Modern Virtues: Is Creativity for the Tortured Soul? (On Getting Creative)
There’s a lovely little stereotype that romanticises the suffering, melancholic artist. From Van Gogh to Sylvia Plath to Hemingway, it’s not hard to find examples in history. But does that mean creativity is linked the tortured? Is there a link between creativity and mood disorders? What about creativity and happiness?How can we build our creativity muscles, reignite some inspiration in our creative souls, and get better at creative tasks?This episode is a huge topic. I have to emphasise in these notes that it’s so massive and seems like there’s still a lot we don’t yet understand – as is the case for most brain-related things. I hope I have done some justice to the studies I looked at, but I’m sure there are points I make that may be wrong or incomplete, purely by virtue of the hugeness of the topic (and the fact that I’m learning – I’m no expert, I’m exploring things that are interesting and talking about what I find / my thoughts). Links to studies cited can be found at uncomfortablemillennials.com
18 Jul 2020
Modern Virtues: Reaching for Calm (On Tranquillity and Presence)
“It is better to starve to death in a calm and confident state of mind than to live anxiously amidst abundance.” – Epictetus How do we find more tranquillity, presence, mental strength and calm amidst the chaos? How can we reframe our mind to worry less about what others think of us, our future, how we compare with others? How can we be more present in our lives and strengthen our mind? Tranquillity is a difficult virtue to practice in 2020 – and that’s before we get to global events. Segments: 1. Mindset approach: The Dichotomy of Control a. View of success b. External validation c. Comparing with others 2. Mindfulness/presence: Living in each moment 3. Gratitude practice This episode was more for myself than anyone else – but I hope you gain something from it too. You can get the reference/resources list from www.uncomfortablemillennials.com and see more from me at soniaspeaking.com
29 Jun 2020
Modern Virtues: Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems? (On Ambition)
“A man’s worth is no greater than the worth of his ambitions” – Marcus Aurelius“Ambition is like a gulf. Everything is swallowed up in it and buried.” - SenecaMost of us grew up on the phrase that money isn’t everything. But today we want to explore… is money still… something? Does it contribute to our happiness? Or was Jay Z right when he said mo money mo problems?The modern virtue we’re looking at in all of this is ambition. And because so many people include financial goals in their aspirations, we want to play with our relationship with money and material things.But then ambition also comes into many other parts of our lives. Today, goal attainment is always in front of our faces, and society is constantly planting these seeds that we should do more, be more, achieve more. But today the fast pace of the world has been disrupted. And we have a moment of solace to actually ask: are high achievers actually happier? In a world where busy is the new normal, is ambition a good thing? Or should we be wary of the possible negative states it can lead to?Structure for today:1. The science behind income/wealth acquisition and happiness2. Lottery winners – curse or blessing?3. Ancient philosophy on money and wealth4. Broader ambition, including some very odd research on academy award winners and Olympic medallists5. Different perspectives on the light and dark side of ambition, from goal setting to how we spend our money, to external focus vs. internal focus, and lots of other things that broke my brain.See uncomfortablemillennials.com for some of the sources referenced.
29 May 2020
Modern Virtues: Do You Need More Friends To Be Happy? (On Friendship)
“It is the most satisfying experience in the world to have someone you can speak to as freely as your own self about any and every subject upon earth.” – Cicero “Hell is other people.” – Jean Paul Sartre Humans are social animals. Evolutionary theorists might suggest that one of the key reasons we’ve been able to survive as a species is through our ability to collaborate with each other. It’s pretty well accepted that a level of socialising contributes in a positive way to our existence. But how much connection do we actually need? And what kind of connections should they be? Today we explore, if we’re fostering connection and friendships as a virtue, to what extent do we need friends? Do people with more friends live happier lives? Can you be a loner and be happy? And what kind of friendships actually serve us – how can we foster more connection in our lives?Different segments:1. On friendship quantity – do we need more friends to be happy?2. On friendship quality – types of friendships and which are the most important3. The case for the loner – can you be a loner without being lonely? Do we need friends?4. What is important in a friendship? The philosophers sharea. Choosing friendsb. The foundations of a friendshipc. Maintaining friendships (generally and on challenges with modern tech)d. Leaving a friendshipI hope this pod helps you to evaluate your friendship networks and gives you some tools to enhance friendship as a virtue in your life.For a list of some of the studies and sources referenced in this episode, head to uncomfortablemillennials.com
20 May 2020
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Modern Virtues: Introduction
Hello and welcome to the first episode of Uncomfortable Millennials, kicking off season one with Modern Virtues – a season aimed at exploring ancient philosophy, behavioural science and self-development using different ‘virtues’ as our springboard for topics and questions.This introduction is just that - it’s a little more free-flowing talking about some common themes and ideas that will likely come up across the season. It sets up our stage for some of the big questions and ideas we will grapple with throughout the season.Today we give some background around why ancient philosophy is valuable and applicable to everyone, some theories about the meaning of life or the ‘purpose’ of humans, what the pursuit of happiness looks like, how habits define who we are, and the background behind virtues.Finally, some examples of the “modern virtues” to expect in the coming weeks. After this introduction, each episode will look at a specific virtue, often in reference to a particular question.
13 May 2020