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The Atlantic
4 min read
Self-Improvement

Why Americans Smile So Much

On Reddit forums that ask “What’s a dead giveaway that someone is American?” one trait comes up over and over again: big, toothy grins. Here’s how one Reddit user in Finland put it: When a stranger on the street smiles at you: a. you assume he is drunk b. he is insane c. he’s an American Last year, I wrote about why some countries seem to smile less than average—and mistrust those who do seem unusually peppy. A country’s level of instability, that study found, might be why people who seem happy for no reason in, say, Russia, are considered foolish. But there’s an interesting line of research t
The Atlantic
10 min read
Self-Improvement

The Virtues of Boredom

Boredom is in many ways an emotion of absence. The absence of stimulation, of interest, of excitement. But as Mary Mann reveals in her new book, Yawn: Adventures in Boredom, what’s lacking when we feel bored is often something much deeper than entertainment. She writes about her “fear that there was no overarching purpose for my time,” how boredom can paper over feelings of powerlessness or meaninglessness. It’s easier to label that itchy sensation “boredom” than it is to consider the feeling one gets sometimes that the train of life is stopped on its tracks, that the narrative is going nowher
Nautilus
13 min read
Self-Improvement

Why Doesn’t Ancient Fiction Talk About Feelings?: Literature’s evolution has reflected and spurred the growing complexity of society.

Reading medieval literature, it’s hard not to be impressed with how much the characters get done—as when we read about King Harold doing battle in one of the Sagas of the Icelanders, written in about 1230. The first sentence bristles with purposeful action: “King Harold proclaimed a general levy, and gathered a fleet, summoning his forces far and wide through the land.” By the end of the third paragraph, the king has launched his fleet against a rebel army, fought numerous battles involving “much slaughter in either host,” bound up the wounds of his men, dispensed rewards to the loyal, and “wa
  • audiobook
Alex K., Scribd Editor
From the Editors

Unconventional, pragmatic advice…

The book flies in the face of so much conventional self-help wisdom that it’s hard not to label the book as anti-self-help. And yet, that label undermines how pragmatic the book actually is. In the overcrowded, oversaturated, over-clichéd self-help genre, this is is a book well worth whatever f*cks you can muster.