Engage. You don’t need to be an expert.

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.

Advertisements

TED Talk Tuesday : Carl Honore praises slowness



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.

Honore:

“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.

TED Talk Tuesday: David Brooks says we are social animals



Want to know…
Why men drown at twice the rate as women?
Why babies imprint strongly with their parents?
Why groups are smarter than individuals? (I know, right?!)
Why 90% of communication is nonverbal?

Brooks tells us how we try to define people without considering that they’re more than animals. They’re emotional creatures with dynamic needs:

“We sent economists in the Soviet Union with privatization plans when it broke up, and what they really lacked was social trust. We invaded Iraq with a military oblivious to the cultural and psychological realities. We had a financial regulatory regime based on the assumptions that traders were rational creatures who wouldn’t do anything stupid.”

Yes, we’re complicated. Does that mean we should stop trying to make the perfect government? One that gives us what we want, but only when we need it? No. But what we must realize is that the whole reason we are striving, for the higher paying job, the better car, the nice clothes, and the attractive body, is because we want to connect with our fellow human beings. We want to be liked.

When we retreat into the safety of a house with a big lawn and try to create blocks of time to socialize, we are losing out. Our whole lives should be that time of connection, our every day should be the emotional experience of life.

The reasonable job we take, the stability we seek, the government program we expect will fix the financial system, they don’t truly work. Life isn’t stable, and institutions will never make us happy, unless we’re happy with ourselves.

Brooks reminds us that politics has a long way to go before we can assume it will connect to your community like you can. That it can help the community like one person should help another: Face to face, asking “Are you ok?”. Brooks says we have problem with this:

“We’re really good at talking about material things, but we’re really bad at talking about emotions. We’re really good at talking about skills and safety and health; we’re really bad at talking about character.”

When there is recognition that all that you do is based on emotion and your general desires are in other people too, you will begin to see that they are no different than you. And then, only then, will we truly value our community and change it for the better.

TED Talk Tuesday: Social networking isn’t so social

Sherry Turkle hits a little too close to home:

“Across the generations, I see that people can’t get enough of each other, if and only if they can have each other at a distance, in amounts they can control. I call it the Goldilocks effect: not too close, not too far, just right.”

I don’t even have a smart phone and I’m getting sucked in. The instant companion, the reassuring presence of people in my texts. They’re there, but not too close. Technology is good at providing what we want. But not what we need. Sherry describes it well:

“…I believe it’s because technology appeals to us most where we are most vulnerable. And we are vulnerable. We’re lonely, but we’re afraid of intimacy.”

Isnt it true? The prickly pear. The conversation with someone that seems like you’re peeling an artichoke to get to the goodness inside? Well, that’s ok. TV and movies has us thinking we need to have the perfect response and the right gestures, but that’s not life:

“Human relationships are rich and they’re messy and they’re demanding. And we clean them up with technology. And when we do, one of the things that can happen is that we sacrifice conversation for mere connection. We short-change ourselves. And over time, we seem to forget this, or we seem to stop caring.”

It’s time we recognize that using our smart phone isn’t so smart sometimes. It’s time we unplug. If the cell phone is making you happy, by all means, keep it up. But if it’s not…? If it’s just calling you back to the instant connection to everyone and no one, the intimacy that feels good, but doesn’t satisfy, then it’s time to listen to Sherry:

“Technology is making a bid to redefine human connection — how we care for each other, how we care for ourselves — but it’s also giving us the opportunity to affirm our values and our direction. I’m optimistic. We have everything we need to start. We have each other. And we have the greatest chance of success if we recognize our vulnerability.”

TED Talk Tuesday: Graham Hill says “Less stuff, more happiness”



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?

TED Talk Tuesday: Paul says it’s time to start being fearful



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.

TED Talk Tuesday: Larry Smith tells us why we dream and not do

Larry Smith is going to tell you how to live your dream, not your interests. He’s going to tell you how to propose to a girl. He’ll tell you how to have children. All this in 15 minutes? You bet. The answer, like most things in life, is so simple once we get past the excuses. Buckle up, my friends, because Larry is going to tell it to you like it is. And, honestly, I know what he means. Because I’m living it.

TED Talk Tuesday: Why Rush Limbaugh’s opinion is what we’re talking about



Susan Cain has made a significant realization: Group think is taking over smart think. Culture is promoting group discussion over your own. Our culture encourages collaboration and working in groups, starting from the classroom, and then to the open cubicles of corporate America. The problem is, our ability to think independently is being hurt as a result.

Susan calls for allowing people some introversion, or should I say, introspection? Some of our deepest thinking comes from alone time. In fact, everyone’s opinion comes from their own unique perspective. At least, it should. It shouldn’t come from some authority figure, whether it is a talking head on the entertainment/news shows, President Obama, or your parents. Even us extroverts need this time by ourselves, maybe even more so. Today information is flying at the speed of light, and before you know it, mob mentality and the cult of personality has influenced your decision.

Susan’s message is timely, in a society where we’re inundated with info, and that info is either what other people are doing, or it’s news that is colored by bias and our limited attention span. It’s hard not to pick up another person’s convincing argument as our own.

What’s more dangerous is when we believe that the stuff that’s reported is the real issue. But what may be the worst is when we throw up our hands in helplessness, because we think no one else realizes that the emperor has no clothes.

Is Rush Limbaugh’s opinion what we should be talking about?

Think about what’s right and wrong in government. Then ask whether you want to talk about Rush and the two political parties’ agendas, or if you want to talk about electing people who will help us become responsible consumers, mindful investors, and powerful citizens again.

TED Talk Tuesday – Gary says do what you love

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.

TED Talk Tuesday: Surprising study shows living longer depends on your community

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.”