Archive for the ‘TED talk’ Category
Do we talk to other people about what we’re doing? About what they’re doing? Do we ask why we do what we do..buy what we buy, bank who we bank with..eat what we eat..send our kids to the schools that we send them to, fund the wars that kill for goals we support? Do we not only talk, but do we listen to what they’re saying…and even more importantly, think about what they really mean?
Are we trying to be members of a community, or do we see everyone as doing their own thing, a zero sum game, as passengers on a ship out of our control? Or do we see ourselves as part of it, as responsible for it, unafraid of facing the problems of our society?
Why we don’t do these things is addressed by Meslin. He says: “As long as we believe that people, our own neighbors, are selfish, stupid or lazy, then there’s no hope.” We must recognize this, because it is the collective that is going to change things. And once we accept this, we must have a conversation.
Politics isn’t a bad word unless you’re using it to win an argument, or give yourself an identity. Politics, in fact, is probably the most important thing to talk about right now. Not partisanship…but politics. There’s only one thing more important, and that’s figuring out that you belong in the conversation because you’re not an island onto yourself. That’s what Obama meant, but couldn’t really express.
We’re not different than anyone else, regardless of what they’re doing out there. The guy between jobs, the CEO, or the small businessperson. We have the opportunity to decide because people believed so much in the idea that we’re all equal, that they were willing to die for a system that could give us the power to decide…and it DID give ALL OF US the power to decide. And we must decide, or else the institutions, corporate and government, they will do it for us. And I think these institutions have gotten too big to handle our needs. It’s up to us to start this conversation.
Now, it’s up to us.
We’re speeding up. Honore has looked into this, and talks of fast education, fast parenting, and fast sex. He tells us we should slow down. At the end of this article, I will tell you how.
“Now, if you think about how our world got so accelerated, the usual suspects rear their heads. You think of, you know, urbanization, consumerism, the workplace, technology.”
Honore describes the Slow Movement. How European countries appreciate their time so much that they work less but remain in the top competitive group (not to mention their students are ahead of the US in math and science). He recollects the poster he saw at a New York City business for 20 minute yoga sessions, and in a magazine, the title of an article, “How to bring your partner to orgasm in 30 seconds”
“I like a quickie as much as the next person, but I think that there’s an awful lot to be gained from slow sex — from slowing down in the bedroom. You know, you tap into that — those deeper, sort of, psychological, emotional, spiritual currents, and you get a better orgasm with the buildup. You can get more bang for your buck”
That’s right. “Bang for the buck.”
So, why are we rushing?
“I think there’s a kind of metaphysical dimension — that speed becomes a way of walling ourselves off from the bigger, deeper questions. We fill our head with distraction, with busyness, so that we don’t have to ask, am I well? Am I happy? Are my children growing up right? Are politicians making good decisions on my behalf?”
Slowing down gives you more time. We often feel helpless that we can’t stop the clock. But what we may not realize is that we can stop it. Here’s how: When is it that you’ve felt like time has stopped? When you’ve been doing something that you love. You’ve directed your attention to living in the present, engaged in your passion.
When else have you felt like time has stopped? When you’re connecting with another human being. Alan Harrington describes it well: “When in love we get to co-mingle with one another like gods outside of time.”
The answer is obvious: Find something you love. Something you love to do and someone to love. A passion that doesn’t distract you from that someone. And someone who doesnt distract you from what you love to do. Live in the now. And if you’re doing something and you start to worry… Stop a minute.
And take some time.
Graham Hill gives one of the best TED talks I’ve seen. We have three times as much living space as 50 years ago. But happiness has flatlined since then. Why? Because more stuff doesn’t make you more happy. The right stuff does.
It’s all about turning our paradigm on its head. I’ve been there. I’m in the store, and that ‘As Seen on TV’ car window scrubber looks really useful. So I grab it. And I do use it. Maybe a handful of times. But then I think about how a simple towel would have worked just as well.
“We need to think before we buy. Ask ourselves, “Is that really going to make me happier? Truly?” By all means, we should buy and own some great stuff. But we want stuff that we’re going to love for years, not just.. stuff.”
Less stuff means more freedom, means more time. When I go camping, somehow my worries are reduced, which relates to having everything I own for that trip in a backpack. My day is wide open and free. (Seeing a sunset over the Appalachian mountains helps prioritize things too, of course.)
“We’ve got to clear the arteries of our lives. And that shirt that I hadn’t worn in years? It’s time for me to let it go. We’ve got to cut the extraneous out of our lives, and we’ve got to learn to stem the inflow.”
What stuff do you think you could let go of in your life?
What stuff truly makes you happy?
Fear is not bad. Although as the foundation for your actions -the conservative hand that holds you back from trying- it is certainly a bad thing. But fear is helpful. A useful servant, but a terrible master. Good fear results from being aware of our worsening conditions. It comes from being able to judge clearly.
Paul Gilding helps us clarify the situation that the world’s rate of consumption is unsustainable. And it’s time to start being fearful. As he puts it, it’s time to end the denial:
“We tend to look at the world, not as the integrated system that it is, but as a series of individual issues. We see the Occupy protests, we see spiraling debt crises, we see growing inequality, we see money’s influence on politics, we see resource constraint, food and oil prices. But we see, mistakenly, each of these issues as individual problems to be solved. In fact, it’s the system in the painful process of breaking down — our system, of debt-fueled economic growth, of ineffective democracy, of overloading planet Earth, is eating itself alive.”
He suggests fear, but fear is not enough.
Empowerment is necessary, too. It’s time to start empowering people to know what they’re doing. What we’re doing when we go shopping, when we choose what to eat, where to work, who to bank with, and what media to view. It’s time to enable ourselves.
Spread the confidence to unplug from our current lifestyle -energy use, meat consumption, sprawling residences- and find better ways to do things. I don’t even see this as a sacrifice, because what we seek is not really at the end of a checkout line, or sitting in a nice car and nice clothes, or eating a steak. What we want is a connection with other people.
It’s time to be fearful. And then time to re-evaluate what we’re doing in our search for happiness. We may not only be missing that mark, but taking down our society and planet as well.
“It takes a good crisis to get us going. When we feel fear and we fear loss we are capable of quite extraordinary things.”
It’s time to be extraordinary.
A little entertainment for you this Tuesday, but it’s a funny and inspiring video by the most excitable guy I’ve seen in small business:
“Lets start with passion, there’s way too many people in this room right now that are doing stuff they hate. Please stop doing that. There is no reason in 2009 to do crap you hate. None. Promise me you won’t, because you can lose just as much money being happy as hell.”
His name is Gary Vaynerchuk. And he’s real:
“nine to five, I don’t have time. If you want this, if you’re miserable, or if you don’t like it or you want to do something else and you have a passion somewhere else. Work nine to five. Spend a couple hours with your family. Seven to two in the morning is plenty of time to do damage. But that’s it. It’s not going to happen any other way.”
Stay hungry, my friends.
Dan Buettner travelled the globe and found societies where many people are living over 100 years. And these centenarians are not sitting at home or in retirement villages, or using advanced health care to get them there. The video Buettner brings back is surprising, and his advice may surprise you even more. Longevity in these regions is not only based on diet and physical fitness. It’s based on our relationships.
The commonalities between the societies include what you’d expect: A plant-based diet with little to no meat. It includes not eating to fullness, and an active lifestyle. In addition, Buettner finds another similarity: These people are self-sufficient. They walk or ride bikes to where they need to be. They are spiritual: They all have a sense of purpose. They respect their elders and put family first. The children take care of their parents when they reach old age. And they interact with the community.
Buettner puts together a compelling picture based on some real life information. The simple fact is, longer life means doing something of value and being valued. And really, this sense of purpose is something we all know. We just…got a little distracted.
“…when you think about it, your friends are long-term adventures, and therefore, perhaps the most significant thing you can do to add more years to your life, and life to your years.”
School is structured. There’s a curriculum everyone must pass. There’re benchmarks that are standardized by the state. But some students get an individualized education program. Who are these lucky few? These are the ones who cannot perform at the predetermined levels. The misfits.
Schools don’t reward creativity. They reward assimilating. Ken Robinson says our students are being educated using principles from yesteryear, when our population needed to be prepared for the industrial revolution. Today, we can see that the only industry left in this country is the service industry, and it’s not a field that most people want to work in. Seth Godin observes that new careers are not with a corporation, but in creating your own niche. It’s an empowering time of change in the US, but it is also stressful. Godin agrees:
“Stressful? Of course it is. No one is trained in how to do this, in how to initiate, to visualize, to solve interesting problems and then deliver. Some see the new work as a hodgepodge of little projects, a pale imitation of a ‘real’ job. Others realize that this is a platform for a kind of art, a far more level playing field in which owning a factory isn’t a birthright for a tiny minority but something that hundreds of millions of people have the chance to do. Gears are going to be shifted regardless. In one direction is lowered expectations and plenty of burger flipping… in the other is a race to the top, in which individuals who are awaiting instructions begin to give them instead.”
If only the education system can train our children to achieve in this market.
Robinson is a master storyteller with an important area of interest, about how our education system is failing, right along with the one in four American students failing out of high school.
“If you think of it, the whole system of public education around the world is a protracted process of university entrance. And the consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people, think they’re not, because the thing they were good at at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatized. And I think we can’t afford to go on that way.”
Alain de Botton says religion is a system that works. It knows human nature. So let’s not throw away the template just because the content is questionable. He wants us to use the religious method.
Religion treats us like children. And it is well to. We need to be life-long learners, but we cannot wait on chance occurrences to teach us the important stuff. Botton describes the value of the religious system of education, from the sermons to repeated practice, which the secular world has left to the individual.
Even our higher institutions expect the newly minted adult walking onto their campuses to know what it’s all about. After graduation, the corporation is ready to provide us the structure for our lives, and the branding and clarity.
“…except they’re right down at the bottom of the pyramid of needs. They’re selling us shoes and cars. Whereas the people who are selling us the higher stuff — the therapists, the poets — are on their own and they have no power, they have no might.”
Life is about growth and discovery, and we need to get into our groups and start communicating our ideas in a more organized way. The secular world has fled so far from religion, it’s forgotten that we need to congregate. We need sermons. We need to communicate ideas.
“My concluding point is that you may not agree with religion, but at the end of the day, religions are so subtle, so complicated, so intelligent in many ways that they’re not fit to be abandoned to the religious alone. They’re for all of us.”
Tell it, brother!
It’s hard being the first to step out of the group:
“Let’s declare our independence from the king.”
“Let’s free the slaves.”
“Let’s not eat animals.”
“I’m going to spin on my head while you scratch that record”
Sivers shows us that the importance of the leader is significant, but the first people who listen to him and do something are the key to driving a movement.
“If you really care about starting a movement, have the courage to follow and show others how to follow. And when you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first one to stand up and join in.”
We are social animals, but thankfully, our need to achieve and follow our individual desires drags us forward to a better future, kicking and screaming…or in this case, dancing.