David Brooks: The Social Animal

In February 2011, Writer, thinker and NY Times columnist  David Brooks presented “The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement”. In this 18 minute presentation he touches on something that everyone should strive to understand. Watch the video and see if you can spot what this is:

Did you spot it? For me, it’s this point:

Reading and educating your emotions is one of the key central activities of wisdom

For many of us, we believe that our rational minds can help us live better lives, and that emotions or feelings are not important. This is not so. Neurologist Antonio Damasio noted that in a number of patients who had lost the ability to experience emotion were no longer able to make a decision. What should have taken a few seconds was now taking minutes. What should take minutes was now taking hours. David Hume (an eighteenth century Scottish philosopher) declared that “reason was the slave of the passions” (lifted from How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer). David Brooks supports this view as well, and urges us all to become better at understanding our emotions to not only become better individuals, but a better society overall.

Some other points from the video you may find interesting:

  • When we think about human capital, we think about things we can measure easily – things like grades, SAT’s, degrees, the number of years in schooling. What it really takes to do well, to lead a meaningful life are things that are deeper, things we don’t really even have words for.
    • The first gift or talent is mindsight – the ability to enter into other people’s minds and learn what they have to offer.
    • The second skill is equal poise – The ability to have the serenity to read the biases and failures in your own mind.
    • The third trait is medes, what we might call street smarts – it’s a Greek word. It’s a sensitivity to the physical environment – derive a gist.
  • Limerance. This is not an ability, it’s a drive and motivation. The conscious mind hungers for success and prestige. The unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence, when the skull line disappears and we are lost in a challenge or task.

Are you ignoring your emotions, or are you precisely tuned into them? I’ve shared some of my thoughts above and would love to hear yours in the comments below!

A textbook way to live your life

It’s not often you find someone who’s laid out a list of rules/guidelines on how to live (what I believe) is a great life. There are a number of interesting points in the license agreement for Eugene Blanchard’s 2007 textbook Introduction to Data Communications. I am not sure there are many books out there with such a great outlook on how to live your life!
Image courtesy of ThinkTank Media

  • That you will try to be a better person today than yesterday.
  • That you will exercise your body as well as your mind.
  • That you will tell the persons dear to you that you love them.
  • That you will defend the rights of those who are unable to defend themselves.
  • That you will not hurt your family members emotionally or physically.
  • That you will respect your elders and care for them in time of need.
  • That you will respect the rights of others in their religious beliefs.
  • That you will respect the rights of others in their sexual orientation.
  • That every man, woman and child has the right to be here and is equal regardless of race, creed or color.
  • That you will act honorably in all aspects of your personal and business life.
  • That your family is first and foremost the most important thing in your life.
  • That when you make a mistake, that you admit it and make amends.

This book is available online in the hope it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

I resonate with almost all of them – Which ones do you believe in? Which 1 (one) would you choose to work on for the rest of 2011?

Note: this article originally appeared on boingboing & quoted from here.

Japan Earthquake & Tsunami

To my dear friends, colleagues and wonderful folk of Japan: My heart goes out to all of you during this difficult time.

At times, Mother Nature shouts, whilst man feels powerless & speechless.

Words cannot describe what you must be going through or what your future holds but I want to let you all know that you are in our thoughts and I want to wish you all the strength, luck and good fortune during the coming days as you begin to clean up & rebuild your fabulous country.

Helping others

A quick post here to share a 3 min video with you of the great work for his fellow man, being undertaken by Narayanan Krishnan, one of CNN’s top 10 heroes of 2010. I’d love for you to answer the question I pose after the below the video

What thoughts came to mind when you watched the video?