Saturday, 24 May 2014

Speech: Brené Brown - Listening to shame

Shame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior. Brené Brown, whose earlier talk on vulnerability became a viral hit, explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. Her own humor, humanity and vulnerability shine through every word. (TED)

A truly inspiring, touching talk!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Article: The Creative Space of Play (D.W. Winnicott)

Original Article for On Luminous Grounds - Sunday 19, September 2010

The great British psychologist D.W. Winnicott believed playing serves as the basis for creativity and the discovery of the self. All human culture, including not only the arts, but science and religion as well, are not diminished but more fruitfully understood and cherished and cultivated when understood as what they are: highly developed forms of playing.

What is playing? Playing, says Winnicott, is first of all something that happens in the interface between our inner world and external reality. Taking place neither strictly in our imagination, nor in the truly external world (ie. all that is out of our control), playing happens in that space where our imagination is able to shape the external world without the experience of compliance, climax, or too much anxiety. (He points out how a high degree of anxiety can accompany play and yet it will remain “essentially satisfying”: however, “there is a degree of anxiety that is unbearable and this destroys playing” [Playing and Reality, 70].)

Examples of what playing is not:

Playing is not compliant. Playing cannot happen when a person feels acute pressure to perform in some mandated way, or to live up to any standard, or to be consistent, or to make sense, or anything else. (Playing by definition allows for the bringing out of the self into the outside world some “sample” of inner or personal reality, in order to shape portions of external reality set according to these “samples”.)

Playing has nothing to do with any climax of instinctual arousal. Rather, “playing can be said to reach its own saturation point, which refers to the capacity to contain experience” (70). Playing is not the climactic satisfaction of any instinctual drive, but a freely creative activity within which the one playing has the capacity to remain in this state of freedom.

Playing cannot involve too much anxiety – ie. fear. Playing can be very frightening, and contain a great deal of anxiety, but at a certain point the level of fear/anxiety destroys the playing.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Speech: Iain McGilchrist - What Happened to the Soul? (RSA)

Part of RSA's series on spirituality in the 21st century, psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist considers the status of the soul. Once considered the most important part, indeed the whole purpose, of a human life - has science now rendered the idea of the soul irretrievably redundant? If so, what have we lost?

For more information about the event go to the RSA event page.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Speech/Article: Shawn Achor - The happy secret to better work (and why are some people stuck in their ways)

“We think we have to be successful, then we’ll be happier. But the real problem is our brains work in the opposite order,” said Shawn Achor in his charming, immensely popular TED Talk from TEDxBloomington, “The happy secret to better work.” Achor is the CEO of consulting firm Good Think, which conducts research on positive psychology and helps people apply it to be happier and more effective at work.

His 2011 talk drew on the research from his bestselling book on positive psychology, The Happiness Advantage, and since then he’s had a new question on his mind: Why are some people able to make positive changes in their lives, while others remain stuck in their ways? His latest book, Before Happiness, published last week by Random House, addresses just this question. In it, Achor describes the five essential elements that are needed to develop a positive mindset for change. We caught up with Achor recently to find out more.

What inspired you to write Before Happiness?

Before somebody can make a change to their health and their happiness, their brain has already constructed a picture of reality in which change is possible or not. Basically, this predicts whether or not they’ll be able to make that change. Some people see a world in which they’re only their genes and their environment; so they can watch a ton of TED Talks, they can read a ton of books, but they won’t actually incorporate any of those new changes into their lives. So the book started out with: “How do we get people to change the way that they view their world?”

You argue that if you think positively you can be more productive. Is there a danger of trying to speed too quickly toward an end goal of perceived success?

Yes. A lot of frustration comes from us being irrationally optimistic about either the goal that we’re creating or the speed and the time it will take to get there. I have a great little cartoon that someone sent me on Twitter: A rhinoceros is on a treadmill, and it’s sweating and running as fast as it possibly can, and it’s looking up at this poster of this beautiful unicorn. So it’s trying to run as fast as it can to be a unicorn, and inherently it’s creating greater levels of frustration, because it’s not a unicorn, it’s a rhinoceros, and it should be the best rhinoceros that it can be.

In Before Happiness I tell the story of how I talked to the CEO of a software company in California, and I got into the car with him, and he drove me to the airport to talk about how we could change his company. He didn’t put on a seatbelt, and I asked him why. He said he was an optimist. Which is crazy! Optimism, while it’s good for a lot of things, doesn’t stop cars from hitting us. It won’t stop reality from hitting us. We don’t want to turn a blind eye to the negative. If we sugarcoat the present, we make bad decisions in the future.

So is there a wrong way to set goals for yourself? 

Monday, 5 May 2014

Speech: Pam Warhurst - How we can eat our landscapes

What should a community do with its unused land? Plant food, of course. With energy and humor, Pam Warhurst tells at the TEDSalon the story of how she and a growing team of volunteers came together to turn plots of unused land into communal vegetable gardens, and to change the narrative of food in their community.