Maria Popova is a blogger, reader, thinker, and modern-day philosopher. She was born in Bulgaria and came to America to attend the University of Pennsylvania as a communications major. To support herself through college, she literally worked four different jobs simultaneously.
To stir creativity, she began composing short, weekly emails, which served up as intellectual brain food. Her writing evoked curiosity and deep thought, and the original seven people to whom she emailed have expanded into over a million.
In October of 2015, Popova’s site www.BrainPickings.com turned nine years old. Her curiosity and intellectual exploration has lead to, essentially, her discoveries of what it means to live a meaningful life. On the anniversary of the 9th year, she shares nine of the most important things she’s learned…
1. Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind: As she describes (accurately), “It’s enormously disorienting to simply say, ‘I don’t know.’ …It’s infinitely more rewarding to understand than to be right—even if that means changing your mind about a topic, an ideology, or, above all, yourself.”
2. Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone: Ultimately, Popova explains, those things, “don’t make it thrilling to get up in the morning and gratifying to go to sleep at night—and, in fact, they can often distract and detract from the things that do offer those deeper rewards.”
3. Be generous: elebrate others with your kind words. “Always remember there is a human being on the other end of every exchange.”
4. Build pockets of stillness into your life: “Meditate. Go for walks. Ride your bike going nowhere in particular.  Without this essential stage of unconscious processing, the entire flow of the creative process is broken.…Most importantly, sleep.”
5. When people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them: “You are the only custodian of your own integrity.”
6. Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity.
7. “Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time”: This is borrowed from the wise and wonderful Debbie Millman.
8. Seek out what magnifies your spirit: “Who are the people, ideas, and books that magnify your spirit? Find them, hold on to them, and visit them often.”
9. Don’t be afraid to be an idealist: “As E.B. White explained, ‘The role of the writer is to lift people up, not lower them down.’ Supply creates its own demand. Only by consistently supplying it can we hope to increase the demand for the substantive over the superficial—in our individual lives and in the collective dream called culture.”
Sometimes reading, contemplating, and formulating our own thoughts/opinions can be incredibly fulfilling. Popova must feel awfully satisfied. She certainly inspires, which is what she has humbly set out to do.