How to Create a Life You Don’t Need a Holiday From | Dave Cornthwaite | TEDxBrussels
36 Comments


Translator: Dick Stada
Reviewer: Denise RQ By my mid-20s, I’d gained everything
I’d always been told that I needed to be a successful Western adult. I had a job, a relationship,
a house, a cat. My life must have looked great
from the outside. I had all the trappings, but there is a reason
they call them trappings. Comfort kills ambition
more than anything else in our lives. I was the world’s worst graphic designer, with an eight hour a day
PlayStation habit, and two incredibly comfortable beanbags. But every morning, it is was just that little bit
too difficult to get up. I had accepted that monotony
was an integral part of life, that a week of work in exchange
for a fulfilling weekend or holiday was a fair trade, but actually, I think I just became lazy. I never considered
there was another way. Sometimes, we crave for change
but wait for a reason, a sign, a car accident, a friend dying. Sometimes, even being made redundant. Or you could wake up
on your twenty-fifth birthday and realize that your cat is having
a much better life than you have. (Laughter) It happens. Imagine that life is a staircase, and the ultimate version of you
is waiting at the top. It is not easy doing things
for the first time, but Richard Branson
had to set up his first business. Pele had to kick his first ball. Donald Trump needed
to send his first tweet. (Laughter) Confidence and optimism are muscles. We have to exercise them every single day
in order for them to grow. A thousand mile journey
does not begin with a single step. It starts with an idea. I skated up my first step. Four and a half thousand miles
across Australia, breaking the Guinness World Record
for the longest journey ever traveled by over 1,000 kilometers. The only reason I did it
was because I decided to. But it wasn’t that easy. We live in a world
which teaches and expects more or less the same from each of us. It is ever so hard
to stand out from the crowd without being drawn back into in. “Why?” “It’s impossible”, “You’re crazy,”
“You’re irresponsible and selfish.” “What about everything
you’ve worked towards?” It’s like being attacked
by an angry crowd of parrots. But often, they are talking to themselves, and you don’t need to take advice
if you didn’t ask for it. The bravest thing we can do
is become comfortable with the fact that we’re different from everybody else. After skateboarding
across Australia, I was lost. Without the kaleidoscopic color,
promise, and excitement, surprise, blisters, and hills that marked every one
of those 156 days on the road, life seemed gray; oh, so gray! It took me two years to go off
and do my next adventure. Two and a half months
in a kayak; I loved it. But afterwards I was depressed, again. How could this be that in adventure I had found the one thing
that brought me fully to life? And yet, it came
with the compromise of sadness. To try and beat this, I came up
with the project called “Expedition1000.” The idea was kind of simple,
if not audacious: 25 different journeys – each one a minimum
of 1,000 miles in distance, each one using a different form
of non-motorized transport. I had already completed two,
so I only had 23,000 miles left to go. Easy. But when you realize
what your puzzle is supposed to look like, it doesn’t really matter that all of the pieces
aren’t in place yet. But what about money? It’s not about what you earn,
it’s about what you don’t spend. I had saved a little bit
before my Australia trip and designing the occasional website
got me by for a while. I learned to cut my own hair. I lived out of a bag
for the best part of a decade. Sleeping in spare rooms,
and on sofas, and in city parks; anything to keep the cost down. Every single one of my journeys
came in at less than 1,000 pounds. I don’t research,
and I don’t plan the route. Often, if you know what’s to come,
you probably wouldn’t want to go for it. Three months paddle-boarding
down the Mississippi River cost less than it would have
to live in London for the same period of time. I don’t train. In fact, when my parents gave me
some swimming goggles for Christmas, I jumped into the Missouri River
having never swum more than 100 meters
in one go in my life before. I can still see the faces
of those people there on our first day. That incredulous realization
that “He can’t swim.” But I learned. And 58 days and a 1,001 miles later, I pulled myself up
out of the water in Saint Louis, and I was a pretty good swimmer by then. Sometimes when you remove
the complications, life becomes so much simpler, and luckily, most of the complications
are in our heads. Humans are the only creatures
on the planet who are capable
of consciously developing ourselves just by choosing to act. Every time we do
something new, we grow. So, wouldn’t it be a tragedy if we didn’t choose to find out
what we’re capable of? And to make it easier, still,
let’s take each one of these steps and just break it down
into 100 small ones, or maybe, even 1,000. We live in tense times. It has never been more obvious that millions and millions of people
don’t feel the way you do. That’s pretty tough to take. But blaming other people for our troubles? It’s just an excuse. We’re human, we don’t need
to be the same to get along. It just doesn’t work that way. The more corners we dig into,
people we talk to, walls we climb,
and breakthroughs we make, the better place we are to relate,
to care, to have a positive impact. Adventure for me is an incubation chamber
for self-reliance but also vulnerability. We rush around our cities, heads down from meetings to stations, to home. We don’t really need much from anyone. So, we engage less. Strangers are just friends
waiting to happen. And never is this more apparent
than when you’re on an adventure, when you’re in unfamiliar territory. Not a week has gone by on any of my trips when I can remember
someone not taking me in to their home. I am constantly reminded that the default for humans
is to be good and kind. I am baffled that our world
is so often presented as a place full of fear and danger. It’s quite the opposite. And these days, it seems the simple act of wonder
is only allowed for children. But I am determined not to forget that that joy I felt as a child
is still allowed, even despite the responsibilities
and restrictions that we feel as we grow older. In fact, every decision that I make now
is based upon whether it makes me smile. Does anything feel better than laughter. Cake for breakfast, anyone? Paddling out of Memphis, dressed as Elvis? Dog sledding for a day? There is a time and a place for a suit,
and I think this is it. (Laughter) It’s easy to forget that we are wild. It’s really strange
saying that in this room. We haven’t evolved as fast
as the infrastructure around us. Extended time within walls,
systems, and rules makes us ill. We should never ever
make a big decision in a room. So many of the mental health issues
we face today are a direct result of a lack of contact with nature. And of course, the dying of community in an age where direct communication
has been fragmented by social media. But there is a simple antidote. Let’s get outside, just once a week. Not onto the pavement or the sidewalk, but into countryside, into woodland. A night under the stars – or under the clouds
if you are from England – is basically like pressing
the reset button. In June 2015, I decided to see whether my Facebook audience
were real people. So I invited them camping. Nineteen real humans turned up underneath the clock
at Liverpool Street Station, and we took a train out for half an hour, got to know each other
around a campfire, and then slept on a hill. The next morning, everyone
was back at work in plenty of time. Incredible things started to happen because the next week we did it again; 25 people turned up, the next week, 27;
and then, hundreds across the summer. Surrounded by positivity, these people were going off
and doing more adventures. They were quitting jobs they didn’t like. They were starting business and charities. It was magic. Everywhere we looked, there was
someone to outsource our skills to. If you wanted a first aider
or an expert in fire extinguishers, there was Steve, or Andy. If you want someone
to illustrate your TEDx talk, thank you, Tegan! At the end of the summer,
we held our first YEStival. It was like a TED conference in a field. And the impact was such
that in the following year, Yes Tribers traveled 100,000 miles
under there own steam raising three quarters
of a million pounds for charity. Now we have over three and a half thousand
members world wide, and it’s growing fast. We can achieve so much alone,
but together, we are immensely powerful. I love taking a familiar idea
and giving it a new identity. We couldn’t afford rent
for an HQ in London so we bought a doubledecker bus. The conversion is almost complete now,
and I’m so exited about this. It’s a multi functional hub
to be based in the countryside, a co-working space, a library;
it has a kitchen, a cinema, a woodburning stove,
and even some hammock hooks. I guess it kind of helped that on the back there was a huge picture
of Optimus Prime riding a metal dragon. Everything is a good story. Whether you’re in this room
or watching online, you’re fortunate enough to have a choice. Regardless of your background,
your past, your situation, we can all do more. We can do more. We can choose to sit in the sidelines,
just breathing in or out, or consider that so many of us
don’t reach our potential. We are a huge positive army
waiting to burst out. Man, we need that right now. The only thing we’re truly in control of
is how we spend our time. So let’s start now. Do that thing you’ve been
talking about for far too long. Chat to the next stranger you meet
and remember their name. Find your tribe and don’t be
one of those parrots. Squawking never got us anywhere. We can dream, aspire, wish,
and hope as much as we like, but without doing these new things, we are never going to be
the people we could be. And if all else fails, and you’re struggling
to climb your next step, then just start small, get moving. Choose to make life memorable,
and say, “Yes, more.” Thank you. (Applause)

36 thoughts on “How to Create a Life You Don’t Need a Holiday From | Dave Cornthwaite | TEDxBrussels

  1. Awesome? You are kidding right?

    This guy is describing the life of a child.Most of this activity is done as a young boy within the parameters of the parents.

    Many people are quitting their jobs do xxxxxx.

    Did you think that the skills those same people offered where acquired whilst they lived an adult life. Not much skill in paddling around dressed as Elvis.

  2. Finally a Yes MAN, that are actual Wellness Weavers! This message is documentation that they have all been given their One Share of the Wellness Weavers Homestead in historic Waterville, Kansas to work and play and say "Yes, and we can do______!" Every day in every way is Earth Day and Blessings Day (not the dogma of church judgers and blamers and entitled deservers lording over others)

    Jesus lived that way and that is what informed me to follow the path revealed to me.

    This Sunday, and every day I can say, thank you, Jesus, for keeping me on the right path to find the people that do honor the gift of life, a heart and a brain and a body to get us around to use the wisdom and courage we have.

  3. This is great! Everything I believe put concisely, beautifully and wittily in one (simple but very effective) presentation – awesome!
    So great to hear someone else is baffled by the media's portrayal of our world… 😛

  4. easy for you to say that because the people who are still doing their jobs made Facebook possible and you tube possible for you to post this video and eat and wear clothes and….

  5. I work remotely and live in different countries, often with lower costs of living and feel on perma working holiday, but I love my work too, so… 😀

  6. Awesome talk, I love this TEDx thing! Is all about minimalism, living simple life with less and being happy without fear and worries. If you have more TV's in your house, than you have people, something is wrong! I truly understand what you are talking, because the same things makes me smile too, and this is more than just a life without waiting another weekend or special episode in future.

  7. I found this TED talk inspiring: affirming wonder, community, adventure, joy and trust in the human spirit. It also gave me some perspective on the critical voices of "angry parrots" that we sometimes have in our lives. This is the most eminently quotable talk I've seen on YouTube. Thank you for this. Is there an transcription available?

  8. Are you kidding me?? White, cis gender, male privilege. Try your adventures without all 3 of those and you will see a COMPLETELY different world.

  9. From the title, I thought this would be an annoying self-help, motivation talk full of empty words. I was really pleasantly surprised. Great, great stuff, and what a cool dude

  10. Awesome talk. I think we do need to acknowledge all of the folks (most of us) who need to work at jobs that don't allow the luxury of 1000 mile adventures, and accept the responsibility of taking care of aged parents and/or children and/or grandchildren, but who are able to carve out some time for spontaneity and adventure in ways that may seem minimal to others. For us, our 1000 miles might be a mile a day for 1000 days, a cup of coffee with a friend, a book, or a night out.

  11. This crowd was so dead for how funny, inspiring, engaging, and joyful he was! OPTIMUS PRIME!KAYAKING ELVIS! 😆 Maybe cuz I'm American I laugh more. This crowd really needed to hear this one apparently, but so did I 😃 I definitely need to get out more.

    Strangers may often be friendlier than we expect, but many places it's still dangerous, especially for women. There are many recent stories of people doing journeys to prove how safe and kind the world is who get attacked or murdered. Be wise in your adventures. Travel places known for safety.

  12. " I am constantly reminded that the default for humans is to be good and kind, but I am baffled that our world is so often presented as a place full of fear and danger. It' s quite the opposite…" So absolutely spot on! Thank you!

  13. One of the best talks I've seen. He speaks from how he lives, not books he read. He shares heartfelt wisdom from what he has learned and continued rebuilding his life based on these lessons. So inspiring. I noticed he has given more TED Talks.Can't wait to watch. "Confidence and optimism are muscles we have to exercise every day in order for them to grow."

  14. Best thing I've done in a long time was a spontaneous decision to volunteer for a charity shop. Doing something different to my day job has sparked my creativity, which keeps getting damped down by "being realistic" and I'm starting to take steps to realise a long held & never acted on dream of becoming a designer by customising second hand clothes to create unique pieces. Small steps for now but better than not moving at all

  15. "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that was given to us." Quote by Gandalf in "The Lord of the Rings".

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