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  • OK

  • I'm so excited to be in Taiwan. I've always wanted to come to Taiwan.

  • And I would actually like to meet every single person here.

  • So, in case I don't get the time. I want to put my e-mail address up here.

  • So that everybody here can e-mail me and say hello.

  • Uh, the only thing is "I speak Chinese" So, please e-mail me in French.

  • OK, and next, I need the audience to do something for me.

  • I need everybody to sing a long-low note.

  • (hum)

  • everybody. (hum)

  • Little louder. (hum)

  • OK, thank you.

  • So, to do a great talk in Taiwan,to live up to my assignment to be here.

  • I'm going to talk about "the meaning of life."

  • Are you ready to learn "the meaning of life?"

  • I know the answer,are you ready?

  • OK, what word do you think goes there?

  • Life is what? Any ideas?

  • Share something?

  • Anybody?

  • OK, I'm gonna purpose few ideas.

  • Let's say that life is choice.

  • Life is all about choice. We make a hundred little choices everyday.

  • We make a hundred big choices in our life.

  • And these little choices and the big choices we make change our entire life.

  • They are what our life is "our choices."

  • So if life is choice. How do you make good choices?

  • Here are some ideas.

  • First, learn to ignore logic and trust emotion.

  • And what this means is, you know we have different parts of our brain.

  • So, at the base of our brains.

  • At the top of our spines is the ancient brain that we share in common with lizards and rabbits.

  • And it's called "amygdala"

  • So this emotional brain just stores instincts, fears and gut feelings, right?

  • At the front of our brains.

  • We have the prefrontal cortex.

  • That is a relative new development that handles logic, language and prediction.

  • What's interesting is that everything we learn gets process through here...

  • And it's process, but it's permanently stored here as emotions.

  • So we often like to think ourselves as smart , rational beings.

  • And whenever we like to make an important choice, we try to think it through very rationally.

  • But the truth is, this thing in the front is pretty new.

  • Which is why a 5-dollar calculator is sill better than this at math.

  • So the way you make better choices in life is to understand this about your brain.

  • And understand that this gut-feeling is the combination of everything you have ever learned in your life

  • is stored as an emotional gut reaction.

  • And it's been proven that people make better choices

  • when they trust their gut-feelings on something that is usually correct than

  • when they try to over-think it and use their 5-dollar calculator brains.

  • So next, how to make a choice is learn to see what is only good enough.

  • And what it means is in this modern world, we have more choices than ever.

  • But if you try, because all of these choices, you try to make the best possible choice.

  • And you drive yourselves crazy trying to find the best option to do the best thing with your life.

  • To choose the best career, the best school, the best partner, then you're going to make yourself miserable.

  • If you learn to understand this feeling and saying this is good enough and I'm happy with this.

  • You actually make better choices and you feel better about it.

  • Next, learn to embrace limits.

  • What this means is that every choice you have to make in life cost a little bit of pain.

  • It's a little tough when you make a choice.

  • So what's true is we all need some choices in life, but it doesn't mean more choice is better.

  • So we find that we are actually happier when we let other people make some choices for us.

  • This is why when you go to a doctor, say if you are very sick and you go to a doctor.

  • You don't want the doctor just say "I don't know, what do you want to do?"

  • (laughter)

  • You say "no, tell me what to do!"

  • And this is also part of appeal of religion.

  • Religion says "follow these rules."

  • And it's been proven over history that people like having rules and to been told what to do.

  • It relieves some of that for us.

  • So lastly, learn to choose what's important not urgent.

  • That means that what is urgent are the SMS messages,the phone calls, the texts, the e-mail.

  • These things are urgent.

  • But what is important is perhaps spending 1,000 dollars learning a new skill that will really help your career or your life.

  • Or what's important is giving your full attention to your child, your partner or even a potential new business relationship.

  • And what is important is taking time to get outside and slowly eat a meal of real food.

  • But none of these things will ever be urgent but these are important. Let's how to make better choices.

  • So, let's say life is choice. What do you think? Pretty good argument?

  • OK, everybody, I need you to sing the note again. (hum)

  • OK, next idea. What if life is time?

  • We can say life is all about time. The meaning of life is time.

  • Because life is defined by the time between when you born and when you die.

  • That's what we call life.

  • So, the meaning of life is time.

  • If true, how can you use time wisely?

  • First is to remember that it's limited.

  • So imagine if you only have 1 hour with an old friend you haven't seen in a long time.

  • You'll make a very good use of that 1 hour.

  • Or imagine that if you find out tonight that you've only got 1 year left to live.

  • You'll make the most of the last year you have, more than you think if your life is infinite.

  • So you can use time more wisely if you always remember that it's limited.

  • Next is important to be mostly future focused.

  • What future focused means the people that are always working toward future.

  • They floss their teeth, they practice hard, they exercise, they study...

  • They are putting more importance on the future than the present moment.

  • The problem is people who do this are usually more successful in life and even happier

  • except it often comes at expense of things required a present focus.

  • Such as family and relationships.

  • The classic case of it is a CEO who's been married 6 times.

  • Very successful but doesn't get any attention to the present moment.

  • So, it's important to be somewhat present focused.

  • That means giving your full attention to what you are doing right now.

  • And not always have your head in the future.

  • But if you do this too much than those people that are notoriously

  • Like they forget to brush their teeth.

  • They are not healthy. Their bank account are empty.

  • Because they're never thinking about their future.

  • So, it's important to only be somewhat present-focused.

  • And it's important to be somewhat past-focused.

  • Meaning to remember your past is to live twice.

  • And if you keep your life in the contest of your past.

  • It means you remember where you are in life.

  • And also you realize being able to re-interpret the past event that happened to you is a very powerful thing.

  • Because it teaches you that you can rewrite your up coming future as well.

  • And lastly, the zone is what we call a state that you are completely lost in what you are doing.

  • The state of flow.

  • They found that people at the end of their life that with the happiest

  • are the one that's been spent the most time in the state of flow in the zone, loving their work.

  • So, that's how to use time wisely. What do you think?

  • Pretty good argument that the meaning of life is time?

  • OK, back to the note everybody! (hum)

  • Now sing the major third! (hum)

  • OK, next one. What if we said that life is memory?

  • Life has to be about memory because if you don't remember your life, it's like it never happened.

  • Think of that horrible feeling when somebody says "What did you do last weekend?"

  • And you say "I don't know. I don't remember."

  • And think of that horrible feeling when somebody says "Wow! I haven't seen you in years! What did you do last summer?"

  • And you say "I don't know."

  • Now imagine how terrible what would feel that the end of your life if you can't clearly remember what you did for 20 years?

  • Maybe you just went to the same job every single day for 20 years. You can't even remember it.

  • That's like as if you technically you live a long life, but you only experience a short life.

  • Because you can't remember it.

  • So I say, the meaning of life is memory. If that's true. How do you make more memories?

  • That's important to always choose the changing option, to not get stuck in the routine too much.

  • To do what's novel to do the risky thing.

  • Move to a new country and learn a new language

  • Get up on stage and do ridiculous things like standing on chairs.

  • So, back to the note everybody. The first note. (hum)

  • The second note. (hum)

  • Next one. (hum.)

  • OK. What if we said that life is communication?

  • Life is all about how we communicate with each other.

  • We are all here together. A life sentence solitude never communicating is not a life actually live.

  • So if it's true. How do you communicate well?

  • Think of the fable we know through history. The story that lasts for thousands of years.

  • They often have a moral at the end. They have a point.

  • But think that if it's just a point, the point would never travel through history but has a story that attached to it.

  • And also you have to learn about the culture translations.

  • A French friend of mine who's been living in Asia for 20 years, lived in Korea, Japan, China.

  • I asked him about what he learned in this process.

  • And he said "Do you know the English word "quality"? I said "Yes"

  • He said "You are from America." I said "Yes."

  • He said if I say "quality", you think that mean "it works" right?

  • I said "Yeah, to me as my American opinion, when I hear the word "quality", I think "it works."

  • And he said "Guess what, in Korea, when you say the word "quality" it's the same English word.

  • But in Korea when you say "quality", what you mean is "it's brand new".

  • In Korea that's what it means. Quality means "brand new."

  • And he said in Japan, when you say "quality" that means it's perfect. It has no mistake, not a tiniest scratch.

  • That's what "quality" means in Japan.

  • He said that in China ,when you say "quality", you mean it gives you status.

  • So he said that you gotta understand the culture context, even if we all learn English as a common language.

  • There's still has these culture translation that changes the meaning of everything.

  • So,oh! Let's sing! First note (hum)

  • Third (hum)

  • What if life is happiness? How can you be happy?

  • First, you have to approach it side way. If you always ask yourself too much "how can I be happy?" then you're going to be miserable.

  • What if life is learning? We are all here at TED. We love to learn. How can you best learn?

  • You have to learn the difference between the idea of the "fixed mindset" and the "growth mindset."

  • The "fixed mindset" is when you think "I am good at something" or "I am bad at something."

  • This often comes from when you were children and your parents told you "Oh! You are so good at math!"

  • You started to think "I'm good at math" and you think it's fixed.

  • But as soon as you do poorly on one test. You think "I'm not good at math. They were wrong."

  • But if you understand the "growth mindset" the growth mindset says that you can do anything with practice.

  • What's fascinating about this is they give a test to a bunch of children...

  • with the test was intentionally easy at the beginning and then got impossibly hard.

  • So it was designed. They started it out full of confidence and then every child intentionally fail the test.

  • What's interesting is they told half of the children this 6 words, they said "You must be good at this."

  • And they told the other half of the children "You must have worked really hard."

  • What's fascinating is that next time they took the test

  • the 50% that were told "You must be good at this" they did 30% worse the next time.

  • And because they fail the second half.

  • The children that were told "You must have worked very hard" they did 20% better.

  • So a 50% difference performance, because of 6 little words they were told.

  • This is the difference between "fixed mindset" and the "growth mindset."

  • So, last time. (hum)

  • Next one. (hum)

  • Next one. (hum)

  • What if the Buddhist say life is suffering? What if said life is love? What if you said life is nothing but replicating DNA?

  • OK, so let's take a break for a minute.

  • So few years ago, I started learning some Chinese. I learned the simplified Chinese.

  • I'm just fascinating with the writing.

  • And what I love the most about it is that I'm trying to memorize how to write these characters.

  • Oh well! That's no... wait hold on. It was translated. That's funny!

  • It's somewhere between my computer and their computer...the simplified got turning into that.

  • Anyway. So, every time I was learning a character, I would try to think of the pieces that make the character.

  • And say what does that mean? Why is that the character for "thanks" for "Xie" is "word", "body" and "inch".

  • Does that mean to say "thanks" is the word you speak then give your body a inch of respectable space?

  • I don't know. That was the meaning I put into it right?

  • They help me remember it.

  • So, character for "you" is a "person" "bow" and "small."

  • So I think, OK, "you" is a person you give a small "bow" to.

  • That's how I remember it. That's kind of meaning I put into it.

  • Now look at this one, the character for "Ming" ,for "name."

  • "Evening" and "mouth." I thought it was romantic.

  • I thought your name is the word that the other mouths only speak in the evening.

  • That's the only person that knows my real name. That's sexy.

  • And I thought this one was weird "appearance" is "tree" and "sheep."

  • So I thought about a sheep hiding behind the tree, then "ta da!" making its appearance.

  • But it made me wonder that what's the historical meaning behind this?

  • Sorry, I'm gonna go about one minute over.

  • Changing a subject. There's a band in the 80's called "Talking Heads."

  • And they had these really interesting lyrics. I love their lyrics and I read once in an interview with them.

  • The way that they wrote their lyrics is they would write evocative phrases on the little piece of paper.

  • And they would cut them up and they would throw them into a bowl and they stir them around

  • and they pull out little pieces of paper one of the time.

  • And they would put them in to order then they put them out, then put them into the song in order.

  • And the reason for doing this is they say that we wanted to have listener to create the meaning to the song.

  • We only just assume that if somebody's on stage singing something into a loud microphone.

  • It must have meaning to them.

  • And there's the artist statement that says "no, the audience choose the meaning for themselves."

  • So, I went back to my Chinese and I found this dictionary called "Wan Lin Chinese Dictionary."

  • They told the etymological history behind every character.

  • And all these character that I thought "the sheep", "tree..."

  • It turned out that because that I was learning the simplified Chinese.

  • All of these character have been replaced with just phonetic sound like.

  • And all these meaning that I put into it wasn't there.

  • So, getting to the point. All of this had no meaning!

  • I had projected all of the meaning into it.

  • All of these things about the "tree" and the "sheep" and "Ta-da"...the "evening" and "mouth" and the sexy thing...

  • None of that meaning was there. I had projected all of that meaning into it.

  • So it made me thinking life about what else has no meaning!

  • So what does it mean that all of your previous attempts at somethings have failed?

  • And what does it mean that you went to a very prestigious well-known school?

  • Or what does it mean you're minority in your own country?

  • Or anything else has no meaning at all!

  • Y