Finding The Balance Between Progress and Inner Peace
A look at Stanford’s Behavioral Design Lab, the value of mind wandering, and how the right thermos can change your life for the better
The sun is rising over the vast 8,180 acres (3,310 hectares) Stanford University campus, one of the largest in the world measured in continuous area. It was built on the Palo Alto Stock Farm, purchased by Leland Stanford Senior in the 19th century to later be turned into a private university in memorial of his son’s premature death.
It’s very lush and green, with palm trees lining the main entrance drive and majestic California pine trees scattered across the whole campus. Every entry point has special permit or visitor for-pay parking lots. Only bikes, scooters, skateboards, and pedestrians are allowed into the inner Sanctum Santorum.
This slows down the speed of physical movement and creates a place of learning, reflection, and peace. I’m reminded of this when I leave the campus for an outside errand and being tailgated by a middle-aged woman in a Bentley SUV, impatiently tooting her horn every time I’m not driving at her preferred speed.
Lead with compassion
When this aggressive driving behavior happens, I always think about David Foster Wallace’s excellent piece “This is Water”, his commencement speech on compassion from 2005 at Kenyon College. It made me aware that we never really know what goes on in someone else’s inner life and mind and that we should always lead with compassion over judgement.