Learning Points from David Steindl-Rast’s TED Talk on “Want to be Happy? Be Grateful”

David Steindl-Rast shares his view on where happiness comes from, namely, to be grateful for all the opportunities in life that we are given.

To be more mindful about how to be grateful at all times, we simply have to slow down our lives and do this very simple exercise: stop, look, go. This can apply to almost anything. Say when you turn on the tap and clean drinking water flows out, be grateful that we have that. There are so many others in the world that would crave such a privilege in life, and not be riddled by diseases that stem from drinking or using unsanitary water. When we have a home to go back to, or have a bed to lie on, again, know that there are so many others who live day to day and wonder what the next day brings.

If everyone can practise this little exercise at all times, our world would change to one which there is mutual respect for everyone, that differences between people are enjoyed. People will be more content with what they have and be happier, rather than always desiring and chasing fleeting happiness. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful world?


Learning Points from Sara DeWitt’s TED Talk on “3 Fears about Screen Time for Kids – and Why They’re not True”

I initially thought that this would be a controversial topic given the amount of research and studies which discourage kids from spending too much time on electronic devices. But Sara DeWitt redeemed herself in the end of this TED talk by qualifying what she shared. 

The 3 fears are:

1. Screens are passive. This may be an incorrect generalisation given that there are games out there which promote active learning

2. Playing games on these screens are just a waste of time. Studies show that games may reveal more about the kid’s cognitive learning than a standardised test can. If so, we might be able to reduce testing time in classrooms and also reduce testing anxiety.

3. These screens are isolating me from my child. Studies suggest that a combination of parents engaging in conversation with their children about the games they are playing and the children actually playing the games promoted learning. This does not occur if either was done in isolation.

Our children are living in the same world as us, so it’s no use pretending that electronic devices are not in their lives. Rather than be consumed by our fears on them, explore ways that they can serve us and our children’s education. Like for all things, technology when used in moderation, can certainly help our children’s learning.

Learning Points from Elon Musk’s TED Talk on “The Mind Behind Tesla, SpaceX, Solar City…”

Ok, so I’m a little addicted to Elon Musk and his ideas. This is the prelude to the earlier TED talk reviewed 2 days ago.

In terms of content, there’s nothing much that’s new. However, they did delve into how to think a bit like Elon Musk, which is so radically different from others, on such a big scale. He suggests to boil things down to their fundamental principles and reason up from there, as opposed to reasoning by analogy. Most of us get through life reasoning by analogy, which eventually gets us copying what others do with slight variations. The other thing is to solicit negative feedback from friends and take them seriously. Personally I have been trying to do both, but nowhere near the level of success that Elon Musk has achieved. Long way to go for me!

Learning Points from BBC Capital’s Article on “The ‘Hidden Talent’ that Determines Success”

So you know about IQ, or intelligence quotient. A good number will also know about EQ, or emotional quotient. Fewer others will know about AQ, or adversity quotient. The latest one that I come across is this term called CQ. This represents cultural intelligence, or simply put, the way you interact with people you hardly know anything about. 


People with low CQ tend to view other people’s behaviour through their own cultural lens, and thus misinterpret people’s actions and reactions wrongly, sometimes with disastrous consequences. People with high CQ, however, tend to adapt and adjust easier, and are better at reading other people’s actions and reactions. Putting it simply, as Atticus Finch would put it, you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.

The article also suggests that CQ can be trained in people, but it can also plateau off if they are resistant to learn about other cultures and insist on viewing things their own way. I’m not sure about this, but to me, this seems more like a subset of EQ then a whole new quotient by itself. What about you?

Learning Points from Elon Musk’s TED Talk on “The Future We’re Building – and Boring”

If I needed a word to describe Elon Musk, it probably would have to be visionary. I’m grateful for people like him who take active steps to solve the world’s problems. This is the longest TED talk I ever watched at 40 minutes. Well worth your time just to get a glimpse of what the future holds.

Among the ideas shared were:

1. A network of underground roads and tunnels to bring people to where they need to without getting stuck in traffic jams. (Boring in the title meant digging the earth underground)

2. Using a hyperloop to quickly get people to where they need to go.

3. Cars on autopilot using just cameras

4. Shared autonomy fleet of cars to bring people around, just like various bike sharing schemes happening now, or Uber, sort of.

5. Solar powered roofs to meet all the electrical needs of the house.

6. A gigafactory to double production of lithium ion batteries

7. Spaceships that can relaunch upon reentry, with the view of colonizing Mars I the long term.

8. Brain machine interfaces to give us abilities such as telepathy and infinite memory.

An entire list of dreams. After listening to this talk, I was hoping I could work for him. I think it would be really meaningful to be a part of these developments aimed at solving the world’s problems. Wouldn’t you wish the same?

Learning Points from Alexander Tsiaras’s TED Talk on “Conception to Birth – Visualised”

If you ever wanted to visualise how your baby develops from a single cell to the human form in 9 months, watching this TED talk is your chance!

When we got pregnant, we often remarked to each other how amazing it is, that a little miracle is developing inside of us. This talk only further emphasises that. The marvel of how each and every cell knows what to do, where to go, what to develop into, is mind boggling for a mathematician like Alexander Tsiaras. One interesting fact he brought up was how collagen, which makes up all the parts in our body, knows to arrange itself in a grid like formation in our eyes so as to be transparent as compared to twirls and swirls in other structures such as hair, nails, skin, bone, etc. Fascinating.

Learning Points from Ze Frank’s TED Talk on “Nerdcore Comedy”

Funny comedic performance from Ze Frank.

If I were to be honest, the crowd was quite “patronising” in a sense, and laughed along quite a bit with most of the things that he was doing. To an unmotivated crowd, he might not have drawn any laughter at all. Perhaps this only works in large group settings, since laughter is sort of contagious, so he just needs a few trigger laughs to make the rest of the crowd, or at least the majority, laugh along. Perhaps his reputation precedes him. Or maybe I’m more melancholy than most others.

Learning Points from BJ Miller’s TED Talk on “What Really Matters at the End of Life”

How would you like to die? Alone? In pain? Surrounded by loved ones? BJ Miller examines death from this angle, and how perhaps it is time to give this aspect a little more thought to make the final moments of one’s life a more wonderful experience.


1. Hospitals are designed with diseases at the centre, not patients. They are excellent places to get treatment for diseases, but not for living and dying

2. To make death a little better, 

a. take unnecessary suffering out of the system

b. tend to dignity through the bodily senses

c. set our sights on well-being so that we can make life more wonderful, rather than less horrible

Simple acts of granting these dying patients their wishes in their final days goes a long way. It is important to have lived life without regretting what you might have wanted to try but have never done. What is the use of prolonging one’s life if all it brings about is more suffering? Better to go without regrets now than to live another 10 years, living off tubes inserted into you, and in pain, and needing your loved ones provide financially and emotionally for you. Should mercy killing then be on the agenda?

Learning Points from Terry Moore’s TED Talk on “How to Tie Your Shoes”

This TED talk is really about what it says it is! 

Turns out that there’s a strong form and a weak form of the ribbon that we usually tie to end off when tying your shoes. You achieve the strong form when the ribbon aligns itself parallel to the cords when you tug below it. To do that, instead of tying your ribbon over and towards you, tie it under and away from you. It’s quite hard to describe it so you will need to watch the video demonstration in the talk.

Or simply tie another thumb knot to end off and further secure your laces like I do.

Learning Points from Amy Webb’s TED Talk on “How I Hacked Online Dating”

A humorous take on online dating by Amy Webb and what she did to reverse engineer and find her own true love.

So after a bit of snooping around, creating fake profiles, and lots of data crunching, Amy became the most popular person in the online dating website and eventually found someone she eventually got married to. It’s important to be brutally honest with yourself and who you like and what you look out for in a partner. Don’t settle for superficial similarities, such as whether you are a cat or dog person, but go deep down into what you think you really want in a life partner, whether you need to share certain views about raising children for example, and get these things sorted out first before proceeding further. Being picky may not be necessarily bad, but be prepared to adjust your expectations. Who knows, the person who seem underwhelming at first may turn out to surprise you in the end!