It’s time to start asking the right questions about happiness. The West is facing a happiness crisis. Today, less than a quarter of adults (in the west) rate themselves as very happy—a record low.  False views of happiness abound, and the explosion in “happiness studies” has done little to dispel them. Why is true happiness so elusive, and why is it so hard to define? In this interview, I speak to philosopher, Professor J Budziszewski, one of the world’s foremost experts on human happiness and fulfilment, on what it means to be happy, what we misunderstand about happiness, whether wealth and fame can ever make us happy, and how we best need to understand the differences between pleasure, fulfilment, and happiness.

Thought Economics

The average human lifespan is absurdly, outrageously, insultingly brief: if you live to 80, you have about four thousand weeks on earth. How should we use them best? Oliver Burkeman is author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, and a columnist. In his new book Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, Oliver undertakes an uplifting, engrossing, and deeply realistic exploration of our battles with time. Adam Grant has described Oliver’s new book as being, “The most important book ever written about time management.” In this interview, I speak to Oliver Burkeman about our relationship with time, and how best we use the astonishingly brief moment we are on this earth. Oliver draws on philosophy and psychology together with his own deep research to help realign our relationship with time, liberating us from the tyranny we face.

Thought Economics

Philip Goff is a philosopher who teaches at Durham University. He is the author of the seminal academic text Consciousness and Fundamental Reality, and Galileo’s Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness which breaks down some of the most important aspects of consciousness research for the broader audience. In his new book, Galileo’s Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness, Philip offers an exciting alternative that could pave the way forward to a new understanding of consciousness. Rooted in an analysis of the philosophical underpinnings of modern science and based on the early twentieth-century work of Arthur Eddington and Bertrand Russell, Goff makes the case for panpsychism, a theory which posits that consciousness is not confined to biological entities but is a fundamental feature of all physical matter—from subatomic particles to the human brain. In this interview, I speak to Philip Goff about how our understanding of consciousness, and who we are, is being transformed.

Thought Economics

Ryan Holiday is one of the world’s bestselling living philosophers. His books & courses like The Obstacle Is the Way, Ego Is the Enemy, The Daily Stoic, and the #1 New York Times bestseller Stillness Is the Key appear in more than 40 languages and have sold more than 4 million copies. In his latest book, Courage Is Calling, Ryan breaks down the elements of fear, an expression of cowardice, the elements of courage, an expression of bravery, and lastly, the elements of heroism, an expression of valour. In a world in which fear runs rampant—when people would rather stand on the sidelines than speak out against injustice, go along with convention than bet on themselves, and turn a blind eye to the ugly realities of modern life—we need courage more than ever. We need the courage of whistle-blowers and risk takers. We need the courage of activists and adventurers. We need the courage of writers who speak the truth—and the courage of leaders to listen. In this interview, I speak to Ryan Holiday on how to conquer fear, resolve moral dilemmas, and practice courage in our daily lives.

Thought Economics

Anil Seth’s quest to understand the biological basis of conscious experience is one of the most exciting contributions to twenty-first-century science. What does it mean to “be you”—that is, to have a specific, conscious experience of the world around you and yourself within it? There may be no more elusive or fascinating question. Historically, humanity has considered the nature of consciousness to be a primarily spiritual or philosophical inquiry, but scientific research is now mapping out compelling biological theories and explanations for consciousness and selfhood. Anil Seth is Professor of cognitive and computational neuroscience at the University of Sussex, co-director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science and in his new book, BEING YOU: A New Science of Consciousness, he argues that we do not perceive the world as it objectively is, but rather that we are prediction machines, constantly inventing our world and correcting our mistakes by the microsecond, and that we can now observe the biological mechanisms in the brain that accomplish this process of consciousness. In this interview, I speak to Anil Seth about the fundamental nature of consciousness, how we perceive the world around us, our selves, and how the science of consciousness is helping to unlock who we are.

Thought Economics

In her new book THE LONELY CENTURY: How to Restore Human Connection in a World That’s Pulling Apart, renowned thinker and economist Noreena Hertz investigates how radical changes to the workplace, mass migration to cities, technology’s ever greater dominance of our lives, and decades of neoliberal policies that placed self-interest above the collective good have coalesced to  create a society in which loneliness, atomisation and isolation prevail – which COVID has only amplified. Hertz provides an empowering and inspiring vision for how to mitigate this, reconnect with each other and come together again. Hertz combines a decade of research with first-hand reporting that takes her from ‘renting a friend’ in New York to family-friendly Belgian far-right festivals, from elderly women knitting bonnets for their robot caregivers in Japan to Ivy League colleges running ‘How to Read a Face in Real Life’ remedial classes. What she uncovers is a global population feeling more and more alienated and isolated. In this exclusive interview, I speak to Noreena Hertz about the causes of our loneliness epidemic, the consequences for each and every one of us, and what we can do to restore human connection in a world that’s pulling us apart.

Thought Economics

Matthew McConaughey is an Academy Award®-winning actor and producer who has played starring roles in some of the most seminal, and commercially successful films in recent history including A Time to Kill (1996), U-571 (2000), the Wedding Planner (2001), Failure to Launch (2006), Magic Mike (2012), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), Dallas Buyers Club (2013), Interstellar (2014), The Dark Tower (2017) and The Gentlemen (2019). In 2009, Matthew and his wife, Camila, founded the just keep livin Foundation, which helps at-risk high school students make healthier mind, body, and spirit choices. In 2019, McConaughey became a professor of practice at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as Minister of Culture/M.O.C. for the University of Texas and the City of Austin. McConaughey is also brand ambassador for Lincoln Motor Company, an owner of the Major League Soccer club Austin FC, and co-creator of his favourite bourbon on the planet, Wild Turkey Longbranch. McConaughey has led a charmed and full life. His recent memoir Greenlights takes the reader along with him as he tries to work out this riddle called life but unlike most, he fills it with practical advice and lessons from his life to ours. As Matthew wrote his memoir, the process revealed a theme- an approach- to living that gave him satisfaction at the time, and still today. He calls this process, ‘catching greenlights’ and in this exclusive interview, I spoke to Matthew McConaughey about how we can apply the lessons from his life, to our own. As he says himself, “…hopefully, it’s medicine that tastes good, a couple of aspirin instead of the infirmary, a spaceship to Mars without needing your pilot’s license, going to church without having to be born again, and laughing through the tears.” 

Thought Economics

Called the “closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience,” by The Atlantic magazine, Tristan Harris spent three years as a Google Design Ethicist developing a framework for how technology should “ethically” steer the thoughts and actions of billions of people from screens. He is now co-founder & president of the Center for Humane Technology, whose mission is to reverse ‘human downgrading’ and re-align technology with humanity. Additionally, he is co-host of the Center for Humane Technology’s Your Undivided Attention podcast with co-founder Aza Raskin. Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce notes that, “Tristan Harris is probably the strongest voice in technology pointing where the industry needs to go. This is a call to arms and everyone needs to hear him now.” In this exclusive interview I spoke to Tristan Harris about how the technologies of social media and the smartphone are destroying our society, and what we can do to pull it back from the brink.

Thought Economics

Steven Pinker (Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard) is a remarkable thinker. He is an experimental psychologist who conducts research in visual cognition, psycholinguistics, and social relations. He has won numerous prizes for his research, his teaching, and his nine books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Better Angels of Our Nature, and The Sense of Style. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, a Humanist of the Year, a recipient of nine honorary doctorates, and one of Foreign Policy’s “World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals” and Time’s “100 Most Influential People in the World Today.” In this exclusive interview, I speak to Steven Pinker about the ideas contained within his most recent book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress – which has been described by Bill Gates as ‘my new favourite book of all time…’

Thought Economics

For over 40 years Penn & Teller have defied labels—and at times physics and good taste– by redefining the genre of magic and inventing their own very distinct niche in comedy. Penn Jillette is the magician, actor, musician, inventor, television personality, and author who forms half of this incredible and long-standing partnership.  He is a true polymath, and in this exclusive interview I had the pleasure of speaking to Penn to learn more about the role of magic in culture, how you create a great show, and the secrets of building long-standing partnerships.

Thought Economics

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