I arrived in Stockholm straight from New Zealand so I was still fuelled with Hobbit fever, dazzled by the landscape; the gnarly, spooky eye-blindingly emerald green of it all. I was here to speak at Wisdom Stockholm conference. I said I'd do it because it sounded a lot like TedTalks and that's such a namedropper these days so I went from elves to intellects in once swift leap. Ian McKellen, in a pointy hat was replaced by economic leaders, neuroscientists, tech developers and futurists; I felt sick to my stomach that I would be the weird one out; naked and with no power point to hide behind as usual.
It turns out this conference wasn't the usual beauty contest for the best brains. No, to my delight, each speaker was there to discuss ways in which the economy, global organizations, education, technology and the government could become more conscious, more mindful; the aim being well-being rather than the 'eye on the buck school of greedery'. The theme of the talks seemed to be that we've lost our humanity along the way, not caring who goes down (other people) or what goes down (the planet) in the name of obese profits and global domination (see recent Volkswagen debacle). We need to change the modus operandi to promote a pursuit of happiness rather than burning out for the sake of success. It's us that need to change, then we can worry about the return of the Ice Age (which by the way we've caused). So these people, God bless them, were standing alone up there, on the Stockholm Opera House (humble venue) discussing ways to change the world before the world changes us. And the event was sponsored by Google and if they can encourage this caring, sharing brave new world, we just might be able to not screw the world for the next generation completely.
The first speaker was a woman from the United Nations who spoke about Bhutan being number one on the gross national happiness (GNH) spectrum and what the criteria is for getting there. She told us other countries are now joining in to use this GNH measurement to reflect the success of their country. By the way, Britain isn't doing too well but it's doing far better than my home town; the good ol' U.S.A. Another speaker was an English/Indian monk who did mindfulness sessions for us all. He was a fantastic teacher but not holy, at times hilarious (his mother was in the "Kumars" so he had a show business in his ordained veins). I immediately booked him to come onto my new YouTube channel beginning in November based on my new book (A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled) and we'd call our segment, "The Monk and the Mermaid." (Me being the mermaid).
One of my favourites at the conference was an explorer, Johan Ernst Nilson who crossed the Atlantic on a jet ski, walked from the North to the South Pole, moseyed up Everest, kayaked from Europe to Africa. (Obviously airlifted when necessary over land). His speech was about nothing being impossible if you have the desire. As an example of this - he told us while he was kayaking through Europe there were some locks on canals in Holland that weren't working. He wouldn't back down so he figured out how to move forward probably with his theme song "nothing is impossible" playing in his ear. He kayaked the rest of the way through parts of Holland in the sewers instead. But his greatest feat was flying in a motorized boat/raft from Sweden to Africa; check it out on www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_GmhIg75Ho. At one point they sent out fighter planes to find out who or what was in the airspace and reported back it was a boat. Central control didn't think it was a big deal until they said the boat was above them. Johan proved that nothing stops a determined Viking. He's either enlightened or nuts or both but I loved him.
The last night all the speakers were taken into the countryside for a (I guess) 'thanks for talking for free' party. This was my fantasy come true. We walked through a forest lined with candle-lit lanterns to a farmhouse (the red wooden slates with the everything in white interiors). There was a long table set for about 50 with wood burning fires and fantastic looking Swedish men serving home grown food that made your eyes roll back in your head. Nothing makes me happier than eating and listening to original, bright minds at play and to do both at the same time is perfection. I wish this were my life, being fed by beautiful men, in the presence of great minds discussing new and better ways to live and hopefully change the world. I had these type of discussions when I was 18 when I was hopeful and then never again but here's the spark and hopefully some day all this might come to fruition and I can say I was there.
My new book - A Mindfulness Guide For The Frazzled - will be published in January 2016. Be the first to find out more here. Until then, I'll be back on the road with Sane New World. There are still some tickets available.