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

3 million people move to urban areas every week. How will we meet the challenge?

Cities of the future won't just be incredibly populated, they'll also be smarter than ever.

Videos
  • Globally we are adding about 3 million people to urban areas each week. Over the course of the year, this number can be equated to roughly 50 Chicagos.
  • This influx of people could make everyday life in urban areas more chaotic than ever. We will need a new playbook for how cities can better handle this massive influx of people.
  • With such population surges, we can use citizen-centric data—computational power—to make the infrastructure of cities run smoother and more efficiently.
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Conversation starters in this episode:

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