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Former Navy Seal
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Bryan Cranston
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International Poker Champion
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Former CIA Clandestine Operative
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Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
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Sam Harris on Happiness

Question: What makes you happy?

Sam Harris:  Well it’s an elusive thing to get a hold of.  I think the absence of neurosis, the absence of fear, the absence of anxiety.  When you recognize what consciousness is like, when those states of mind have subsided, it seems to me intrinsically happy.  It’s intrinsically at ease.  It’s intrinsically peaceful, and at times even blissful.  It’s just the lack of complication. Just merely being aware of one’s self in the present moment, and not continually being in conversation with one’s self about the present moment and just thinking, thinking, thinking incessantly. 

When that can subside, either because you’re meditating, or because you’re enjoying yourself so much in sports.  Or you’re having sex.  I mean, any peak experience has this feature of having your attention really focused in a very uncomplicated way on your experience in the present.  And that state of mind is what I would call happiness. 

And all of the obstacles to being at rest in that state of mind, I think of as the obstacles to happiness.  And those are things like a neurotic self-absorption with how other people perceive you; or anxiety about the future; or regret about the thing you didn’t say yesterday.  Those are the ways/modes of thought that keep us from recognizing that it’s possible to be really at ease in the present, and happy before anything happens.  I mean, to have happiness that’s not contingent upon the next good thing that’s going to happen, but to just actually be at rest with what is happening right now.

Recorded on: July 4, 2007.

Sam Harris on the absence of neuroses.

Hulu's original movie "Palm Springs" is the comedy we needed this summer

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti get stuck in an infinite wedding time loop.

Gear
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Dinosaurs suffered from cancer, study confirms

A recent analysis of a 76-million-year-old Centrosaurus apertus fibula confirmed that dinosaurs suffered from cancer, too.

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David Epstein: Thinking tools for 'wicked' problems

Join the lauded author of Range in conversation with best-selling author and poker pro Maria Konnikova!

Big Think LIVE

UPDATE: Unfortunately, Malcolm Gladwell was not able to make the live stream due to scheduling issues. Fortunately, David Epstein was able to jump in at a moment's notice. We hope you enjoy this great yet unexpected episode of Big Think Live. Our thanks to David and Maria for helping us deliver a show, it is much appreciated.


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Map of the World's Countries Rearranged by Population

China moves to Russia and India takes over Canada. The Swiss get Bangladesh, the Bangladeshi India. And the U.S.? It stays where it is. 

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What if the world were rearranged so that the inhabitants of the country with the largest population would move to the country with the largest area? And the second-largest population would migrate to the second-largest country, and so on?

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Can a quantum strategy help bring down the house?

Study finds quantum entanglement could, in principle, give a slight advantage in the game of blackjack.

Photo by Sheri Hooley on Unsplash
Surprising Science
In some versions of the game blackjack, one way to win against the house is for players at the table to work as a team to keep track of and covertly communicate amongst each other the cards they have been dealt.
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