Chade-Meng Tan: "Search Inside Yourself", Authors at Google

Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 26.04.2012

>>Chip Conley: Hello everybody. Welcome. My name is Chip Conley. I'm not Bill Clinton
and I'm not the Dalai Lama. I was third choice of Meng's to actually introduce him today.
[laughter] But I'm incredibly honored to be here as a friend of Meng. I'm just a huge
fan of him and his work. In preparation for being here today, I decided to google "Meng"
and "search inside yourself". The first thing that came up was "Mengstupiditis", which I
didn't know that you had this website, Meng. But he has a website called Mengstupiditis.
There's actually a little point in that website where he says -- there's a picture of him
-- and it just says, "I'm just a random generic guy." There's a picture of him and Barack
Obama. So I don't -- [laughter] I actually think, although it doesn't say it on his website,
I think the symptom of Mengstupiditis is excessive need for getting your photo taken with famous
people. I don't know about you, but I think that's one of Meng's more endearing qualities.
I think he should have named the book "How To Be A Jolly Good Fellow." But what I love
about Meng more than anything is his combination of humility and humor. In looking at that
website, the Mengstupiditis website, there was a wonderful little poem that he wrote
last month called "The Not Difficult Path". I'm going to read it to you very quickly,
it's very short, and then we'll have him up here. Meng says, "With calm mind, I see my
true nature. With jolliness, I open Dharma doors. With open heart, I welcome my Buddha.
And with non-doing, I enlighten the world." Meng, come please, enlighten us. Thank you.
>>Chade-Meng Tan: Thank you. Thank you. I like to stand behind the podium so you can
see less of me. It's always an improvement when you see less of me.
[laughs] So welcome. [inaudible]. Thank you, Chip. Chip is a wonderful, beautiful human
being. It's always nice to be introduced by you. Thank you.
I want to start by telling you a famous Zen parable. It's a parable of the guy on the
horse. So some guy was riding on a horse, and he was passing by some guy walking on
the street, or standing on the street. The guy standing on the street asks the guy on
the horse, "So, rider, where are you going?" And the guy on the horse says, "I don't know,
why are you asking me? You should be asking the horse. How do I know?" So this is a parable
about our emotional lives. The horse signifies our emotion, or emotional life. Usually, we
allow a horse to take us where the horse wants to take us. We don't think we have any control.
But in fact, I want to tell you today that we do have control. To this, the book in general
and to this talk is about mastery. But first, I think even beyond allowing the
horse to take you where he wants, I think most of the time we analyze this. We're like,
"The horse is dragging us." And especially if we're experiencing emotions like fear,
nervousness. For example, you're speaking in front of a crowd of a hundred people, and
you're going on YouTube. For example, that could be nerve wracking, right? I don't know,
I'm just creating the example. Or anger, and things like that. Then you feel like, "I have
no control. I have lost control." You feel like you're being dragged along. Search Inside
Yourself is the idea that you can improve on that.
The first level of improvement is going from that to this.
[laughter] Looking cool.
[more laughter] And smoking a Marlboro. But no, I'm just kidding.
But looking cool. So you're on the horse, and you don't just look cool. You get to at
least have influence on where you want the horse to go. To a certain degree, you get
to control the horse. The horse still has his own mind, in the same way our emotional
processes have a quote-on-quote "own mind". But you get to control it, guide it where
it wants to go. However, it gets even better. You can go from this skillfulness into this
mastery, like you stand on a horse and so on. I wish the Geshes were here. I think they
would appreciate this. So this is emotional mastery. The question then is, "What does
emotional mastery look like in the context of work?" I think that emotional mastery manifests
itself in the type of statement we make about ourselves in relation to our emotional skills
and success. Oh, the Geshes are here. Okay, I'll just continue
talking. [laughs] [pause]
For example, the example of those statements. We tell ourselves, "If I have strong self-awareness,
I'll be so successful. If I can remain calm and confident in crisis, I'll be so successful.
If I can create optimism and resilience, I'll be so successful. And if I can understand
people better, then I can instinctively like people, and it can help people like me. I'll
be so successful." So all these qualities that I've talked about: confidence, awareness,
optimism, and so on, they come under the umbrella of emotional intelligence, which is defined
as this: the ability to monitor one's or the others' feeling to discriminate among them.
And, most importantly, to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions. This
is emotional intelligence. The good news. The good news is that these
qualities are skills. And like all other skills, these skills are trainable. Emotional skills
are trainable. Emotional intelligence is trainable. That's the good news. However, there's better
news. The other thing with me, there's no bad news. There's good news and better news.
This is why people like me, I mean, in addition to my good looks. [laughter] The better news
is that we've found running Search Inside Yourself that those skills are trainable to
a meaningful degree in as little as seven weeks. Seven weeks you can train to a large
degree of those skills. This is what Search Inside Yourself is about. Search Inside Yourself
is an EI, or emotional intelligence, curriculum for adults. A cartoon to show what that looks
like. [pause]
The question then is, "How do you --" hello, welcome. [pause] It looks like I'm being nice
and waiting for guests to sit, but I'm just taking a break, drinking my water. People
think, "Meng is so nice" but no. [laughter] Just kidding, just kidding.
How do you learn emotional intelligence? It turns out that you cannot learn emotional--
it's just by reading the book. You can learn about EI, but you cannot learn EI. In the
same way, there's an analogy. The analogy is the gym. Exercise, working out. You can
learn about getting fit, but the only way to get fit is to do it, is exercising. So
therefore, to acquire emotional skills requires training, just like to acquire muscles requires
training. The question then is, "What are we training?" We are training the brain. We
can do that because of something called neuroplasticity, which is the discovery that what you do, what
you think, and what you pay attention to changes the structure and functions of our brains,
even for adults. Even for engineers. [laughter] The most important part is attention. What
you pay attention to changes the structure of the brain. That is how we can acquire emotional
and mental skills, by training our brain with our attention, which I'll talk about soon.
Which leads us to another question -- oh, by the way, and this is a very important insight.
The insight that even adults and even engineers can train their brains. Which leads us again
to the next question, which is, "How do you train emotional intelligence?" It turns out;
all you need is three easy steps. Step 1 is attention training, Step 2 is self-knowledge
and self-mastery, and Step 3 is to create mental habits. Now I will talk about this
in some detail. By the way, the cartoons you see on the slides
are the cartoons in the book. So the book has cartoons. I know, I was writing -- I told
myself, "If I'm writing a serious book about emotional intelligence and mindfulness, it
has to have cartoons. Whoever heard of a serious book without cartoons?" This is why I did
that. Anyway. [laughs] The first step is this, is
training attention, which is counterintuitive. We talk about attention. You come to a class
that calls itself an emotional intelligence class. What has attention got to do with emotional
intelligence? It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. So here is where it makes sense:
the attention we're talking about is to basically create a quality of mind which is this, which
allows you to be calm and clear, at the same time, on demand. The idea is to develop your
mind, develop your attention to such a degree that whatever situation you're in, whether
you're just hanging out, speaking in front of the public, or under stress, customers
shouting at you, deadlines, bosses are looking at you, and you can drop into the state where
you mind is calm and clear, and at the same time, on demand. And that, my friends, that
is the foundation of emotional intelligence. Again, the good news is this is highly trainable.
Again, this leads to a question. Yeah, it's highly trainable, but how do you do this,
how do you train this quality of mind? The answer is very simple. It's embarrassingly
simple. It is a true technique called mindfulness.
[inaudible]You're going to laugh at me because it's so embarrassingly simple is this: mindfulness,
[pause] [laughter] mindfulness is paying attention, but not just
paying attention. Paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.
Thus said, that is mindfulness. It's so embarrassingly simple that we can even do it in a couple
of seconds. So I'm going to invite everybody to do a ten second exercise. It's very, very
simple. All you have to do is to bring a gentle attention to your breath, the process of breathing,
whatever it means to you, and then if attention wanders away, just bring it back very gently.
Thus said, we're just going to do ten seconds, which is one breath. Easy to do, right? Even
an engineer can do that. But because I'm an engineer, I'm going to time ten seconds.
[laughs] [laughter]
Okay. So, ten seconds, attention to the breath, beginning now. Very gentle attention to the
process of breathing. If attention wanders away, just bring it back. That is all. And
that was ten seconds. Easy. So easy anybody can do it. So that's the embarrassing part.
The hard part is doing this-- being able to deepen the mind of mindfulness, like calm
and clear. Deepen it and bring your on demand, and stay in it for as long as you want. So
that's the hard part. The easy part is, you know what it is, you can bring it about in
ten seconds in a semi-controlled environment, where there's nobody fighting each other or
something. It's easy. You might ask the question, which is a valid question, except it's what
I call a WTF question, which is: "It sounds so embarrassingly easy, what good can it possibly
do?" You bring attention to it -- what good can it possibly do for you? It turns out it
does wonders. Here's the analogy, the physical exercise analogy: what you just did is the
equivalent of me telling you, giving you a dumbbell and saying, "Do this once." It sounds
stupid, right? You take a heavy object, you lift it, you put it down. What can that possibly
do for me? It turns out that if you can do this enough, you develop strength. Once you
develop strength, you realize that you can do things that you can never imagine before
you were strong. A simple thing like this, a simple practice, done repeatedly, over,
so practice, over a long stretch of time, changes you. That is the power of mindfulness.
So what does it do? How does it change you? A couple of things.
[pause] The first change you realize if you practice
a lot of mindfulness, like I said, very simple techniques, giving attention to breath. The
first effect you find the perception changes. Specifically, the quality of perception changes.
You see things in more clarity, especially, specifically, the process of emotion, the
process of thought. You can see in clarity. But I talk about it a bit more detailed.
The second thing it does-- so it sharpens the mind, increases the quality of attention,
and it calms the mind. This practice, done often enough, once again mastery of it, in
the middle of stress, you can just bring attention to the breath and your mind is calm. That
easily. If people think, "Wow, nothing can bother you." It's not true. Things bother
you, but you calm yourself on demand. So what's the proof? There's a study done--
this is one of the earliest fMRI studies done on highly achieved, highly enlightened monks,
like the monks we have in the audience today. People with between 10 and 50,000 hours of
meditation training. This involves the part of the brain called the amygdala, which is
a very special part of the brain. The amygdala, it has to do with emotion. It's especially
active when you perceive a threat. It doesn't have to be real. You just have to perceive
it. Examples of perception of threat. One example is if you see a saber-tooth tiger
running at you. Now that's perception of threat. Another perception of threat is when the boss
comes to you and says, "Meng, we need to talk." [laughter] [pants]
Oh, crap! You know? That's perception of threat. The amygdala likes that. An interesting thing
about the amygdala is that it has a very privileged position in the brain, which is that when
it activates, when it perceives a threat, it takes over. The way it takes over is that
it shuts down the executive part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, over here. You almost,
not literally, yeah, you almost literally stop thinking. You just react. Then, gradually,
this "Oh my God, I don't believe I just said that to the boss! I just told the boss to
go do whatever." [laughter] And then we tell ourselves, "I wasn't thinking." Well, it turns
out neurologically, you were not thinking, like for real, literally.
That mechanism has been around for millions of years. It's there for a good reason: it
helps us survive. If you see a saber-tooth tiger running at you, you don't want to think,
"Oh, is that dangerous? Should I google this?" [laughter]
Wait a minute, Google hasn't been invented. This sounds like a problem. You don't want
to go to this. It's just a "Oh, crap. Run!" So that's how the mechanism works. Unfortunately,
it has slight negative consequences that we have today. Because if the amygdala triggers
all the time, it's not very healthy. It causes problems. Especially if you're shouting at
the boss. Career-limiting. [laughter]
However, the question then is, "Is it possible to down regulate something as primitive as
the amygdala?" Well, of course not. It sounds stupid. It turns out the answer is yes. Accomplished
monks like the Geshes we have, we can do this. It's shown in the fMRI that they can down
regulate something as primitive as the amygdala. And the more practice they have, the more
effectively they can do that. That is fascinating. This was one of the beginnings, the birth
of contemplative neuroscience. One of the first glimpses into the mind of a meditator,
from fMRI. [pause] One of the objections, here we see the graph,
is that, "Yeah, this is like 10,000 hours of training. I don't have 10,000 hours to
meditate." Happily, so again like good news and better news. Good news is this works.
Better news is that it turns out you do not need 10,000 hours. The latest research I've
seen is-- anybody want to guess? Those who haven't been to my class, by the way. Anybody
want to guess how little time it takes to have a measurable effect?
[pause] Okay, no guesses. I'll tell you: One-hundred
minutes. That's slightly more than an hour. One-hundred minutes is all it takes for it
to begin to have a measurable effect, for your life to begin changing. Fascinating stuff.
Okay, let me see. [inaudible] Okay. so this is step 1. Step 1 is attention training. Mindfulness,
another way to see mindfulness is this: it is like [pause] your mind is like a flag fluttering
in the wind, in motion or in distress. Mindfulness is like a flagpole that in this case literally
grounds the mind. This is how you can remain under stress [blows] and yet stable at the
same time. This is one way to look at mindfulness. So this is step 1: attention training. So,
what is step 2? Step 2 is self-knowledge and self-mastery using attention. What does that
mean again? Let's begin with a picture. I'm going to show you a picture. Okay. If you
look at this picture, you don't know what it says. However, if we do two things to the
picture. The first thing we do is we increase resolution. The second thing we do is we increase
vividness, or in this case vividness means brightness and contrast. What happens? If
you do that-- excuse me-- you find that you have useful information that was hidden from
you before. In this case, for those who can't see, it's Colonel Sanders trying to hide the
recipe of chicken. [laughs]
If not for Colonel Sanders, you can see the recipe already.
[laughs] [pause] So the equivalent of the analogy is this:
in the mind, when your attention becomes-- when you have training in mindfulness, your
attention not just becomes calm, it also becomes sharp. And what that means is two things.
First thing it does is it increases the resolution at which you perceive the process of emotion.
What does that mean? So resolution is on two dimensions. There's a spatial dimension and
a temporal dimension. Spatial dimension means that you're able to perceive changes in the
emotional process that you never noticed before. For example, to make this substantial, you
begin to be able to see-- oh, later. Temporal resolution is the ability to see changes in
small deltas in time. Combined together, to make it substantial, it means for example,
the ability to see an emotion the moment it is arising, and to see the emotion the moment
it is seizing and all the tiny changes in between. The mind acquires that ability.
Hmm. [laughs]
Oops. Okay, we're back to this. So that's what it does for you. It creates--
so that's resolution. What is vividness? Vividness is when you increase the signal to noise ratio.
Parts of an emotional process that was almost hidden from view. You begin to see it in clarity.
So combined, you begin to get useful information about yourself. What does that mean substantially?
Substantially, it means that you begin to see yourself objectively from a third-person
perspective. Instead of seeing your emotion going wild, I can see this anxiousness from
a third point of view. This is what it is like to have a certain experience of emotion.
Rather than I'm experiencing it, I see it objectively. The way that works is it has
to do with the insula. There are parts of the brain here on both sides called the insula.
They are related to a few things. The first thing they are related to is awareness of
bodily sensations, especially visceral sensations, sensations inside the chest and stomach. The
second thing it's correlated to is awareness of emotion. A third thing, surprisingly, is
empathy. So people with strong insulas are strong in all three dimensions. It turns out
the insula can be trained. It's very easy. All you have to do is to bring attention to
the body. That's all. If you do that a lot, every time you do that you strengthen a little
bit more. If you do that a lot, you become very aware of yourself or your emotions. The
question then again is "What does that do for you?" It's like, "Yeah, yeah, I'm aware
that I'm feeling anger at the moment. Whatever." There are a couple of very useful things,
and they're so useful that the degree of self-awareness that you can gain can create profound changes
in your life. Let me give you some examples. [pause] The
first example is that if you're able to perceive an emotion the moment it is arising, that
gives you the power to turn it off if you want to. It gives you choice. Therefore, you
have a choice of, "Hmm, I feel anger rising. Should I be angry or should I be not?" You
can choose. I mean, there are situations where I chose to be angry, and because I was getting
ripped off. I figured the best reaction is to put that other people. What it can bring
off is to become generally angry, I faced them and banged on the table. And the situations
where you're "Nah, I don't want to be angry, especially since she's my boss. Let's turn
it off." So you have a choice. The first thing, already, this is life-changing. If you have
to ability to turn off anger. Already, it changes your life. That's one.
It gets better. Another example is that if you have a lot of strong self-awareness, emotional
awareness, the emotional awareness translates into self-assessment. You get to know yourself
a bit better. You get to know your resources. This is what I'm good at, this is what I'm
bad at. These are my strengths, these are my weaknesses. This is what I really like
to do, this is what makes me happy, and so on. And the effect of that is that once you
are able to figure out, quote on quote your "deepest values and motivations", then you
know what opportunities to look out for. That could change your life.
For example, let's say you are good at coding. So you know, "Writing code makes me happy."
But suppose that you took SIY and then you know something beyond that. You know that
beyond writing code, something else makes me happy, which is connecting people. Just
saying, just an example. If you discover that motivation in yourself, then when Google starts
a project called Google+, what do you do? It's like "Oh my God, this is what I want
to work on. This is it." If you did not have the insight, the opportunity would just come
and go. However, because you had the insight, you catch the opportunity when it's there.
Therefore, you're always successful. And then people will think you're very lucky. I mean,
you're lucky, but at the same time, you're there to catch your opportunities and you're
able to catch opportunities because you have deep knowledge of self. So that's another
example of how it changes your life. Very simple practices, changing your life.
There's a third one, which is even more profound, which is this: if you experience an emotion,
we like to think that our emotions are existential experiences. What does that mean? We like
to think the emotion itself, is us. And it reflects in the language that you use. For
example, we say, "I am angry. I am sad. I am happy." So the emotion becomes me. I become
the emotion. However, as the power of your mind, the sharpness
of mind, your resolution, your vividness becomes stronger over time. You discover something
about a process of emotion and then you read an emotion in a very subtle way that has a
profound change in your life. And that profound change is this: is going from existential
to experiential, which means going from "I am angry" to "I'm experiencing anger. I'm
experiencing happiness, or sadness, or whatever." What does that change? Now it changes from
"I am this, this is me" to "My mind is like a sky." Then emotions are the clouds occupying
the mind, but they're not the mind. So that's a powerful shift.
But wait, it gets better. For only $9.99-- no. The way it gets better [laughs] which
is there is another step you can go. As your attention becomes even more refined, you discover
something else, beyond being experiential. You discover that the process of emotion,
the experience of emotion is physiological. You experience emotions in the body. Every
emotion has a bodily correlate. And then you discover something. You discover
that painful emotions are not that different from painful feelings in the body. For example,
I hurt my hand. Ow! And then I know this is pain, I know this is unpleasant, but the pain
is not me. It is a sensation in my body. Having that perception changes everything. Because
it's not me, I can do things about it. I can take Tylenol. I can massage. I can put in
ice. Or I can ignore it. Or I can experience it mindfully. Or I can just eat ice cream
and forget all about it. And so on. There are things I can do because this experience
is not me. It's just an experience in my body. That is the power of this-- oh, I already
put it up, okay-- of this change in perception, of framing from existential to physiological.
And this is one of those insights that will change; that can change your life. Just one
of many in Search Inside Yourself, to change your life. So that is part 2 [pause] which
is self-knowledge and self-mastery. You might think, "This is it, this is emotional intelligence."
But wait! There is more. It gets better. So there's step 3. By the way, everything
I say is incremented improvements. So if you only do one, it's already huge. If you do
a second one, it's even huger. And now it's hugest, huger-er. [laughter] Which is creating
mental habits. I say "useful mental habits", but specifically, they are habits, they are
conducive for social skillfulness. What does that mean? Let me give you a few examples.
The first habit that is very conducive to being socially skillful is the habit of kindness,
or loving-kindness. That is a habit of looking at any human being, anyone you've never met
before. Looking at any human being, my first thought is, "I want this person to be happy."
I want this person to be happy: that's just it. Already, you can imagine if you have that
mental habit coming effortlessly, it changes everything. You go into a meeting room; you
look at everybody, you think, "I want all these people to be happy." It reflects unconsciously
in your body, your face, your language, your tone of voice, your facial expression. Because
it reflects unconsciously, it's picked up unconsciously by the other person. Their feeling,
their perception is, "I like this person. I don't know why. This Meng guy, I really
like him. Maybe it's his good looks. I don't know." [laughter] But it's not just the good
looks, it's because I'm wishing for this person to be happy. I want Tara to be happy, and
Tara can sense it unconsciously. In a situation like meetings and so on, if you have that
mental habit all the time, people want to work with you. Then you find yourself becoming
successful. You're not clear why. But it's this; it's just simple things like that. So
here's one example. The other example is the habit of human similarity.
The habit of looking at a human being and thinking, "This person is just like me." But
in three specific dimensions, by the way. Not like every way. It's not like Chip and
I, like we're so alike only our moms can tell us apart. Not like that. Just like me, three
dimensions. The first is looking at any human-- oh, especially
in a situation of conflict, this is very useful. Looking at any human being in a situation
of conflict, "This is a human being, just like me. This person wants to be happy, just
like me. This person wants to be free from suffering, just like me." This is it: three
things. Three things alone can do wonders. It changes in the situation of conflict. It
changes how you react. It changes how you solve the problem. It creates a possibility
of solving the problem. Changes are really what makes you successful.
So just a cartoon to show-- there was a right way to do "just like me." A wrong way to do
"just like me" would be this. Don't do this. [laughs]
Beyond talking, I want to create some things that we can bring home today, that are useful
for you already. The first useful practice is mindfulness, bringing attention to the
breath. If there's any distraction, to let it go. I want to introduce you to a very simple
second practice. Again, it's one of those ten second practices that if you do a lot,
will change your life. The practice is a random intention of kindness. The idea is look at
any human being at random and think, "I want that person to be happy." That's it. If you
want to, I want to invite you to participate. In the next ten seconds, look at two random
human beings in this room and just think to yourself, "I want this person to be happy."
Okay? Ten seconds. Don't say it, just think it. [pause] Well, this is it. Kind of fun,
right? [laughs] Kind of fun. I mean, first it changes your life, you do it a lot. But
beyond changing your life, you might find that the intention that you're wanting other
people to be happy is intrinsically rewarding. I think it has to do with evolution. Being
altru-social beings, wanting the other to be happy, creates the conditions for altru-sociality,
for trying to survive. So try this a lot. When you walk out of this room, every hour
or so, just look at a random human being and say, "I want that person to be happy." Really
think that thought. And make it a habit. Oh, by the way, everything I just told it, these
informal practices, there are ways, formal practices, to make them even better. So read
the book. [laughs] Again, the question: why does this matter?
I wish for people to be happy, helps me succeed. Why does it matter? It matters especially
if you're a manager. If you're a leader. There was a study which I found fascinating, which
was published in '03. It showed this: in the study, they compared a bunch of managers.
They ranked them by effectiveness and they compared the most effective top 25% of managers
in the company with the bottom 25% and figured out what difference is between them. It turns
out in their study there's only one difference, which is a faction, which is the top managers.
They love people and they want to be loved. Somehow that makes them even more effective.
It turns out there's a simpler explanation, which is if people love you, they work harder
for you. That's it. The quality of the work improves. But knowing the data, it turns out
that being loved is good for your career, especially if you're the boss. It's like,
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, sounds good, but I'm sure there are limiting situations. I'm sure it
doesn't work in the US Navy. It turns out in the US Navy, and this is a study back from
1988. [laughter] A study on what makes the best naval commanders. You think naval people,
Navy, they give orders. "Make it so. Engage, fire. [laughs] Go wash the toilet." No, no.
You'd think the tough people, the tough guys don't do nice, and so on. Now it turns out,
according to this study, it's a famous study, even in the Navy, being nice works. Here it
says the description of the most effective naval commanders in the US. They are described
as "more positive, outgoing, emotionally expressive, dramatic, warmer, more sociable, appreciative
and trustworthy," and so on. In other words, these are nice people, people you want to
hang out with. The title of this study is Nice Guys Finish First. So even in the Navy.
And just to reinforce the point again, um, a comic: Nice Guys in the Military. [laughter]
So this is it. It's very simple. How to train emotional intelligence: three easy steps.
You come to SIY, this is it. In seven weeks, we go through this in detail, of course. But
these are the three basic steps. So our hope is that when we train emotional
intelligence, it helps to become more successful. It helps to become a better leader. And, I
think more importantly, I think most importantly, at least to me, is it creates the conditions
for happiness. And happiness, I really like this definition, which is "a deep sense of
flourishing that arises from exceptionally healthy minds, not the mere passable feeling
of fleeting emotion or mood, But an optimal state of being." This is from Matthieu Ricard
who is one of the happiest men in the world. There's a story behind it. We shall tell you
when we have time. But this is it. What you learn, the emotional skills you learn in Search
Inside Yourself are, and in general. The emotional skills, the skill for self-awareness, the
skill for mastery over self, the skill for loving-kindness and compassion, ultimately
what it does is this: creates the condition for happiness for everybody. I want to create
a happy world, so that's what I do. So let me see. There are some more minutes.
So does he actually work? We've been running this in Google for about five years. The feedback
we get over and over again, which most warms my heart, is this: oh, not the circle. [laughs]
The thing inside the circle. Which is "Your class changed my life." That's very powerful,
right? I mean, imagine coming to work on a Monday in the office, and you take a class
in the office, and it changes your life. And just simple things like what we talked about,
like awareness, empathy, and so on. There are different ways people's lives have been
changed. Some people say, some of this is purely like career wise. "I got my promotion
because of SIY. It gave me the skills that got me my promotion." Some people say, "I
was going to leave Google, and then doing SIY I discovered I love my work. I decided
to stay." And there are people who say, "My marriage became better. I see myself through
kinder sets of eyes. I see people in more kindness." Profound changes in seven weeks.
That warms my heart. The last part of this talk is the question
of: why did I do this? How did Search Inside Yourself begin? Embarrassingly enough, it
began with world peace. [pause] Search Inside Yourself started because I wanted to create
the conditions for world peace in my lifetime. The way it started was we have this thing
called "20% time project", but for those of you watching on TV, engineers, at least in
my days, when I was a young man, we could spend 20% of our time working on whatever
project we wanted. I figured since I could do whatever I wanted, I might as well solve
the toughest problem I know, which is world peace. I mean, like, mining asteroids; anybody
can do that. [laughter] World peace, that is tough. So I started thinking to myself.
The first question asked, "What are the necessary and sufficient conditions for world peace?"
I figured something out. I figured that the two conditions which are necessary, each one
insufficient, but combined maybe sufficient. The first is the end of global poverty. The
second is inner peace, inner happiness, and compassion on a global scale. Combined, I
think they are necessary and sufficient. Then I figured since Gates and the rich guys are
working on the first one, the second one nobody's working on it: I'll work on it. How do I do
that? Then after a few months, I figured it out. I figured out that the way to create
inner peace, inner happiness, and compassion worldwide is to align it with the success
of individuals and businesses. If you can create those qualities in ways that help people
succeed at work, that help businesses' bottom lines, that's going to stick. If it's just
about goodness, oh, that's kinda nice, go hug a tree. [laughter] But if it's like this
thing, this thing will help you get your next three promotions and you will earn the company
a lot of money. Oh, by the way, you will create world peace. Okay, so where do I sign up?
So the idea, there's a word for it, I'm blanking on it right now. "Upaya": skillful means.
Which means that to do something good, do what aligns with the people's self-interest
in a way that the goodness is a necessary and unavoidable side effect. Help people succeed
in a way where world peace is the unavoidable side effect. That's what I'm trying to do.
Good. How do I do that? And then a couple of months of thinking, I figured it out. I
figured out the way to do that is to create a curriculum for emotional intelligence for
adults. That was how SIY started. That was a story. So, SIY, Search Inside Yourself started
or began with the story of one funny little engineer and his pursuit for world peace.
I hope that this story will have a funny and happy ending. It's about world peace. I hope
for a happy ending. So I set out to write a book. Oh, can I borrow it? I will hold it
up. So I set out to write a book that is funny and practical. I hope it's life changing for
the readers, and there are a few people who told me it's life changing, just the book
alone. I hope you like the book. And more importantly, I hope you change your lives.
I hope all of you will aspire to create the conditions for world peace in your lifetimes
too. Thank you. [applause]
Okay, we have time for questions. Any questions? I guess do we need to use a mike? Okay, yes.
Please use a mike. [pause] Oh, we have thirteen minutes. Yes.
>>male#1: If I imagine you being happy, I imagine you doing some recreational activity,
maybe watching a football game, taking large amounts of your recreational drug of choice,
I suppose it's beer. I must be doing it wrong. If I imagine you being happy or most people
being happy, just being made happy with the smallest change, I imagine them being completely
contented and useless. I don't think I want to do that.
>>Chade-Meng Tan: That's right. Yeah, me neither. So I tell you my experience, which may or
may not be universal. I think it's universal. Which is that I discovered for myself that
if I'm in pursuit of happiness, then I'm just doing happiness. Something is holding me back
from greater service. However, if I'm already happy, and I feel that I'm free to contribute,
and that is how I feel that I can go out and try to change the world. Because if I succeed
I don't gain anything, if I fail I don't lose anything. Therefore, I'm free to try. So for
me, having a source of happiness that is not dependent on sensory input, having that was
actually freeing, and it frees me to do big stuff rather than the other way around. Of
course, I don't mind playing golf too. [laughs] Thank you.
Yes, you?
>>male#2: I have two kinds of questions. This is really not challenging you.
>>Chade-Meng Tan: Yeah, you're so wise. You ask me questions, I feel humble.
>>male#2: This is something that I myself had experienced during my visits here and
there. One is that, for example, the talk that you've given right now is really enlightening
and wonderful. But I do similar kinds of talks also, so what I normally find is that these
kinds of beautiful talks that were are giving, and those who come to listen to these wonderful
talks are already good people. So the question is: how can we reach to the dictators? The
totally dead and selfish, arrogant people who don't care about any of these things.
Many of these people have the power to destroy. This is one question.
The second thing is: the many wonderful activities done by Google or many other companies, this
is really amazing. I'm completely amazed by the innovative that you have here. But again
here the problem is the fruit of all these things that great companies do, they seem
to be again enjoyed by educated and rich people. Does it go anywhere on a larger scale to the
really, really downtrodden people? I would like to hear you visit on this too.
>>Chade-Meng Tan: Okay. Thank you. Thank you. I think the first thing to know is that I
don't have any wisdom. I'm just trying my best. [laughs] But having said that-- so the
first question about reaching the people who are least, what's the word, not susceptible,
least receptive to this, which is why is "upaya" is so important. Skillful means. If it's all
about "Let's bring goodness to the world", I think people in this room and people in
Google say, "Sign me up." But there are people who would not sign up. But if it's about profits,
that's when I want to hook people to sign up. To say, "Everybody wants to make more
money, especially those who are the least receptive to goodness." However, if the money
comes with being good: "It's money, right? Okay, I'll be good."
How about reaching people, the downtrodden people? Right now, I don't know. I have a
theory. I want to say the Buddhists are expressing in Buddhist terms. Then I translate it to
real world terms. The Buddhist term is that I think America, like Google in general, I
mean, we're particular in California and so on. We are heaven, and I hope that for the
work that we do, we turn heaven into pure land. In other words, for those who didn't
understand what I just said, we transform a place of pleasure and happiness into a source
of goodness for the rest of the world. So for those who don't know, pure land is not
a place where you're happy, pure land is a place where you practice and become compassionate
and enlightened. I'm hoping that through the work that we do that compassion will spread,
at least in America, and through that, the world will benefit in some good way. I'm just
guessing, I don't know.
>>male#3: This question is about reaching another group of people. Can you write one
for my ten year old son?
>>Chade-Meng Tan: Maybe.
>>male#3: How do we reach children
>>Chade-Meng Tan: Maybe. I don't know. I think this book may be readable by ten years old
already. Let me know.
>>male#3: I'll try. [laughs]
>>Chade-Meng Tan: I'm actually thinking of writing a children's book, but it would not
be as deep as this.
>>male#3: Get him started. Get him started, that's a good thing.
>>Chade-Meng Tan: Thank you.
>>male#4: You almost answered the question actually just now, but I still-- and maybe
you have some other thoughts on this. Is there no hope for people to actually realize that
happiness is a value by itself, not through career advancements or money? Is there no
hope at all in you to let people understand that happiness is a value by itself?
>>Chade-Meng Tan: I think there's a lot of hope. I'll tell how optimistic, how naively
optimistic I am. Can I? I'm so optimistic that that topic-- that there is a source of
happiness accessible to normal human beings with mental training, and that source for
happiness is independent of sensual pleasure. I'm so optimistic it's in Chapter 3. [laughs]
So near the beginning of the book. So I do think it is doable, and I think given the
right way the message is spoken, spoken with signs, spoken tangibly and not just "Oh, you're
happy." But these are the specific practices, this is what it does to you, and so on. Spoken
in the right language with the right data, I think you can reach masses and I think people
get it. I hope. Thank you. Sorry I keep stealing the books.
Good thing-- I don't know, it's kinda scary to take things from monks because they know
kung fu or something. [laughter] Just kidding. So if you see me like "Krrr!", then...
>>male#5: You promised us the story of the happiest man in the world if there is enough
time. Is there enough time?
>>Oh! There is now time, okay. Since there's nobody behind you, I'll tell the story. So
the story-- it turns out that neurologically, there is a way to measure happiness, which
is very surprising. It's a very simple way which is they measure the relative activation
of the left prefrontal cortex over here, a specific part of the brain. And then versus
the right prefrontal cortex. It turns out that if the left-right tilt, if it's more
left than right, the first person experiences "I'm happy, I'm optimistic, I'm joyful" and
so on. Positive stuff. And the more the grade is, the more positive the person's reports.
And vice versa. Why is that so? Nobody knows for sure, but
there is a very important clue, which is only the left prefrontal cortex here has a direct
connection to the amygdala. So only that part has the ability to tone down the negativity.
This part doesn't have that. It's not clear why. There is a relationship. This data has
been around long enough, has been studied for long enough, that there is a normal curve,
a thing established on what most people look like. The distribution. And Matthieu Ricard,
when he was measured, he was a couple of standard deviations away from the mean. So at that
time, he was the happiest person ever measured by science. Again, that's the good news, but
again there's better news. The better news is that it turns out he was not the only one.
It turns out that as long as you put in your hours of practice, you can reach the state
of extreme happiness. That is a reason, voluntarily without sensual input. On demand. And I suspect
all the geishas have that ability, but they just don't want to tell you. They're very
humble. They also have kung fu or something. [laughter] They can use the Force.
Yes, Joe?
>>Joe: Hello Meng. Thank you so much for this talk. It was very enlightening.
>>Chade-Meng Tan: Thank you.
>>Joe: So I know that SIY, the Search Inside Yourself, course is offered here at Google.
But if I were a company that was really needing the sorts of tools that you're offering in
this book, how would I be able to obtain them if I weren't here at Google?
>>Chade-Meng Tan: There is good news, which is--it sounds like a planted question. But
I didn't plant it, somebody else did. [laughter] If he also planted the question he asked,
"You're so good looking. How do you do that?" [laughs] Okay.
>>Joe: Also, if I want to look as good as you, how do I do that? [laughter]
>>Chade-Meng Tan: Study engineering. [laughter] All the engineers are good looking. Didn't
you notice? So how do you access this outside of Google?
We are creating an organization called the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute,
SIYLI. It's pronounced as "silly." [laughs] [scattered applause] We're going
to train trainers and bring this out to the world. So if you're watching this from outside
of Google and you're interested, go to and find more information.
And I guess that's it. Nothing else. Thank you all for coming. Thank you all for being
my friends. I'm so happy to have you. Thank you. [applause]