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The Happiness Track: How to Avoid the 3 Paths of BS

two paths


We “learn” best when we are not learning—when we make more room for silence.

Scientists know all too well that we don’t know much more than other people about pretty much everything. There’s just too much to know, and no matter how smart you are or how many degrees you have, no one can possibly keep up. But one thing scientists know is that we tend to get “sudden insights” when our brain is not in a highly focused, intellectually driven mode. We are more likely to come up with solutions to problems when our mind is idle or at rest—in the shower, while driving, on a walk, daydreaming, or in meditation. In other words, we “learn” best when we are not learning—when we make more room for silence. We also know something related and perhaps more important: Allowing times of silence is the best protection against what can best be called the 3 Paths of BS.  The first path is essentially to be conned: Instant access to too much information means that anyone can seem an expert. Whether it’s fitness, diet, or meditation, suddenly anyone can create a compelling video on YouTube. And that self-promotion can get them on your Facebook feed. How can you know whom to …

Emma Seppälä, PhD, is author of The Happiness Track, founder of, and Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.

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