12 Ways Maria Popova Redefines What is Happiness in Life

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History is not what happened, but what survives the shipwrecks of judgement and chance.


Maria Popova, Figuring

Has your life been shipwrecked? Are you in search of Happiness? It is an undeniable question as, by the time you have read through my words, we have lost someone to suicide. We die before you learn to survive.

For thirteen years now, the luminously intelligent Maria Popova’s weekly newsletter Brain Pickings has intrigued and enlightened its readers. While on one side we have the media churning out insipid works concealing the truth, Maria Popova on the other is one such woman who works for enlightenment and truth. Here are the 12 ways Maria Popova makes me happy

1. Happiness in Life is to Do Nothing for External Rewards

Maria asks us to “Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone.” The tendency to do something great for external rewards is natural, but for Maria, the intrinsic is more rewarding than money and prestige put together. This resonates very well with what Oprah Winfrey or JK Rowling’s concept of passion. 

2. Happiness in Life Cultivating Generosity

Generosity is often under-appreciated in the harsh world of today. But just like you, we are all human beings. Being a critic is easier but will not contribute to your Happiness in any way. Being generous with your words is a quality asset that you can possess. Maria’s words “every interaction is an opportunity to exchange them” has etched a mark both in my mind and heart. 

3. Happiness is Taking Charge of Integrity

This line resonates with me when I think about my shipwrecks. Now and then people will try to portray your image on the wrong mirror. But the plain fact is that the mirror is false! Maria rightly states you being a custodian of your self-respect. Only you know who you are.

4. To be Happy is to Find Joy in Patience

Ohh, I realise I have been so impatient! This is undeniably another happiness eater. If a flower does not blossom overnight, how can you expect something worthwhile to have a spritely burst? Achieving success overnight is just a myth. Maria has demystified the myth, thereby flowering Happiness in my life. 

5. Being around with Spirit Enhancers

Don’t get me wrong; I am not talking about medication! Your Happiness will be measured how often you stick to people, books, and ideas that can magnify your spirits. Maria Popova is a spirit magnifier. The more you stick to her words and surround yourself with people who value you for what you are, the closer you are to Happiness.

6. Happiness in Life is to Welcome Change

As Maria puts it, “Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind.” We have a habit of forming opinions on superficial impressions. It is time to fall in love with change by seeking the truth behind anything.

7. Build Pockets of Stillness in Life to Harvest Happiness

It is great that you have a dream and working on it. But it is equally important to take a break and let the fragments of beautiful experiences float around you. Meditate, exercise and most importantly have a good sleep. 

8. Happiness in Life is to Contain in Forgiveness

Really? Can forgiveness lead to Happiness? Forgiveness is shedding your light on the unfathomable darkness surrounding the deepest submarines in the ocean. You shed your vulnerabilities and become powerful and happy. 

9. Being Happy is not to Compromise with Rationality

Maria Popova asks people to be rational and fight with cynicism actively. The element of doubt inside you is not spiritually encouraging. Challenge the element of doubt with people you love and grow as a society. 

10. Being Happy is to be Productive in Moderation

We human beings are measured by our efficiency to perform tasks in the dog eat dog world. However, Happiness can only be achieved when we realise that how we spend our days determines how happy we are. 

11. Happiness in Life is Creativity

Maria being the epitome of creativity, encourages us to be creative in our lives by imbibing the knowledge of science, art and literature. Creative people are seldom depressed and inevitably finds up a way to get themselves happy.

12. To be Happy is to Exceed Mortal Limits in Small Moments

When Maria was nine, she heard her father use the phrase, “a decade ago.” The phrase led her to realise that she’s a mortal and that each one of us lives life in blocks. And while we are on this short stay, we must grab every fleeting moment and contain ourselves.

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