The Art Of Being Here

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Tag: connection (page 1 of 2)

The Dining Table

Furnishing a new home is pretty similar for most of us — Buy the bed that goes in the corner of the bedroom,wardrobe against the wall, sofa sits here, put the TV on that wall, shelves for books next to the work desk.

When designing for space though, things get a little strange.

Without gravity, our usually concept of furniture gets turned on its head. Do we really need a table when there isn’t gravity to keep things on it? Ditto a bookshelf. And while we’re at it, we can simply any side of that box we are in and make it functional in some way, since there is no real “up” or down” anyway?

Because of this most of the capsules in spacecraft are tremendously functional — which is good, since you don’t want to waste an inch if it takes gallons of fuel to haul things into space.

But in designing the habitation capsule for astronauts, it’s possible to go too far. We are, after all, designing for humans.

One of the things that space crews were adamant about keeping were dining tables.

It seems a most mundane thing thing to keep, giving that we can eat anywhere (TV dinners and grabbing lunch on the move). Yet it makes perfect sense.

The dining table, like the proverbial water cooler, is a place where people not only eat and drink together, but also chat (and gossip).  We all love a good debate over dinner about whether the latest Star Wars lived up to the franchise.

In the description for this video showing the crew of the International Space Station, they write:

Dining together can radically shift perspectives, blurring boundaries just as looking down on Earth from our vantage point, especially, when dinner partners are from all different corners of the world. But also mealtime lets us build a sense of camaraderie.

It is a reminder that even in the void and vacuum, people are people, and we need to connect and mingle. Preferably over food.

Check out the video below if you’re wondering what dinner looks like on the ISS. I just love the way they (literally) bounce stuff off each other.

How To Magically Connect With Anyone by Brian Miller at TEDxManchesterHighSchool 2015

A TED Talk A Day, Day 63: After so many day of TED talks, I have to admit I my focus and interest has been flagging; so this wonderful talk couldn’t have come at a better time. Brian Miller, a magician, talks about how the our differing perspectives underlie both magic and our relationships, and how we can connect with others (and perform magic) by understanding other peoples’ perspectives.

  1. “Our world is a shared experience fractured by individual perspectives.”
  2. The secret to magic is understanding and taking on different perspectives.
  3. In any magic trick, the magician is the only person who cannot see the magic because he knows how the trick works; so to do the trick well the magician has to take on the perspective of the audience.
  4. Before he does his Rubik’s Cube trick, he makes a connection first, so the audience feels understood, then he does the trick. Otherwise he would just seem like a showoff with a trick.
  5. It is not enough to care for someone or to understand them; they have to feel understood.
  6. Perspective taking — the ability to see the world from the view of another person. Easy in theory but can be difficult to do.
  7. There is visual perspective and emotional perspective.
  8. Visual perspective is more straightforward. Like magicians we can video ourselves or look at ourselves in the mirror.
  9. Emotional perspective is the crucial one in relationships. The easiest way is to ask questions, and, more importantly, listen to the answers. Listen to understand, not just to respond.

Suggested action step: I will learn to understand other people’s perspective.

My Web Playroom by ZE Frank at TEDGlobal 2010

A TED Talk A Day, Day 61: Day 2 of the Ze Frank trilogy. Again I’m amazed and how his projects have brought people together in a funny yet poignant way.

  1. The Internet allows him to connect with people through his projects.
  2. There are moments in our lives when we are living our lives in the networks — moments where we stare at our screens and smile.
  3. Connecting is to feel and be felt. But it isn’t easy.
  4. Connection is happening in both virtual spaces, not just physical ones, and we have to figure out how to do it.
  5. Likes buttons are primitive! Like something we do in third grade.
  6. Many of his projects take submitted content and pass them on to professionals or other users to remix, with often touching results.
  7. Somehow his projects all turn pain and negativity into something more human, and more positive.

Suggested action step: I’m not quite sure what, but if anything these Ze Frank talks have gotten me to think about how we can use the Internet to bring people together in a better way.

Every Kid Needs A Champion by Rita Pierson TED Talks Education 2013

A TED Talk A Day, Day, Day 52: Having taught students before, it is sometimes tempting to always communicate to students through yardsticks and evaluation. But in the best moments teaching is really about connection and bringing out the best from students, as Rita Pierson so passionately argues here.

  1. Teaching and learning is about people and about relationships. We all know why kids have problems in school, but we seldom discuss the important of human connection.
  2. Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.
  3. Some people think that building relationships is innate; but Pierson believes there are things we can do about it.
  4. “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” – Stephen Covey.
  5. Sometimes that means apologising when we’re wrong, even to our students.
  6. We have to help our students to believe that they can do it, that they can do better, wherever they are.
  7. The tough kids show up because of the connection, the relationship.
  8. Teaching is not easy, but it is not impossible.

Suggested action step: 

Connect, But Alone by Sherry Turkle at TED 2012

A TED Talk A Day, Day 46: A powerful talk about the real impact of technology on the relationships we have with ourselves and others, and how it is creating an illusion that we need to get out of.

  1. Mobile phones don’t just change what we do, they change who we are. Things that would have been previously seen as odd have come to be normal, like texting and using Facebook during meetings and during classes. People sit together… but spend their times on their mobile phones.
  2. Some say that it is about control, that we are now able to control what we want to pay attention to. But we if we do that we end up hiding from each other even as we are “connected”. “People can’t get enough of each other, if, and only if, they can have each other at a distance, at amounts they can control.”
  3. Posting and texting allows us to present the self we others to see. Human relationships are messy, but technology allows us to edit and touch up the things we say and what we present to others.
  4. The sum total of all the little bits of communication does not equal a conversation. They are good for small, quick messages, but are not good for us to learn from each other.
  5. By not having real conversations, we compromise our ability for self-reflection, which is especially crucial for children. “We use conversations with each other to learn how to have conversations with ourselves.”
  6. Many people admit to Turkle that they wish Siri (Apple iOS’ voice-activated “personal assistant”) would develop to a point where they could have a conversation with her.
  7. People feel that no one is listening. This tempts us to want to have machines that can offer us companionship.
  8. We expect more from technology and less from each other. We are now beginning to invent machines that can emulate the behaviour of living creatures; yet they are not actually animate, and cannot truly empathise with us.
  9. We’re lonely but we’re afraid of intimacy. So we end up designing technology that gives us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.
  10. The phone in our pockets create 3 “gratifying fantasies”:
    1. We can control our attention and put it wherever we want it to be.
    2. We will always be heard.
    3. We will never have to be alone.
  11. When we are alone we begin to panic, and reach for our phone. So we reach for connection, but this connection is a symptom of a problem that is not solved rather than being the solution to it.
  12. We now believe in this: “I share therefore I am.” When we don’t share we can’t seem to “feel ourselves”. So as we try to connect we become isolated.
  13. We become isolated is when we do not have the capacity for solitude, to be separate from others. When this happens we turn to others to even feel alive. And when we do this we don’t actually appreciate who others are; we are merely using them for our own purposes.
  14. “If we don’t teach our children to be alone, they will only know how to be lonely.”
  15. The point in the end is not to reject our devices, but to be more aware of our relationships with them, with others and with ourselves.
  16. Make room for solitude. Teach this to children. Create sacred spaces for conversation, at home and at work.
  17. Listen to each other, including the “boring” bits. In the imperfect moments we reveal ourselves to one another.

Suggested action step: I will create opportunities to connect with others in a real way, and help others to connect.

What We Do What We Do by Anthony Robbins at TED 2006

A TED Talk A Day, Day 39: This one is an oldie from almost 10 years ago, but is still a goodie. The effervescent Anthony Robbins talks about what really drives us, and essentially compresses many of his core ideas into this talk. Even a decade later the concepts he covers remain relevant and useful.

A note for those who have listened to Anthony Robbins speak before: you might realise, as I have, that he often speaks about a very small number of topics, but boy does he know speak about those topics superbly and fluently. This talk is no different, so there will be many themes that come up that you would have heard elsewhere.

  1. We often think that people act out of self-interest but that is not always true; once emotions get in the way, they act differently.
  2. If we understand what drives us, we can both contribute more, and also understand people better and overcome the challenges that are facing us.
  3. There are two master lessons: the science of achievement, and the art of fulfilment.
  4. The science of achievement is how to take the invisible and make it visible.
  5. The art of fulfilment is about appreciation and contribution, but there are no fixed answers to how to achieve these.
  6.  Most people think biography is destiny — the past equals the future. But this is not true, there are examples of people who have gone through difficulty and achieved great things; and there are people who have been given everything but ended up nowhere.
  7. Decision is the ultimate power. The decisions we make can change the course of our lives. We make 3 decisions every moment of our lives:
    1. What am I going to focus on?
    2. What does it mean? This produces an emotion in us.
    3. What am I going to do?
  8. When people fail to achieve something, they tend to blame resources: time, money, technology, contacts, experience, management (the Supreme Court…)
  9. But often the real reasons are resourcefulness: creativity, determination, love/caring, curiosity, passion, resolve.
  10. Emotion is what drives us, and also what stops us. If we are fun and playful enough, we can get through to others.
  11. The invisible forces that shape us:
    1. in the moment: state;
    2. in the long-term: our world view/model of the world.
  12. Our model of the world has 3 parts:
    1. What are we after? These are needs, not just goals and desires.
    2. What’s our  map? These are our belief systems that are telling us how to get those needs.
    3. What’s our fuel? This is emotion, and they can all be categorised into 12 key emotions.
  13. The six human needs:
    1. certainty – we want to be comfortable and secure. This can come in many ways: developing a skill, smoke a cigarette, giving up, etc.
    2. uncertainty – we can’t live in total certainty, because we get board. We need variety and surprise.
    3. significance – we need to feel important and unique.
    4. connection & love – we get this through intimate relationships, family, friends, pets, even a connection with nature.
    5. growth – we need feel like we are always improving
    6. contribution – the secret to life is about giving to others.
  14. People get excited to contribute once they get to experience it, not talk about it.

Suggested action step: I better more aware of my decisions and decide better. Decide for the things that truly matter to me, that allow me contribute, that fulfil my needs and the needs of others in the best way possible.

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