Tag: Ted Talk

Treating Emotional and Physical Health Like Twins

By: Premier Sport Psychology

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

In Guy Winch’s TED Talk, “Why we all need to practice emotional first aid,” he proposes the idea that emotional care needs to be as commonplace as physical care. He gives an example of how natural it is for a five-year-old with a cut to put a Band-Aid on it; however, when people are feeling lonely or sad, they are told to brush it off–it is rare that people prioritize their emotional health in any way similar to that of their physical health.

Often, we are taught to be “tough” and to not let our emotions get the best of us; there’s a stigma surrounding emotional reactions, a stigma that is not synonymous with toughness. However, neglecting our mental health comes with a series of difficulties. As Winch shares his story of experiencing loneliness while being apart from his family and friends, he rattles off a few physical complications from his emotional struggle: “Loneliness won’t just make you miserable, it will kill you. I’m not kidding. Chronic loneliness increases your likelihood of an early death by 14 percent.Loneliness causes high blood pressure, high cholesterol. It even suppress the functioning of your immune system, making you vulnerable to all kinds of illnesses and diseases. In fact, scientists have concluded that taken together, chronic loneliness poses as significant a risk for your long-term health and longevity as cigarette smoking.” As he later states, one key difference (of many) between the effects of chronic loneliness and cigarette smoking is the recognition of the problem. One can easily say whether they smoke cigarettes: it is a yes or no answer. On the other hand, we may not be able to describe our loneliness, let alone recognize that this loneliness has taken a substantial toll on our lives.

We are constantly juggling numerous emotions, and some of these emotions will be heightened while playing a sport. Therefore, it is crucial that throughout our games and practices we regularly take a few minutes to do a quick self-check and see both where we are physically and where our emotions are. In-between games, for example: Did you go 0-4 at the plate yesterday and are now itching to get a hit? As you’re warming up, is your grip on the bat a little looser because your hands are sweating. Is your heart beating faster than normal before a game? It’s here that we combine our knowledge of the physical self with that of the emotional self. Recognize that those physical signs might stem from anxiety to get that hit. One way to combat anxious feelings is to utilize a few relaxation techniques. Maybe it’s deep breathing that helps calm you down or possibly picturing yourself in a tranquil place returns your heart rate to its resting pace–it could be a combination of the two. No matter your sport, make sure to consistently take time to assess how you are feeling in order to better understand where to focus your energy. Through working on recognizing what you are feeling and practicing what works to transform your stressful emotions into positive and productive feelings, you will be much better equipped to perform at your optimal level.

 

Everyone Can Be a Champion, Just Like Matthew Williams

By: Premier Sport Psychology

Matthew Williams is a champion. He trains five days a week to excel in both basketball and speed skating and has gone on to represent Canada in international competition. In his inspiring TED Talk, Williams discusses how society has become more accepting of athletes with intellectual disabilities—however, we still have a ways to go. “The world does not see all people like me as champions,” Williams says, “Not long ago, people like me were shunned and hidden away. There has been lots of change since Special Olympics began in 1968, but in too many cases, people with intellectual disabilities are invisible to the wider population.”

Unfortunately, too many athletes have not been given the opportunity to perfect and showcase their talents. The Special Olympics has taken great steps to help all athletes reach their fullest potential by not only supporting athletes in competition, but also supporting their health: “Special Olympics also addresses critical health needs. Studies have shown that, on average, men with intellectual disabilities die 13 years younger than men without, and women with intellectual disabilities die 20 years younger than women without. Special Olympics keeps us healthy by getting us active and participating in sport. Also, our coaches teach us about nutrition and health. Special Olympics also provides free health screening for athletes who have difficulty communicating with their doctor or accessing health care.”

Playing sports have a variety of benefits such as building teamwork and leadership skills in a safe and fun environment—an environment all athletes should have the opportunity to be a part of. The Special Olympics is just one organization that is doing incredible work—work that Williams has the utmost respect for: “Special Olympics is changing the world by transforming four and a half million athletes and giving us a place to be confident, meet friends, not be judged and get to feel like and be champions.”

For more information on the Special Olympics, visit their website.

Watch the full talk below:

Embrace Your Shake Like Phil Hansen

By: Premier Sport Psychology

By: Premier Intern Staff

Phil Hansen was going to school to become an artist when he discovered something that he thought would end his career before it even began. He had developed a shake in his hand from using pointillism—a painting technique in which small dots are applied in patterns to form a single image. Because he could no longer create art through his preferred method, he decided to drop art school and art altogether. However, years later he decided to return to art and saw a doctor about his condition. The doctor changed his life with a single question: “Why don’t you just embrace the shake?”

Hansen’s TED talk describes his inspiring journey to find his new calling through art: “And I realized, if I ever wanted my creativity back, I had to quit trying so hard to think outside of the box and get back into it.” Athletes can mirror this idea by spending time going back to the beginning and thinking about what aspects of their sport made them fall in love with it in the first place. More importantly, this talk—and what we can all take from it—is about remembering what makes us unique and what strengths we have.

As his talk comes to a close, Hansen professes: “Limitations may be the most unlikely of places to harness creativity, but perhaps one of the best ways to get ourselves out of ruts, rethink categories, and challenge accepted norms. And instead of telling each other to seize the day, maybe we can remind ourselves every day to seize the limitation.”

Everyone has a “shake” or weakness, and although this insecurity may seem like a flaw it is simply something that makes you unique. However, because “shakes” are unique to each individual, it may seem as though you are the only one with that particular “shake.” Sometimes, that results in athletes defying their shakes in the attempt to be “normal.” This perspective is understandable considering technicalities in sports require athletes to follow certain rules and regulations. As a result, it is hard for them to both accept and figure out an alternate path to take toward the designated goal. Although taking another route for the sport or skill they are working toward will be an adjustment, it will make them a stronger athlete with stronger weaknesses.

Athletes have the ability to embrace whatever “shakes” they have just like Phil Hansen. Rather than letting the shake define them, athletes can define it for themselves and use it as a performance enhancement they never knew they had. In other words they can seize the limitation in their shake. Believe in what makes you different; never give up on something just because it is not viewed as typical. Most importantly, embrace your shake.

See Hansen’s inspiring talk here.

 

 

Looking for a TED Talk? Premier Has a Few Recommendations

By: Premier Sport Psychology

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

At Premier, we always strive to learn more. We read through the latest scholarly journals, explore new books, and—one of our favorites—watch numerous TED talks. Below is a list of some of our favorite TED talks about sport and/or psychology along with a memorable quote from each of the pieces. If you have any recommendations for us, let us know via Facebook or Twitter!

Sarah Lewis – Embrace the near win “Coming close to what you thought you wanted can help you attain more than you ever dreamed you could.”

Dan Gilbert – The psychology of your future self Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you’ve ever been.”

Diana Nyad – Extreme swimming with the world’s most dangerous jellyfish And with all sincerity, I can say, I am glad I lived those two years of my life that way, because my goal to not suffer regrets anymore, I got there with that goal. When you live that way, when you live with that kind of passion, there’s no time, there’s no time for regrets, you’re just moving forward.”

Christopher McDougall – Are we born to run? Running — it’s basically just right, left, right, left — yeah? I mean, we’ve been doing it for two million years, so it’s kind of arrogant to assume that I’ve got something to say that hasn’t been said and performed better a long time ago. But the cool thing about running, as I’ve discovered, is that something bizarre happens in this activity all the time…”

Angela Lee Duckworth – The key to success? Grit Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Amy Cuddy – Your body language shapes who you are So, for example, we smile when we feel happy, but also, when we’re forced to smile by holding a pen in our teeth like this, it makes us feel happy. So it goes both ways. When it comes to power, it also goes both ways. So when you feel powerful, you’re more likely to do this, but it’s also possible that when you pretend to be powerful, you are more likely to actually feel powerful.”

Carol Dweck – The power of believing that you can improve I heard about a high school in Chicago where students had to pass a certain number of courses to graduate, and if they didn’t pass a course, they got the grade ‘Not Yet.’ And I thought that was fantastic, because if you get a failing grade, you think, I’m nothing, I’m nowhere. But if you get the grade ‘Not Yet’ you understand that you’re on a learning curve. It gives you a path into the future.”

Sophie Scott – Why we laugh Everybody underestimates how often they laugh, and you’re doing something, when you laugh with people, that’s actually letting you access a really ancient evolutionary system that mammals have evolved to make and maintain social bonds, and clearly to regulate emotions, to make ourselves feel better. It’s not something specific to humans — it’s a really ancient behavior which really helps us regulate how we feel and makes us feel better.”

Amy Purdy – Living beyond limits If your life were a book and you were the author, how would you want your story to go? That’s the question that changed my life forever.”

Andy Puddicombe – All it takes is 10 mindful minutes “…when did you last take any time to do nothing? Just 10 minutes, undisturbed? And when I say nothing, I do mean nothing. So that’s no emailing, texting, no Internet, no TV, no chatting, no eating, no reading. Not even sitting there reminiscing about the past or planning for the future. Simply doing nothing…”

Ben Ambridge – 10 myths about psychology, debunked So the myth is that psychology is just a collection of interesting theories, all of which say something useful and all of which have something to offer. What I hope to have shown you in the past few minutes is that this isn’t true. What we need to do is assess psychological theories by seeing what predictions they make, whether that is that listening to Mozart makes you smarter, that you learn better when information is presented in your preferred learning styleor whatever it is, all of these are testable empirical predictions, and the only way we can make progress is to test these predictions against the data in tightly controlled experimental studies.

 

 

What it Takes to be Successful

By: Premier Sport Psychology

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

In her famous TED Talk, Angela Lee Duckworth tackles a question our individualist culture continually strives answer: What does it take to be successful? In just six minutes, Duckworth explains through her experiences teaching math in New York City public schools and studying people from West Point to the National Spelling Bee that the most successful people embody one specific characteristic: grit. As she most eloquently says in her talk:

“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

She goes on to explain that we can encourage the development of grit by referring to Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck’s theory of a “growth mindset,” or the belief that one’s ability to learn is not pre-determined but can be changed with effort.

While not directly talking about sports, these theories are very much applicable to athletes. The athletes who are the most successful are the ones who show up first to practice and leave last. They are the ones who fuel their bodies with nutritious foods and get enough sleep so they can have the stamina to perform at optimum levels. They are the ones who don’t believe their skills are fixed because they have proven that wrong: they have seen their talents develop through hard work in and out of practice.

If you want to be successful, you need to put in the effort—“day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month…”

Click here to hear Angela Lee Duckworth’s TED Talk on grit.

Click here to hear Carol Dweck talk about the “growth mindset.”

 

Why the Journey is More Important Than the Destination

By: Premier Sport Psychology

We have all heard the old adage, “The journey is more important than the destination,” (or some variation of it) time and again. What few people discuss, however, is what makes the journey so important.

Look at any newspaper story describing an athletic accomplishment, and you may notice that while the headline comes from the accomplishment itself, the body of the story is, in fact, a story. It is the story of how the athlete achieved his or her goals, typically through preparation and adversity. Take for example, Ben Saunders.

In 2014, Saunders accomplished a journey that no one previously had—he trekked to the South Pole and back on foot. He and his partner ventured 1,800 miles, spanning 105 days—shattering the record for the longest human-powered polar journey by over 400 miles. However, it wouldn’t have been a journey without obstacles along the way. After experiencing consistent headwind slowing them down, the two cut back their food rations to half of what they should have been consuming, and eventually ran out. 46 miles away from their storage of food, hungry and suffering from hypothermia, Saunders made the decision to call for assistance. It was not easy, and Saunders called it “one of the toughest decisions of [his] life.” He went on to say, “I don’t regret calling for that plane for a second, because I’m still standing here alive, with all digits intact. But getting external assistance like that was never part of the plan, and it’s something my ego is still struggling with. This was the biggest dream I’ve ever had, and it was so nearly perfect.”

In today’s fast-paced world, we constantly try to achieve the next goal as fast as humanly possible. We try to change the definition of what is humanly possible. We are obsessed with perfection and being the best. However, we must shift our focus from the end point to the point we are currently in. We must focus on accomplishing our current challenge before we prepare for our next challenge. Runners build up their endurance by running 5, 10, 15 miles before running a marathon. Swimmers do not swim the 400-meter freestyle without spending time in the gym building their muscles and physical strength. Athletes (much like Ben Saunders) do not accomplish great feats unless they first spend a great deal of time preparing.

We need to learn to be content with the place that we are in and not just the destination. Crossing the finish line takes a split second, but the journey takes so much longer. If we are only living for the finish line, we are only enjoying a few moments instead of the weeks, months, or years of preparation. The journey is where we learn. When people recall their stories, they don’t just say, “Well, I crossed the finish line at this time and then that was that.” They tell their stories. They talk about overcoming obstacles—when they learned what their breaking points were after being pushed to their physical and mental limits. They talk about the relationships they formed with their teammates and crews. They talk about how, in the most brutal of conditions, they learned what they were made of. We don’t learn what we’re made of after we complete goals—we learn during the process.

After Saunders completed his journey to the South Pole and back, many people asked him what would be the next milestone he would conquer. Reporters wanted to know the next destination, but Saunders was still reflecting on his journey:

“Looking back, I still stand by all the things I’ve been saying for years about the importance of goals and determination and self-belief, but I’ll also admit that I hadn’t given much thought to what happens when you reach the all-consuming goal that you’ve dedicated most of your adult life to, and the reality is that I’m still figuring that bit out. […] I’m also standing here saying, you know what, that cliché about the journey being more important than the destination? There’s something in that. The closer I got to my finish line, that rubbly, rocky coast of Ross Island, the more I started to realize that the biggest lesson that this very long, very hard walk might be teaching me is that happiness is not a finish line, that for us humans, the perfection that so many of us seem to dream of might not ever be truly attainable, and that if we can’t feel content here, today, now, on our journeys amidst the mess and the striving that we all inhabit, the open loops, the half-finished to-do lists, the could-do-better-next-times, then we might never feel it.”

To hear Saunders’ full story, watch his TED talk here.

Olivia Wyatt

Conquering Change

By: Premier Sport Psychology

Amy Purdy experienced what some people would call a disadvantage, but she does not use that word to describe her situation. A better word in her vocabulary would simply be a change. A change that forced her to use creativity to continue participating in the sport that she loved. This change not only impacted her life, but also inspired her to ease experiences of other athletes going through a similar transition.

Amy loved to snowboard, but when she lost both of her legs below the knee at the age of 19 to a rare form of bacterial meningitis, she had difficulty even walking. She was lucky to survive, but her determination to adjust to the drastic change of riding on two prosthetic legs, and ability to flourish after her recovery is what makes her story incredible. She could have given up snowboarding after experiencing the pain and difficulty of riding for the first time with her new legs, but she decided to get back on the mountain and find a way to compete all the way up to the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games. Although she would be the only competitor with two prosthetic legs, she knew that she would need to focus on her own snowboarding trials and not be intimidated by the other riders with at least one of their original good legs. Instead of dwelling over the fact that she did not have the advantage of at least one of her own ankles to assist her stance and performance, she looked to technology for a prosthetic solution that could compensate for the restraints of feet that are designed for walking and not the complex movements of snowboarding.

Amy Purdy continually went through changes during the search to find the most suitable prosthetic feet to strap into her boot. However, she did not view the different confinements of her artificial ankle as boundaries that could hold her back. Unlike sports that involve running that have provoked opinions about prosthetics potentially providing their athletes with an advantage, there is no pair of feet yet designed to accommodate the range of ankle movements needed to carve through challenging snowcross courses such as in Sochi. Amy still refused to be restricted between the walls of limited eversion and inversion, but decided to push off of these walls and propel into influencing other adaptive riders through organized camps and developing a plan to include snowboarding in the Paralympic program.

As Amy was adjusting to a new way of snowboarding, she did not have many resources to assist her in still pursuing her passion after the drastic change at the age of 19. She wanted to ensure that she could make and impact on others who shared the same passion of snowboarding by encouraging them to not let their impairments define their performances. Amy demonstrates the ways that we can allow changes to enable us, despite how difficult the transition may seem. She used her imagination to come up with her own outcomes to changes instead of letting a major change inhibit her as an athlete. Inspiring athletes who have gone through changes and came out on top remind us that if something does not seem possible or within reach, we can use the “boundaries” in the same way as Amy Purdy, and not be confined by them, but use them to drive us into places that we never imagined.

Check out her TED talk here.

Sara Scarbro

References: 

http://xgames.espn.go.com/article/10590582/women-action-amy-purdy-debut-paralympic-snowboard-cross