What one skill = an awesome life? | Dr. Shimi Kang | TEDxKelowna

What one skill = an awesome life? | Dr. Shimi Kang | TEDxKelowna

Translator: Queenie Lee
Reviewer: Riaki Poništ Good afternoon. We humans are in trouble. I’ve been a medical doctor for 17 years, and I’ve researched
the science of human motivation. I’ve worked with thousands of people
from all walks of life, and I believe that we humans
are in trouble. Now, why would I say such a thing? When I look at the lifestyle
of my patients, of myself, or even your lifestyles, we are in a state of bizarre paradox, a place of negative evolution. We have made sleep deprivation
a symbol of ambition, and rested a symbol of laziness. We have made being too busy
a symbol of importance. And never before in human history have we had such conveniences
and such knowledge, yet never before have our lives
been so stressed and unhealthy. So, yes, I do believe
that we humans are in trouble. But at the same time, I have seen a group of humans
who are better than ever, individuals who have passion and purpose and meaning and joy in their lives. And I’ve wondered: what is the difference
between these two groups? What does one group have
that the other doesn’t? So what do you think? Is it passion? Passion is a good one, but we all know passionate artists
and entrepreneurs who are stuck in a rut,
unable to move forward. Could it be, if we add hard work,
and now we have grit, is that it? Well, grit is great but we all know, all of us know hard-working gritty people
who have no joy or meaning in their lives. And when I became
a psychiatrist, I thought it must be how you grow up. But increasingly, I’m seeing
people from good childhood with serious anxiety,
depression, and addiction. So what is it? What is this one thing? It wasn’t until I was in my most
challenging role, when I became a mother
of three beautiful kids, who are out there somewhere, that I went and found out. You see, when I became a parent,
this is what happened to me. (Laughter) I became overwhelmed – overwhelmed with everything
I had to teach my kids and do or was told I should do. And I couldn’t understand
how I, a Harvard-trained expert, a medical director of child and youth
mental health for a whole city, was having such a hard time
raising my three kids, when my mother who grew up in a village and never had a chance
to go to school, not even grade one, successfully raised five. And I turned out OK. So what was it? What is that one thing? I searched, and I knew there was something
more natural and simpler and more powerful than what I was doing. And I searched through the neuroscience,
the biology, the psychology, and the reality of success. And when I say “success”,
I don’t mean money or status. I mean success
in all aspects of that word: health, passion, purpose,
security, meaning, and joy. That’s what I wanted
for my kids and myself. And I found it. I found the one thing,
time and time again, that has been proven
to lead to an awesome life. And my discovery was earth-shattering
but so obvious at the same time. The one thing that has been shown
to lead to an awesome life is: adaptability. Adaptability. Adaptability. That was it! I was so glad it wasn’t the piano. (Laughter) Adaptability, it made perfect sense. Survival of the fittest
isn’t the fastest or the strongest; survival of the fittest is the one that is the best fit
with their environment. And wherever you look, if you look at bacteria,
or plants, or animals, and humans; and small businesses and large businesses; in corporations,
in governments or empires; it is adaptability that made the difference
between flourishing and extinction. Right now, humans
are being beat by bacteria because they are adapting
to our most powerful antibiotics. So adaptability is it,
and we see it everywhere. The company Netflix we all know, that company used to mail
videos to people’s homes, and they adapted to online streaming. And another company –
some of us have heard – is Blockbuster. And Blockbuster, despite its advantages
as an industry giant, didn’t adapt; they refused to adapt, and they are fighting extinction
while Netflix is flourishing. Some of you may remember
the “Kodak moment,” but that really was just a moment in time
because Kodak didn’t adapt. And this is true for humans. The longest study
of human development to date, the Grant Study, which spanned 70 years, they looked at everything:
looks, IQ, wealth, they found and I quote: “The key ingredient for well-being is the ability to make
lemonade out of lemons.” So think of your life. Think about times you were successful
and times that you failed. How did you adapt? How did you adapt to a new school
or a new relationship, to a new boss, or a new computer system
in your workplace? How did you adapt to the changing nature
of your life, your relationships or even our own aging? So it was adaptability. But then I had to figure out how. How do we adapt? Why do we adapt?
When do we adapt? So, my journey wasn’t over. And thankfully, it was my research
in motivation that gave me the answer. If you hang in here,
I’m going to walk you through some very eye-opening
neuroscience of how our brain works. So, when we humans do something
that will help us adapt, like sleep, because we can’t think let alone adapt,
if we’re sleep deprived, we are rewarded; our brain’s motivation centers are lit up with the powerful release
of neurochemicals. And that is our reward; we experience a feeling
of well-being and joy. And that is our signal
to go do that again, do that activity again. And if we oversleep,
we feel lethargic and guilty, or we under-sleep,
we feel tired and irritable, and those are signals not to do that again and to go get our reward. Now, some of you may be saying,
“Well, I like to shop, and I like to win.” So is that what I need to do? Yes, we are rewarded to shop
and gather, win and compete, but we are over-gathering
and over-competing. How much stuff do we need? And perfectionism
in keeping up is ruining us. That at the expense of other
very powerful adaptation tools. In fact, I believe that we humans
are so off-balance that we have forgotten
what it means to be human. In my practice, I created a metaphor to help remind myself and my patients
of what it means to be human. I used to hear – I’m sure
you’ve all said it – that you’re too busy to eat or sleep. And I felt we really need to look
outside ourselves to see ourselves. And I picked an animal that is a mammal
that lives its life fully underwater: the dolphin. You see, the dolphin has or seems to have
what every human seems to want. They are highly
intelligent with a high IQ, and they do no tutoring. They, dolphins, have svelte, fit bodies, and they wear no spanx, and no fad diets. (Laughter) Dolphins have great social lives,
and they drink no alcohol. And they show compassion,
and they don’t even do yoga. So how do these animals,
these creatures, do all this in their very competitive environment where they have to hunt for food
and worry about sharks? Well, they never compromise
the basics of life. My kids told me a great fact. They told me that dolphins sleep by alternating their brain areas
and keeping one eye open, so they don’t drown
or be eaten by a shark. Now, dolphins don’t compromise the basics
because basics is how we adapt and thrive. So right now in this world,
and what I’ve seen, there are three things
that humans are not doing that has thrown us off-balance. And these can be remembered in the word that is the centerpiece
of the dolphin culture. That word is “POD.” So let me walk you through it. The “P.” The P stands for “play.” Dolphins play every day, but humans have forgotten
that play is a basic of life. And when I say “play,”
I mean the “play” of my childhood, not the “play” I was seeing happening
with my kids and around me. Lego is a great example of that. Lego of my times, I was the fifth child,
and I used to inherit broken Lego. It was simple, and it was unstructured. There were no rules,
and it was imaginative, and it was limitless
in what I could create. That’s “play.” The Lego of today
is like today’s childhood. It is constructed and complicated
and full of rules and directions. And we know the final product,
and it makes kids fragile, and it is fragile. And we get rigid and stuck and anxious
when we don’t play freely. We are in trouble if we don’t play. But if we do play, we are rewarded. Play – free play activates
that frontal part of our brain, the very human part, and it stimulates all kinds
of pathways for abstract thinking, emotional regulation
for problem-solving, for strategy. Play makes us comfortable
with uncertainty; it makes us take risks
and learn from trial and error. Play is how we adapt. So what about the “O”? The O is “others.” And others is why we adapt. Dolphins are exquisitely connected to their families, their groups,
and their communities. But humans have forgotten that social connection
is the basic of life. When we are socially isolated,
it corrodes our bodies. We get sick. Being lonely is as much
of a risk factor for death as smoking. Tumors in cancer patients
who are lonely spread faster. And if you don’t believe me, think of the worst form
of human punishment, a torture that has been well-documented to lead to a complete breakdown
and self-mutilation. That’s solitary confinement. When we don’t honor the basics,
we are in trouble. But when we do, we are rewarded. Social connection, contribution,
meaningful relationships, not socializing superficially
or social status but meaningful social bonding
brights up our brains; it feels great. And we are rewarded,
and that is why we adapt. If you’ve ever wanted to give up,
and you were tired and exhausted, your connection to something
beyond yourself is why you changed, why you adapted. So when, when do we adapt? That’s the “D”, that’s the “downtime.” So, dolphins relax once in a while. And humans have forgotten that rest and relaxation
is a basic of life. In fact, we are so on the go that stress has become the number one
health epidemic of the 21st century. We are stressed, and our bodies are releasing
stress hormones, it’s wreaking havoc
on our brains and our minds. When we don’t honor the basics, we are in trouble, and we do things
like texting, and driving, and yelling at your kids to calm down. Sorry kids, I know I have done that. (Laughter) When we honor our biology,
and when we rest, and we give ourselves downtime,
we are rewarded. The research on mindfulness slowing down,
paying attention is outstanding. It improves our focus,
our memory, our concentration, our relationships, our life satisfaction. Downtime. The most progressive
companies in the world are bringing in yoga classes,
meditation rooms, and beds because they know that breaks
are the moment of breakthroughs, that looking inward gives us
innovation and inspiration. So there it was – it was POD. And POD is how we adapt,
and adapt is how we thrive. And once this all settled in, I was struck by the simplicity
and the beauty of it all. I was struck by how kind
and generous nature is to us. And I was struck by how I had forgotten
what it means to be a human. I had made being busy
a symbol of importance and I had been over-gathering
and over-competing. And I had thrown my life
and my kids’ life off balance. And then I changed, and I adapted. It wasn’t easy, but I brought POD
back into my life. And something magical happened. When I played, I found new passion. And when I connected,
I found a new purpose. And when I rested, I found my balance. And amazing things started to occur, things I didn’t think
I had the time or energy for. I began to write blogs and articles,
and people read them. And I wrote a book on POD and adaptation, and I called it: “The Dolphin Way.” So my mom, she can’t read very well,
and she hasn’t read my book. But she asked me: why I was putting
so much science and research into a book that she saw
as being common sense. She was actually worried
that no one was going to read it. And the book became
a number one bestseller, and it’s been translated
into multiple languages and released around in the world. My mom hadn’t realized that we humans
are in the place of paradox, that we do need science
as permission for common sense. But we humans don’t need to be in trouble. We can choose balance. In my office, I give prescriptions for medications,
antidepressants, and blood work. And now, I give every single one
of my patients a prescription for a daily dose of a POD. I have been witness to the power
of play, others, and downtime. Give yourselves that prescription. This is your prescription. Give it to yourself. Give it to your friends and neighbors. Bring balance back into your lives. Bring play, connection,
and downtime back into your lives. Give it to your students
and give it to your colleagues and most of all, give it to your children. You see, we humans, we are perfect
instruments of adaptation. We humans are built and meant to thrive. And we humans, every single one of you
can have an awesome life. Thank you. (Applause)

Dereck Turner

100 thoughts on “What one skill = an awesome life? | Dr. Shimi Kang | TEDxKelowna

  1. Don Fields says:

    I have been saying something similar for decades, of all the courses we teach and learn, of all the things we know and master, the one thing we arent taught is how to be "happy". And imho it should be taught every year of school, and if wise we should continue this "study" throughout our lives. For now, if your not "happy" as much as you would like, then you can try focusing on this….do what you love, or love what you do. If you have an interest, a calling, anything your drawn to then GO TO IT, you only have one life, we must use it wisely if we want to be wise, and life fullfilled lives. If you dont have any interest currently, then focus on learning to love whatever it is you are doing, even a job you hate can be turned into one you love i assure you, and imagine the power you gain when you achieve that ability, nothing stands in your way after that, then your/ we are, truly free. 😜😊✌👍👋🙏😀

  2. Felipe Valente says:

    This was really amazing. Thank you for this TED talk!

  3. G2DJ says:

    My bosses believe in P.O.D.. They are always Playing with Others Downtime including my own. 🤬

  4. The Facts says:

    I request all the guys here to find the purpose behind your creation and who created you and why I guarantee your all problem will be solved and you will get rid of listening evry one opinion on this subject .

  5. Janine C says:

    11:08 Wow they actually have a timer in front of the speakers

  6. Michal Viktorin says:

    OMFG!!!! Every TEDx video is more and more quiet, I play driving simulator while listening to do multiple things at one time, and every video I have to lower volume of engine…….

  7. Tony Rossi says:

    Were a world of extremes. Workaholic on no work at all.

  8. Prokrity Chowdhury says:

    very important, excellent, many thanks

  9. Naren Juyal78 says:

    Indian hai.

  10. Pnini Shidlovsky says:

    Who wants to play with me LEGO

  11. Dass e says:


  12. Andrew H says:

    The number of times she says we humans makes me think she is not a human.

  13. Katy Xo89 says:

    Couldn’t agree more about the lego thing

  14. David Leimkuehler says:

    Your wrong because I did not evolve from an ape
    I think you did. One with a tiny brain!

  15. Moto Owl says:

    First time read: "What one kill = an awesome life?", missed "s". Guess, I need some rest…

  16. ram potheneni says:

    am I the only the one who is not able to connect with her in spite of concentrating on the subject

  17. Owen Wu says:

    watch at 2x. She needs to learn how to condense her speech and speak with purpose.

  18. Chris McLean says:

    Sorry, but survival of the fittest refers to reproductive success.

  19. The Average Gamer says:

    Never before have our lives been so stressed an unhealthy? 95% of the world survived on less than $1 a day before 1895 princess. Welcome to the future.

  20. Jeff Hodge says:

    I love how people say, "I turned out OK." That's a red flag.

  21. Luke Campbell says:

    Give glory to God, woman. He gave us nature. He gave us all things. We need God, over P.O.D., as the Almighty “Other”. Rejoicing in Him exceedingly and doing His commandments is how we play and He has provided eternal rest / Sabbath (“downtime”) in His Son, the LORD JESUS Christ. Life is stressful because of sin. We get things out of balance because of sin. We lie, cheat, hate, steal, murder… because of our refusal to bow the knee to the only rightful One Who deserves it: GOD. His only begotten SON, JESUS, died for our sins and rose again from the dead to free us from sin and eternal death. Repent and trust in Him to know Life Itself!

  22. LTUM ROKU says:

    for answer skip to 04:41

  23. LTUM ROKU says:

    Blockbuster had already been gone four years by the time she was giving this speech

  24. Nicole W says:

    I thought she was going to say gratitude. Appreciate life, celebrate life, learn how to show that appreciation

  25. ROKlJH UI says:

    Solitary confinement is torture because of the 'Confinement' not the 'Solitary'. I feel the speaker is biased in this respect.

  26. Keyaam Abrahams says:

    Give yourself some pot. Sorry I mean pod.

  27. Sean Safo says:

    You can adapt (i say good for you) to everything in life but some important things in life are shield will where your idea will not never work & if it works for you it may not work for me. Thank you & please try to learn from your MaMa more.

  28. Inderjeet Kaur says:

    Perfect speech

  29. Michał Rogalewicz says:

    Its a good talk. Just the lady is very stressed – ironically – so i hope she's fine. Thank you!

  30. Bo hamad says:

    Dont agree

  31. low zhi hao says:

    "Well, grit is great but we all know, hard-working gritty people who have no joy or meaning in their lives." damn this hurts me.

  32. Franz Petschel says:

    Looks like the USA needs to adapt some time soon.

  33. Nick DiStefano says:

    That was an Awesome speech!

  34. Troubledsham says:

    "Us Humans" over and over creeped me out at the end

  35. Jade Night says:

    Amazing talk, thank you x

  36. superfluityme says:

    If you have to pick one thing it's not adaptability it is understanding; adaptability comes after understanding. Without understanding what you need for you, what do you adapt to? And really if you break it down further it is love, love is far more important than anything for us, but love for all is not realistic but understanding is as it only requires you to understand you and once you understand you you can give love.

  37. Gary Bullock says:

    So, live a porpoise driven life? Got it. As a physician treating syndromes of ADHD and associated anxiety, depression, this is one of the most salient presentations I’ve heard.

  38. Sanjay Semwal says:

    Very Relevant Talk, really really beneficial for all, just adapt don't be rigid

  39. Mike Ivsin says:

    Kids are being brainwashed at unprecedented scale. Sorry. Research flat earth — it is only the beginning.

  40. C_ Farther says:

    That's why I think isolation works well after we're done making a living during the day. That suffocating nagging relationship we wind up with, is the reason we die early and don't enjoy a part of our day.

  41. WhiteChocolateMocha says:

    the one skill is ..adopt a baby

  42. argyrakopoulos vasilis says:

    the truth is that illuminati create the fountation with lows that they are injustice and they grow the feeling of vanity..

  43. Brandon Wills says:

    What she suggests, P. O. D., is the opposite to adapting to today’s world. She wants to adapt today’s world to humans so we can do what is natural & play. This whole adapt thing is BS & it’s stop adapting to this mad world & return to what is natural, P. O. D.

  44. Sandra Remolina says:


  45. -- says:

    Why is she looking at one thing… It's like to be multiple things???

  46. K Watkins says:

    I really want to know how to maintain these wonderful traits when living in a world of con artists and frauds. They feed on our sensibilities and our determination to stay positive because people who do that are people who want more than anything to be rewarded with goodness in return, yet, sociopaths eat these people for lunch. The do it so easily because every time they say what we want to hear, we don't question them, which we should, instead we feel like we have arrived, at long last, to the rewards we have earned.

  47. K Watkins says:

    I really want to know how to maintain these wonderful traits when living in a world of con artists and frauds. They feed on our sensibilities and our determination to stay positive because people who do that are people who want more than anything to be rewarded with goodness in return, yet, sociopaths eat these people for lunch. The do it so easily because every time they say what we want to hear, we don't question them, which we should, instead we feel like we have arrived, at long last, to the rewards we have earned.

  48. Andre Gonzales says:

    Give more pot

  49. Sitha Kavalur says:

    One of the best Ted Talks ever! To the point …so inspirational and so relevant for today's world ❤️😍👌👏👏👏👏👍

  50. comebackata2 says:

    Sleep is life 🤣

  51. Unknowb Unknown says:

    Id like to “play” and “adapt” with her 🥰

  52. PowerHour says:

    But motivation don't exist. Why would she say such a thing? Just do!

  53. Lifewave Business Coach says:

    Fit in with the environment ??? Let me assure you that you are much better of when in good control of your environment as fitting in is the start of if not equal too bad control

  54. Notadonna says:

    Thank you! So true! Some of us have to become ill to learn this. I'm not sorry to have had the chance to wake up, but it cost me a lot of time. I hope to encourage you to take charge by letting go of all the things that don't serve you and humanity. Love your life!💞

  55. Lydia Thornton says:

    The answer is 4:48….adaptability

  56. Elise Erickson says:

    The best part of my day is practice for one of my sports clubs. I PLAY a sport, surrounded by OTHERS who are my best friends. Then I go right home, shower, and sleep. I can't recommend joining a club or team more.

  57. David Rivers says:

    I Love This Speaker, "The Dolphin Way" A Perfect Thought

  58. Robert Greene says:

    GREAT analogy with the Lego's!

  59. klfmc rjn says:

    Machiavelli said it too, adaptability…

  60. Manjith mohanan says:

    Just listened to the flow of speech and couldnt realize when it finished..so inspirational…

  61. Madison Drum says:

    its adaptability

  62. anthony cooper says:

    Humans are not dolphins.

  63. Dong-Ae Shin says:


  64. R E says:

    Dolphins dont do alcohol…
    Yeah but they do puff fish!!! LOL
    Human and their abstractions

  65. Adam Phishman says:

    Absolutely awesome!

  66. Tim Garcia says:

    She absolutely nails it with the Legos. We used to let our imaginations run wild. We never knew what we were going to make. We had to adapt to the pieces that were available to us at hand. Everything wasn't prepackaged and predetermined for us. Thank you for reminding me that my imagination can get me to my destination.

  67. FoodShowFan says:


  68. Michael Gfroerer says:

    Honestly I found this talk lacked focus and lacked creativity; it just seemed to rehash common concepts. "The Dolphin Way"? Give me a break. How about "the human way" where we learn basic manners and parents get their heads right before having kids?

  69. Richard Sørensen says:

    so true

  70. Lloyd Yearwood says:

    My dad use to say "rest is not idleness" boy was he right. R.I.P dad. Your wisdom is so needed today.

  71. Lloyd Yearwood says:

    My dad use to say "rest is not idleness" boy was he right. R.I.P dad. Your wisdom is so needed today.

  72. sushil maurya says:

    Wonderful speech

  73. edwin deleon says:

    pastors say sleep is good for you joel osteen mick murdock and rick warren it in the bible king solomon also

  74. Curious Ang says:


  75. Luz Montalvo says:

    I don’t agree, because being alone does not mean we are lonely, on the contrary, one gets to know oneself and others better.. kind of like reading a book… cannot be more concrete than that , I mean “no better place to be”

  76. downbntout says:

    This is the oxygen I didn't know I needed. No more guilt over basic needs.

  77. big_bby7418 says:

    video starts
    me: pretending to focus when really im thinking about my depression

  78. jeffrei says:

    “Dolphins never compromise the basics of life”

  79. CateDoge says:

    Best skill to learn is awareness. Everything is connected to that.

  80. amber scovil says:

    The whole talk was filled with amazing points. I loved it! Thank you, Dr. Kang.

  81. percypunto says:

    Apologies for all the ranting and negativity in the comments below – I think this was one of the best TED talks I’ve seen in a while, well constructed, delivered with authenticity and left me feeling more compassionate for myself and those around me. Thank you for all your hard work in this area and for sharing your story. You should be very proud 🙂

  82. Hamood Al Zadjali says:

    She seems to be a nice person.
    However, I couldn't help but notice how she is struggling to breathe. Probably because she is herself is anxious from being on stage. That made me feel uncomfortable as well.

  83. George Mirchev says:

    Good talk, I also advocate daily use of pot, but to be fair that doesn't work for everyone.

  84. Kenneth Faulk says:

    In order to adapt, we must mentally divorce, and adopt. We compartmentalize where discretion but synergy is necessary. More important to individually survive is making sure our morals are seeded in others so ideals keep humanity alive.

    All of this is adapt equal adopt

  85. Matthew Brown says:

    I know she said P.O.D play others downtime. This was eye opening. I swear though the first time I heard her say daily prescription for P.O.D I thought she said pot (Mary Jane) lol had to rewind hahaha this was a great talk

  86. Tina S says:

    Rather than watching you tube videos yo young people should get together in person and pla for your future. Also pay attention to what items you spend your money so tht it gives you maximum advantage.

  87. Libor Supcik says:

    nice try

  88. Ivana Petrevska says:

    I am sorry, but this was not motivation, I think it was depressed

  89. Darren Walshe says:

    The answer is stop lookin outside ourselves n look within xx

  90. Tom Franov says:

    It is more important to be high performance, than it is to be a workaholic. High performers know how to maintain life balance. People with high output need recreational social activities to have fun and go a little wild, responsibly. Workaholics are taken advantage of, and once labelled a workaholic, that will never end. Workaholics attempt to work harder to solve their unhappiness, instead of creating balance, then they end up always unhappy. Workaholics need to learn to refresh and rejuvenate. Also, work teams that play together stay together and are more successful. For example, yoga or meditation at work, an after work basketball team, or a weekend at the race track driving race cars.

  91. The Explorer says:

    I disagree. You can be as adaptive as you wish, but it doesn't mean you are happy or not depressed.

  92. quaz imodo says:

    Yay POD.

  93. Acer griseum says:

    Good advice.

  94. MrAxegrinder says:

    Adaptability doesn't neccessarily equate to an awesome life? It equates to survival as opposed to extinction like she said. Need to change the title of the video.

  95. Duane Potgieter says:

    She has such a lovely voice

  96. Fortescue says:

    Interesting talk, thank you, about adaptability. Just a note though: 'making lemonade out of lemons' is not about adaptability – it's about making the best of a bad hand. (Plus, it has become over-used ie it is a cliché!)

  97. alien hiabov says:

    My Little buttshits useless noses huh

  98. Kik Kook says:

    Great point

  99. Onro says:

    From a privileged perspective.. If high maintenance to pull off the illusion. Many of us are disempowered because you maintain the cultural stereotypes of false beauty. You need to take your own medicine. Try dressing like a disabled person. Try wearing some fake injuries. Try not being able to change without caregivers and then have them abuse you. Stress is being used to abuse the lower classes and you are a participant t in hurting people in your means of presentation, offensive as all the rest. This is easier said than done with few solutions.

  100. Tracey F says:

    Good message, if you overlook all her motherhood crapola.

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