Khan Academy founder Sal Khan’s 2012 MIT commencement address, a fine addition to the season’s best and a complement to some of the most timeless graduation speeches in modern history, including David Foster Wallace, Ellen DeGeneres, Aaron Sorkin, Barack Obama, Ray Bradbury, J. K. Rowling, Steve Jobs, Robert Krulwich, Meryl Streep, and Jeff Bezos.
Start every morning with a smile — even a forced one — it will make you happier. Replace the words “I have to” with “I get to” in your vocabulary. Smile with your mouth, your eyes, your ears, your face, your body at every living thing you see. Be a source of energy and optimism. Surround yourself with people that make you better. Realize or even rationalize that the grass is truly greener on your side of the fence. Just the belief that it is becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
View stressful, political interactions as nothing more than a deeply immersive strategy game. One that can be won if you stay focused on what matters most and your emotions and ego are not tied to your argument.
If you find yourself arguing with someone whom you respect and love, try to surrender your own ego to the shared identity you have with that person. In the heat of an argument, do the opposite of what your pride tells you to do. If you have the self-control, stop talking and give your opponent a random, intense minute-long hug.
Make people feel that you care about them. And here’s, a well, a little secret, the best way to do this is to actually care about them.
Make people feel that you are listening to them. Another little secret, the best way to do this is to actually listen.
When you gain or lose material things, remember how silly they really are. How little they mean relative to your health and relationships.
When you feel stressed, look up at the night sky and ponder the distance to the next star and the age of the universe. Think of all the other stressed sentient creatures from other star systems and galaxies looking out in the vastness of space in wonder and awe and take comfort in your shared experience.
When you feel overwhelmed, walk alone through the woods and forget your name, your title, your education and view yourself for what you really are — another mammal wondering why it is here but appreciating the fact that your civilization has not as yet been evaporated by a supernova.
Try to build true empathy. Regardless of your actual spiritual beliefs, it is sometimes helpful to imagine that time is not linear; that in past or future, or I guess parallel life, you literally are, have been or will be every person. That after this life, you will go back in time and be reincarnated as the person you are arguing with, or passing judgment on (and will then have to put up with the current version of you).
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