Here is a totally unique view that strings together personal experiences to show how valuable the act of stillness can be. This talk highlights the struggle that comes with overlapping your passions with your work, something that many of us experience. Pico Iyer demonstrates a great deal of insight into the balance of experiencing what the world has to offer and the quiet moments we need to comprehend them. He summarises it beautifully when he says, “in an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still”. Iyer also considers the work and life balance, and how we so often feel guilt for taking time for ourselves. Yet this time is not wasted, as only by taking this time to reflect can we contribute something valuable and new to the world.
Andy Puddicombe looks at how society has gotten into the habit of never sitting still. Our minds are always either planning ahead or thinking back on our past, and so we never take the time to really exist in the moment. While many of us see meditation as a short-term fix, Puddicombe suggests we use it as a preventative measure. Doing nothing can often make us feel guilty, and we only feel productive when we are constantly on the go. We habitually focus on and reinforce the things that make us worry without even thinking. Puddicombe suggests taking a step back and seeing how our mind works during these moments to educate ourselves about how much we worry. Seeing for ourselves can be enlightening and help us to quieten down our insistent internal monologue.
With significant research behind her, Dwek has a great deal of knowledge about how exactly we react to “failure”. In this talk, she demonstrates how looking at failure as part of a process to succeed at what we cannot do, rather than an opportunity for judgment from others can do wonders for our performance in the long run. As people, we often feel that validation is the only way to judge our worth, so Dwek proposes that rewarding the process rather than the reward can boost our engagement and make us curious about life again. You are not set in who you are there are ways to change, and it is good to persist even when you don’t always succeed.
In a fascinating talk, Biochemist turned Buddhist monk Mattieu Ricard discusses what it really means to be happy. We often see happiness as a fleeting and short-term emotion, but Ricard questions why exactly this is. We tend to control much of the world around us as a way of achieving short bursts of fulfilment consistently, but this system is often flimsy and illusory. Many of the short-term things that bring us happiness make us feel worse overall, or become a detriment to other people.
We should instead look to train our minds to look inward. Ricard encourages us to move toward our negative emotions rather than shunning them, as these things are not as daunting on closer inspection. If we can learn new habits over time and change the way we think, then why can’t we do this for kindness too?
Psychiatrist Judson Brewer provides a very clear explanation of why we do the things we do. Many of our basic behaviours start from a place of survival and grow into something that can be far less beneficial to us. Brewer explains how some habits can be harmful but in no way condemns us for it -even when we know better in principle, we act out without thinking. This isn’t us being inherently awful, it’s just hard to act against instincts. We simply want to feel good. Brewer recommends that instead of being frustrated with ourselves, we should take the time to be curious. Just being aware of what is happening in our bodies can help alleviate the pressure without giving in, and give us a new perspective into how our body functions.
Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin discusses how we act differently under stress and the reasons why, incorporating our brain’s reactions into our busy day-to-day lives. Levitin provides some easy methods to improve our general attentiveness to our lives, as well as how to react proactively in stressful situations. When we are suddenly put under pressure we often wobble, meaning we don’t always make the best decisions. Levitin shows us that this is normal, and how we can work with our brains to make it easier for us to be calm when stressed out in the future.
Deeply personal and inspiring, Shannon Paige discusses her battle with cancer at 21 years old and her following struggles with depression. She tackles difficult subjects and shows how all the strength in the world isn't always enough. Realistic and open, she discusses how the mind-body connection and taking that initiative in ourselves can help with combatting mental illness. Mental illness is something that many of us struggle with in our lives, yet it’s not a discussion that everyone is comfortable having or engaging with. Shannon Paige’s talk brings to light the idea that we have a say in what parts of our lives control us and provides ways to make this process that little bit easier.