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TED 2010, Bill Gates, Avatar, And My Chocolate Hangover

This year's TED conference yielded many terrific speakers -- and I encourage you to watch the talks. I'm going to touch base on just a few so you can get a sense of the wide range of topics.
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I felt good attending the 2010 TED Long Beach conference this year. It is my third time and I enjoyed this TED the most. There are so many terrific speakers that I encourage you to watch the talks. I'm going to touch base on just a few so you can get a sense of the wide range of topics.

Bills Gates reduced the environmental CO2 issue to a simple math equation I could understand. He showed that we needed to approach zero in one of four categories, since, as many of us remember, any number times zero is zero.

Jamie Oliver is taking on teaching Americans to cook healthy meals and empowering them with hands on experience.

We forget that mentoring and being shown how to do something can be the most important step of overcoming fears. With cooking not being taught in many schools, one of Jamie's visions of having every student be able to make 10 recipes is an excellent goal.

Dr. Temple Grandin was amazing to hear. I never thought I would be fascinated with slaughter house design until hearing her story and strategy.

Kevin Bales' talk on abolishing slavery world wide touched me. He showed a photo of a small child who had been rescued from slavery and an entire family of four that had been transitioned into freedom for $150.

James Cameron surmised that there may be a combination of story and emotional resonance with the public for The Titanic and Avatar to be hugely successful blockbusters. He had me chuckling when he said it was his teenage desire to scuba dive that developed from spending two hours daily on a school bus reading science fiction that led to the Titanic getting made. At 15, he decided scuba diving was what he wanted even though there was no ocean nearby. His father drove him from Canada across to up-state New York for lessons where he was eventually certified in a swimming pool in the middle of winter. James did not see the real ocean until he was 17, two years later. He was a truckdriver while other Hollywood directors were in film school. Possibly, he connects with regular people due to his life experience. James took nine years off from film making to explore the ocean in a serious way and placed a new value on mutual respect he experienced with the teams he worked with.

The TED conference is an exciting physical, emotional and mental endurance challenge for me. Where else do you have such a diverse group of Einsteins changing the world and creating a space for so many to learn from them in five days? My ultimate goal was to take it all in an enjoy it by both pacing and pushing myself to adjust to the event.

There is a packed schedule that starts at 7:00 a.m. and goes until 10:00 p.m. and everything sounds so good that it I want to see and do it all. There are brief breaks spent standing in lines for restrooms, seats or picking up lunch. Many events off-site lead to rushing from breakfast and lunch to get back in time for the next session. Then, there is meeting so many interesting people and realizing that an hour has gone by talking with them.

The past two years at the TED Conference, I found myself exhausted by day three of five precious days. I decided on a new challenge. How could I take care of myself in a way that assured sustained energy for all five days?

I set four goals: 1) Be in bed by no later than 10:30 p.m. no matter how interesting it sounded; 2) Avoid all white flour, sugar and grains as they make me sleepy; 3) Stretch every morning and night and take the stairs everywhere to counter the eight hours of sitting; 4) Drink three glasses of water minimum.

Well, everything was great until Friday night at the last party...they had these chocolate caramels. It wasn't the half a chocolate I started with but the other five chocolates consumed. My mental reasoning went something like this "They aren't that sweet." Well, chocolate has both caffeine and sugar and my body can not handle either (Note: add chocolate to goal #3 for 2011). Even though the chocolates were consumed at 9:00 p.m., my heart was racing until 1:00 a.m. and I could not fall sleep. Then, thanks to the sugar, my sleep rhythm was thrown off and I woke up at 4:30 a.m.. And, I was up for good. I decided to coin when my love of chocolate gets the best of me a "chocolate hangover"TM because a hangover is simply when one bears the brunt the next day of a decision made the night before. My hangovers are usually "chocolate" or "computer use" hangovers. I spent the last day bleary eyed when I wanted to finish strongly. Still, I made it 90 percent of the way.

Last but not least, Daniel Kahneman spoke about how our memory of an event can be different than our experience of it. Not in the way you may think. A person could be happy on a day to day basis but truly see themselves as unhappy when they think about it. Or, be unhappy daily but see themselves as happy when they reflect. I felt happy and inspired at TED and look back on it like that.

Yet, Daniel's theory has left me wondering about one thing that seems to be missing in many human beings, myself included; the "enough switch."

What is enough food, working out enough, enough money, enough influence, enough status, enough clothes, being loved enough, enough accomplishment, enough fame or, as in my case, enough chocolate caramels? When we think we need more, is it the experiencing self in the moment or are we thinking about what we should have, be or do? Am I getting on a plane to go on vacation because I really need to fly somewhere far away to be happy or is that just my mind?

There have been articles about the good enough marriage, good enough mother and good enough revolution. When we want more, how can we tell when it is justified and real, or going overboard leading to a negative effect on us or others?

So, I ask you, what are your thoughts about the "enough switch"TM? Does it drive us to achieve great things or does it never let us rest in peace, always whispering in our ears we need more and more of everything, when it isn't true? What is your enough?