Lifestyle: time for a talk?

We all know those days: moving is a drag, your body feels like it’s made of cement, even speaking seems like a momentous task. Socializing? You must be joking. If you have ankylosing spondylitis (AS), you’ll know better than anyone – feeling blue isn’t something people only experience on a rainy Monday morning.

Melancholy can strike at any time – and strike it does. AS is a physically demanding condition, which can also start to take its toll on the mind. Although depression is more likely in people living with AS than the general population,1 psychological problems can be encountered by anyone. It’s important we do all we can to look after your brain as well as your body – especially if you’re living with AS.

Introducing TED

If you’re suffering from ‘painsomnia’ there’s a good chance you’ve switched off the light and have one of your digital devices nearby ready to be switched back on from sleep mode. Scrolling through pages of search-engine results can be tedious and counter-productive. Instead of heading straight to Google, a good starting place is the online platform whose goal is to spread ideas “usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less).”2

The TED organization has a motto of ‘ideas worth sharing.’ It’s exactly what their website does, with over 2,000 ‘TED Talks’ – pre-recorded mini-lectures to live audiences that you can watch directly on your screen. It’s a website packed with content that is a little deeper and more informed than you might find elsewhere.

TED podcasts also offer a different way to interact with the TED content, without having to watch a screen. Simply download a podcast that sounds like a great match for your current needs, get listening and get inspired.

Happiness from within

If internal serenity is what you seek, there is plenty out there to get the mind racing towards where it needs to be. A good place to start is to analyze what happiness and wellbeing actually mean. Matthieu Ricard (sometimes called ‘the happiest man in the world’)3 says in his TED Talk ‘The habits of happiness,’ “wellbeing is not just a mere pleasurable sensation, it is a deep sense of sincerity and fulfillment.”

In his talk, Matthieu is referring to the process of looking internally for happiness; ignoring external material factors – or what Dan Gilbert refers to as ‘synthetic happiness’ in his popular TED Talk ‘The surprising science of happiness.’ Over 11 million people have watched Dan’s TED Talk, which encourages ‘real’ happiness and looks into the science behind its components. It’s a great watch if you’re interested in understanding your ‘psychological immune system’: one area that could be particularly beneficial for people with AS. This approach puts the emphasis on mental perception and peace, allowing you to help forget about any physical problems in the short term.

If podcasts are more suited to your lifestyle, check out Gemma Bennett’s ‘Happiness 5 a day’ – free five-minute happiness tips to combat depression, anxiety and stress. There’s also Dr. Robert Puff’s ‘Happiness Podcast,’ which also gives free, professional advice on the pursuit of a more upbeat outlook.

The trivial pursuit of happiness

If, on the other hand, you’re looking for more of a short-term dose of happiness, there’s always YouTube for a two-minute montage of cats that can’t jump.

It shows the brilliance (and the shortcomings) of a video-sharing site like YouTube that attracts over 1 billion users,4 all of whom can watch, post and share videos about anything and everything. Like, for example, babies going through tunnels.

As funny as clips of daschunds playing cops and robbers are, real internal happiness has the most longevity. Being happy within yourself and accepting things you can’t change is a tried and tested pathway to long-term tranquility.

Keep things in perspective

The beauty of TED Talks (and YouTube clips) like the ones we have explored in this post is that they help to keep things in perspective. The Internet allows us to watch or listen to as much or as little as possible when we need it most. These videos can give us momentary lifts and make us chuckle, but they can also speak to us on a much deeper level and affect the way we look at life. David Steindl-Rast, in his TED Talk ‘Want to be happy? Be grateful’ has potentially affected the mentality of over 4 million people.5 He says “If you think it’s happiness that makes you grateful, it’s not. It’s gratefulness that makes you happy” – it’s messages like this that can really change behavior and make us happier, nicer people. As always, the key is to choose what works for you and to make the most of it. Happy searching.

This article was written by one of the resident experts at A social site, helping the whole AS community to: Learn. Share. Inspire. Discuss.

1. Meesters JJ et al. Arthritis Research & Therapy 2014; 16:418.
2. TED website. last accessed July 2015.
3. Matthieu Ricard: The habits of happiness. Last accessed July 2015.
4. Statistics. last accessed July 2015.
5. Want to be happy? Be grateful Last accessed July 2015.


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