Categories: Videos

Happiness Makes You More Productive

It’s that time of the year for TED, which means thousands of the world’s top creative minds are gathering in Long Beach, California this week to hear short, inspiring talks from some of the greatest minds in technology, entertainment and design. This year features the likes of poet Billy Collins, climatologist James Hansen, and energy theorist T. Boone Pickens. 2011 TED Award recipient, street artist JR, presented his Inside Out Project at the conference. Inside Out let people send in photos of themselves and receive giant posters in the mail of the portrait to paste up in their own environment. I produced the website with TED in the early stages of its design and love taking breaks to browse the now-populated site full of people’s pictures from all over the world.

In celebration of TED for those of us not on the ground, here’s a fresh video from TEDx Bloomington, Indiana, featuring Shawn Achor, CEO of Good Think Inc. Achor specializes in positive psychology and tackles the happy secret to better work in the above video. It’s the best 12 minutes I’ve spent all day.

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Youtube.com and the amazing cakes that you can see.

Things are a little slow in our household this week. Last week was filled with holiday parties and two days of “camp.” Does anyone else understand this logic? You pay for preschool by the month. Then there are two weeks off in December, but there is an option for you to pay more for another week of “camp” instead of school. Doesn’t make any sense to me.

In an attempt to keep my daughter entertained and allow me to not go crazy, we have been watching baking videos on Youtube.com. My daughter loves to bake, but I have no will power and will eat everything that we bake. Therefore, I try to limit our baking, or I cleverly have my daughter bake with my Mother, so that very few cookies ever reach our house.

The other day my daughter asked to watch a video showing how to make a princess cake. We had watched some a few months ago on Howdini.com This time, I let her click from video to video while I was making dinner – I can see her and the computer from the kitchen. So she now “knows” how to make a fire truck, a castle, a duck and numerous other festive cakes.

Somehow she left cakes and found her way to videos of people making miniature candy ice cream and bento in Japanese. There is no explanation in either Japanese or English. It is called Kracie Popin’ Cookin’ and as far as I can tell it involves pouring water into little containers that have been filled with special powder, stirring, sometimes adding colors and delicately displaying the wares once they have set. It is very odd. And the strangest aspect to me is that some of the videos have literally been viewed millions of times. You have to check them out.

My daughter also found videos people post of their elaborate cakes. Generally there are slow pans of beautiful cakes and stacks of cupcakes with a bit of commentary. Sometimes there is a soundtrack. My daughter doesn’t really like them, but will watch them. I am amazed by the detail and intricacies.

We went to a gingerbread decorating party on Christmas Eve and our house was totally chaotic. I must admit that I had picked up some tips from watching these videos, but they didn’t seem to apply to my daughter. Oh well.

A Paper Love Story

In traditional American gift-giving, a couple’s first-year anniversary calls for paper. But how does a creative type make something original while still giving a nod to traditional culture? Art Director Ariele Rosch found the answer in a short film she made for her husband Peter to commemorate the day. In it, a paper doll comes to life and embarks on a paper-plane adventure, bumping into a fellow traveler. You know the rest of the story. With a crash and a boom they fall in love.

It’s a beautifully sweet video that made me smile today. I particularly love the wild camera angles that give the simple images a lot more weight. If you’re not adept at stop motion animation, don’t feel like you can’t give an original present to your paramour. Take a cue from Rosch, and with any paper gift, use the first leaf to draw a picture or write a letter that they’ll want to keep forever.

What’s the best anniversary present you’ve ever heard of?

Dazed and Amused

Hey Kids! I’m sure everybody’s starting to remind you that summer’s nearly over. I suggest you stick your head in the playground sand and enjoy these inspirational and hilarious videos instead (okay, you’ll have to pull your head out of the sand to actually watch these). To help transition you back to the brick house, just click play and smile a little smile.

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What Inspired Me This Week: The Eames Solar Do-Nothing Machine

I am totally enamored with the Solar Do-Nothing Machine, a colorful kinetic solar toy designed by the Eames Office for ALCOA (Aluminum Company of America) in the 1950s. It’s only purpose, was to do nothing. Oscar Shefler of ALCOA states, “There is little pertinence in asking what the toy is supposed to do. It is not supposed to do. It is supposed to be. Its whole function is in its being.”

We are all slaves to our daily to-do lists. Or at least I am. Every morning after Lulu’s been cared for, I begin to think about all the things I have to do for the day. From the exciting to the mundane, each day is filled with tasks that will take me from morning to evening, in a blink of an eye. Even when I’m on holiday, somewhere amazing like Paris, I bring my to-dos with me. Instead of “buy groceries” or “make work deadlines” I exchange the tasks for “pack for an afternoon at Rue Mouffetard” and “research museum exhibitions” (albeit more fun, they are still things to think about).

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Dog Days of Summer

sara, sophia & mica with puppies

This summer, Lulu is obsessed with stopping to pet every dog whose owner will allow it. If she sees one coming towards us (and this happens plenty in our neighborhood), she will excitedly say, “Be nice. Be nice, doggy,” hundreds of feet before her future four-legged friend is within arm’s reach. When the owner and dog near, I ask if the dog is friendly and if they wouldn’t mind if we pet him or her.

Dog owners in our neighborhood are very patient and friendly. About 95% of the time, the owner is gracious enough to stop, tighten the leash on their pup, and stoop while Lulu squats with her hands out. Depending on the dog, she squeals with joy or  runs behind me to protect her. She has fun petting each animal and I enjoy meeting my neighbors (who like parents, love to hear how cute or good their pet is). The only time Lulu doesn’t get to pet a puppy is when the dog is really young or really old (kids are too skittish for them). [read more]

Dance Like Nobody’s Watching!

We host an impromptu dance party in our home on a daily basis. It’s fun for everyone and a great way to shake off the day’s stresses, not to mention, a fun way to exercise too. I’ve been cracking up over a few dance videos I recently shot of Lulu — she is dancing with such unbridled joy and vigor and it’s clear, dancing makes her very happy.

The following dance-related videos make me happy too:

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