TED Conversations

Andrea Morisette Grazzini

CEO, WetheP, Inc.

TEDCRED 30+

This conversation is closed.

When, How and Why have your most strongly held views changed?

I'm interested in transformative "In situ" social change.

There is research and opinion that adults face tremendous obstacles to changing their views. That education helps, but generally isn't enough. Of if views change, they do so because of traumatic life experiences or in times and places beyond their everyday lives. Such as in college or experiences in other geographical cultures.

Most particularly, it appears, change evolves in deep-reflection when hidden and/or hard to accept truths emerge. There is also evidence that this occurs in sustained relationships structured around relationally developed trust and intentional dialogues about values, including opposing views.

So, what you think? Have you changed? When, how, why? And, if applicable, who else was involved?

Extra points for "in situ" change -- change achieved in home communities or familiar cultures.

Many thanks in advance for your comments,
Andrea

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Closing Statement from Andrea Morisette Grazzini

Thank you all for so energetically engaging in this dialogue.

The breadth and depth of the comments and interaction between all has been quite rich. I can't help but feel this discussion amounts to a small example of "in situ" change in action.

Many illuminations have been shared and in the process, others emerged.

As each person has communicated parts of their story here, something like dynamic transformation can be detected. Perhaps not as much in individual ideals as in new understandings of the universal mix of simple and complex realizations of change and the possibilities for co-reflection.

Differences in our ages, experiences and perspectives make the discussion even more rich and dimensional. And yet shared themes are clearly evident -- most powerfully -- some of these were developed in the simple act of telling.

I would say what we have here is something of a small organically developed cultural enclave. Wherein each individual voice comes through clear, while the sum of all in relationship gives it a novel, community-style substance and form.

To carry this momentum forward I am going to build on our discussion, in the following ways:

First -- I will build another question related to this conversation, including Revett's thoughts on how, so we can delve deeper. Keep an eye for this--coming soon!
Second -- I will seek ways to capture Lindsay's observations of this "Choir of Inner Voices" in some lasting format. Stay tuned for developments!

Meanwhile, I am very grateful for the candor of your comments and interactions.

Hope you'll join "our" continuing story. I suspect there is much more we can unfold together....

Andrea

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    Apr 24 2011: This is such an awesome, interesting question! I find it personally intriguing because I believe I am currently undergoing a large change as an individual, as the tectonic plates of my beliefs are re-shifting and re-settling. Born into an evangelical Christian home, with a heavy interest in politics as a teenager: I was fairly conservative both in my faith and also on the political spectrum. About a year and a half ago though I had a very emotionally isolating incident in which I felt ostracized and even depressed while away at school. (The details are long and unnecessary). Needless to say I reexamined my core beliefs and principles. Some months later I decided to undergo a Descartes esque inventory of everything I had come to think about the world (starting with the Arcamedian Point). I remember at the time thinking that I would actually come out the other side with even more fervor in the beliefs I had always had. Well, that's not quite how things have gone. I have cut off ties with my evangelic, Christian roots and have for the most part detached myself from the idea of a traditional "God" as well. As for politics, I went from conservative to liberal to a current nomadic state (probably closer to the realm of apathy). Even though it was been a very short period of time (a year and a half since start), from my current intellectual standpoint it seems like it was been ages! And even though it always seems like I'm currently at the end point, it fascinates me to think that it is very likely I am still very much in the midst of the transformation (a bizarre, and fleeting stage I'm sure)!
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        Apr 25 2011: I suppose you are right, I don't think anyone would assert that life is "stagnant." However it seems there are definitely periods punctuated by more poignant change than others. I'm jealous of your belief that in the end the change is "always for the best." How did you come to believe that?
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        Apr 26 2011: Hmmm..seems simple enough, although I would definitely agree that most of us look back on the "dots of the past" and conclude it was for the best, I wonder if it actually IS that way.
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      Apr 24 2011: Thanks for sharing that Joshua..where you are i s called" liminal space"..IthinkWhere you are when.everything has been let go The new door can now open..and will Very strong that you have the moral and sprititual courage to live in a liminal state right now and be open to new possibilities.
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        Apr 25 2011: Liminal space! I'll have to look it up! Does everyone eventually leave the "liminal space"? It seems that is the only way they would be able to move on to lead a "normal" life. I can't imagine living life in a lasting state of intellectual flux...but does it happen?
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          Apr 25 2011: Does everyone eventually leave the "liminal space"?...welll.dwelling in liminal space keeps you on your toes..right?? I am no guru or theologist but as I have seen it talked about..yes it is a temporarry and necessary place to be before something really big and important can happen next. I think it can be a powerful and creative time preisely because you aren't boxed in to things that may have limited your insight and possibiulities before. And when its time you will just suddenly be in fron the next portal and you'll just gothrough..simple as that ( I think)..by all means google it but it is housed mostly on a literature for contemplative s and hermeticits like me so you may not find all that to your taste. Think of it as swimming from one shore to another..as the part in between where you can't touch bottom any more.
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        Apr 26 2011: Ahh...very interesting indeed! I just hope we all eventually reach "the other shore" and never become "stranded at sea."
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      Apr 24 2011: Hi Joshua, Thanks for the courage and transparency that you exhibit in being so honest about your state of flux. Hang in. Try to be open and welcoming to new experiences. It may feel like this stage will last forever but it will not.
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        Apr 25 2011: Thank you for the kind words Debra! They are much appreciated!
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    Apr 21 2011: many times actually. i'm a great mind changer, it seems. i was raised as atheist. then, by pure logical deduction, i realized that there must be something beyond the material world. so i became religious, but a not like christian, more like some unidentified, elusive religious. then later i was converted back to nonreligious, again on purely deductive basis. my current standpoint could be summarized as don't speculate on things if it does not lead anywhere, and especially don't assume anything you don't know.

    another metamorphoses was political/economic. earlier my point of view was that of an engineer. how can we fix the world with policies, regulations, systems, etc. then i met the austrian school of economics, and now i understand the futility and disservice of such ideas. before, i treated people as problems, sheep to shepherd. today i see people as opportunities. the myriad of individual minds is our key to a better future.
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      Apr 21 2011: How beautiful Krisztian eloquent
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      Apr 22 2011: Krisztian,

      The sheep to shepherd model of social change echoes religious and/or, perhaps even somewhat communitarian models. Whereas the myriad of individual minds as key suggests more constructivist thinking. Can you share more of your experiences with this? Particularly, have you personally engaged with others as co-productive people creating solutions? What did you observe in yourself and others?

      Andrea
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        Apr 25 2011: well, it is a recent event actually. i first met this idea at the end of 2009. then i bought a home schooling course, which i finished a few months ago. so if you have an idea where to go from here, i'm all ears :)
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      Apr 23 2011: With this answer and our ridiculous battle over V.P.

      Makes a lot of sense, great answer.
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    Apr 23 2011: Some people change their beliefs,feelings, positions,views like disposable handkerchiefs. Others do not.
    However hypocrisy is common in both cases.
    It is remarkable how little integrity there is between claimed beliefs,views and actions when the going gets tough or the stakes are high.

    SO, do not look at what people say (as views) but measure them by what they do.

    I personally changed my views from "one day I will make a difference in the world" to "I will disappear in oblivion like the billions before me".

    From "money are not important for happiness" to "that is what poor tell themselves to make their misery more bearable".

    From "it is a free world and we have rights" to "we have rights only if and when they are given to us" and my experience of how police and military minds treat people confirms it.

    From "one man can stand against the system" to "The system is likely to chew on you and spit you out and if any change happens as a result, it is likely you would not benefit from it." It is so because the first priority for any person in charge of authoritative structure is to remain in control, the judgement on 'right' or 'wrong' is secondary.

    From "wealth could come with hard work" to "wealth could only come if you externalise costs i.e. to take much more than you give back".

    From "I watch TV and listen to the news" to "TV is to brainwash us by telling us what to think. Mass media is a tool used by those in power".

    From "Love is all I need in marriage" to " I hope some healthy female with good genes would be fullish enough to get pregnant by me thus making me the happiest person in the world. There are so many other good suitors. I would never understand why would someone pick me if that ever happens".

    From Idealist I became realist (and as it turns out reality is cynical, cruel, unforgiving and I can not function in it because in my heart I still have irrational beliefs,views)....Sadly, I still want to be a super hero of a kind.
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      Apr 24 2011: George,

      It sounds like your views have become more narrowly focused on the negative. This perspective prevents one from being frustrated and discouraged as much but it also missed opportunities and potential.

      Our perspective of reality depends on the frame we view it through, the filters that limit our vision and what we focus our attention on. Life seems better when we have a large frame, clear filters and flexibility where we focus.

      I would encourage you to find some time for relaxation and fun and spend some time reflecting on what is in your heart, what you might become passionate about. It sounds like you would love to be a father. Check out volunteering with kids. What can you learn, change, do to make it likely that a healthy female might be honored to have a child with you?

      Look beyond the frame that only includes what is negative and nasty. Set aside filters of cynicism and hopelessness, focus on creating a long-term view that might bring satisfaction and fulfillment and discern what you can do now to begin heading in that direction.

      Try viewing your world through eyes of compassionn, hope, humility and what you personally can do to improve things. I'll be rooting for you.

      Bob
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        Apr 25 2011: Thanks for responding, Bob.
        Your words sound like those of a counsellor or therapist of a kind.
        I'll root for you too... it cost me nothing, really.

        I used to be compassionate and help and do favours. The moment people found out about my behaviour they started asking for favours and began to expect them. Some of them even got angry at me if I say no.

        I think I stopped looking at things in a positive or negative way. Those are subjective categories. There is a saying that drives me these days "Plan for the worst, hope for the best". For that to happen one has to know the worst possible outcome in each situation.
        Do you know what I think makes me a good person these days? That is when I see how I can take advantage in a situation on the expense of others and I decide not to do it. Example: I found a mobile phone and I returned it to the owner without any reward. The usual practice is to ask for reward. And guess what, the happy owner did not even offer one. He just said "Nice one." and walked away. Did he think of me as a fool or he was greedy or I looked so holly to him that any mentioning of reward would have damage his mental image of me. I do not know, but it would have been nice to have the option to refuse a reward.

        I'll keep an eye how my life is going to see if you rooting for me have some effect.
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          Apr 26 2011: George,

          True compassion realizes that allowing people to take advantage of us is not helpful to them or us. Reinforcing someone's selfishness is not compassion in my understanding.

          I don't think human relationships are like economic transactions where one makes an accounting of effort and reward. I applaud you for returning the phone and believe that simple acts such as that enlarge our hearts. Expecting a reward undermines that.

          If I act from the heart and someone thinks me a fool, I will momentarily feel sad for them and move on.

          I agree with you that planning for the worst is a helpful strategy when faced with a potential crisis but using that attitude day-to-day would seem to limit our vision and perspective as well as dampen energy and optimism.

          I don't find "positive thinking" very helpful but rather strive for clear thinking that takes both opportunities and risk into account. Ignoring opportunities and focusing only on risk leads to hopelessness whereas ignoring risk leads to unnecessary harm.
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        Apr 25 2011: To David
        Nice try. Feed your mind with fairy tales and stories then open the door and step into the real world where misery and suffering are common and all the rest is often a wishful thinking. Explain that. If your story is to be believed statistically there is 50% chance people to behave in one of the ways described in the story. Why then since the beginning of human evolution there are more people acting in paranoid selfish way than those of the other type. I'll tell you why. Because the ape that did not act out of fear got eaten by predators. Because at times when there was no food the one that was greedy and angry got to eat and survive. Cooperation only emerges out of necessity in some situations where the pay-off of acting alone is less than to cooperate. The moment the situation changes the cooperation falls apart.
        There is a difference between being cynical and being objective. And you wish my reasoning was the former. It makes it so much easier in your mind to just bang a label of condemnation on something and move on.

        To Bob V.O.
        I was (views-wise) where you are,Bob, and I can tell you one indisputable fact - the real data of the world does not fit the theory in most parts. So I had to change my theory about things to best fit the data.
        It comes down to choice: If all else is equal do you trust until proven wrong or do you distrust until proven wrong. I guess how one makes that choice partly depends on one's past experience and how much pain one can take.
        However I'll submit to you that even in our normal everyday interactions in society we often first have to establish our "credentials"(or identity or worth) before we commence further activities. It is "first check then trust" or in other words "we do not trust until proven wrong" principle.

        Bob,you wrote of"clear thinking"and yet your words make me feel as if I am reading religious gospel.Bob, we live in a world where ultimately we have to compete for access to resources.

        I wish I had more space.
        • Apr 26 2011: So you have developed a cynical mental attitude. Well whatever works for you. I found your original comment very amusing. Perhaps you are not even serious, like the hypocrites you describe. The cynic is the person you wish you could be. Your cynical observation is part of reality, but the opposite is also part of the same reality. Two sides of the same coin. Which side have you chosen to focus on?

          Here is a post I borrowed somewhere on TED just for you:

          Here is an old story that might help change negative views.
          An old Cherokee was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, "A battle is raging inside me. It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."
          The old man fixed the children with a firm stare. "This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too."
          They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"
          The old Cherokee replied: "The one you feed."
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          Apr 26 2011: I would encourage you to read "The Fall" by Steve Taylor. He cites anthropological and archeological records to indicate that selfishness is a recent development in human history. Also, look at Robert Sapolsky's work. He followed a clan of highly aggressive baboons in Kenya for a number of years. The Alpha makes continually whomped on the females and lesser males. When a lodge was built nearby and they threw away rotten meat, the alpha's at it all and died. Aggressiveness disappeared from the clan for years. When adolescent males from other aggressive clan joined Sapolsky's clan, they too stopped their aggressive behavior.

          Maybe people act in paranoid, selfish ways because they live in paranoid selfish environments made up of people who think that is the safest way to live.
    • Apr 26 2011: George: Either you are yanking our chains here or you really, really need to talk to someone. Your profile paints a very bleak picture of somebody who is out of work and very, very depressed.

      What happened to change you from the hero you wanted to be into the cynic you have become?

      I truly hope you can find a path back to the way you were.
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    Apr 27 2011: Andrea..this has been such a powerful and illuminating conversation..I am sorry to see the tolling of the four hours that will bring it to a close. First, thanks for bringing this to us and for the gentle, wise and skillful way you have brought out each story and its meaning.It is oi me as moving as Eric Whitaker's "Virtual Choir".. this is a choir of inner voices. and what is compelling to explore further is that trasnsformation doesn't necessarily involve religious expereience or a spiritual practice. These are all storeis of sudden encounters with the inner self..encounters that changed how each person moved forward into life from that day on. Can we have a Part II? to visit what we learned here..how do we visit this more thoroughly together? To each person who shared their story..thank you.
  • Apr 25 2011: Everything changed for me during the middle of my freshman year of college. I decided to really examine everything I had been taught to believe growing up. My political and religious views and my outlook on life changed to an extent. It was a very eye-opening experience.
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    Apr 23 2011: Probably the greatest changes I've experienced have been over the last five years. Some of it has been on a raw, practical level since having kids and the life adjustment that goes with that (i.e., I went from saying, "My kids will never do that!" to realizing that kids do what kids do), most of it has been a greater awareness of how complex EVERYTHING is. It sounds silly I'm sure (especially to anybody older than me), but I've definitely noticed a shift from the certainty of my "youth" to the uncertainty of "adulthood." Philosopher Bernard Lonergan would call it a movement from the "world of immediacy" to the "world mediated by meaning." I'm still figuring out the implications of that realization, something that will likely take a lifetime to settle.
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    Apr 23 2011: My greatest changes seem to occur when I'm wrestling with a particular paradigm that starts falling apart. In theory, my thinking should align with my actions. However, whenever my general operating principles need too many caveats to justify my actions (or vise versa)--I find myself actively trying to figure out why. I engage the people around me in the conversation. I write letters. I read. Then--and I think it's because I've made myself keenly attentive to what I'm wondering--all the information begins to converge. It is not a fast process--but eventually I formulate some new idea that helps me better proceed with this interesting task of living.

    The question of community is difficult. I am now in my fifties and I find myself in situations where I am either around people who are like-minded or who are looking to me for some sort of guidance. I believe that community plays an enormous part in influencing how and what people think; but changing deeply held beliefs takes a certain kind of "inner permission."

    Thank you for giving me something new to take around and wonder.
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    Apr 22 2011: When I realised, that adults do not knew everyting, I have to find answeres for my self and later, that there is often more then one trouth. Sadly I do not remember the moment.
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      Apr 24 2011: Phillip..too bad you don't remember the moment..do you remember about how old you were? You were given a great gift in this. Having your own internal gyroscope and trusting it..looking always to find the answers yourself is a great gift.
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        Apr 25 2011: Hello Lindsay, your reply caused a bit of trouble in my mind as it tuches a field, where I understand my self rather poorly.
        It seems to me, that it is an ongoing process, with my inbuilt desire to do do things different, than others do them as starting point, and the trustworthy internal gyroscope, you mentioned, as a wish for the future.
        You just reminded me of something. One of the major steps on this way must have been, that I read, at about age 16 about Herman Hesse´s novel "Siddatha" on Wikipedia. So maybe, I did not findout myself, but was told by others and belifed it, that there is not just a wish, but an unavoidable need, to find my own way of approximating truth :)
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          Apr 25 2011: Hello Philip..Isn't your ":in built desire to do thingsdifferent han ohters" already an alinement with your own internal gyroscope....just by noticing that and allowing yourself not to just go with the flow you are letting your inner voice speak..Your path is a difficult one..it is so much easier to go with the flow..fewer consequences..a lot less work..but if you study any thing you think was important to humanity you will find a person who didn't follow the flow. In evry TED talk the speakeris a person who "didn't go with the flow" So here at TED, through the TED talk, through the converstaions we are having, like this ownderful one, you have a rare thing..the company of many others who don't just go with the flow.
  • Apr 21 2011: OK- Obviously change is generally an evolution. But if I were to pinpoint one moment that has profoundly changed me: When I was in my early 20s, I was super angsty about the state of the world. The injustice! I was involved in the "wrong crowd" although they were intelligent good people they were also depressed people who did a lot of drugs, and not a whole lot else. I was very unhappy myself. I was at work one day, I think I was 20 or 21, in a bad mood probably talking about how unfair the world is, as if I knew something about anything. And my boss said to me, "One way to make the world a better place is by taking care of yourself." I was stopped in my tracks. I guess that was the first time I realized I had control over things. I started to grow up that day.
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    Apr 21 2011: When I was 19, I worked in sales and set a goal to be the top salesman in the country for the annual meeting. During the opening banquet, the regional manager counted up amounts and everyone with less than that total sat down. I stood alone for a long time until he reached my total. I felt embarrassed and empty as I realized that this had no meaning for me as a person. I took some time off, quit the job, changed my major, and never looked back.

    The question you raise is one I have reflected on throughout my career in teaching and counseling: After 35 years of work with thousands of people, there are a few things that are consistently present when patients or students describe new perspectives that change their lives. First, there is an emotional experience. Most often this is a connection and opening but it can also grow out of emptiness and loneliness; Second, there is a significant reduction of stress and tension; and, Third, there is a perceptual shift where they see a larger picture more clearly.

    The emotional experience creates an atmosphere of trust and acceptance and/or provide incentive for change. Stress and tension narrow our focus so resolving them allows us to see a larger picture more clearly. When we see more clearly, we realize the narrowness of our previous point of view. (As we continue this process, we realize that our perspective is always relatively narrow even as it expands. I wish I could remember who said “The epitome of knowledge is knowing what we do not know.”)
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      Apr 24 2011: Bob..thank you for sharing ths iconic and instructive story .An intriguing experience... afirm clear and I gather sudden connection with your inner self.your inner voice...the clarity and certainty of that moment when you were standing alone as top salesman and inside your voice.." this is not me..this is not who I am or who I want to be." What a gift that moment was. mysterious....and your response to it..not knowing what to do about it and taking time for discernmnet and to find newdirection is also instructive. I think Ken Wilbur and othe s call this "the inner observer". .
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    Apr 21 2011: My father died at 60 of a brain tumor. I had been grieving for months when a stranger passed by and smiled at me. It touched my heart and I turned a corner.

    It was the first time that I recall experiencing that type of 'connection': fleeting, yet powerful. Powerful in that it steered me to a place of simply being a part of the human race and acknowledging the gifts we have for one another. Since then, I recognize these connections more often. I cherish them. I think my eyes light up when I experience them.

    These connections are the very stuff of life for which one must be in the present to appreciate. Agendas create a fog. Self Absorption builds a &*%^ wall ! Anger shoots the messenger. Sitting on a park bench, watching people go by, is a wonderful way to begin practicing realizing these enchanting moments . . . or whatever transpires.

    In conclusion, perhaps if people became more aware of those around them, these powerfully transformative connections could enlighten our thinking about eachother and thus begin the slow climb up the mountain.
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      Apr 21 2011: Lynn,

      What is powerful about your turning point, is that the stranger, I presume, had no idea the profound impact their smile had on you. Which leads to the realization of one's power to impact others with no knowledge of their power to do so. And, the reverberating impacts of their power.

      Your comments about living in the the present, with intentional awareness of both self and others speaks to a phenomenological approach to transformation. Experienced as it occurs in it's purest interpretation by you.

      On a personal note: I have a friend whose father was recently diagnosed with brain tumor. I'm grateful you shared your story, so I can in turn, share it with her as a touchpoint "sent" by you: a stranger passing in cyberspace, so to speak.

      Andrea
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    Apr 20 2011: HI Andrea, A few years ago I read a book called Freakenomics. There was a chapter that described a problem that my class had worked on in grad school. We wondered why there was a dramatic decline in violent crime rates at a point when it was expected to increase and the best we could come up with was that the boomers were too old to commit as much crime leading to the drastic decline. Freakenomics however, came up with the real reason: 20 years before the drastic decline in crime abortion was legalized. This utterly shocked me. Having worked so hard to discover the reason left me without the normal rationalizations. So I went from being a quiet but commited person with anti-abortion sentiments to a person who understood it from a different angle. It became clear to me that it was not enough to insist upon respecting fetal life but that we have to consider respecting the whole life of that child. Any child who is brought into a world where it will be unwanted, uncared for and unloved will likely repay what it receives in some heinous revenge on society. This was a profound change in my thinking and understanding and it was brought about by a book.I was profoundly changed by the birth of my children when I learned a new way of loving that was so much deeper and more profound than the love I had known before. Other profound changes in my beliefs have come in times of crises when I have lost loved ones and had to ask myself questions about what life and love meant and what was truly important or permanent. When I had cancer and discovered that the bargains that I had made with God were truly one sided i learned to stand more firmly on my own two feet and in the face of death I learned how to live. The strange thing is that when I stopped grasping life- I was given a whole new life.
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      Apr 21 2011: Debra --

      Thank you or this rich and nuanced response. Your concept of whole-new life is striking. The idea that not only your views changed, but that your definition of what living itself did, as well. Layered upon your choices to reflect beyond reasons you'd toiled over in grad research is a remarkable example of building upon, not defending, lessons learned.

      Andrea
  • Apr 20 2011: Andrea: I was in my 30's when I switched quite rapidly from being a staunch progressive/liberal/socialist to a free market capitalist. There were two triggers. (1) I read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. Dreadful books, but they gave me sudden insight into what makes us all tick ("enlightened self-interest"), and they sowed in me the first seeds of skepticism about the "benefits" of big government. (2) I discovered the Austrian School of Economics and for the first time economics started to make sense. If I remember correctly, the total transformation from left to right took about five years. I can think of nothing else in my life that has had such an impact on how I feel about anything, and every passing year since that time has just cemented my belief in the fundamental goodness of the free market and capitalism, my belief in ther fundamental goodness of most people, and my skepticism about anything done by almost any government anywhere.

    Actually, there was another dramatic change. One day in my early 20's I ran out of both milk and sugar, it was late at night, I was working on a program I had to finish, so I decided to choke down a cup of coffee black for the first time in my life. I have never drunk it any other way from that day to this! (Not exactly what you were looking for, but a change all the same.)
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      Apr 20 2011: It is interesting, isn't it, how much impact literature can have on us?. For me, one of the most profound books of my early life was The Grapes of Wrath, that showed prejudice in a way that took it out of the realm of black and white into the arena of rich and poor, haves and have nots. I read Atlas Shrugs at a similar point in time and the first book was far more impactful upon me than the latter. I wonder now- if I had read it without some of my own life experiences or without the Grapes of Wrath if we would more often be on the same side of some of the issues.
      • Apr 21 2011: It is also interesting how we seem to read the same books. I, too, enjoyed both the Grapes of Wrath and Freakonomics -- in fact, to this day I follow 'freakonomics' on Twitter.
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      Apr 21 2011: Revett,

      I like your milk and sugar to coffee change! There might even be a literary metaphor there, if not something of a mini-economic lesson on the lines of unintended/adaptive innovation or something. Fun.

      Can you tell me more about your five year transformation process? Where there fits and starts or was it more a linear process? More reflective or more experiential?

      What did you find was/has informed your own, personal enlightened self-interest? How did you discover it?

      Andrea
      • Apr 21 2011: Andrea: My five-year transformation was pretty linear, although the greatest impact was just in the first year when I 'discovered' Rand and the Austrian School. The next few years were, if I remember, mostly spent in coming to terms with philosophies that I had previously rejected or suspected.

        As an aside, there is something else that comes to light here that might interest you: Based on our intersecting in quite a number of TED Conversations, Debra and I appear to share many of the same values and concerns about people and society in general (not to mention books...), and yet we disagree quite fundamentally on the political/financial/systemic reasons for problems and potential solutions to them. If you assume that we are both reasonably intelligent people, both on the far side of 30 (actually I am only 20 because as a good Canadian I switched to Celsius when I reached 50), you have the makings of an addendum to your question: what happens to make people move off in quite different directions philosophically?
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          Apr 21 2011: Thanks for your response, Revett --

          Yes, I see the "axis" where you and Debra intersect in many ways and, yet, depart ways, too in others. Most certainly agreed that your point queues up a follow up question. Which I will as you suggest, offer.

          You and Debra are a wonderful mini-example of the complexities and interconnections we are seeing in much larger socio-political-cultural realms, particularly in Western societies like Canada and the US.

          Perhaps our abilities for and widespread access to critical thinkers/thought permits these tensions to exist, and gives us unique opportunity to ask questions such as this one you pose.

          The challenge, in my mind, is how to at once hold these differences and similarities in co-productive and useful transformations for all/each without devolving into You're right, I'm wrong endless loops. A discursive conundrum we (or at least I) haven't fully cracked the practicable/sustainable code on.

          Many thanks for demonstrating a model and orienting focus to build from,

          Andrea
    • Apr 22 2011: Interesting - I just turned 30 and feel a very similar shift. I am still progressive but not the die hard anti-capitalist that I had become. I've learned to appreciate the organic functioning of the free market as opposed to top-down bureaucratic control. Also, there is something in the free market that seems to allow for the exercise of free choice while still contributing to the social.

      My beef is with "Late Capitalism," the current stage we are now in. I think if I had to pick an ideal economic system is would be capitalism. Capitalism is great as an ideal. In fact I think the role of government in the economy is to try to best create the ideal form of capitalism. IMO, Free Trade is not the way to bring about that ideal, but actually brings us father away from it. In late capitalism, we have large monopolies that destroy free competition, free information and erases the invisible hand, paradoxically under the guise of "free trade."

      Here is an example: 3D TV. The electronic conglomerates needed a new product after the HD craze. They really had nothing to offer and most consumers are very happy with their current high priced HD set. There is no demand for something new here. But, they resurrected a 1970's technology, marketed the crap out of it and are pushing it down the throats of consumers. It is over production and reflects how far detached our current system is from supply and demand.

      I guess my revelation was to take ideals as they are, points of view. I no longer champion one side over the other, I need to first understand the pragmatic way in which things work. Pragmatism is the great American philosophical perspective, IMO.
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    Apr 27 2011: Thank you all for so energetically engaging in this dialogue.

    The breadth and depth of the comments and interaction between all has been quite rich. I can't help but feel this discussion amounts to a small example of "in situ" change in action.

    Many illuminations have been shared and in the process, others emerged.

    As each person has communicated parts of their story here, something like dynamic transformation can be detected. Perhaps not as much in individual ideals as in new understandings of the universal mix of simple and complex realizations of change and the possibilities for co-reflection.

    Differences in our ages, experiences and perspectives make the discussion even more rich and dimensional. And yet shared themes are clearly evident -- most powerfully -- some of these were developed in the simple act of telling.

    I would say what we have here is something of a small organically developed cultural enclave. Wherein each individual voice comes through clear, while the sum of all in relationship gives it a novel, community-style substance and form.

    To carry this momentum forward I am going to build on our discussion, in the following ways:

    First -- I will build another question related to this conversation, including Revett's thoughts on how, so we can delve deeper. Keep an eye for this--coming soon!
    Second -- I will seek ways to capture Lindsay's observations of this "Choir of Inner Voices" in some lasting format. Stay tuned for developments!

    Meanwhile, I am very grateful for the candor of your comments and interactions.

    Hope you'll join "our" continuing story. I suspect there is much more we can unfold together....

    Andrea
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    Apr 26 2011: Two years ago ( at the age of 53) I was at a party and I just sat and watched quietly instead of interacting as I normally would have. Over the next two days my mind slowing became very quiet and I went thru a profound change. Colors became brighter, tastes became more intense, everything was more beautiful and I was more in love with my wife of twenty years than I had ever been. I had previously been extremely interested in (and usually angry about) world affairs and politics but now I lost all interest in it, (I just found it boring). Over the following weeks and months I read spiritual books like a sponge.Nothing that happened at work or in life could really get me upset. I became very interested in Buddhism and have been studying and practising it ever since. The extreme change in my conciousness seemed to last for about three months and then slowly abated but I have never fully returned to my old self. I stopped all forms of news media and haven't read a paper or watched or listened to the news in almost two years and I've never been happier or more peaceful. I listen to Ted lectures voraciously because they are stimulating in a positive way. When my friends or family start talking about politics or world affairs I don't mind and I listen but it doesn't really affect me. I don't usually participate until the subject changes to human nature, spirituality or psychology and then I love talking about it. I really have no idea why this change occurred but I feel blessed and I'm so thankful that I have been given this gift. I'd love to hear from anybody else with a similar experience.
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    Apr 26 2011: A vida é uma transformação. Você não é o mesmo sempre. Tudo muda, inclusive você. Mas, após os 50 anos de idade, mais maduro, mais experiente, mais sofrido, mais amado, mais sensível, mais informado, é que as transformações são mais visíveis.
    Muitos conceitos do passado, ligados à religião, à política e à educação moral se transformaram em mim, com a ajuda importante da informação, em razão do avanço tecnológico nessa área.
    Creio que as minhas mudanças internas me transormaram num homem melhor.
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      Apr 26 2011: Thank you to Belucio Haibara for this translation of Ednel, comments:


      Life is a transformation. You're not always the same. Everything
      changes, including you. But after 50 years of age, more mature, more
      experienced, more pressured, more beloved, more sensitive, more
      informed, is that the changes become clearer.
      Many of my past concepts regarding religion, politics and moral
      education have changed, due to important information regarding
      technological advances in this area.
      I believe that my internal changes turned me into me a better man.
  • Apr 25 2011: I used to be a devout hindu and was at same time a science student. I never delved deep into the region where science would confront my faith. I thought science and religion were different things and are uncomparable. I remember reading somewhere a concept tossed by Stephan J. Gould called NOMA (Non overlapping magisteria), which suggest science and religion cannot be brought in same weighing system as both answer different questions and I was then satisfied with it. In course of my studies, I moved to Germany and suddenly faced a complete different culture and religious belief. I saw a big discrepancy between religions, between hinduism and abrahimic religions and started questioning myself, if there was single omnipotent benovolent being, then there should have been a single and universal doctrine. But there is none. I remember watching talk of Richard Dawkins and subsequently read his book the blind watch maker and it resolved the issue for me. The transistion was hard but the outcome was good. I love the greek quote "To our way to wisdom, we suffer." Now I deeper appreciation to nature and open mindedness to lots of thing.
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    Apr 25 2011: andrea, this wonderful post has just begun to tap into something deep in the TED community..What do you think about extending it a bit longer? Is that possible? These accounts are very moving to me..I read the whole post top to bottom when a new post is added..it is beginning to have that luminosity that Eric Whitacres virtual choir has..only here what is uniting us is not music but an almost universal encounter with our own inner voice.
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    Apr 25 2011: Last year, when I attended a powerful session of the Landmark Forum which is about transformative learning itself. The session slowly but surely worked on me. All my beliefs that I held about myself and life altered. If I believed I wasn't good enough, I came to that it was but a conversation I created for myself. So I altered it to I am the best in anything I touch. And I have been just that. I saw my relationships with people closest to me - my parents - alter and go to a whole new level. I saw my responses to my nephew and my nieces' antics become more accepting, even inviting. All my disempowering conversations, negative beliefs and belittling emotions seem to have disappeared - and no, I didn't have to go through any traumatic incident for this to have happened. In a very safe space, I looked at my life's strongly held beliefs and altered them where they were disempowering - because I could see that these beliefs were born of some incidents at specific ages in my life - they weren't ultimate reality.
    So I believe it's not necessarily traumatic incidents that trasform beliefs, but also conscious thought processes that allow us to alter our own belief systems and conversations about ourselves and life.
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      Apr 25 2011: Hi Shaluu! What an interestnig post. I would like to know more about the Landmark Forum. How many people attended at a time? Was there a lot of group cheering and affirmation? Did they show inspirational videos? What exactly do you think changed your perception of yourself?
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      Apr 25 2011: Shaluu,

      Thank you for sharing your "non-traumatic experience induced" transformation. A wonderful exception and example of the power and possibility for embracing, coaxing and achieving change in a proactive, rather than reactive way.

      If you can, it would be interesting to hear you share more about which strongly held beliefs you felt were disempowering. And, how those around you, specifically the family you mention, reacted to your transformation.

      Andrea
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    Apr 25 2011: At a friend's party last night I was thinking, for the longest time my friends in their mid-20ies seemed to possess this diamond sparkly currency called youth.
    For me ageing has been the single most humbling change-making process, one I am able to observe daily with wonder thinking: wow I didn't expect that! This process has greatly inspired my work but also my approach and attitude towards people.
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      Apr 25 2011: Minou,

      What a beautiful phrase -- "diamond sparkly currency called youth." Aging can have a burnishing effect on some, so that while the changes perhaps dim some of the perceived sparkly, they meanwhile can seem to sharpen other gem-like qualities.

      As I approach middle-age I notice certain others my age radiate something deeper, less symmetrical--less superficially "perfect" and often much more complex. But of value and beauty, too.

      Andrea
  • Apr 25 2011: Olá, querida. Minha opinião mudou em relação ao bem estar social. Achava que estar bem era ter carro, casa, poder viajar sempre que desejasse, ter meus amigos ao meu dispor e isso ruiu feito castelo de areia. Percebo que as coisas, transmutam numa velocidade assustadora. Tudo é muito relativo. O que é bom para mim pode não ser para você e por aí, a fora...Bom, sabe o que percebo realmente? Que qualquer coisa que você faça tem valor se o seu sentimento de amor estiver presente. Nada mais. Fácil como água de nascente de rio cuja missão é desaguar no mar. Bjs, querida.
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      Apr 25 2011: Translation: Hllo, my dear. My opinion has changed concerning being well socially. I thought being well meant to have a car, being able to travel whenever I wanted, having friends available, and all those thing melted into ruins as a sand castle. I see things transforming scaringly fast. Everithing is very relative. Whatever is good for me may not be so for you and so on... Well, do you know what I really see? Whatever you do is valuable if a love feeling is present.Nothing else. As easy as water from a river spring, whose mission is to flw into the ocean. Kisses, my dear.
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        Apr 25 2011: Durval,

        Most appreciate your translation of Izabela's comment, Durval.

        And Izabela,

        Your lovely note embodies your point about intent. My sense it that where intent is scaffolded by mutual interests in well-being of others as much as self, mutual transformations are perceivable. The challenge is communicating and sustaining these with patience and persistence. This requires deep commitment and can be quite difficult when sands are shifting all around.

        Andrea

        Andrea
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        Apr 25 2011: yes thank you so much for the fluid translation..I was working on it with my Portuguese dictionary.muito obrigado
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    Apr 25 2011: My strongly held view was the 'belief' I had in my parents ... It took me 35 years to realize that they are but human ... It took me 35 long years to realize that dogmatic beliefs as above needs not just honesty in articulating the above but the courage to see what I want now ... which is a life beyond them ... I dedicated a long time to them, rather lost in pre-occupied thoughts about them ... but with my brother's loss since the (close to) last 4 years, its been a growing experience by leaps and bounds ... The last week, I made the final step ... courage to move on ... but before this, I have identified what I must do for my mother with one simple question ... 'what happens to her if I die now' ... This question has helped me work on my moral compass and hopefully helps me identify her true needs and work on them ... Then this life is all mine ... This is the singular most radically changed 'view' of my life ... I took 3 whole months to come to this conclusion, shutting down on human connection ... but this soul searching helped me immensely from distractions ... Sharing makes even hard truths easier and powerless when shared ... What I have done is I have made peace with them and their roles in my past ... The whole conditioning is getting removed ... Its a great feeling ... Thanks for sharing ...
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      Apr 25 2011: Wow Deepa thanks for sharing your story. We are each given only one life and to allow anyone else to steer it is a huge loss to ourselves and perhaps to humanity.
  • Apr 24 2011: Hi Andrea, I've experienced two major changes in my life.

    The first change came about when I was introduced to Jacque Fresco and his lifelong work. To be more spesific, the application of the scientific method to social concern. What is objective and what is relative, our relationship to communication and how we project our "values" instead of asking questions.

    The second understading was a product of Jacques train-of-thought, it sparked a much more powerful tool for self-reflection in me. I would suddenly not juggle back and forth between reflection, and being myself. Gradually, reflection became me. In reflecting, one takes on the role of the observer and philosopher, this is important.

    For example: There is no external enemy, the only enemy, if it can even be called that, is inside ones self. Lets say that a conflict arises between you and your fellow human, for this conflict to even exist, you have to be a part of it. The over-exercised "conflict" is an objective one, because a relative conflict cannot exist, but in reality, neither can the objective one. Lets examine.

    I say the world is flat, you say the world is round. The answer to this question does not exist in me or you, it exists outside of us. Both of us have the tools to deduce and theorize as to what the truth might be, but the truth itself exists independently. So in reality the earth is round, there is no conflict in this regard. The assumption that this truth comes from me or you is inherently false, and that is where the conflict lies. No one can really disagree about anything, but you can play with things that are relative. Question, do you disagree with yourself?

    This mismash of relative opinions with objective truths has to stop, our communication is plagued by it, communication in most science is eloquent, yet ape-like in our society.

    The change in me was recognizing the mismash, as a result I can truly communicate with my family, namely all humans.

    A lovely thread Andrea.
    • Apr 24 2011: I have changed many times during my lifetime:

      I grew up a republican in a heavily democratic Northeast Mpls.
      Now I am a registered democrat in a conservative/republican enclave (Colo. Spgs, CO)

      I learned a great deal at "the U" and became much less conservative while in Education, Sociology, and History. I also ran Freshman Camps - I was hauled kicking and screaming toward listening to anthers' story

      After school (there no teaching positions available) I changed into a technician- type in printing,but kept READING - That was a constant.

      By this time I was much more liberal than my Dad could stand.

      I traveled to Europe and changed more!

      I became a solid and steady citizen raising two (wonderful) children. Now I'm getting over that.

      The fact is that I altered my life at many junctions along the way. School, College, Graduate school, work, children all changed what I thought and did but... The attitude inside never DID really alter.

      SO, I became more liberal working with conservatives as well as more conservative among liberals.

      I'll finish later.
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        Apr 25 2011: Will,

        I can't help but make a personal connection. I spent time in North Minneapolis yesterday, a place I find myself drawn to because the diverse people represent what to me seem more authentic, less mediated by norms characteristics somehow.

        It's a cultural and sometimes "messy" mix, but has an appealing ideal and persistence against odds for figuring out ways to change and evolve within community.

        Beyond (or perhaps related to?) this connection: You leave me curious about what is your "attitude inside" that didn't really alter?

        Andrea

        PS: As a teacher, perhaps you'll appreciate this dispatch from your home town:
        1000 jobs will come to the area next year when Minneapolis schools relate their offices there.
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    Apr 23 2011: For me the biggest belief-altering experience (aside from the ever famous opinion polling during physics classes) is PTDD (Post-Traumatic Divorce Disorder). So, I think the closer emotionally the experience, the greater its belief altering power.
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      Apr 23 2011: Daniel,

      Your closer emotionally = greater alteration assessment is very intriguing.

      Divorce seems to have produced culturally transformative doubt. I note this having had experience with "PTDD." Though I do believe healing many of its acute aspects is possible.

      Some say Western culture's propulsion of individualism above all is at the core of the "divorce problem." As an encompassing -- if simplistic indictment, I agree. But with this huge asterisk: divorce is exceedingly complex -- if not capriciously so. Any attempt to isolate blame faces deeply convoluted, if not dangerous judgements of endless contextual issues.

      Not least of these are ubiquitous institutionalized methods and cultures that, even if necessity and ideals are well-intended, often undermine the human value most intrinsically desire -- to maintain sustained relationships.

      A question to ponder, then, is: can transformative doubt move forward or make space for new or more dimensional and constructive beliefs? Relevant to relationships: how could these be achieved with others? More to your response -- have you experienced this at any levels?

      Andrea
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        Apr 24 2011: Hello Andrea,
        There are many aspects to this but the one I am focusing is that the pain of the divorce process, and the new coping involved impacted my thinking about higher powers, the capacity of otherwise good people to engage in toxic confliict, and such. I could readily use a different example but this one hit my affective universe order the most, and I realized that my mystical framework was insufficient to help me withstand the emotional effects on me. That is when I formed the opinion that the closer the emotional effect, the stronger the potential to alter my beliefs. As to your last question, which is very interesting, I think that what matters is the set of values by which I process the doubt. Of course, personality also plays a role (e.g., if you are conflict-averse, you won't be likely challenging anyone directly) since not all is cognitively-processed. In some sense I wonder, aren't all fundamental doubts ultimately transformative or have transformative potential? Let me put it another way. Have you ever tried to change an aspect of your personality you did not like? What is involved in that? I suspect changing some beliefs - the deep ones - maybe similar.
        You got me thinking.
        Daniel
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          Apr 24 2011: Daniel, many of us have found our worlds spinning from an unexpected divorce. I really thought my divorce after 28 years of marriage and 5 kids might kill me. I was so devastated. Now, 3 years later I realize that what I thought might kill me was actually a rebirth. I had lost or sublimated so much of who I am over that time and rediscovering life as just me has been a great adventure- and its getting even better. My ex can have his girlfriend who is younger than my kids - I'll take adventures in China!!
      • Apr 25 2011: Andrea: I don't subscribe to the idea that all divorces are necessarily emotionally devastating. After 27 years of a not-fabulous-but-not-bad marriage, my first wife and I went our separate ways. Both of us are now happily remarried with true life partners. All four of us -- me, my wife, my practice wife, and her husband -- get on well together and with all our various kids, and we are all living the lives we are happiest in.
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          Apr 25 2011: This from the guy who makes cracks about what the first wife looks like?
      • Apr 26 2011: Debra:

        Huh?
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          Apr 26 2011: Look back in some of your early comments. Women have really long memories.
      • Apr 26 2011: Debra: Correction: YOU have a very long memory when it comes to any perceived slight against womanhood. You are extremely sensitive in that regard. If in doubt, check out some of your own posts in past conversations. (Hint: The word 'obnoxious' to describe TED talks should stir a few memories.)

        Perhaps my ability to joke about my ex without getting killed in the process is an example that supports what I said above. I will lay a substantial wager that her jokes about me are far worse than mine about her!
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          Apr 26 2011: OH! Snap!Revett- no need - I have a great memory for my own positions and stand by them.as well because they are well considered and consistent not to mention prosocial.
  • Apr 22 2011: Nothing is everlasting. The only permanent thing is change. Environment change, people around change, including me. I thought I am a determined person, but they say it is stubborn.
  • Apr 22 2011: I think that i've changed because of bad thing that have happened to me. I went through a divorce and it affected every aspect of my life, from my finances to how i trust others to political issues and the future of my children and their education. I was a sheltered chid and therefore a very naive adult. I had to make alot of mistakes before I learned, as a result i look at the cup as halp empty instead of half full. My experiences have taught me that.
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    Apr 21 2011: Continued: He absolutely shocked me. I couldn't believe that someone could get poor grades, and yet be intelligent, and more intelligent than I had been, at that. I did not understand how someone could break rules so often, and yet do something as compassionate, and selfless as he had just done for me, especially helping me when I had been lukewarm to him at best. Simultaneously, he embodied all of these things. In a bout of rebelliousness, I decided to respect him. Thoughts completely left my mind, stress dissolved out of my body, and I felt genuine human connection- the kind that doesn't need words or movement to feel like a hug. I stopped listening to the teacher that day. I realized he could teach me more than I could ever learn in a classroom. When I did for that one day, the entire world opened up in color and brilliance from those days on. I realized as tedious and boring, yet clenched and painful as my life had been, it didn't have to be. I found my passion in psychology as I tested people's ideas about the world in my own life, I respected more, experienced more. Most importantly, I thought for myself, and I stood up for others when they deserved it. I began searching out the best in people, including myself. This boy was the most enchanting person I ever knew. He was fearless, brilliant, compassionate, uproarious... inspiring. The boy became my best friend. He utterly changed my life, and to this day, he may not know the extent. I may not know the extent! : ) The moment was magical in a way; I realized my entire life's system of thought was wrong.... in a wonderfully happy and freeing way.
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      Apr 21 2011: love your story..just wonderful .
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        Apr 21 2011: Thank you Lindsay. I appreciate it! :)
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      Apr 21 2011: Sarina,

      Your transformation is very relevant given the many challenges students (and educators) face.

      I've witnessed something similar in two boys identified as needing tutoring. Though I was supposed to be teaching them, they taught me. It occurred to me as I observed them in action how their unseen brilliance reminded me of the brilliance of PhDs and academics I know.

      I wrote of the boys and, sure enough! Experts identified as the "best and brightest" by cultural measurements were exactly the ones most likely to relate the most to these two "challenged" boys. It brought back memories of their own "behaviors" and "affects" as children.

      And, to this day informs my views about the intellectual depth of people -- like you -- who demonstrate it by seeing the brilliance of "unlikely" others.

      Here is link to "What academics and policy-makers could learn from kids" -- http://bit.ly/P7ljt
      Perhaps you'll see connections I'm making to you/your story.

      Many thanks for sharing it!

      Andrea
    • Apr 22 2011: That was a great story. What did happen to that boy?