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Home » Seeking Discomfort: YES THEORY at TEDxYouth@ISP (Transcript)

Seeking Discomfort: YES THEORY at TEDxYouth@ISP (Transcript)

Matt Dajer: Oh, God, you’re beautiful.

Thomas Brag: All right, thank you guys for having us.

So, when was the last time you felt most alive? Was it when you were watching TV at home before going to bed for three hours or playing video games?

Or was it going to work? Or going to the same bar you go to every weekend? Or was it when you took a big risk, when you walked up to a stranger and said “hi” and suddenly became friends?

Or when you went on a spontaneous trip having no idea what might happen? Or when you took on a seemingly insurmountable challenge and ended up overcoming it?

Three years ago when I graduated university, I had never felt more lost. My entire life, I knew exactly what I had to do: I had to go to school, get good grades, and I thought that by the time I’d graduate, I’d know exactly what I wanted to do.

But the reality was quite the opposite: I never felt more confused. So I ended up doing the exact opposite of what I should have done, which was sitting at home in front of my computer, just find good jobs, watching movies. I don’t want to work at the bar around the corner.

In my mind, this was just temporary. I was going to figure this out. This was just a temporary phase in my life. I’m going to figure out what I want to do, and I’m going to do it.

But quickly a week turned into a month, which turned into four. And then something terrible but also incredible happened to me.

I was walking down the street, coming back from the same grocery store I walk to every single day, and I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. He asked me, “Hey man, what did you do last weekend?” I stood there for a second, and I couldn’t remember. I was like, “Damn I don’t know.”

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He was like, “How do you mean ‘I don’t know’? Are you crazy? It was like five days ago.”

And I kind of laughed it off awkwardly, and we walked in separate directions. And I couldn’t stop thinking about it: “I can’t remember what I did five days ago.”

What I realized was that all of my weeks had started to look exactly the same. I’d fallen into a routine and kind of turned on autopilot, and I was just doing the same thing over and over again.

The worst thing that could possibly happen to humans had happened to me: I’d become comfortable. And the reason why that terrified the crap out of me is because what happens when you become comfortable is that time and life just flies by.

You forget what it feels like to be in a situation that makes your heart race, or you palms sweat, or give a speech in the country that you’ve never been in before.

Yeah, that was kind of that part. But then, a few weeks after that, I ended up meeting Matt. And he felt the same way I did. And we decided to make a list of all the things that scared us: talking to strangers, doing stand-up comedy, getting our ears pierced, fear of heights.

And we decided to dedicate one month for one summer to tackling one of those fears or discomforts, every single day. And the result was that we’d never felt more alive. I’m actually still wearing the piercing I got on the second day. I haven’t taken it out a single time. It’s probably not that good for me.

But I want to be reminded, every single time I look myself in the mirror, of what we do and why we do it, and the piercing has kind of become that for me.

The best part about all this is that we didn’t need a lot of money to do most of these things. We kind of felt tricked by commercials, because in commercials they tell you that you need Bahamas, you need a nice car, and a big house to be happy.

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But we’d just spent an entire month completely broke on a stranger’s couch and had the best month of our lives.

Matt Dajer: Thank you for saying that. All right, so that’s me on top of a mountain, butt-naked, and I’ll explain why.

As Thomas explained, we’ve been doing this for three years now. And after three years, you start to ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? How does this make sense, and why does every single adventure make me so happy and make us all so happy?”

And after doing a little research and looking into it, we came across an idea, and that idea is this: it’s that every single one of you looking up at us right now, you are a living, breathing hunter-gatherer stuck in an age of robots. Our vacations are planned like scripts for actors, our schools, our workplaces are scheduled to the dot, our meals are at the same time, and they are the same meal every single day.

But if we look back 12,000 years at who we were, what were we? Hunter-gatherers. We were nomads without fixed homes, omnivores without strict diet plans, explorers without Google Maps.

But 12,000 years ago, we got a super dope gift – a great gift, it looked great – and it was comfort, it was agriculture, it was a fixed home, a fixed house, the grocery store down the street, the gym that you go to every morning, the school and the workplace that you go to at nine o’clock and leave at five o’clock.

But what we didn’t know would happen was that this comfort would make us extremely unhappy. And that’s what had happened to us: we’d developed a routine. And so, many people in society today attack that by medicating themselves, whether it’s alcohol, drugs, antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, mood suppressors, painkillers, you name it.

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And then we realized there was a problem. And the problem lies in the fact that we forgot our evolution, we forgot our roots. We forgot that our ancestors roamed under the hot Eastern African sun, not knowing whether they’d get food, not knowing whether they’d get the water, not knowing whether they’d survive.

There’s a great author named Nassim Taleb, and he wrote, “Consider that all the wealth in the world cannot buy a liquid as pleasurable as water after intense thirst.” And by our very nature, we are built to be thirsty: thirsty for risk taking, for adventure, for exploration, experimentation, for trying new things.

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