If you have not yet discovered Brain Pickings you absolutely must hop on their Facebook train as quickly as possible. As an editor of a daily-curated blog, I have customized my Facebook feed into a carefully cultivated personal newswire service. I have my favorite subscriptions, of course, but few can top the quality of Brain Pickings. Earlier today they posted a review of Cornell University psychology professor Shimon Edelman’s new book The Happiness of Pursuit: What Neuroscience Can Teach Us About the Good Life, and it’s pretty amazing. The book appears to be an impressive fusion of hard science, philosophy and literature, and effectively reverse engineer the brain’s capacity for well-being. The following is an excerpt:
Far from being a mere repository for odd pieces of information, your memory is charged with relating the episodes of your life to each other, seeking recurring patterns — crisscrossing paths that run through the space of possible perceptions, motivations, and actions. Because of its likely evolutionary roots in way-finding, episodic memory relies heavily on taking note of locations in which events happen and of their spatial relationship, turning a representation of the layout of the physical environment into a foundation for the abstract space of patterns and possibilities that it constructs over the mind’s lifetime. As they fall into place the paths through the possibility space can support mental travel in space and time, which are both simulated to the best of the mind’s knowledge and ability. Episodic memory is thus the mind’s personal space0time machine — a perfect vehicle for scouting for and harvesting happiness.
The review contains several other juicy excerpts from the book, and you can read the review in full by visiting BrainPickings.org. For a complete archive of Maria Popova’s terrific Brain Pickings archive CLICK HERE. You can also get LIVE updates from Brain Pickings via Facebook and Twitter. To pick up your own copy of Shimon Edelman’s The Happiness of Pursuit: What Neuroscience Can Teach Us About the Good Life simply head over to Amazon. And if there is one person on earth who can convince you that happiness is something in your power to manipulate using your brain, it’s Jill Bolte Taylor. If you have not yet seen Jill’s TED Talk I can tell you without one single ounce of exaggeration — it is the best damn thing you will ever see.