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.”

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.

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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.

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.

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.

It’s how we evolved. And so the mantra of seeking discomfort, which we live by, is a mantra that goes hand in hand with humanity because we are natural born discomfort seekers.

So that feeling you get when you walk up to that stranger or walk up to that girl that you really want to talk to, and your heart is pounding, or you’re on stage and it’s terrifying, it’s so natural and it’s so pure that when it’s over, the number one thing you can describe it as is “human” because that’s what you are supposed to do.

Another part of being human, or homo sapiens, is the fact that we are supposed to be in tribes, we’re supposed to be in groups. And for us that’s why it’s felt so natural, doing all that crazy stuff together, as a group, and sharing those experiences.

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It’s also why we love taking strangers with us. For those of you who watch our videos, a lot of them involve asking strangers to go sky diving with us, or bungee jumping with us, or throwing a party at their house randomly that night.

Part of the reason is because we want them in our tribe, but the other part of the reason is because we want to disrupt their routine too. Because maybe they’ve been working from nine to five for the last three years and they just need a little wake-up.

And by saying yes just once to us, to our crazy requests, maybe it’ll spark that thing inside of them that says,”You know what? Maybe I should say yes more to my gut, to what my heart wants, and maybe my life could be so much more memorable.”

Because every time you go on these experiences, I’m telling you, it makes life last so much longer. Like, these last two to three years have been the longest of our lives.

On this stage today, it was supposed to be Thomas, and I, and Ammar, a cofounder of Yes Theory that you saw on the videos. Unfortunately, Ammar could not make it due to personal reasons. But we decided that, instead of having it just us two boring you guys, that we would disrupt a stranger’s day, just like we always do, and just like we’ve been doing for the last three years.

So literally two days ago we went out on the street with Ammar, walked up to strangers and asked, “Would you take this ticket to Panama, fly out here, get up on this stage with us, and tell your story to this audience?”

Now, public speaking is a pretty terrifying thing. I think it’s considered like the most terrifying thing for people. So it’s a big ask, you know, especially in a foreign country. And then – sorry – this is what happened.

(Video) Ammar: Hey guys, can I ask you something real quick?

Logan: What?

Ammar: Can I ask you something real quick? Me and my two best friends were invited to give a TEDx Talk in Panama, on Sunday. For personal reasons I can’t go anywhere, so we thought,”What a better way to explain what Yes Theory is to people than get a stranger to say yes to going on stage with these guys?”

Logan: This is so crazy. Are you fu*ing with us?

Ammar: No, no.

Logan: If she can come with me, I’ll say yes.

Ammar: Done.

Logan: Oh, my God! Are you kidding me?

Matt Dajer: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our new friends, Logan and Jasmine.

Logan: My name is Logan and I am from New Zealand, and this is my good friend Jasmine. And we are here today because we said yes. But I almost said no. I called someone whose opinion I really value, and she was not happy. She said, “Are you crazy? This is dangerous. There are many other reasons. You have, you know, priorities.”

And it was at this point where I was like,”Oh, my goodness, have I made the right decision? I might change my mind.” If one other person had told me that this was crazy, I definitely would have said no. Isn’t it wild how one person can change everything? One person coming up to you on the street and asking you to do something fun, and one person telling you, “Don’t do that. It’s dangerous.”

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So, I’ve been with my gut and the good vibes, and I said yes. So, lately I’ve been working on myself, my inner self, with a life coach, and she puts me in uncomfortable situations and challenges me every day so that I can learn about myself.

Sometimes I laugh, when I’m really uncomfortable, and sometimes I’m filled with anxiety and fear, and I’m crying, and I don’t want to do this. Because it is so much easier just to be mediocre and be safe so that you don’t need to worry about fear and failure.

But I didn’t want to do that. So for the past six months, I’ve been working with the life coach on my inner self. And if I hadn’t gone through that journey, there’s no way I would have said yes to these guys; no way. In my life I had a lot of people say, “Oh no, that’s too expensive.” “Oh, I wouldn’t do that. That’s really hard.” “Oh, a lot of people have tried that and failed.”

So I moved to the USA from New Zealand six months ago, and it was the biggest, scariest thing I’ve ever done. And I’m so glad that I did it because I met this wonderful woman, Jasmine, who pushes me out of my boundaries and helps me to be bold. And why not be bold and go outside of your boundaries? Why not ask for what you want in life? Because what’s the worst that can happen? You get a no. M-hm.

But what if you get a yes? You literally could be flying to another country with three random strangers and a friend. So because I met Yes Theory, I have decided to challenge myself to say yes more often, and be bold and be brave, and I challenge all of you to do the same.

Thomas Brag: So, I’m going to wrap this up. So what does Yes Theory mean? Does it mean saying yes to everything? Definitely not.

Matt did that once, and he ended up with pink hair, spray tanned, and in a pink dress, and we sent him to Mexico, all the way to the airport wearing all that. I wouldn’t recommend that, and I don’t think Matt would recommend it.

So what should you take away walking away from this? Do you have to quit your job and drop out of school and travel the world? Again, definitely not. Some of you might do that, and that’s fine, but you don’t have to do that to live the Yes Theory.

Live the Yes Theory means consciously making time to doing things you’ve never done before. Maybe cutting a little TV or skipping a night out at the bar, and instead going out in nature on a hike you’ve never been on before, or signing up to a new dancing class and learn how to dance, or walk up to a stranger and say “hi,” or pack a tent at the back of your car with a few friends, start driving south and just figure it out.

The point is that you don’t need to make a drastic decision in your life to live the Yes Theory; you can do that after school, after work or on the weekends. And I promise you that by seeking discomfort, you’ll never feel more alive. So I hope that the next time a friend asks you to go on a spontaneous adventure, that you’ll say yes.

Thank you.

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