What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more

Hedonomics II: The Little Things

March 16, 2010, 10:25 AM

It’s not all economics, with respect to (the aforementioned) Laureates Sen and Stiglitz. It can be as simple as finding daily rituals. Make the bed. Plant a garden. It’s a start. Gretchen Rubin knows. Rubin’s The Happiness Project was deeply informed by a woman she now considers her “spiritual master,” Saint Therese of Lisieux.

One thing that drew Rubin to Therese was the Saint’s rigorous focus on finding meaning in “little things,” and as Rubin—a former Editor of the Yale Law Review, not afraid of rigorous analysis—concludes, it is the little things that matter most. In her interview with Big Think, Rubin shares her views on everything from how to develop resolutions to the diverse uses of blogs and books.

“What is happiness?” is not a question Rubin is looking to answer, ironically. Rather, she is concerned with the state of being happy, and being happy is possible only when we have a clear sense of what we feel. Rubin has read widely, and one of her conclusions is immediately actionable: know yourself.

Rubin’s analysis allows for consideration of the academic aspects of happiness including The Arrival Fallacy, The Hedonic Treadmill, The Atmosphere of Growth. But, perhaps more compellingly, she allows us to think about the simple things that fill our daily lives, and how to shift our perceptions of them so as to make them more meaningful. Friends. Lovers. Peers. One of her most provocative notes relates to intellectual interaction. “It actually takes more social courage to be enthusiastic,” she observes.

Consider the “little things” of Saint Therese:

She loved flowers and saw herself as the "little flower of Jesus," who gave glory to God by just being her beautiful little self among all the other flowers in God's garden. Because of this beautiful analogy, the title "little flower" remained with St. Therese.

Her inspiration and powerful presence from heaven touched many people very quickly. She was canonized by Pope Pius XI on May 17, 1925. Had she lived, she would have been only 52 years old when she was declared a Saint.

"My mission - to make God loved - will begin after my death," she said. "I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses." Roses have been described and experienced as Saint Therese's signature. Countless millions have been touched by her intercession and imitate her "little way." She has been acclaimed "the greatest saint of modern times." In 1997, Pope John Paul II declared St. Therese a Doctor of the Church - the only Doctor of his pontificate - in tribute to the powerful way her spirituality has influenced people all over the world.

Rubin’s message is not centered on religion, or even spiritualism, but it is grounded in Little Things. This truth is seductive because it is actionable. It’s not a Porsche. It cannot be bought.





Hedonomics II: The Little T...

Newsletter: Share: