You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel?

Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting?

Each week, host Jason Gots surprises some of the world's brightest minds with ideas they're not at all prepared to discuss. Join us and special guests Neil Gaiman, Alan Alda, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Richard Dawkins, Maria Popova, Mary-Louise Parker, Neil deGrasse Tyson and many more...

Ruth Whippman—a mindful, productive, super-positive nation of nervous wrecks

With the help of positive psychology and the happiness industry, many of us seem to be running in the exact opposite direction of happiness.

Think Again Podcasts
  • "It's almost like the only way we can understand leisure is as a productivity hack."
  • "If we think of happiness as an individual responsibility, that stands in the way of building a society in which the conditions are there for everybody to thrive."


In the years before the election of the impossible president rent forever the very fabric of being, the band Radiohead was busy channeling something many of us were feeling but nobody was really talking about. A kind of ambient, multivalent state of anxiety that seemed to characterize life in the mid-to-late '90s. Listening to Radiohead was therapeutic. Your own awkward, unpresentable panic somehow dissolved into their sonic ocean, where it was transformed into sexy, transcendent beauty. It felt, uh…empowering?

In a New York Times Op-Ed last week, Ruth Whippman wrote: "After a couple of decades of constant advice to 'follow our passions' and 'live our dreams,' for a certain type of relatively privileged modern freelancer, nothing less than total self-actualization at work now seems enough. But this leaves us with an angsty mismatch between personal expectation and economic reality. Almost everyone I know now has some kind of hustle, whether job, hobby, or side or vanity project. Share my blog post, buy my book, click on my link, follow me on Instagram, visit my Etsy shop, donate to my Kickstarter, crowdfund my heart surgery. It's as though we are all working in Walmart on an endless Black Friday of the soul."

Modern anxiety cuts across national borders and social classes, but in America right now its artisanal flavor is a blend of soaring, media-driven dreams and dwindling probabilities of making a living while pursuing them. And nobody's more eloquent or wickedly funny about this reality than Ruth Whippman, the author of AMERICA THE ANXIOUS. I'm genuinely, sustainably happy that she's here with me today.

Surprise conversation starter clips in this episode:

Jonathan Haidt on overparenting

Lucy Cooke on anthropomorphizing animals

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Empathy makes us human. Humans make structures that rob us of empathy when we need it most. Helen Riess is trying to reverse that trend.

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A trans family in the holy land

Amit Tzuk and Ofir Trainin, the subject and director of an FAMILY IN TRANSITION, an Israeli documentary about a small town father of four who becomes a woman.

Think Again Podcasts
  • Sometimes just being yourself is a radical act.
  • "We have to do public relations so that people will understand that we're...people."



Everybody is always in a state of transition. All the time, your cells are dying and replacing themselves. Your mind, your emotions, your goals, your sense of self—all of these are shifting from year to year as you age. In families where there are children, the changes are even more visible and dramatic. Bodies change, voices change, identity is always in flux. But we also have an instinct to mask these changes. To find ways of minimizing them to fit in.

My guests today have a story to tell about what happens when the changes are undeniable. When they're at odds with the values of many people in your family and community. It's about the pain and the necessity of breaking the masks you've made for yourself. FAMILY IN TRANSITION is a documentary film about Amit Tzuk, an Israeli father of four who transitions to become a woman, and the changes Amit's wife Galit and their children go through. I'm here today with Amit and with the film's director, Ofir Trainin.

Surprise conversation starter clips in this episode:

Jonathan Haidt on untruths to stop telling our children

Elad Gil on technophobia

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