TED Talk Tuesday – Rev. Deborah Johnson: It’s Time To Evolve How We Resolve

This is a really powerful talk from the Rev. Deborah Johnson. Rev. Johnson gives a heart felt speech on the importance of our common humanity, and why we must live from this shared place of love. She argues that in order for us to move forward as a species we must move from an “I” or “Me” frame of mind to a “We” frame of mind.

 

“The only thing that ever needs to be healed in the world is just a sense of separation. You can’t find any problem that is derived out of human activity that is not ultimately rooted in some profound, proverbial sense of separation.”

“What heals this sense of separation is a new understanding of oneness. It’s an awareness of our innate connectedness to one another. Another name for this oneness is love.”

“It’s time for us to move to a more inclusive ‘love your neighbor as your self’. It’s time for us to evolve to a new sense of oneness, which will require that we develop an identity of ‘We’.”

 

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Ted Talk Tuesday – Nigel Marsh: How to make work-life balance work

This is an interesting talk from Nigel Marsh on the importance and methods of a well-balanced life. Marsh mentions many several good points but the one that sticks out is the fact that small things matter. If we take small measured efforts to balance our lives  we could potentially experience significant change. Are you happy with your work/life balance? How do you maintain that balance in such a fast-paced world? Share in the comments.

 

But the trouble is so many people talk so much rubbish about work-life balance. All the discussions about flexi-time or dress-down Fridays or paternity leave only serve to mask the core issue, which is that certain job and career choices are fundamentally incompatible with being meaningfully engaged on a day-to-day basis with a young family.

Now the first step in solving any problem is acknowledging the reality of the situation you’re in. And the reality of the society that we’re in is there are thousands and thousands of people out there leading lives of quiet, screaming desperation, where they work long, hard hours at jobs they hate to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.

The second observation I’d like to make is we need to face the truth that governments and corporations aren’t going to solve this issue for us. We should stop looking outside. It’s up to us as individuals to take control and responsibility for the type of lives that we want to lead. If you don’t design your life, someone else will design it for you, and you may just not like their idea of balance. It’s particularly important — this isn’t on the World Wide Web, is it? I’m about to get fired — it’s particularly important that you never put the quality of your life in the hands of a commercial corporation. Now I’m not talking here just about the bad companies — the “abattoirs of the human soul,” as I call them. (Laughter) I’m talking about all companies. Because commercial companies are inherently designed to get as much out of you [as] they can get away with. It’s in their nature; it’s in their DNA; it’s what they do —even the good, well-intentioned companies.

The third observation is we have to be careful with the time frame that we choose upon which to judge our balance... We need to be realistic. You can’t do it all in one day. We need to elongate the time frame upon which we judge the balance in our life, but we need to elongate itwithout falling into the trap of the “I’ll have a life when I retire, when my kids have left home,when my wife has divorced me, my health is failing, I’ve got no mates or interests left.”(Laughter) A day is too short; “after I retire” is too long. There’s got to be a middle way.

A fourth observation: We need to approach balance in a balanced way.

Now my point is the small things matter. Being more balanced doesn’t mean dramatic upheaval in your life. With the smallest investment in the right places, you can radically transform the quality of your relationships and the quality of your life. Moreover, I think, it can transform society. Because if enough people do it, we can change society’s definition of success away from the moronically simplistic notion that the person with the most money when he dies wins, to a more thoughtful and balanced definition of what a life well lived looks like.

TED Talk Tuesday – Reggie Watts disorients you in the most entertaining way

This man is a genius and turns my frown in to a massive smile. Just how, just how is he so creative? So amazing it makes me laugh.

Improve artist Reggie Watts dazzles the TED audience with his tremendous skills in this brief presentation (plus he layers on some sage words of advice). Switching between improve, stand up, and musical fluidity, Watts puts together a one of kind performance. Enjoy!

” Four years ago I worked with a few people at the Brookings Institute, and I arrived at a conclusion.(Laughter) Tomorrow is another day. (Laughter) Not just any day, but it is a day. It will get here, there’s no question. And the important thing to remember is that this simulation is a good one. It’s believable, it’s tactile. You can reach out — things are solid. You can move objects from one area to another. You can feel your body. You can say, “I’d like to go over to this location,” and you can move this mass of molecules through the air over to another location at will. (Laughter) That’s something you live inside of every day.

So, as I say before the last piece, feel not as though it is a sphere we live on, rather an infinite plane which has the illusion of leading yourself back to the point of origin. (Laughter) Once we understand that all the spheres in the sky are just large infinite planes, it will be plain to see.

TED Talk Tuesday – Candy Chang: Before I die I want to…

Artist and TED Fellow Candy Chang has revolutionized her community in New Orleans. Through innovatively engaging space, art, and her neighbors, Chang has discovered new ways of connecting to our shared humanity. “Before I die I want to…”, her most popular project to date, has been replicated around to world from Argentina to South Africa; illuminating our secret desperation to connect to our fellow human beings.  With degrees in architecture, graphic design, and urban planning, Chang uses her vast knowledge and skill set to reimagine space, home, and community.

For me this talk illustrates the power of sharing a story, how a story can be used to better understand each other and ourselves. Fill in the blank “Before I die I want to…”

There are a lot of ways the people around us can help improve our lives. We don’t bump into every neighbor, so a lot of wisdom never gets passed on, though we do share the same public spaces.

So over the past few years, I’ve tried ways to share more with my neighbors in public space, using simple tools like stickers, stencils and chalk.

Now, I live in New Orleans, and I am in love with New Orleans. My soul is always soothed by the giant live oak trees, shading lovers, drunks and dreamers for hundreds of years, and I trust a city that always makes way for music. (Laughter) I feel like every time someone sneezes, New Orleans has a parade. (Laughter) The city has some of the most beautiful architecture in the world, but it also has one of the highest amounts of abandoned properties in America.

In 2009, I lost someone I loved very much. Her name was Joan, and she was a mother to me, and her death was sudden and unexpected. And I thought about death a lot, and this made me feel deep gratitude for the time I’ve had, and brought clarity to the things that are meaningful to my life now. But I struggle to maintain this perspective in my daily life. I feel like it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, and forget what really matters to you.

So this neglected space became a constructive one, and people’s hopes and dreams made me laugh out loud, tear up, and they consoled me during my own tough times. It’s about knowing you’re not alone. It’s about understanding our neighbors in new and enlightening ways. It’s about making space for reflection and contemplation, and remembering what really matters most to us as we grow and change.

Two of the most valuable things we have are time and our relationships with other people.In our age of increasing distractions, it’s more important than ever to find ways to maintain perspective and remember that life is brief and tender. Death is something that we’re often discouraged to talk about or even think about, but I’ve realized that preparing for death is one of the most empowering things you can do. Thinking about death clarifies your life.

Our shared spaces can better reflect what matters to us as individuals and as a community, and with more ways to share our hopes, fears and stories, the people around us can not only help us make better places, they can help us lead better lives. Thank you.

TED Talk Tuesday – Pico Iyer: Where is home?

Thoughtful and philosophical, Pico Iyer challenges us to think of the relationship between movement and stillness. As an accomplished travel writer, Iyer has been to many different places and his constant movement has caused him to question the concept of home. With an ever evolving world the question of “where is home?” is poignant and timely.  In the end, Iyer reveals his understanding of home as being a place for stillness, quiet, calm, and self-discovery.

And for more and more of us, home has really less to do with a piece of soil than, you could say, with a piece of soul. If somebody suddenly asks me, “Where’s your home?” I think about my sweetheart or my closest friends or the songs that travel with me wherever I happen to be.

The number of people living in countries not their own now comes to 220 million, and that’s an almost unimaginable number, but it means that if you took the whole population of Canada and the whole population of Australia and then the whole population of Australia again and the whole population of Canada again and doubled that number, you would still have fewer people than belong to this great floating tribe. And the number of us who live outside the old nation-state categories is increasing so quickly, by 64 million just in the last 12 years, that soon there will be more of us than there are Americans. Already, we represent the fifth-largest nation on Earth. And in fact, in Canada’s largest city, Toronto, the average resident today is what used to be called a foreigner, somebody born in a very different country.

And I’ve always felt that the beauty of being surrounded by the foreign is that it slaps you awake. You can’t take anything for granted. Travel, for me, is a little bit like being in love,because suddenly all your senses are at the setting marked “on.” Suddenly you’re alert to the secret patterns of the world. The real voyage of discovery, as Marcel Proust famously said, consists not in seeing new sights, but in looking with new eyes. And of course, once you have new eyes, even the old sights, even your home become something different.

And I began to think that really, movement was only as good as the sense of stillness that you could bring to it to put it into perspective.

And I began to think that something in me had really been crying out for stillness, but of course I couldn’t hear it because I was running around so much. I was like some crazy guy who puts on a blindfold and then complains that he can’t see a thing. And I thought back to that wonderful phrase I had learned as a boy from Seneca, in which he says, “That man is poor not who has little but who hankers after more.”

And, of course, I’m not suggesting that anybody here go into a monastery. That’s not the point. But I do think it’s only by stopping movement that you can see where to go. And it’s only by stepping out of your life and the world that you can see what you most deeply care about and find a home.

Movement is a fantastic privilege, and it allows us to do so much that our grandparentscould never have dreamed of doing. But movement, ultimately, only has a meaning if you have a home to go back to. And home, in the end, is of course not just the place where you sleep. It’s the place where you stand.

 

TED Talk Tuesday – Gavin Pretor-Pinney: Cloudy with a chance of joy

Such a lovely and heartwarming talk. Here Gavin Pretor-Pinney, the founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society, reminds us to simply look up. He speaks of clouds with great eloquence and passion and makes a case for why cloud gazing can be a soul enriching experience.

Aristophanes, the ancient Greek playwright, he described the clouds as the patron goddesses of idle fellows two and a half thousand years ago, and you can see what he means. It’s just that these days, us adults seem reluctant to allow ourselves the indulgenceof just allowing our imaginations to drift along in the breeze, and I think that’s a pity. I think we should perhaps do a bit more of it.

They’re like nature’s version of those inkblot images, you know, that shrinks used to show their patients in the ’60s, and I think if you consider the shapes you see in the clouds, you’ll save money on psychoanalysis bills.

Clouds are not something to moan about. Far from it. They are, in fact, the most diverse, evocative, poetic aspect of nature. I think, if you live with your head in the clouds every now and then, it helps you keep your feet on the ground.

” These clouds are bombing along, but from all the way down here, they appear to be moving gracefully, slowly, like most clouds.And so to tune into the clouds is to slow down, to calm down. It’s like a bit of everyday meditation.

” Clouds are the most egalitarian of nature’s displays, because we all have a good, fantastic view of the sky.And these clouds, these rarer clouds, remind us that the exotic can be found in the everyday. Nothing is more nourishing, more stimulating to an active, inquiring mind than being surprised, being amazed. It’s why we’re all here at TED, right? But you don’t need to rush off away from the familiar, across the world to be surprised. You just need to step outside, pay attention to what’s so commonplace, so everyday, so mundane that everybody else misses it.

” We don’t live beneath the sky. We live within it. And that connection, that visceral connection to our atmosphere feels to me like an antidote. It’s an antidote to the growing tendency we have to feel that we can really ever experience life by watching it on a computer screen, you know, when we’re in a wi-fi zone.

Sometimes we need excuses to do nothing. We need to be reminded by these patron goddesses of idle fellows that slowing down and being in the present, not thinking aboutwhat you’ve got to do and what you should have done, but just being here, letting your imagination lift from the everyday concerns down here and just being in the present, it’s good for you, and it’s good for the way you feel. It’s good for your ideas. It’s good for your creativity. It’s good for your soul.

TED Talk Tuesday – Tom Thum: The orchestra in my mouth

You will most likely learn absolutely nothing from this video but if you are not at least somewhat impressed than I would have to wonder if you and I were watching the same thing.

This man’s talent is jaw dropping. Tom Thum, a native Australian, has managed to make a career out of the odd noises that come out of his mouth aka beat-boxing. It is amazing how a skill originally rooted in the Hip-Hop culture of America has traveled the world; it speaks to the power of art to traverse all boundaries.

Enjoy this entertaining and delightful TED talk.

 

TED Talk Tuesday: Bernie Krause: The voice of the natural world

Such an unassuming and gentle talk, Bernie Krause infuses his presentation with a subtle yet impassioned energy. We have experienced nature through a limited perspective, but according to Krause if we include sound we are guaranteed a full 360 degree experience. Studying the sound of an environment is also a better indicator of the health of a space. Enjoy this glorious talk and may it inspire you to step outside and listen.

The soundscape is made up of three basic sources. The first is the geophony, or the nonbiological sounds that occur in any given habitat, like wind in the trees, water in a stream, waves at the ocean shore, movement of the Earth. The second of these is the biophony. The biophony is all of the sound that’s generated by organisms in a given habitatat one time and in one place. And the third is all of the sound that we humans generatethat’s called anthrophony. Some of it is controlled, like music or theater, but most of it is chaotic and incoherent, which some of us refer to as noise.

When I began recording over four decades ago, I could record for 10 hours and capture one hour of usable material, good enough for an album or a film soundtrack or a museum installation. Now, because of global warming, resource extraction, and human noise, among many other factors, it can take up to 1,000 hours or more to capture the same thing. Fully 50 percent of my archive comes from habitats so radically altered that they’re either altogether silent or can no longer be heard in any of their original form.

Well, I’ve returned to Lincoln Meadow 15 times in the last 25 years, and I can tell you that the biophony, the density and diversity of that biophony, has not yet returned to anything like it was before the operation. But here’s a picture of Lincoln Meadow taken after, and you can see that from the perspective of the camera or the human eye, hardly a stick or a tree appears to be out of place, which would confirm the logging company’s contention that there’s nothing of environmental impact. However, our ears tell us a very different story.

There are many facets to soundscapes, among them the ways in which animals taught us to dance and sing, which I’ll save for another time. But you have heard how biophonies help clarify our understanding of the natural world. You’ve heard the impact of resource extraction, human noise and habitat destruction. And where environmental sciences have typically tried to understand the world from what we see, a much fuller understanding can be got from what we hear. Biophonies and geophonies are the signature voices of the natural world, and as we hear them, we’re endowed with a sense of place, the true story of the world we live in. In a matter of seconds, a soundscape reveals much more informationfrom many perspectives, from quantifiable data to cultural inspiration. Visual capture implicitly frames a limited frontal perspective of a given spatial context, while soundscapes widen that scope to a full 360 degrees, completely enveloping us. And while a picture may be worth 1,000 words, a soundscape is worth 1,000 pictures. And our ears tell us that the whisper of every leaf and creature speaks to the natural sources of our lives, which indeed may hold the secrets of love for all things, especially our own humanity, and the last word goes to a jaguar from the Amazon.

TED Talk Tuesday: Meg Jay: Why 30 is not the new 20

Oh how I wish I had this in my early twenties, even in my mid-twenties…so much wasted time and unearned “identity capital.”

Dr. Jay is a clinical psychologist who’s work focuses primarily on adult development and particularly the crucial 20s. As a former Outward Bound instructor, University of Berkeley student, and currently in private practice in Virginia, Jay has thus far had an interesting career journey. She most recently published the book “The Defining Decade,” which is a how to guide for twenty-somethings (and beyond) who still don’t have a clue. Jay’s TED talk is an abridged version of her book but still effectively covers all the key points. Her real message, you kind of just have to live life in order to figure it out, the process happens simultaneously.

For all the twenty-somethings out there, hope this can be a positive guiding force.

With the funny stories that Alex would bring to session, it was easy for me just to nod my head while we kicked the can down the road. “Thirty’s the new 20,” Alex would say, and as far as I could tell, she was right. Work happened later, marriage happened later, kids happened later, even death happened later. Twentysomethings like Alex and I had nothing but time.

And then my supervisor said, “Not yet, but she might marry the next one. Besides, the best time to work on Alex’s marriage is before she has one.”

That’s what psychologists call an “Aha!” moment. That was the moment I realized, 30 is not the new 20. Yes, people settle down later than they used to, but that didn’t make Alex’s 20s a developmental downtime. That made Alex’s 20s a developmental sweet spot, and we were sitting there blowing it.That was when I realized that this sort of benign neglect was a real problem, and it had real consequences, not just for Alex and her love life but for the careers and the families and the futures of twentysomethings everywhere.

So I specialize in twentysomethings because I believe that every single one of those 50 million twentysomethings deserves to know what psychologists, sociologists, neurologists and fertility specialists already know: that claiming your 20s is one of the simplest, yet most transformative, things you can do for work, for love, for your happiness, maybe even for the world.

We know that the brain caps off its second and last growth spurt in your 20s as it rewires itself for adulthood, which means that whatever it is you want to change about yourself, now is the time to change it. We know that personality changes more during your 20s than at any other time in life, and we know that female fertility peaks at age 28, and things get tricky after age 35. So your 20s are the time to educate yourself about your body and your options.

” But what we hear less about is that there’s such a thing as adult development, and our 20s are that critical period of adult development.

Okay, now that sounds a little flip, but make no mistake, the stakes are very high. When a lot has been pushed to your 30s, there is enormous thirtysomething pressure to jump-start a career, pick a city, partner up, and have two or three kids in a much shorter period of time. Many of these things are incompatible, and as research is just starting to show,simply harder and more stressful to do all at once in our 30s.

First, I told Emma to forget about having an identity crisis and get some identity capital. By get identity capital, I mean do something that adds value to who you are. Do something that’s an investment in who you might want to be next.

Identity capital begets identity capital. So now is the time for that cross-country job, that internship, that startup you want to try. I’m not discounting twentysomething exploration here, but I am discounting exploration that’s not supposed to count, which, by the way, is not exploration. That’s procrastination.

Second, I told Emma that the urban tribe is overrated. Best friends are great for giving rides to the airport, but twentysomethings who huddle together with like-minded peers limit who they know, what they know, how they think, how they speak, and where they work. That new piece of capital, that new person to date almost always comes from outside the inner circle.

Last but not least, Emma believed that you can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends. Now this was true for her growing up, but as a twentysomething, soon Emma would pick her family when she partnered with someone and created a family of her own.

The best time to work on your marriage is before you have one,and that means being as intentional with love as you are with work. Picking your family is about consciously choosing who and what you want rather than just making it work or killing time with whoever happens to be choosing you.

So here’s an idea worth spreading to every twentysomething you know. It’s as simple as what I learned to say to Alex. It’s what I now have the privilege of saying to twentysomethings like Emma every single day: Thirty is not the new 20, so claim your adulthood, get some identity capital, use your weak ties, pick your family. Don’t be defined by what you didn’t know or didn’t do. You’re deciding your life right now. Thank you.