Three simple reminders.
1. Slow down.
I watched two fighters I train with grapple on the mat the other week, each with very different fighting styles. One relied on strength to muscle his way towards a submission while the other relied on patience and technique. While the first fighter flailed his arms and legs trying to take his opponent’s back, the second fighter waited for his opponent to let down his guard. Sure enough, the second fighter caught his opponent in a leg lock. The entire scene passed by simultaneously in slow motion and fast forward, with the first fighter panicking and trying to pass an arm here and a leg there with no avail while the second patiently worked his way towards the leg lock. Slow and deliberate. I had to learn that lesson the hard way from him too.
Needless to say, Carl Honore also advocates getting in touch with one’s “inner tortoise” for good reason.
Memorable lines from Honore’s talk:
– …Everyone these days wants to know how to slow down, but they want to know how to slow down really quickly.
– These days even instant gratification takes too long.
– So we used to dial; now we speed dial. We used to read; now we speed read. We used to walk; now we speed walk. And of course, we used to date and now we speed date.
– In other cultures, time is cyclical. It’s seen as moving in great, uhurried circles. It’s always renewing and refreshing itself. Whereas in the West, time is linear. It’s a finite resource; it’s always draining away. You either use it, or lose it.
The smile is the one underrated gem on the human body that is significantly more useful than a perfect set of breasts hovering over an Aston Martin at the auto show or washboard abs in a Dolce & Gabana advertisement. It is consistently underestimated and its effectiveness flies under everyone’s radar. For how deceptively powerful it is during a job interview and how much weight it carries on a first date, not many people capitalize on its potential. Forget about putting the best foot forward and start thinking about putting those pearly whites to work.
Under different circumstances, the 7.5 minutes worth of random facts about smiling in Ron Gutman’s talk would be useless to listen to, but given the TED floor, he sends a much-needed reminder to his audience of successful people—entrepreneurs, CEOs, creative geniuses, academics, and the like—of the power of a smile.
It’s common sense. It needs little discussion, but the research that backs his claims up make for good conversation around the water cooler. Some facts worth pondering while you walk on a crowded street, wait in a long line, or enter into a room full of friends or colleagues:
– In a 30-year longitudinal study on success and well-being, researchers were able to predict how fulfilling and long-lasting a subject’s marriage would be, how well the individual would score on standardized tests of well-being, and how inspiring the person is to others—all based on the subject’s smile from yearbook photos.
– This one’s for the sports junkies who still collect baseball cards. When looking at pre-1950s baseball cards of Major League players, researchers were able to correlate the span of a player’s smile with his life span. The bigger the smile, the greater the lifespan. A seven year difference existed between those who didn’t smile and those who flashed their pearly whites—73 years to 80 years, respectively.
– A single smile generates the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate, or $25,000 in cash.
3. Say thank you.
Because two simple words make a whole world of difference.