Laughter is the Best Medicine

Become who you really are | Andrea Pennington | TEDxIUM

Translator: Robert Tucker
Reviewer: Mile Živković I am obsessed with transformation, specifically how dreams
in the head and heart are transformed into physical reality. For the last two decades, I have reverse-engineered
peak performance behavior and hacked motivation to empower people to transform
their lives and their business in honor of their dreams and passions. So whether it’s starting
a new business or relationship to building a better brain or body, how many of you out there feel that you have the potential
to do something great in life? Alright. Well, Marianne Williamson once said, “If you feel like you’re wasting
your life’s potential, you are.” The truth is you have far more power over your physical well-being
and your impact in life than you give yourself credit for. Over the last several years
as a documentary filmmaker, I have immersed myself
in cultures around the world to see what it takes
to really thrive and flourish. What I noticed is, in many cultures
like in the Western world, when we set out in life, most of us
are programmed to fit into social norms. In business, we look to the marketplace
to compete for better sameness. And when we suffer,
physically or emotionally, most of us look outside of ourselves
for the cause and the cure. The shift for me came
in my final year of medical school, when I started the study of traditional
Chinese medicine and acupuncture. I learned that people
could have heart and brain surgery while awake without anesthesia. Women could deliver
their babies painlessly, and people could recover
from drug addiction and craving with a few tiny, well-placed needles. I realized there was more
to the body and mind than what the American
medical system was teaching me. I came to understand that our programmed beliefs
about ourselves and our place in the world dictate a large part
of our health and happiness as well as our level of success. Now the challenge is: our concept of self is often
inauthentic or weak. To transform what you see on the outside, you’ve got to transform
who you are on the inside. In the next few minutes, I will summarize
the soul and science of my work to leave you with three vital keys to unlock your potential
for transformation. It’s a simple prescription really, one small shift
that can yield big results. I’ll even tell it to you now: Become who you really are. When you look yourself in the mirror,
past the makeup or blemishes, do you ever sense that there’s more to you
than what you see in your reflection? So who are you really? When asked, “Who are you?”, most people respond with their age, ethnic background,
job or position in life. Why? Because we’ve all been programmed. The programming of your self-image
and how you describe yourselves to others begins in childhood. As author and biologist, Bruce Lipton,
so passionately explains, during the first six years of our lives, our brains exist
in a hypnotic, trance-like state, such that we passively absorb,
record and believe the things that are impressed upon us
from the outside world. From birth, the socialization process
shapes our sense of self-identity, and little by little
a social mask is formed, and we behave according
to the rules of our family or religion: we adopt the cultural, political
and gender norms that are thrust upon us, causing most of us to lose sight of
and compromise who we really are. The sad thing is most of us end up forcing the unacceptable
parts of our personality into the shadows, and we end up masquerading
as a half-baked version of ourselves, we embrace the qualities of our peers
or the ideals of our parents, all in an attempt to fit in
and be accepted. Meanwhile, the authentic, original you, that glimmer you see reflected
deep in your eyes, takes a back seat. Often we don’t realize
who we are meant to be because we’re so busy trying
to live out someone else’s ideas. But what if who you thought
you were is wrong? What if, by being your most authentic
perfectly imperfect self, you could transform
your health and your life while having an extraordinary
impact in the world? You know, the challenges
that our world faces today, from economic collapse,
crumbling political regimes, environmental crises
and global health problems, we need new solutions,
not rehashed versions of old thinking. Einstein said: No problem can be solved from the same
level of consciousness that created it. In 2010, IBM conducted
a study of CEOs around the world. 60% of these CEOs said that creativity is the most important leadership quality
for success in business. So, you see, we need people who will be creative enough
to think outside of the box, those who are bold enough
to go for their dreams, and those who are free enough
to be truly themselves. That’s from whence
that creative spark of genius often comes. A Greek philosopher
believed that we have a telos, a purpose or an end
toward which we are pointed. And – that end is the self. And the best life, says Aristotle, is spent trying to understand
what that self is, and to become it. And that’s what people who want
to transform the world need to hear: Become who you are. Now, that’s also the title of one
of the positive psychology courses I teach here at IUM
in the business school. One of the first assignments
is to research the class title. Now, many people have heard
“Become Who You Are,” or they’ve seen it
in online social networks, these cute little postcards, Most often, the phrase is attributed
to Friedrich Nietzsche. But Nietzsche was actually quoting
Pindar, the lyric poet. Upon further research, we see that Pindar’s line, when accurately
translated from the ancient Greek, reads: “Become such as you are,
having learned what that is.” So you see, your first key
to becoming who you really are, is to learn who you really are. So how do you do that? Shift your focus inward. Question your thoughts and beliefs. Seek to rediscover your true self
through inquiry, contemplation, yoga. Or, as Matthieu Ricard said,
through meditation. Now, one way that you can see what is truly you
and not just programming is to look at your biology. Dr C Robert Cloninger from my alma mater, the Washington University
School of Medicine, developed the TCI. The TCI is the temperament
and character inventory. You take it to learn
what your true personality traits are that have come from your family, those aspects of our personality
that are actually transmitted in the DNA. It is a good place to start, but as you’ve heard today, your biology doesn’t limit you,
it’s just a starting point. Next, look at your positive
traits and talents. Now, we all have a variety
of strengths, abilities and resources, but they don’t reflect
who you are at your core. But your character strengths
are those aspects of your personality that make you unique, feel engaged, and actually make you feel
like life is worth living. You can learn about
your character strengths by taking the VIA survey. This was developed under the guidance
of Dr Martin Seligman. While studying
applied positive psychology, he taught me that when we use our signature strengths
more in our daily life, we can achieve authentic happiness, create more flow, and a feeling that
what we do in life matters. When you feel that life
has meaning and purpose, you take your better care of yourself. You will express yourself more freely, and … you really start
to feel happy and hopeful. And these positive emotions and optimism go a long way towards setting you up
for success, better health and longevity. In fact, a Dutch men’s study found that optimism alone
could decrease all types of mortality and, in particular,
death from heart disease, as did the Women’s Health Initiative. So, this type of optimism is critical. I can tell you from personal experience that denying your self-expression
can actually lead to depression. For most of my life,
I have traveled two parallel paths. By training I am a scientist,
but by passion I’m an artist. My mother encouraged me
to boldly go onstage on television and to play music. But it wasn’t that
she pushed me into the arts, it was our home environment
that shaped my decision. Children ought to be seen, not heard. This was one of those leftover
Victorian ideals from England, where my mother grew up. But when I was on stage,
I felt free to finally express myself. And by performing, I could naturally get
into the zone and that flow state. Now, my father’s influence
was equally impressive. He told me that
only one in a million artists can make it in the world so go to school and get an education. I wanted to keep my father happy, so I sacrificed my biggest
passion for performing to become a doctor. And, for the most part, I was miserable. So what if the way you’ve molded yourself, or allowed others to shape you, was based on false information? If you’re always trying to be normal,
you’ll never know how amazing you can be. And may she rest in peace. During the first ten years
of my medical practice, I discovered that no matter
how many acupuncture needles, medications, surgeries,
or even psychotherapy given, some people just wouldn’t get better. Or worse, they’d get better, and then come down
with some other illness or addiction. When I asked why and probed deeper, I discovered that some of them
didn’t love and accept themselves. They didn’t value their lives, and they didn’t even feel that
they deserved good health and happiness. Somehow that felt very familiar to me. When we are coerced
to be something that we are not, or forced to pursue goals
that are not of our own choosing, we often take on the beliefs of others that can literally cause
our own self-rejection and self-loathing. Now I did use my on-camera skills to work successfully with some
of the largest media brands in the world. But the persona that we created was not authentically aligned
with who I really was. I didn’t feel comfortable
with my pseudocelebrity status, and I even started to hide
some of my success because I hated the image that we created. I also hid my sadness, smiling on the cover of magazines
and doing talk-show interviews, I wore a happy mask … while internally I suffered. Now, that subset of patients
that lacked self-love was actually a mirror
to what I was experiencing. When we don’t utilize
or live up to our full potential, we risk becoming hopeless and depressed. We may be functional, but not fulfilled; we may be successful, but not satisfied. To numb our pain we often overeat,
overdrink, overachieve or shop. But we’re not the only ones
who suffer in that scenario. We have a profound impact
on the people around us, our co-workers, our romantic partners
and especially our children. The very ones who could and should
benefit from our unique gifts are deprived of the beauty of our talents. Takes a lot of courage to grow up
and become who you really are. This sort of practiced conformity can make it very difficult,
and even scary, to live your truth. Often we’re paralyzed by fear,
or so racked with pain, that we feel like we just can’t go on. And that’s what happened in my case. Now, I don’t recommend it, but hitting rock bottom
can be a blessing in disguise. Our very own downfall can propel us to new heights of self-expression
and self-acceptance. For me, my rock bottom came in 2005 in the form of a dark depression,
an existential crisis. And while I don’t have the time
to share the details, I can tell you that in deep meditation
and crying my eyes out before God, I had a near-deathlike, out-of-body,
experience that rocked my world, including a life review on the other side, where I understood in a flash
how my choices shaped my present life. I got it that we are the ones that should choose
who we will be in this lifetime. And we are meant
to express ourselves fully, and we are all so totally lovable. In those moments, I experienced
the most pure, absolute love for myself and for everything in humanity. Following that, I dove into the research
of near-death experiences, the neuroscience of consciousness, and even the link between quantum physics
and how we manifest our deepest desires. And no matter which perspective
appeals to you, it all boils down to this: authentic happiness and total wellness
are your natural birthrights. You have a unique purpose
to fulfill in this lifetime, even when your role seems small. So, your second key to transforming
your dreams into reality is to love who you are. From there you can revive the true self, rewrite your self-description, and rebuild the living temple
of your authentic self. Positive psychology research
and and my own experience shows that there’s
nothing short of miracles that are available
to each and every one of us. From overcoming depression, bouncing back
after chemotherapy and cancer, to revolutionary new business ideas, the possibilities are endless. How will you use your potential? Ghandi said we must be the change
we wish to see in the world. So it’s no surprise that your third key
is to live who you really are. Uncover your dreams and your passions, and share them with the world; your ideas, your voice,
but most importantly your presence, because you are a gift to the world. So there you have it. There is my one small idea: Become who you really are. First learn that you are
more than your body; you are not the monkey mind. You are more than a present illness
or a number on a scale, you’re more than your past
success or failures. You are an infinite being, full of potential to make
a difference in this life, starting with your own. Love yourself,
accept yourself flaws and all, shine a light on your shadowy parts
to integrate and heal them, embrace your strengths
and celebrate your uniqueness. You are lovable just as you are. And, finally, live who you really are. You’ve heard it: use your talents
and your ideas in service to others. Because we need you,
the world is depending upon it. I will leave you with this: be yourself … because an original
is always worth more than a copy. And that’s my idea worth spreading. Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “Become who you really are | Andrea Pennington | TEDxIUM

  1. One of the best ted talks i have watched. Wow shes so confident, like literally her energy made me watch it till the end. Just so beautiful even her tone, her voice is sooo amazing.

  2. I did Lousy in school. Hated the whole damn thing. I did learn i was funny and always had a quip to throw, later after HS I took a risk and tried comedy, then acting and it was like BINGO! My true calling. Dont be afraid to use that gift God gave to you.

  3. you are beautiful and inspirational..also i liked the quotes you chose for this presentation..keep up the good work..

  4. Wonderful talk. She delivered a vast amount of knowledge in a short yet clear and comprehensive speech. Hat off!

  5. I only had to watch you for 1.47. Now I'm on my way to greatness. THanks bye. see you again

  6. One of the best TedTalks period. I will watch it again and again specially when I am down. Thank you so much..

  7. "To transform what you see on the outside, you've got to transform who you are on the inside."

    "We are the one that should choose what we will be in this lifetime."

    "Authentic happiness and total wellness are your natural birthrights. You have a unique purpose to fulfill in this lifetime, even if your role seems small."

  8. No thank you. She seems to be preaching a religion of 'self' (and that 'anything goes' in the persuit of that) – and that seems to be a very rehashed version (with rehashing the very thing she speaks against…) of that old teaching "you can be like gods". Andrea, it seems God came into your life before. Seek Him again, and you will find Him. Seek out His ways, He (and He alone) already knows your best and True self. He made you. He knows you better then yourself. Find your True self in Him. He is the Truth, and the Way, and the Life.

  9. I dunno if it's just me but I found this to be possibly the most inauthentic and fake reinforcement of societal norms and the status quo. Positive psychology appears to be little more than buzzword marketing gimmicks used to placate and condition people by reaffirming their self-serving biases ('I am special' and 'I am in control') regardless of the (usually dismal) reality.

  10. What are you guys talking about this is a bunch of repackaged bs. Yeah she's pretty, so what? People are so easily bought nowadays 😂

  11. I know why it takes less view than usuall … it becouse the art of enviroment is so boring and also the way of making film

  12. Her content is okay — nothing new — but her delivery is too close to those common sales pitches for buying books or digital content (“what if you could change XYZ and live your best life? In just a few minutes I’ll give you the key…”). Disappointing.

  13. all my hope is dead because the people who owe me money refuse to pay me and without that money im going to die and die in the most horrible way possible. they owe me that money because i earned it. those stealing it from me should all be and will be killed

  14. Love your speech!  Very inspiring. THank you 🙂

  15. Hi, 27 year old woman here, step dads account. I really do not know how I will achieve such confidence, poise, feelings of self-respect and self-worth, like this woman. I have struggled with drug addiction and it brought my self-esteem down so low. I hope to be like this woman one fine day.

  16. Original is not always better than copy. I encounter this to me true in many products. Original was overpriced and worked less than cheap copy. Bigger price nor first to create the thing not always means better quality or functionality. Therefore ending of the talk was subjective based nonsense. Also kids learn by copying adults, so it really has no sense.

  17. One more done!
    Damn, if I could just watch ALL these TED videos, I'll be successful and happy…
    Onwards to Next TED talk

  18. Great speaker. Her talk makes lot of sense, originality and much of what wise people have said in the past but with contemporary idiom.

  19. Wow ! What an outstanding video and lovely lady whom happens to be a doctor. You possess a very warm cheerful radiant light.

  20. I had very similar journey and I m still going through the process… interwine with tightened heart, anxiety, irritated emotion, etc…

  21. I’m conflicted. I love the clarity and precision of her speech, but it doesn’t seem as though it’s from the heart. She’s amazing don’t get me wrong. But the speech is missing a little umph!

  22. Ever since I started being myself by honestly and consistently expressing my ideas, I have been much happier. I have bfound that people like and respect me more…on a global level. I have left the indistries that i have been expected to be in and am now currently pursuing my passion for language and cultural exchange in China.

    I honestly expect to become famous out here. Wish me luck. This talk described things that I organically did in my life that caused me the same results that this goddess spoke of.

    So make the changes neccessary if you alteady haven't! Hurry up! You only get 1 shot at life.

  23. Very empowering and inspiring message. I take this message very personal as I continue my journey of self discovery. Thank you for your gift and sharing it with all of us.

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