Facing Adversity? Allow Maya Angelou to Inspire You.

Words of wisdom from Maya Angelou: "I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it."

Facing Adversity? Allow Maya Angelou to Inspire You.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014) was an African-American poet and author most famous for her landmark 1969 book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the first of seven autobiographical accounts of her incredible life.


Angelou was and still is revered for her sage wisdom and keen insights into race, class, and self-determination. The quote below reflects her steadfast demeanor: She would not let the external ills over which she had little control affect how she felt about herself. As likely as we are to run into adversity, it's important to maintain composure when it comes around. The surface may change; the stuff on the inside remains the same.

There are no shortcuts.

We are fortunate to have author and talk show host Tavis Smiley among our many Big Think Experts. Smiley recently published a book titled My Journey with Mayaa recollection of his 30-year friendship with the iconic American poet. Below, Smiley discusses some of Angelou's most helpful pieces of advice:

An artist's depiction of Lola.

Tom Björklund
Surprising Science
  • Researchers recently uncovered a piece of chewed-on birch pitch in an archaeological dig in Denmark.
  • Conducting a genetic analysis of the material left in the birch pitch offered a plethora of insights into the individual who last chewed it.
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Why the U.S. and Belgium are culture buddies

The Inglehart-Welzel World Cultural map replaces geographic accuracy with closeness in terms of values.

According to the latest version of the Inglehart-Welzel World Cultural Map, Belgium and the United States are now each other's closest neighbors in terms of cultural values.

Credit: World Values Survey, public domain.
Strange Maps
  • This map replaces geography with another type of closeness: cultural values.
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  • The map makes for strange bedfellows: Brazil next to South Africa and Belgium neighboring the U.S.
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Mammals dream about the world they will enter even before birth

A study finds that baby mammals dream about the world they are about to experience to prepare their senses.

Neonatal waves.

Michael C. Crair et al, Science, 2021.
Surprising Science
  • Researchers find that babies of mammals dream about the world they are entering.
  • The study focused on neonatal waves in mice before they first opened their eyes.
  • Scientists believe human babies also prime their visual motion detection before birth.
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