Two totally unrelated TED Talks I watched in the past few days brought out loud and clear the importance of love and play and of balance in our lives.
The first talk dealt with reconciling quantum mechanics with Einstein’s general theory of relativity. The second compared the lives of Lincoln and LBJ.
Garret Lisi is a theoretical physicist who turned down various academic posts in order that he and his girlfriend could live out of a van in Maui and have time to go surfing and enjoy the outdoors. He also came up with “an exceptional simple theory of everything” as an alternative to string theory.
In a 2008 TED Talk, Dr Lisi acknowledged his theory and others like it are long shots. The only way to maintain sanity and achieve happiness in the midst of uncertainty, he said, is to keep balance and perspective.
According to Dr Lisi: “I try to balance my life equally between physics, love, and surfing. Three charge directions. This way, even if the physics I work on comes to nothing, I still know I’ve lived a good life.”
In her TED Talk delievered the same year, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin told of working with LBJ on his memoirs. Unfortunately, LBJ’s retirement years were not happy ones. According to Ms Goodwin, LBJ had everything to feel good about, but a lifetime of solely focusing on his work meant he could find no solace. He died alone, his spirit broken.
At the beginning of her talk, Dr Goodwin referred to a graduate seminar she took at Harvard with the psychologist Erik Erikson. Dr Erikson, said Goodwin, taught that the richest and fullest lives are ones that achieve an inner balance between work, love, and play. To pursue all three with equal dedication, she said, is to make possible not only a life of achievement but of serenity.
If you’re like me, work comes easy. We have to work on love and play. We have to set aside time. It’s all too easy to neglect the important things in life. We need constant reminders. This week, for me, very unexpectedly, it came from a physicist and an historian.
Published On: March 04, 2014
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