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

Happiness Favors the Prepared Mind

January 27, 2013, 12:00 AM

What's the Big Idea?

The markers of success in adult life include getting married, having children, making money and finding professional satisfaction. These achievements also have their corresponding failures, such as divorce and financial ruin. 

We tend to have misconceptions about all of the above circumstances, both good and bad. These misconceptions are what get in the way of us achieving happiness. That is why it is crucial for us to be able to manage the outsized expectations that go along with our achievements, as well as to be able to recognize the upside of life's inevitable disappointments. 

According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The Myth of Happiness, our reductive understanding of happiness is culturally reinforced, but in reality amounts to a false promise. "I'll be happy when ____ (fill in the blank)" and its close cousin "I can't be happy when ____ (fill in the blank) are the two most pervasive myths about happiness. 

After all, there are plenty of people who are single and frustrated, unhappily married, or, on the other hand, happily divorced. Whether someone has achieved happiness or not depends not on our circumstances alone, but how we prepare ourselves, and react to these circumstances. 

Watch Sonja Lyubomirsky here:

What's the Significance?

Lyubomirsky points to research that shows how human beings are remarkably resilient -- much more resilient, in fact, than we think we are. "Devastating crossroads," Lyubomirsky writes in her book, can actually be gateways to positive changes in our lives. According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, people who who have experienced some adversity in life are actually happier than those who have not, and those sufferers also gain the advantage of being "toughened up" to manage challenges later on in life. 

In other words, what doesn't kill you really does make you stronger, so long as we are able to look past "the expectations that accompany the myths of happiness," Lyubomirsky writes.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan


Happiness Favors the Prepar...

Newsletter: Share: