Monthly Archives: July 2015

The art of storytelling, according to the founders of StoryCorps and Humans of New York

ideas.ted.com

Dave Isay and Brandon Stanton. Photo courtesy StoryCorps. Dave Isay and Brandon Stanton. Photo courtesy StoryCorps.

Between them, Dave Isay, TED Prize winner and founder of StoryCorps, and Brandon Stanton, founder of Humans of New York, have collected more than 75,000 stories from regular people around the world. Isay collects his stories as audio files, while Stanton takes a photo and then interviews his subject — but they’ve both developed fascinating techniques for helping people to open up. They sat down recently to talk about their work and their thoughts on what makes for an honest, open interview environment.

A supportive culture breeds good stories. “We think of the internet as such a coarse place, yet people treat our app with such respect. I am constantly amazed by this,” Isay says about the listener contributions to the StoryCorps app. The secret, he says: Create an intimate culture where trust is paramount. Stanton agrees. “We don’t judge or criticize,” he says. “I am interviewing…

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Morning Meditation

10410449_441996972608898_3583355393809523315_nDo not wait for life to make you happy. Do not wait for the world to bend to your notions of what you require from it before you allow yourself to appreciate being here. It just won’t. And it’s ok.

You aren’t owed happiness and the universe is not compelled to bend over backwards to make it so. The universe will leave you to your own devices. You cannot see the light if you don’t want to see it. If you’re looking for reasons to be angry or discontented, you will become an expert at finding those reasons, and it will get to be so easy. You will carry in your mind a long list of what must occur before you can be happy, and a list of everything stopping you from attaining that. Don’t wait to fulfill all of your conditions which must be met before you begin to really live. You will end up missing the good parts.

Grieve the sorrows when they come, and listen to your anger when it speaks – you don’t need to be a hero or a liar. But please don’t take it personally. It’s not personal. Pain is widespread. Shoulder your share with grace. Do it for yourself. Do it for the rest of humanity. Know that it’s your fair share, and that everyone gets a turn to struggle. Don’t be too precious when your turn comes. Take your lumps, and move on. Help somebody else with theirs because you know what it’s like.

Don’t waste time pointing fingers at what you hate. Focus your attention on ways around the ugly parts, and keep your sight on the love. There is so much of it. You aren’t alone, even if you feel like you are. See the light. See it in strangers’ eyes when you are out walking around, and look into the eyes of the lady who hands you your coffee at the drive through in the morning. Even if she won’t see you back. Don’t take it personally. Smile at people. Even if they piss you off. Sometimes you can be an asshole, too. I can be. Laugh at it. Move on.

Don’t turn your heart away from compassion for others, even if it is excruciating at times. Apathy is the shelter of those too afraid to feel. Be brave. Let your pain make you strong and don’t be greedy. When you help other people, you put your own pain to good use. It becomes powerful. Share your strength when you can, and let others be strong for you when you need it. Own up to your power. Don’t place it in the hands of others and then blame them for not using it right. See the hurt in your enemy, and grieve it for them. See the humanity in your enemy too, and love it. Forgive them, even if in only in the privacy of your soul, and then move on from the anger.

This is your chance, right now, here in this form. Stop clinging to what should be, and open yourself up to what is. This is today; this is now, and this is your moment. I don’t care who says life sucks. Attitudes suck. Life is beautiful, even when you can’t tell for the moment. Be grateful for the ugly in life and laugh at it, because it means you are living to experience it. It’s finite and it could be gone without warning. Be brave, be love. It’s today.

Good morning.