Connecting through laughter: An interview with Arturs Ivanovs

Not long to go now, so here’s another teaser to warm you up for TEDxSquareMile 2015 this Saturday. Here we talk to speaker and laughter yoga practitioner Arturs Ivanovs about how he connects through laughter…

1. Can you tell us a little about laughter yoga and what it means to you?

arturs ivanovLaughter yoga is a combination of laughter exercises and yoga deep breathing. It is a simple, fast, effective and powerful tool, which everyone can use to promote their good health and sense of happiness. Laughter yoga combines the art of laughing and science of breathing in playful and fun exercises.

Since I was a child I have always loved to make people laugh and really enjoy seeing people smiling and happy. My ultimate goal in life is to live 100 healthy and happy years. In 2013, I discovered Laughter Yoga and found it to be a simple and powerful tool to help me achieve this outcome.

Laughter Yoga has given me the opportunity to express myself professionally and to earn a living doing what I love. There is nothing else in my life which gives me the same pleasure as when I am leading a laughter yoga class or training my students and seeing them happy. It makes me feel very happy and blessed to do this job.

2. What is the link between laughter yoga and ‘Getting Connected’?

“Everybody laughs the same in every language because laughter is a universal language connection”. – Yakov Smirnoff

“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people” – Victor Borge

Through laughter yoga, I have seen that joyful laughing is infectious and brings people together. I have witnessed the power of laughter connecting hearts.

3. What do you hope people will gain from hearing your talk?

I will share how laughter yoga has changed my life and how it can change other peoples’ lives. My aim is to give people a fast and easy tool that anyone can use to connect with themselves and with others. I will demonstrate how you can change your emotional state within a few minutes by performing laughter yoga exercises. My goal is to unleash the laughter giant within you for ultimate health and happiness.

4. What drew you towards speaking at TEDxSquareMile?

TEDxSquareMile is a great platform which positively impacts many people’s lives. It is a great way to inspire people and share ideas. I believe the topic ‘Get Connected’ is the perfect theme to share how laughter yoga encourages connection.

5. Apart from laughter yoga, what’s your favourite way to get connected?

I love anything that encourages real connections and causes us to use our human senses: touch, smell, sound and sight. This can be anything from laughing, singing and dancing to playing and experiencing nature.

6. Describe your TEDx talk in one sentence…

The demonstration of connection through the power of laughter.

Interview by Chris Glithero

An interview with Irene Scopelliti

Just a few days left to go till we get connected at TEDxSquareMile, and we’ve been asking some of our speakers to share their thoughts about connectivity. First up, consumer psychology researcher Irene Scopelliti…

What does ‘getting connected’ mean to you?

irene_scopetelliTransforming one-shot interactions and random encounters into ongoing relationships that transcend geographical proximity, such that we feel together even when far apart. Getting connected opens up the possibility to have a constant exchange of information, experiences, and emotions with other people who have crossed our path.

Tell us a little about the talk you’ll present and its relation to the ‘Get connected’ theme…

The fact that we are more and more connected to one another multiplies the opportunities to self-promote and brag, in particular via social networking. In addition, some connections are relatively superficial. I’ll present some ideas on the psychology of bragging drawn from research my coauthors and I have conducted on the topic. These ideas help understand how an empathy gap between communicators and their recipients can explain why bragging is perceived so negatively, especially online.

What has your research revealed about the way that people connect with each other and with themselves?

People often brag with good intentions, they share with others their achievements and great moments motivated by their pride and happiness, and by the belief that others may be experiencing the same positive emotions. However, their beliefs often don’t match reality, resulting in what in our studies we call an ‘emotional miscalibration.’ This miscalibration makes us tend to overestimate the extent to which our counterparts will feel proud and happy for us when we brag and underestimate the extent to which they will be annoyed when hearing our good news.

Why do people brag, and do you think they do so more now in the era of social media?

The emotional miscalibration that we observed in our studies may be exacerbated online, because although social media allows us to connect with more and more contacts, these connections may be relatively superficial. A higher psychological distance can increase the empathy gap between our connections and us. Moreover, having a large number of connections may make us feel like we have an audience, which prompts us to engage in more self-promotion and brag more than what we would normally do.

What drew you towards presenting a talk at TEDxSquareMile?
I wanted to make people aware of the empathy gap between our connections and us, and of the potential negative emotional consequences attached to it. Awareness and small nudges to reduce the empathy gap can help us reap more benefits of being connected.

What makes you feel most connected?
Technology. In whatever form allows me to get and feel connected with the important people in my life, wherever in the world I am.

Interview by Chris Glithero.

Check back tomorrow for an interview with laughter yoga practitioner Arturs Ivanovs.

With less than two months to go till our ‘Get Connected’ event, we’re going to be taking a look around at some of the innovative ways that people and organisations are getting connected. This week, we’re exploring the Missing Maps project, which aims to ‘put the world’s most vulnerable people on the map’.

In the year 2015, it is arguably digital connectivity that is having the most profound effects upon our individual lives and the way that we communicate. But beyond social media, viral videos and the constant stream of internet news and click-bait articles, connections are being quietly forged that can make a much larger impact in our ever-shrinking world.

Missing Maps is one such project, which is leveraging the power of the internet and crowdsourcing to make a positive difference in some of the world’s most at-risk communities.

Which maps are missing?

While you could be forgiven for thinking that the whole world has been mapped already and is available online at the click of a button, the fact is that there remain large areas of the developing world which lack even basic maps. For local aid organisations and international humanitarian NGOs, this is a problem.

Without accurate and up-to-date maps it can be incredibly difficult to get aid and personnel to the areas where they are most needed, and in a crisis situation this can be the difference between life and death.

Missing mapsMake a connection to those at risk

Missing Maps was founded last year by Medicins Sans Frontieres/ Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the British Red Cross, American Red Cross and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team (HOT). Its purpose is to harness the collective efforts of thousands of volunteers around the world to create comprehensive maps of some of the most at risk global communities.

So how does it work? Essentially, remote online volunteers (possibly you) trace satellite imagery using their own computer, marking on features such as buildings, roads and rivers. Once that part is complete, local volunteers in the community in question can add further specific details like street names and specific building types. This data is then available for free usage on the open-source OpenStreetMap platform, and can be used by aid organisations for disaster response, as well as by people who live in the area.

The fundamental idea is to map those areas that are most at risk of natural disasters, disease outbreaks, conflict and other dangers before they occur, so that an aid response can be made quickly and effectively. Current tasks within the project include mapping areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo to help MSF respond to disease outbreaks, parts of Haiti to aid local disaster response efforts, and areas of Tanzania to help develop flooding early warning systems.

How do I get involved?

The great thing about the Missing Maps project is that you can easily volunteer from the comfort of your own home, whether you’ve got five minutes or five hours to spare. All you need is a computer and an internet connection to get started (a mouse will make mapping easier, but is not essential).

Once you’re ready, head to the Missing Maps website to view a quick tutorial. You’ll be guided through the process to create a free account, then you can take part in your first mapping task, which will be a single map square within a wider area. Editing takes place using a simple browser-based editor which is intuitive to use, and many people find that tracing squares and lines over satellite imagery is a surprisingly relaxing and rewarding activity.

Because it’s a collaborative effort you don’t necessarily need to finish the task in one sitting, you can simply unlock it for others to work on. Likewise, whenever you find yourself at a loose end, you can head back to the website and help to complete other unfinished tasks.

Attend a mapathon

Missing maps mapathon

Though you can do it at home, if you’re a social butterfly you might like to head to one of the regular ‘mapathons’ that take place in London and other cities. At these mapping parties, volunteers come together to map specific areas, and there’s usually plenty of free beer, pizza, guest talks and pleasant banter on offer too. Yet another chance to get connected with new people, while helping to connect a distant part of the world at the same time.

Do you know of any interesting and innovative initiatives that are helping people to get better connected? We’d love to hear about in the comments section below.

Written by Chris Glithero, TEDxSquareMile 2015 organising team volunteer

Connections in the City – A photoblog

Our world is full of connections, from the physical and technological, to the spiritual, temporal and social. To celebrate the ‘Get Connected’ theme of our upcoming TEDx event, I took a walk around the City of London to see what connections I could find there and catch on camera. The photos below feature just some of those.

What does being connected mean to you? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Chris (TEDxSquareMile organising team volunteer)