Posts tagged TED Talks
After a short hiatus (mostly consisting of feeding a baby and cleaning up her poop), I thought I would come back to Ted Talk Tuesday with something on the lighter side. In this talk, Terry Moore explains how the letter “x” came to symbolize an unknown factor – not only in mathematics, but in many other arenas as well. By the time you get to the end, you will have the one sentence answer to the question: “Why is “x” the unknown?” And, like Terry Moore, I think it’s worth sharing.
Andy Puddicombe’s time as a monk caused him to come up with an interesting theory – that the key to happiness might just be found in doing nothing. Though he doesn’t offer any specific meditation techniques, I think this is still a significant thought process to consider.
Through an effective illustration, Andy, shows us how one thought or series of thoughts can distract us and how, if we can take a step back and do nothing for 10 minutes, allowing our mind to, in a sense, see itself, we might be able to see the distraction for what it is and to put it in its proper place.
Perhaps this talk struck me because of a recent experience I had. It was a particularly taxing day – one of those days when everything seems to be hitting the fan at once. The hiccups had become speed bumps and then turned into walls. My anxiety was high and my productivity was low. Then, somewhat unintentionally, I did exactly what Andy suggests. I did nothing – I shut down in a way that I don’t know if I’ve ever done before.
However, the result of that 5 or 10 minutes of shutting down was that I emerged with real clarity. Suddenly, I recognized what I was able to have some control over and what I wasn’t, what I was able to change and what I wasn’t and what could be worked out, if not today, then eventually. 10 minutes of nothing resulted in a complete 180 of my day – from anxious to motivated, disheartened to encouraged. I don’t know, maybe there’s something to it.
Ken Robinson says that our educational system discourages – or at least fails to encourage – creativity. I hadn’t really considered it before, but after watching his talk from TED 2006, I think I have to agree. Even more than that, though, I agree with his assertion that creativity is just as important as Math or Reading. Mind you, I’m not interested in devaluing those things, but rather, increasing opportunities for creative expression in our schools.
I was always a creative kid. I liked to draw, to tell stories, to sing and act. I was also a good student. And as I look back on my life thus far, the places where I have succeeded were where academics and creativity intersected. Then, looking around me at people far more successful than I (and far more creative and brilliant) I notice the same pattern.
Entrepreneurs are successful because they come up with a creative, innovative product, or a brilliantly creative marketing plan – not just because they can do the books. Great physicists explore the micro- and macro-cosmos and develop theories that are sometimes so far-fetched that they sound like science fiction. Do those theories come from calculated formulas or do they come from a creative mind that can see what could be and then do the research to find out if it is. Brilliant playwrights and civil engineers, research oncologists and social workers, pastors and rock stars – those who succeed must be both educated and inspired.
The question, then, is “How do we do it?” I have a feeling there are some brilliant, creative people out there who can figure out a way.
I was watching this great talk by Daniel Kahneman the other night and two things struck me. The first was the way that we remember pain versus the way we experience it. It seems that we remember pain based more on how the painful event ended than actually taking into account the entire event. I would imagine that the same principle holds true with many different feelings: joy, sadness, exhilaration, boredom, etc. Think about a roller coaster. If the first 45 seconds of the coaster are filled with speed, hills and loops, but the last minute and a half is like the Snow White ride at Disney World, you’ll probably leave thinking it was a boring coaster. If, however, you reverse the order of those two things – if you spend a minute and a half meandering through scenery with light and airy music playing in the background, then you spend 45 terrifying seconds white-knuckled to the coaster’s restraining device, I think you’ll leave with a memory that is much more exhilarating.
My application? I think this must be why the “compliment sandwich” works so well.
Scot: “Liza, I love your hair. Your work sucks. Where did you get that sweater?”
Liza: Thanks for the compliment sandwich, Scot.
(courtesy of the Urban Dictionary)
The second thing that jumps out at me is the disparity between what makes for happy experiences and what makes for happy memories. Watch through to the end to see what it is that we think makes us happy (in our contrived memory) and what actually makes us happy (during our life of experience).