Practice English Speaking&Listening with: ENGLISH SPEECH | TIM MINCHIN: 9 Life Lessons (English Subtitles)

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In darker days I did a corporate gig at a conference for this big company who made and

sold accounting software in a bid, I presumed, to inspire their salespeople to greater heights.

Theyd forked out 12 grand for an inspirational speaker who was this extreme sports guy who

had had a couple of his limbs frozen off when he got stuck on a ledge on some mountain.

It was weird.

Software salespeople I think need to hear from someone who has had a long successful

career in software sales not from an overly optimistic ex-mountaineer.

Some poor guy who had arrived in the morning hoping to learn about sales techniques ended

up going home worried about the blood flow to his extremities.

Its not inspirational, its confusing.

And if the mountain was meant to be a symbol of lifes challenges and the loss of limbs

a metaphor for sacrifice, the software guys not going to get it, is he?

Because he didnt do an Arts degree, did he?

He should have.

Arts degrees are awesome and they help you find meaning where there is none.

And let me assure you

there is none.

Dont go looking for it.

Searching for meaning is like searching for a rhymes scheme in a cookbook.

You wont find it and it will bugger up your soufflé.

If you didnt like that metaphor you wont like the rest of it.

Point being Im not an inspirational speaker.

Ive never ever lost a limb on a mountainside metaphorically or otherwise and Im certainly

not going to give career advice because, well Ive never really had what most would consider

a job.

However I have had large groups of people listening to what I say for quite a few years

now and its given me an inflated sense of self importance.

So I will now, at the ripe old age of 37-point-nine, bestow upon you nine life lessons to echo

of course the nine lessons of carols of the traditional Christmas service, which is also

pretty obscure.

You might find some of this stuff inspiring.

You will definitely find some of it boring and you will definitely forget all of it within

a week.

And be warned there will be lots of hokey similes and obscure aphorisms which start

well but end up making no sense.

So listen up or youll get lost like a blind man clapping in a pharmacy trying to echo-locate

the contact lens fluid.

Looking for my old poetry teacher.

Here we go, ready?

One:You dont have to have a dream.

Americans on talent shows always talk about their dreams.

Fine if you have something youve always wanted to do, dreamed of, like in your heart,

go for it.

After all its something to do with your time, chasing a dream.

And if its a big enough one itll take you most of your life to achieve so by the

time you get to it and are staring into the abyss of the meaningless of your achievement

youll be almost dead so it wont matter.

I never really had one of these dreams and so I advocate passionate, dedication to the

pursuit of short-term goals.

Be micro-ambitious.

Put your head down and work with pride on whatever is in front of you.

You never know where you might end up.

Just be aware the next worthy pursuit will probably appear in your periphery, which is

why you should be careful of long-term dreams.

If you focus too far in front of you you wont see the shiny thing out the corner of your




Advice metaphorlook at me go.

Two: Dont seek happiness.

Happiness is like an orgasm.

If you think about it too much it goes away.

(crowd laughs) Keep busy and aim to make someone else happy and you might find you get some

as a side effect.

We didnt evolve to be constantly content.

Contented Homo erectus got eaten before passing on their genes.

Three: Remember its all luck.

You are lucky to be here.

You are incalculably lucky to be born and incredibly lucky to be brought up by a nice

family who encouraged you to go to uni.

Or if you were born into a horrible family thats unlucky and you have my sympathy

but you are still lucky.

Lucky that you happen to be made of the sort of DNA that went on to make the sort of brain

which when placed in a horrible child environment would make decisions that meant you ended

up eventually graduated uni.

Well done you for dragging yourself up by your shoelaces.

But you were lucky.

You didnt create the bit of you that dragged you up.

Theyre not even your shoelaces.

I suppose I worked hard to achieve whatever dubious achievements Ive achieved but I

didnt make the bit of me that works hard any more than I made the bit of me that ate

too many burgers instead of attending lectures when I was here at UWA.

Understanding that you cant truly take credit for your successes nor truly blame

others for their failures will humble you and make you more compassionate.

Empathy is intuitive.

It is also something you can work on intellectually.

Four: Exercise.

Im sorry you pasty, pale, smoking philosophy grads arching your eyebrows into a Cartesian

curve as you watch the human movement mob winding their way through the miniature traffic

cones of their existence.

You are wrong and they are right.

Well youre half right.

You think therefore you are but also you jog therefore you sleep therefore youre not

overwhelmed by existential angst.

You cant be cant and you dont want to be.

Play a sport.

Do yoga, pump iron, and run, whatever but take care of your body, youre going to

need it.

Most of you mob are going to live to nearly 100 and even the poorest of you will achieve

a level of wealth that most humans throughout history could not have dreamed of.

And this long, luxurious life ahead of you is going to make you depressed.

(audience laughs) But dont despair.

There is correlation between depression and exercise.

Do it!

Run, my beautiful intellectuals run.

Five: Be hard on your opinions.

A famous bon motasserts opinions are like assholes in that everyone has one.

There is great wisdom in this but I would add that opinions differ significantly from

assholes in that yours should be constantly and thoroughly examined.

I used to do exams in here

Its revenge.

We must think critically and not just about the ideas of others.

Be hard on your beliefs.

Take them out onto the verandah and hit them with a cricket bat.

Be intellectually rigorous.

Identify your biases, your prejudices, your privileges.

Most of society is kept alive by a failure to acknowledge nuance.

We tend to generate false dichotomies and then try to argue one point using two entirely

different sets of assumptions.

Like two tennis players trying to win a match by hitting beautifully executed shots from

either end of separate tennis courts.

By the way, while I have science and arts graduates in front of me please dont make

the mistake of thinking the arts and sciences are at odds with one another.

That is a recent, stupid and damaging idea.

You dont have to be unscientific to make beautiful art, to write beautiful things.

If you need proof - Twain, Douglas Adams, Vonnegut, McEwan, Sagan and Shakespeare, Dickens

for a start.

You dont need to be superstitious to be a poet.

You dont need to hate GM technology to care about the beauty of the planet.

You dont have to claim a soul to promote compassion.

Science is not a body of knowledge nor a belief system its just a term which describes

human kindsincremental acquisition of understanding through observation.

Science is awesome!

The arts and sciences need to work together to improve how knowledge is communicated.

The idea that many Australians including our new PM and my distant cousin Nick Minchin

believe that the science of anthropogenic global warming is controversial is a powerful

indicator of the extent of our failure to communicate.

The fact that 30 percent of the people just bristled is further evidence still.

(audience laughs) The fact that that bristling is more to do with politics than science is

even more despairing.

Six: Be a teacher!



Please be a teacher.

Teachers are the most admirable and important people in the world.

You dont have to do it forever but if youre in doubt about what to do be an amazing teacher.

Just for your 20s be a teacher.

Be a primary school teacher.

Especially if youre a bloke.

We need male primary school teachers.

Even if youre not a teacher, be a teacher.

Share your ideas.

Dont take for granted your education.

Rejoice in what you learn and spray it.

Seven: Define yourself by what you love.

I found myself doing this thing a bit recently where if someone asks me what sort of music

I like I say, “Well I dont listen to the radio because pop song lyrics annoy me,”

or if someone asks me what food I like I say, “I think truffle oil is overused and slightly


And I see it all the time online - people whose idea of being part of a subculture is

to hate Coldplay or football or feminists or the Liberal Party.

We have a tendency to define ourselves in opposition to stuff.

As a comedian I make my living out of it.

But try to also express your passion for things you love.

Be demonstrative and generous in your praise of those you admire.

Send thank you cards and give standing ovations.

Be pro stuff not just anti stuff.

Eight: Respect people with less power than you.

I have in the past made important decisions about people I work withagents and producers

- big decisions based largely on how they treat the wait staff in the restaurants were

having the meeting in.

I dont care if youre the most powerful cat in the room, I will judge you on how you

treat the least powerful.

So there!

Nine: Finally, dont rush.

You dont need to know what youre going to do with the rest of your life.

Im not saying sit around smoking cones all day but also dont panic!

Most people I know who were sure of their career path at 20 are having mid-life crises


I said at the beginning of this ramble, which is already three-and-a-half minutes long,

life is meaningless.

It was not a flippant assertion.

I think its absurd the idea of seeking meaning in the set of circumstances that happens

to exist after 13.8 billion years worth of unguided events.

Leave it to humans to think the universe has a purpose for them.

However Im no nihilist.

Im not even a cynic.

I am actually rather romantic and heres my idea of romance: you will soon be dead.

Life will sometimes seem long and tough and God its tiring.

And you will sometimes be happy and sometimes sad and then youll be old and then youll

be dead.

There is only one sensible thing to do with this empty existence and that is fill it.

Not fillet.

Fill it.

And in my opinion, until I change it, life is best filled by learning as much as you

can about as much as you can.

Taking pride in whatever youre doing.

Having compassion, sharing ideas, running, being enthusiastic and then theres love

and travel and wine and sex and art and kids and giving and mountain climbing, but you

know all that stuff already.

Its an incredibly exciting thing this one meaningless life of yours.

Good luck and thank you for indulging me.

The Description of ENGLISH SPEECH | TIM MINCHIN: 9 Life Lessons (English Subtitles)