Oliver Burkeman: The Negative Path to Happiness and Success

“Get motivated!” and “stay positive!” are common bits of self-help advice. But have we gone too far in our penchant for positivity? Leaning on research (including a story about Mount Everest climbers), reporter and author Oliver Burkeman shares the counterintuitive insight of how abandoning goals and allowing some negativity in can actually be helpful.

“Theres a real benefit to finding ways to loosen our grip as goal driven people. When you look at successful entrepreneurs…you find they don’t follow this stereotype.” Instead, Burkeman says, we should remain ready to adapt where we are heading and the embrace uncertainty that scares us. 

Sleep is More Important than Food

Tony Schwartz in HBR Blog Network

So why is sleep one of the first things we’re willing to sacrifice as the demands in our lives keep rising? We continue to live by a remarkably durable myth: sleeping one hour less will give us one more hour of productivity. In reality, the research suggests that even small amounts of sleep deprivation take a significant toll on our health, our mood, our cognitive capacity and our productivity.

Many of the effects we suffer are invisible. Insufficient sleep, for example, deeply impairs our ability to consolidate and stabilize learning that occurs during the waking day. In other words, it wreaks havoc on our memory.

So how much sleep do you need? When researchers put test subjects in environments without clocks or windows and ask them to sleep any time they feel tired, 95 percent sleep between seven and eight hours out of every 24. Another 2.5 percent sleep more than eight hours. That means just 2.5 percent of us require less than 7 hours of sleep a night to feel fully rested. That’s 1 out of every 40 people.


Working Podcast: The “How Does Stephen Colbert Work?” Edition

Another great podcast. On the first episode of Working, David Plotz talks with Stephen Colbert on how he puts his show together and turns himself from Stephen Colbert into the character “Stephen Colbert”—starting from when he wakes up in the morning, what he watches for inspiration, how he knows the material is any good, all the way through to the actual filming of the show.

The Week's Links: October 17, 2014


  • Philosophy: Free Courses Online owl.li/CAU4k
  • Return to the Antikythera Shipwreck: The Exosuit’s First Mission owl.li/Cxfvm
  • Subway Maps For Cities Without Subways, Dreamed Up By An 8th Grader owl.li/CA7WH
  • What in the World Is Amazon? owl.li/CDDpi
  • Hackers Gather for Cyberwar in an Intense 48-Hour Sim owl.li/CA7MF
  • Architects Create a 3-D Printed Column That Survives Earthquakes owl.li/Cxfou
  • Inside The Design Of Norway's Beautiful New Banknotes owl.li/Cxfls
  • Paper Artist Documents Daily Origami Works on Instagram owl.li/Cwjtc
  • 10 research tips for finding online answers owl.li/Cxfhl
  • ◉ Is There Such A Thing As TMI? owl.li/CE2kA
  • Best Global Brands - Interbrand owl.li/Cw57b
  • A Behind-the-Scenes Look at How Infographics Are Made owl.li/Cxff9
  • The Eames's "Powers Of Ten" Is Now An iPhone App owl.li/Cw409
  • Forgotten time capsule from 1914 unsealed in New York City owl.li/Cxfrd
  • Elon Musk: The mind behind Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity ... owl.li/Cw13A
  • How Videogames Like Minecraft Actually Help Kids Learn to Read owl.li/CvXtR
  • Google Embeds Itself in NYC With Some Delightful Site-Specific Outdoor Ads owl.li/Cull7
  • This Brazilian School Will Teach You How To Be More Creative owl.li/CvWKS
  • Holiday Travel, In China owl.li/CE2bH
  • The Economist explains: How weather exists in space owl.li/CsRMa
  • ◉ How We Got To Now With Steven Johnson, Premieres Tonight. - smartercreativity.com/blog/2014/10/1…
  • 10 Insane Buildings Currently Under Construction owl.li/CvWyO
  • HBO is finally going to let you watch its shows without cable owl.li/COa2L
  • Mud Murals on a Massive Scale owl.li/CsRnm
  • Nobel Prize-Winning Discovery Should Shed New Light on Alzheimer's owl.li/CvWhl
  • This CEO wants us to know our blood better than we know our credit cards owl.li/Cw3Ev
  • Your App Is About To Get Smarter: IBM Opens Watson To Developers owl.li/CvHn5
  • Rare Australian Berries Might Contain Cure to Cancer — NOVA Next owl.li/CsBML
  • This Algorithm Predicts A Neighborhood's Crime Rate Using Google Street View owl.li/CsBEK
  • ▶ How do we study the stars? - Yuan-Sen Ting owl.li/CrQOE
  • Beyond the Nobel: What Scientists Are Learning About How Your Brain Navigates owl.li/CrWry
  • ◉ Photographer JR and New York City Ballet Collaborate For Art Series owl.li/CE20A
  • How Do You Build a Prototype? Stick With Just One Thing owl.li/CrQKM
  • ◉ Walter Mischel, The Marshallow Test, and Self-Control - smartercreativity.com/blog/2014/10/1…
  • ◉ Recommended: 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People - smartercreativity.com/recommendation…
  • Beautiful: Northern Lights in the Skies Above Norway - In Focus owl.li/CrWkE
  • LED Lights Shine In Nobel Prize; Now How About Your Home? owl.li/CrO6z
  • Bacon: Why America's Favorite Food Mania Happened - Businessweek owl.li/CrVQm
  • Everything Dies, Right? But Does Everything Have To Die? Here's A Surprise - Radiolab owl.li/CrRL6
  • A Refresher on Storytelling 101 - JD Schramm - Harvard Business Review owl.li/CsOXh
  • Charles Limb: What Does A Creative Brain Look Like? owl.li/CrkOG
  • Sir Ken Robinson: How Do Schools Kill Creativity? owl.li/CrkCi
  • Arts to be further integrated into medical training owl.li/CoZ3D
  • Great images: Moulin Rouge Through the Decades - The New Yorker owl.li/CrknQ
  • ◉ Arts and Cultural Production Account for 3.2 Percent -- $504B -- of GDP in 2011 owl.li/CE1RN
  • ◉ Jordan "DJ Earworm" Roseman: Music from the Crowd - smartercreativity.com/blog/2014/10/1…
  • GitHub Launches Free Tools for Students owl.li/CoYI7
  • ◉ The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less - smartercreativity.com/recommendation…
  • Beautiful: The Eiffel Tower gets a new glass floor owl.li/Cp03Q
  • The Case for Automatic Encryption, Especially for Journalists owl.li/CoYFu
  • Neuze makes you wonder: What if the print newspaper had been invented after the web? owl.li/CoZvA
  • 3 Powerful Social Media Leaders of the Past owl.li/Crl85
  • Should publishers take Web design cues from print? owl.li/CoZhh
  • Ebola threatens chocolate owl.li/CF27y
  • Icons Of Digital Design owl.li/CoYdi
  • How much damage can a 6 year-old do? An analysis of the cost of raising a kid like Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes owl.li/CoY0j
  • From Their Favorite Digital Devices to Lena Dunham, This Is What Millennials Really Want owl.li/CoUhI
  • Gamers’ Tastes Around the World owl.li/CoXQk
  • Technology Titans Lead Ranking of Most Valuable Brands - NYTimes.com owl.li/CDDn4
  • Jeff Bezos Plan for News: The Washington Post Becomes an Amazon Product owl.li/CosIY
  • Watch This Gorgeous Short by Aardman 'Wallace & Gromit' Animations Honoring Poet Dylan Thomas owl.li/CoV4i
  • Google's "In The News" Box Now Lists More Than Traditional News Sites owl.li/CostY
  • Infographic: This Is How Brands Can Get More Millennial Love owl.li/CoUT1
  • What's Up With That: How Did the Nobel Prize Become the Biggest Award on the Planet? owl.li/CoUuo
  • Audi Aims at High-Level Execs in a Stylish Spot About 'Presence' owl.li/CoYm5
  • Longreads: Now Publishing Original Storytelling owl.li/ConSP
  • 12 TED Talks from Nobel Prize winners owl.li/CoadY
  • Microsoft Can Now Turn Any Space Into The Holodeck owl.li/Cktj7
  • The (Still) Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe owl.li/Co9oD
  • How The New Yorker Finally Figured Out The Internet: 3 Lessons From Its Web Redesign owl.li/Cksg0
  • Why Are You Tired All The Time? owl.li/Co8da
  • Secret Life of a Guinness World Records Judge owl.li/Cgf0e
  • The 430 Books in Marilyn Monroe's Library: How Many Have You Read? owl.li/CkTa1
  • The Brian Lehrer Show: How Generations Differ: Boomers, X, Millennials owl.li/CkT2N
  • New Whirlpool Ads Feature Scenes of Thankless Tasks owl.li/CoqXK
  • Animator Battles His Stick Figure Creation in ‘Animator vs. Animation IV’ owl.li/Cg8Sw
  • Oxford Scientist Explains the Physics of Playing Electric Guitar Solos owl.li/Cg8Pj
  • Twitter, MIT Create New Research Lab to Analyze Every Tweet owl.li/CfD1Z
  • How to make tea correctly (according to science) owl.li/CfSFy
  • ◉ What Drives Success? owl.li/Cdari
  • ◉ The Week's Links: October 10, 2014 - smartercreativity.com/blog/2014/10/1…
  • Facebook is more important to news distribution than you think, and journalists are freaked out | Poynter. owl.li/CfCWz
  • 20 Terrifying Two-Sentence Horror Stories. owl.li/CfNXG
  • Watch rare footage of the Senators beating the Giants in the 1924 World Series owl.li/CfoEE
  • Vice News to Develop Scheduled Live Shows With Skype Deal owl.li/CfF6K
  • The Story Behind The Web's Weirdest, Hardest Riddle owl.li/CfEQp