My Quarterly TED Reflections: Q1-2016

Have you looked at the TED Thursday posts I made yet? If not, I invite you to do so now; you can follow the links I have included for easier access.

In my post Mindful Realistic Plans not Resolutions I explained my process of planning and reviewing my progress and goals on a regular basis. Well, now is the time for “2016 First Quarter Review’ and since I have made a habit of choosing a TED Talk to share every week with you, I thought it should be included in my analysis. Furthermore, as you have been part of it, dear readers, I have decided to share with you the reasons I selected a TED Talk and how they have touched/enhanced my life.  In a lot of cases, I went in without knowing who the speakers where; only discovering afterword that often I was aware of them already in some way or another. Without further delays, let’s reflect…

The thirteen TED Talks I chose for the first quarter of 2016 have both been reminders and generators of forces that are propelling me forward. Mindfulness, playfulness, creativity, connection and compassion. These are the things that I want to talk about.

It’s very easy to forget how mindfulness and simple meditation can improve life. I get anxious and sometimes I don’t manage it that well. In these moments, the thought of just stopping everything for a few minutes, taking deep breathes and observing my emotions instead of letting them take me over is the furthest from my mind. I admit it; I forget and end up dwelling, for a while, on stresses real or imagined. But the good thing is that nowadays, I become aware that I am doing it pretty fast. That’s a great thing about having chosen to live mindfully. Maybe I don’t catch myself falling right away or every time, but I do realize that I am down and know that I can get up! That awareness is not simply there in those moments; I do my best to live in a state where I am aware of simple joys and beautiful things I come across in daily life. Experiencing the world from a place where I can feel awe and wonder; delight in life, the creations of other people and the company of kindred spirits.

I did not get where I am at overnight; I have had my “dark nights of the soul”. Before I could even begin on my way back I needed to become aware that new paradigms existed. Cognitive behavioral therapy was the first thing, then there was the concept of neuroplasticity that encouraged me to believe that my innate way of experiencing life could change. It was difficult and it took discipline to slowly let go; you get used to being miserable, it’s easier not to take a good look at yourself and keep the status quo I guess. I needed to be inventive and somewhat trick myself into incorporating some positive new habits that would get me to go forward. It started small like by tracking a small thing here or there for short periods of time. I would be aware of my small victories and they started to pile up, giving me more confidence to try more new approaches. That turned into a yearly review/plan system, then I added quarterly updates so I could remain mindful and not become complacent. The addition of a more playful/light-hearted element to my quest to wellness and self-actualization (SuperBetter) has been an excellent one. While being fun, it also allowed me to make things even clearer for myself. If anything, it exposed me to a new concept that, dare I say, blew my mind: “post traumatic growth”. Understanding what it is, something clicked in my mind all of the sudden. I had not been aware of it, but I had been feeling uncomfortable in some ways that I have changed. When you survive through some trauma or some prolonged ordeal it’s possible to come out the other end changed for the better. And it’s a good thing…

So I have changed when it comes to creativity as well. Despair, sadness, loneliness, self-hatred are not the underlying things that fuels my art anymore, nor do I want them to ever be again. What I put out in the world I want it to be a positive force, one of Love, one that is authentic. It doesn’t mean that my subjects will be devoid of any darkness; balance has to happen. It simply means that when they do lean towards the darker nature, it would be stemming from something beautiful not from a well of destructive emotions. And I don’t feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulder when it comes to creation. I have incorporated some discipline using the Creative Challenge posts as one of my tools. I transformed my approach to creativity also by making it a spiritual practice, by being more playful, by seeing frustrations as being opportunities to try something new and by realizing finally that it’s a collaboration between myself and the Universe so I can let go of that dread that I am failing. And now, creativity fuels me and gives me vitality!

I am still new at collaborating; I have always preferred to do everything by myself in any domain. It just seemed simpler with nothing up for discussion, no delays, no expectations or disappointments other than my own. But things changed greatly for me. Jackson has shown me that it can be a wonderful and stimulating experience to collaborate with someone. He gets who I am and it’s a huge part of the reason I have slowly become more of a public creator. In creativity and in life, it is a gesture of trust to connect and open yourself to the possibility that something beautiful is going to happen. Seriously, surround yourself with people that fan your flame! I realize that I don’t need the whole world to understand who I am and what I want to bring to it anymore; connecting with a few kindred spirits, like you, is enough…

So I am learning to be less rigid with myself by incorporating discipline with a more malleable way of life. It gives me a real a sense of freedom!. I am living playfully, a mindful life, an everyday ecstatic life to the best I can. I create, I connect and I am happier now that I have ever been. Of course I am not going to lie to you, I do have days where I don’t feel that great; where I am uninspired, the weather got me down or stress made me tense. I could be disappointed at myself and think that I should never ever let that happen, not even for a moment, because now I have knowledge and tools to avoid it. But that would get me nowhere, right? There will always be moments where I will feel overwhelmed and uncertain of myself so I choose to have compassion for myself and accept the passing glitch. I choose to breathe deeply, take a good look at myself, smile and say “It’s alright luv, you were authentic, you did well.” It’s all about how I choose to experience life; from a place of self-hatred or one of Love. In Love, things don’t seem so bad even on the bad days! As Anaïs Nin said “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are”.

If you want to look at the details for each TED Talk individually, please continue to read.

January 2016 – Week 1: A Gameful Life “The game that can give you 10 extra years of life” with Jane McGonigal

Why I selected this TED Talk:
“Gamefication” is not an idea that is new to me… For years now, I have incorporated videogames concepts into my daily life; I have turned situations like running errands into a quest, each stop on my way being a step towards my goals. Jane McGonigal helped me to bring into my life a more formal although fun way to live a “gameful life” (I love that term). But I think that what really blew my mind in this TED Talk is my introduction to the concept of “post-traumatic growth” (In an over-simplified way: What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger…).

How that TED Talk touched and enhanced my life:
I actually created a SuperBetter account and started to play. I struggled a little bit at first, but as I read the book, I was able to tweak more and more my experience. It truly helped me to start the year beautifully, bringing even more mindfulness into my daily life… It has been a tool that has brought me a lot of clarity. I eventually discovered that a good friend of mine played SuperBetter over a year ago and that it helped him; he offered to become an “ally” and I realized that I could really open up to him… I was able to create new ways to express what my goals (Quests) and the obstacles I sometime face (Bad Guys) are. I was able to determine specific strategies that help me when I am in a rut or having a bad moment/day. It’s taking things seriously, but without being serious about it. One last thing; I mentioned “post-traumatic growth”; understanding this idea fostered a new perspective on my life… I don’t feel it necessary to go into details here, but please, do read about this concept, watch the Talk and read SuperBetter…

January 2016 – Week 2: Creating with Joy “Your elusive creative genius” with Elizabeth Gilbert

Why I selected this TED Talk:
To start with, to my great surprise I am loving this woman! I had no idea, no idea at all that I would enjoy her TED Talk to this point, she is funny, bright and honestly quite interesting… I didn’t know who she was when I pressed play; the author of “Eat, Pray, Love”. I had preconceptions about that book as being a bunch of chick-flick nonsense. I am so glad I went in blind; I might have missed out on something great.

How that TED Talk touched and enhanced my life:
I am currently reading her book “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear”. I just love her way of thinking and the way she expresses herself both on stage and in writing. On the subject of everybody having a “genius”, an outside force that works with you and through you… Certainly I have sometimes felt a creative flow rise within me, one that could not be denied, one that made me feel like I was looking through other eyes… but I never stopped to think of it in quite the way Elizabeth Gilbert puts it. It does make sense; I like that perspective… You show up, make the effort, do the work, have discipline; your genius does it’s part (or not…) I feel a great relief to shift my paradigm on this particular topic. I have always expected so much, way too much out of myself when it comes to creativity. It has more than often left me paralyzed, incapable to do anything because the thought of not making something “good” was mortifying. I preferred to avoid creating than bring into reality something that would make me cringe because it’s not “quite right”. I also think that for the longest time, I have been living under the assumption that a creative life has to be one of sadness, anger and despair. With a few moments of great elations, but then so many more feeling like I am reaching in the dark. Jackson and I had long discussions on the subject; and so, that mindset changed a few months back; I had no interest in keeping those emotions as fuel; I want to create from joy! Yep, creation should be joyous!!!

January 2016 – Week 3: An Underwater Museum “An underwater art museum, teeming with life” with Jason deCaires Taylor

Why I selected this TED Talk:
I sorta have this obsession with underwater sunken structures, a fascination really since I was a kid.

How that TED Talk touched and enhance my life:
Very simply, I posted it because it’s beautiful… Because I felt the same sense of awe and wonder as the first time I saw images of it. I am just glad that I now know more about the project. I hope it leaves you wide eyes as well.

January 2016 – Week 4: Creative Mindfulness “Finding the Story Inside the Painting” with Tracy Chevalier

Why I selected this TED Talk:
Because like Tracy Chevalier, I really enjoy looking at images to inspire myself to create. I have used it to create characters and their life stories in roleplaying games.

How that TED Talk touched and enhanced my life:
I like to have randomly generated prompts to inspire myself to create. But I guess I had somewhat forgotten that I also use to enjoy looking deep into a found image and expand on it. Who are they? What just happened? Why do they have this expression on their face? Etc… I will start to do this again for the simple joy of creation. It was a great reminder… It’s also an interesting way to use creativity as a meditative practice.

February 2016 – Week 5: Mindfully Breaking Habits “A simple way to break a bad habit” with Judson Brewer

Why I selected this TED Talk:
Mindfully breaking habits.…that is right in line with what I do. Since I am so devoted to plan, observe and review, it seemed very apropos to include this Talk.

How that TED Talk touched and enhanced my life:
This one was reinforcement for myself on something I already do. But I thought it was very important to share it with you. It is a nice introduction to mindfulness with a purpose for those that are just starting with it. What he talks about makes so much sense… Instead of fighting against yourself at every step when you are engaged in a behavior that you want to change, you can be mindful and be curious about it… When the full portrait is clearer on how it feels to you, letting go might come to you quite naturally.

February 2016 – Week 6: Step Back for a Moment “All it takes is 10 mindful minutes” with Andy Puddicombe

Why I selected this TED Talk:
Again, this was about mindfulness and Andy Puddicombe was insightful and quite entertaining while talking about it…

How that TED Talk touched and enhanced my life:
There are many meditative practices; through creativity, reflection, music, walking, etc. But meditation doesn’t have to be complicated; there is no need to go into a deep trance; you only need to be present in the moment and observe. I do need to be reminded to spend some time not doing anything!

February 2016 – Week 7: Serenity Now “The habits of Happiness” with Matthieu Ricard

Why I selected this TED Talk:
I was aware of his book “The Monk and the Philosopher” which is a dialogue about Buddhism today between him and his father (a philosopher of course). I find this man interesting because he used to be a biochemist before he became a Buddhist monk.

How that TED Talk touched and enhanced my life:
Once more, this is a talk about mindfulness, a subject of great importance to me. He talks about meditation being mind-training and being transformative. That happiness and well-being are parts of inner works. As he spoke of looking inwards, I thought of “The Litany Against Fear” from Dune. Meditation is such a simple way to improve your quality of life…

February 2016 – Week 8: Opening Up to Compassion “We can be Buddhas” with Robert Thurman

Why I selected this TED Talk:
Because I am intrigued by that man (who I realized is Uma Thurman’s father), the first American to be ordained a Tibetan Monk (when he was 24) by the Dalai Lama.

How that TED Talk touched and enhanced my life:
It appears that it is difficult for me to say anything about this TED Talk; but it did touch me and it did enhance my life to watch it. I guess it’s his delivery and the connections he makes that stirred something within me. He speaks not only of compassion and how when you get out of your own pain you feel yourself differently, but he also mentioned neuroplasticity and cognitive behavioral therapy in connection to Buddhism and meditation.

March 2016 – Week 9: Connecting with Kindred Spirits “The art of asking” with Amanda Palmer

Why I selected this TED Talk:
It’s Amanda Palmer.…I didn’t need any other reason…

How that TED Talk touched and enhanced my life:
There are kindred spirits out there; some close, some far, some I already know, some I will come to discover. You can connect with people, even if just a few “get you”. There is a support system that exists; Emotionally, materially, monetarily, creatively… But only if I ask for help. I have to be unashamed to do it; I’ve got to trust. I can’t say anymore; you’ve got to watch this talk. I found it incredibly inspiring; it’s certainly pushing me forwards to create a project and a life that bring me happiness!

March 2016 – Week 10: Everything is Awesome! “The 3 A’s of awesome” with Neil Pasricha

Why I selected this TED Talk:
I read “The Book of Awesome” in 2011; it lists all those simple pleasures of life, those things that can make you smile, even on a bad day, if you take notice of them.

How that TED Talk touched and enhanced my life:
Now I don’t want to say too much about this talk. I just like the fact that he enjoys sharing with the world the universal little pleasures we sometimes forget to notice. It’s important to be able to focus on positive things that bring you even small daily joyful moments. He talks about a few things that he feels can lead to a rich, fulfilling, satisfying life. One of them is authenticity or “being you and being cool with that”. Since being authentic is something extremely important to me, I felt even more of an interest in what he had to say.

March 2016 – Week 11: The Quiet Ones “The Power of Introverts” with Susan Cain

Why I selected this TED Talk:
I am an introvert…this is who I am at my core. We live in a world that is loud, a world that never shuts up, a world that glorifies the boisterous and loudest voice.

How that TED Talk touched and enhanced my life:
The message out there indeed feels like, if you are an introvert, well, there is something that needs to be done about it; it’s a flaw of character. I have never been someone for huge crowds, always preferring smaller gatherings, working alone or in small groups, reading, writing, listening to music… I felt a little ashamed that I still have not felt a need to act more like an extrovert now that my generalized anxiety disorder is managed and that large groups of people are not sending me into a panic anymore. This TED Talk made me stop and realize that as an introvert I have strengths and talents that I should be proud of. That being an introvert is just another part of myself that I should celebrate!

March 2016 – Week 12: Communities of Learners “The nerd’s guide to learning everything online” with John Green

Why I selected this TED Talk:
Lifelong Learning, that is something I devote at least a little bit of time to everyday. It’s incredibly important to me! I just love to discover new things, learn new skills, explore different subjects that have caught my attention. It fuels me, always has.

How that TED Talk touched and enhanced my life:
I have always been more of a solitary learner; I am now considering the possibility to join others online in their quest to knowledge…I mean, why not, right?

March 2016 – Week 13: The Challenges of Creativity “How frustration can make us more creative” with Tim Harford

Why I selected this TED Talk:
Simple enough: my old Wacom has been a source of frustration. It’s strange, but by not being able to do precise coloring, I realized that I have always liked to color within the lines. Weird colors, yes, but within lines. It tends to be different when I paint on canvas; there is usually no sketch or no defined space. I had been wanting to have a monthly Creative Challenge post here where I would have a series of prompts to propel me forward into creation, just for the fun of it. But so far I have posted only sketches because whatever attempts to do any coloring has left me disappointed.

How that TED Talk touched and enhanced my life:
I did say in my post that when I would come up with a way to color that satisfied me I would post my creations to my Artwork/Portfolio and here. Well, evidently I have to think in a whole new way that I am not used to. I have to forget about the lines altogether. I will not let this technical issue derail me; I will see it as an opportunity to explore something new. Yep, it’s gonna be messy…



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