Oprah Talks to Daniel Pink
Daniel: That's what I used to think, too. And so I went to a laughter club in Mumbai. It was 6:30 in the morning, on a muddy soccer field. About 40 people gathered around a woman, who said, "Ho-ho-ha-ha-ha, ho-ho-ha-ha-ha, ho-ho-ha-ha-ha." Everyone repeated after her. And I sat there thinking, 'This is the freakiest thing I've ever seen.'
Daniel: I realized that it's not about laughing at a joke; it's about the physicality of laughing. It's laughter yoga, or a kind of meditation. Even as the left brain is thinking, 'What the heck are you doing?' the right brain says, 'Be quiet—this is cool.' So I started doing it.
Oprah: It's nearly impossible to say "ho-ho-ha-ha-ha" and not at least smile! Let's move on to another right-brain skill you mention in your book: "empathy."
Daniel: Empathy is about standing in someone else's shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate but it makes the world a better place.
Oprah: Yes. And finally, there's the capacity you call "meaning." Isn't meaning the common denominator of human experience? Over the years while doing my show, I've learned that we all want to be validated, to know that what we say matters, that it means something. We all want to feel as if our lives have been significant and purposeful.
Daniel: This is why I think baby boomers are going to do something quite spectacular. They say, "Sixty's not old. Oh, I've got 25 years left." Then they look back 25 years and say, "Holy smokes, that sure happened fast. Are the next 25 years going to happen as fast? And if they are, what's my legacy going to be? When am I going to live my best life? What kind of imprint am I going to leave on the world?" Roughly 100 baby boomers turn 60 every 18 minutes in this country. Imagine the collective force of that. So I think that this widespread search for meaning is one of the most important things going on in American life today.
Oprah: Do you believe that we all have souls?
Oprah: So does the soul live in the right brain?
Daniel: I'll answer with my left brain: There's scientific evidence that shows that it does. There are experiments during which scientists have quieted the left brain that have allowed a person to have ecstatic or divine experiences.
Oprah: So does this mean that if you're left-brain oriented, you're less spiritual?
Daniel: Not necessarily. Right-brain abilities are fundamentally human abilities. Some of us exercise these muscles repeatedly over our lives; others don't use them at all. Regardless, it's encoded into our DNA to wonder what life is about.
Oprah: To sum up: The keys to the kingdom are changing, and right-brainers will be our new leaders. Is the kingdom itself changing?
Daniel: Yes. The kingdom changes based on who's holding the keys. In our world now, those with right-brain skills will flourish. That doesn't mean computer programmers are going to be scrubbing counters at fast food restaurants, but it does mean that those programmers have to understand their customers better, look at the different parts of their business in a symphonic way, have a design sensibility, and speak in story terms about what they're doing.