Hi, thanks for coming back to discuss TEDTalks: Life Hack (or, if you haven't seen it yet, check it out here and then tell us what you think). Whether you had a spectacular and rewarding 2013 or an unproductive and frustrating one, chances are you're jumping into 2014 with fresh hope that something will change for the better — and you know it's within your power to make it happen. But with so many options and tips out there for self-improvement, where do we even begin?
Sheena Iyengar breaks it down in her TED Talks lecture: nothing hampers our ability to make a decision more than having too many choices. When presented with too many options we shut down, perpetually dissatisfied with our decision-making skills and eager to forget we ever had choices in the first place.
The collection of talks feels slightly front-loaded, though, as Amy Cuddy's spirited (and surprisingly emotional) lecture on the power of body language makes a very compelling case for the fake-it-'til-you-make-it truism. In this case Cuddy provides scientific (and anecdotal) proof that standing in a certain posture can increase testosterone (and hence confidence) while also reducing cortisol (and hence stress/fear). Who among us wouldn't find benefit in putting these theories into practice?
In her lecture, video game designer Jane McGonigal performs the amazing feat of presenting a ludicrous thesis statement — video games can prolong lifespans — and then actually making her case. The basis for this argument seemed slightly questionable (a top-five list of death-bed regrets, as collected by unspecified hospice workers), but not necessarily unbelievable. According to McGonigal, dying people regret the basics: Having worked too hard, having fallen out of touch with friends, having spent too much time depressed, etc. She the argues that playing videogames not only actively and specifically counteract each of these regrets, they also keep the brain developed, exercised, and malleable well into old age. So yeah, basically, that's the life hack takeaway here: play more video games. Not the worst thing to hear, right?
All these positives aside, TEDTalks: Life Hack still falls prey to many of TED's detractors' complaints. Some speakers seem overly proud of their allegedly profound conclusions. Like, we get it, Andy Puddicombe, meditation can help relax us. And Joshua Foer's lecture on ancient mnemonic tricks seemed like a fascinating subject drawn out for way too long. Still, it's hard to complain people sharing productive ideas in any form.
So how did you feel about TEDTalks: Life Hack? Let's talk about this thing in the comments below!
Possible Discussion Topics
1. Have you attempted any of the body-language tricks Amy Cuddy suggested? Did they work?
2. Have you ever experienced post-traumatic growth, as described by Jane McGonigal?
3. What's your favorite memory trick? Have you ever tried Cicero's "memory palace" method?
4. Do you ever walk away from decisions when presented with too many options? Or do you prefer be aware of every choice you have?
5. Can you juggle as nonchalantly as Andy Puddicombe? (If so, I'm jealous.)
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