just as the space can promote a feeling of unity, so can attire. Click To Tweet The only requirement is what you already have: an openness to discovering the joy that surrounds you. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Hopefully, our summary will evoke some kind of response from you with regards to the problem addressed by Ingrid.

Not all communities face the same obstacles and problems that more often than not derive its authority from meaningless concepts.

If you are keen to dive into the depths of joy, then this book may become your lifeline in that endeavor.

Keep learning, and keep questioning!

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Very Good Lives PDF Summary

Very Good Lives PDF Summary

The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination

Very Good Lives is an illustrated and somewhat edited version of J. K. Rowling’s 2008 commencement speech at Harvard University.

And it’s profoundly moving, funny, and inspirational!

Read ahead to find out how in our summary.

Who Should Read “Very Good Lives”? And Why?

If you like inspirational commencement speeches such as David Foster Wallace’s This Is Water, then you’ll more than enjoy Very Good Lives.

The same holds true if you watch TED Talks to find meaning and direction in life; speaking of which, you can find large portions of this book in J. K. Rowling’s TED Talk, “The Fringe Benefits of Failure.”

About J. K. Rowling

J. K. Rowling is a British novelist, one of the bestselling authors in history.

She is best-known for her Harry Potter books, which have sold almost half a billion copies worldwide (that is not a mistake) and have been translated into no less than 80 languages.

Unsurprisingly, all of them have been turned into blockbuster movies, the last two of which were produced by Rowling herself.

Since completing the Harry Potter saga, Rowling has written five books for adult readers: The Casual Vacancy, The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm, Career of Evil, and Lethal White. The last four have been published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, and form the Cormoran Strike series.

J. K. Rowling has received an OBE for services to children’s literature and supports many charities.

“Very Good Lives PDF Summary”

Very Good Lives is the book version of J. K. Rowling’s Harvard commencement speech, sharing her wisdom and knowledge on, mainly, two topics: “the benefits of failure” and “the crucial importance of imagination.”  

J. K. Rowling’s Youth and the Realities of Poverty

“Looking back at the twenty-one-year-old that I was at graduation is a slightly uncomfortable experience for the forty-two-year-old that she has become,” says Rowling at the beginning of this book.

Why?

Because, as almost everybody knows, the 21-year-old J. K. Rowling was not at the right place in her life. And that is an understatement: as she says, by any conventional measure, she was an epic failure!

Now, how did that happen?

Difficult to say.

She was always interested in writing, but, since she came from a poor family, this was a career her parents hadn’t encouraged one bit, thinking that writing would never pay a mortgage or secure a pension. (“I know that the irony strikes with the force of a cartoon anvil now,” Rowling notes jokingly)

So, they didn’t allow Rowling to study English Literature, and, as a compromise to them, she chose Modern Languages. But, as she says, even before her parents’ car had rounded the corner at the end of the road, Rowling decided to “[ditch] German and [scuttle] off down the Classics corridor.”

Basically, this means that the compromise resulted in the worst decision imaginable (in the eyes of Rowling’s parents): choosing a subject even less useful than English Literature.

It didn’t matter that Rowling was a good student; simply put, nobody needed anyone to tell him the names of the Greek gods and nymphs.

Fast forward a few years and…

An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.

The Rock Bottom and The Benefits of Failure

Now, it is important to note that Rowling doesn’t blame her parents for trying to steer her in a different direction.

Poverty is not an ennobling experience, she says, and since her parents had been poor for most of their lives, they knew full well the realities of poverty.

“Poverty entails fear,” Rowling goes on, “and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships.”

Only fools would ever want to romanticize it.

However, even at her poorest, what Rowling feared the most wasn’t poverty, but failure. And then she realized that her epic failure – even though no fun by any measure – was the greatest thing that could ever happen to her.

Why?

Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.
Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea.
And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

Failure gave Rowling “inner security” that she never attained before by passing examinations. It taught her things about herself that she could have learned no other way.

Among other things, Rowling discovered that she had “a strong will, and more discipline than [she] had suspected;” even more importantly, she also discovered that she had “friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.”

Amnesty International and the Crucial Importance of Imagination

Looking back, Rowling realizes that her failures were great formative experiences; and the same holds true for one of her earliest day jobs as well.

Namely, in her 20s, Rowling worked as a bilingual secretary and researcher at the African research department at Amnesty International’s headquarters in London.

There, she worked with many ex-political prisoners, “people who had been displaced from their homes, or fled into exile, because they had the temerity to speak against their governments.”

And those were her co-workers!

What her job entailed was even worse:

There in my little office I read hastily scribbled letters smuggled out of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them. I saw photographs of those who had disappeared without trace, sent to Amnesty by their desperate families and friends. I read the testimony of torture victims and saw pictures of their injuries. I opened handwritten, eye-witness accounts of summary trials and executions, of kidnappings and rapes.

Why is this important?

Because Rowling had never experienced anything even remotely similar to this and, yet, she was able to empathize.

How?

Rousseau answered that question centuries ago: because of the power of the human imagination.

“Unlike any other creature on this planet,” Rowling reminds us, “humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s places.”

And that is an enormous power!

True, it can also sometimes be a burden, since, no matter how happy your life may seem to be, you can still suffer profoundly because of the pain people you don’t know are going through.

Even so, Rowling doesn’t envy the people who never employ their imaginative powers. They suffer from mental agoraphobia, she says; and they are often more afraid.

Ancient Quotes for the Modern Students

J. K. Rowling ends her speech by quoting two ancient authors and reminding the modern students how relevant their words still are.

The first is Plutarch, a Greek biographer and Platonist, who once wrote that “what we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.”

“This is an astonishing statement,” notes Rowling, “and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people’s lives simply by existing.”

How?

Well, first, you should remember that Very Good Lives is a book version of a commencement speech for the 2008 Harvard graduates.

And as Rowling explains to them, what Plutarch was trying to point out two millennia ago, was relatively simple.

Namely, being a Harvard graduate isn’t such a minor thing.

First of all, it means that you’re an American, citizen of the only remaining superpower in the world.

Secondly, it means that you’re either very wealthy or very smart – not everyone can afford to be a Harvard graduate or be awarded a Harvard scholarship.

And thirdly, it means that you’ve gotten the very best education an institution can offer.

So, in other words, some of the Harvard graduates of 2008 who listen to J. K. Rowling’s speech may one day become the people who decide whether the US should bomb another nation or help the refugees from a different one.

If Rowling’s speech touches them, they may make a more humane decision, and, thus, help the world in an exceptional way; and the reason for that: a single speech which changed them inwardly.

Rowling ends her speech with another quote, this one by Seneca: “As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”

Key Lessons from “Very Good Lives”

1.      Your CV Doesn’t Define You
2.      Failure Strips Away the Inessential
3.      Imagination Is the Root of Empathy

Your CV Doesn’t Define You

“Given a Time Turner,” writes J. K. Rowling, “I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement.”

And she goes on: “Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.”

And this comes from someone who was as poor as one can be without being homeless; and became the author of the bestselling book series in the history of mankind.

Failure Strips Away the Inessential

Failure is not a nice thing; however, it does have some benefits.

J. K. Rowling found out this the hard way: at the age of 30, she was a divorced mother of a three-year-old daughter with no job or money; and her mother had recently passed away; the future seemed more than bleak; she was, in her own words, an epic failure.

However, that’s where things started getting better.

Not because something magical happened, but because, simply put, nothing magical could have happened.

Bob Dylan sang that “when you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose” – and that’s the place J. K. Rowling was before Harry Potter made her so famous.

But, she says, she could only write it because her failures revealed to her that nothing else mattered. The worst had happened, and she was still alive.

If she had succeeded in anything, she implies, she would have probably never finished Harry Potter, because she would have always had something to rely on.

The same is probably true for each and every one of us.

We have dreams, but we stop short of turning them into reality because our lives are comfortable enough to make us forget that we are not immortal.

Imagination Is the Root of Empathy

Human beings are exceptional in more than one way; one of the least talked about ways, however, is their capability to simulate the effects of something that has never happened to them, merely through the imaginative powers of their brains.

Rowling says that these powers can save humanity; because empathy stems from them, from our capability to identify with people who suffer.

And because:

If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.

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“Very Good Lives Quotes”

As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters. I wish you all very good lives. Click To Tweet We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better. Click To Tweet You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Click To Tweet Unlike any other creature on this planet, human beings can learn and understand without having experienced. Click To Tweet Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Even though Very Good Lives is a fairly short book, it’s undoubtedly one which can effectively change your life. And that’s not used in the usual cliched way, nor it is an exaggeration.

One of the all-time most inspirational speeches and, thus, one of the best graduation gift books ever.

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