Translator: Lalla Khadija Tigha
Reviewer: TED Translators admin I spent a large part of my life
as a photographer for National Geographic. World’s greatest job. Well, that job– it changed my life
in a very surprising way. And that’s the story
I want to share with you tonight. It began long before
I ever picked up a camera. My family had taken
the magazine for years. By the time I was able to read,
I’d grab when it came into the house, I’d take it upstairs.
I’d read it at night. My Dad would say,
“Turn off the light, Dewitt. Go to bed!” I’d turn the light back on.
I’d get a flashlight. I’d stay up and stare at the pictures
in this little yellow book, pictures that showed me the possibilities
the world had to offer. I never thought I’d work for them;
I never thought I’d shoot for them, but they were already changing
the way I looked at the world. Because theGeographic
has an extraordinary vision– so simple yet so profound. What they charged me with,
every time they sent me out, was to celebrate
what was right with the world, rather than
wallowing in what was wrong with it. That’s why we keep
these little yellow magazines. It’s a national sacrilege
to throw one away, you know that. (Laughter) If all the Geographic’s in the world
disappeared at one time half the houses
would fall in on themselves. (Laughter) Because they’re supported
by big yellow columns in the basement. (laughter) Why? Because they celebrate
what’s right with the world. When I first began at the Geographic, I had no idea how powerful
that vision would be, how much it would change my life. But our vision controls our perception,
and our perception becomes our reality. From the highest mountains,
to rivers drenched in sunlight, to waterfalls and rainbows. Everywhere I looked there would be
amazing beauty for me to photograph. And, you know, in the Geographic’s view,
man was not something separate from this just as magical as anything else
on the planet. And the more I just went out
and celebrated the best in humanity, the more I could see it. I could see it, and I could see it
in the faces of those at work, or the body language of those at play, those in their youth, or in their age. I thought this would be a good picture
before he smiled, right? (laughter) I could see it. I could see that light,
that light that shines not on us, but from within us. From within us when we have
the courage to let it out. It was the same light
that I’d seen in nature that didn’t seem to have
to trust to expose itself but just graced us every day
with the delicacy of a flower, or the light of a breaking storm. And yet the more I shot
for the Geographic, the more I found this strange
conflict growing up between the world view of the Geographic, and the world view that
I’d been raised in since I was a kid. You all know it– the law of the jungle–
Eat or be eaten. My win is your loss. Second place is the first loser! (laughter) I once saw that on a T-shirt. That is a very depressing way
to look at life. (Laughter) Far too many of us
do see the world in that light– a world based on fear
and scarcity and competition. But that’s not what nature was showing me. Nature was showing me incredible beauty and possibility
standing just beyond the rat race saying “Hello, Hello…” I mean, come on. Mother Nature never stood
in front of a forest and said, “There is one great photograph
hidden here. One photographer will find it
and the rest of you will be hopeless losers.” (Laughter) Nature said,
“How many cards do you got, Dewitt? Bring it on. I’ll fill it up. I’ll fill it up with beauty
and possibility beyond your wildest imaginings. Right down to my tiniest seed. And that was just a much more
elegant philosophy, a much more compassionate way
of looking at the universe. And at some point,
I just decided to embrace it. I just decided that if I had a choice
between a world based on scarcity and fear and one based on possibility,
then, man, I was choosing possibility. And no matter how dry and desolate,
how bleak and devoid of possibilities the situation might seem,
if I could just celebrate the best in it–
in this case just by dropping down into that slot canyon and looking back
the other way– I could find a perspective
that would transform the ordinary… into the extraordinary. Through that lens of celebration, I could see one of nature’s
most important lessons– There’s more than one right answer. There’s more than one right answer.
There are a thousand ways to come at any challenge
to find that extraordinary view. And I know it so easily
from my time at the Geographic. They sent me to the town
of Smith River in Northern California. They raise about 80% of the Easter lilies
in the country around that village, and that’s the story I had to tell. And I’ve got a perspective where
I’ve got picked lilies and unpicked lilies and the boy picking them. One right answer. Pretty good one. But as a photographer,
I never think of stopping there. I took this picture;
immediately I grabbed another lens, walked over a couple rows,
knelt down and found another right answer. The same parameters
of the problem now seen from a totally different point of view, and my favorite right answer
that day was this one. This is an advanced levitation technique
that I picked up along the way. (Laughter) Three right answers.
So many things begin to change when you come at the world
from that perspective of more than one right answer. First of all, you never look for just
one right answer. There’s always more. But then as you begin to find
more and more of them, you just get more and more comfortable
with reframing obstacles into opportunities. Geographic sent me
to the Selkirk Mountains Of British Colombia. Gorgeous area. I’m wandering around,
I find a field of dandelions. I should have been ecstatic but I wasn’t. I don’t know why. Instead of grabbing my cameras
and running into it, I took a snap shot; I said, “I don’t know. The light’s not quite right,
I’ll come back tomorrow”. I didn’t engage. We all know what happens
when you don’t engage. Tomorrow turns into the next day,
the next day turns into the next week, and by the time
I got back to that field… No more dandelions. I had puffballs. I wanted dandelions, I had puffballs. And I was just about to leave
when this little voice in my head said, “Dewitt, what’s here to celebrate?
What’s right with this situation? You wanted dandelions, you got puffballs!” Puff balls, puff balls– pretty soon I’m
down on the ground with the puffballs. I’m rolling around with the puffballs. I’m on top of the puffballs.
I’m underneath the puffballs. And all of a sudden– Whoa! (Laughter) Whoa! That extraordinary view. It always seemed to be there when I had looked through
that lens of celebration. Extraordinary image,
but I can already hear the cynics grumbling,
“Dewitt, you’re such a pollyanna, (Laughter) The world is in flames– war, terrorism, poverty, global warming.
And you’re shooting puffballs! (Laughter) Well, to the cynics I say,
“Change your lens!” Celebrating what’s right
is not a perspective that denies the very real pain
and suffering that exists on this planet. Rather, it’s a perspective that puts
those problems into a larger, more balanced, context. A context when we can see
that there’s far more right with the world than there is wrong with it. When I put on that lens of celebration, when I really allow myself to see
and connect with the beauty of the world, I feel like I’m a cup that’s so full
it’s just about to overflow. I feel… I feel like I’m falling in love. That’s what it feels like.
I mean, think about it. Think of a time when you’ve been in love,
and you get up in the morning and you stagger into the bath, and you go, “Ah, the toothbrush, what a miracle!” (Laughter) It’s followed by the soap dish
and the towel. The whole world is beautiful,
and you are so full and so fired up. And that doesn’t surprise me,
because when we’re in love, we’re in touch with a source
of incredible energy. We call it– Passion! Passion!
What most of us wouldn’t give to be connected
to the energy of passion on a daily basis. Well, extraordinary visions do that,
they release passion. So no matter how strange
a situation that I walk into, the first thing I’m going to ask,
”What’s here to celebrate? What am I falling in love with?” In this case it’s easy,
because that happens to be MY daughter… Most dads would help
their daughter in this situation. (Laughter) But it didn’t matter. Whenever I could get a lock on
what was right with the situation, then I was passionate,
energized to enhance that and get rid of everything else. Instead of starting– as we so often do– by griping about what’s wrong
with the situation– what’s right with it? Because that connects us with our passion. That energizes us! Celebrating what’s right
gives us the energy to find that next right answer. As Michelangelo once said,
“I saw an angel in the stone, and carved to set it free.” “I saw an angel in the stone…
and carved to set it free.” Everyday we get to choose
what lens we see the world with. It’s our choice. And you know, the more I do that,
the more I choose the lens of celebration, the more I find– both in my photography,
but way more important, in my life– that the difference between a good frame
and a great frame is far, far closer than I ever would have dreamed. Good frame. A morning glory
on the beach in Maui, 10 inches away– Great frame. Great frame. Good frame. A cowboy in Bryce Canyon.
Believe it or not named Binky. (Laughter) I’m taking Binky’s picture,
and I’m loving it, but then I just backed Binky up about 30
feet into the doorway of the barn, Great frame. Great frame. Good frame. The Golden Gate Bridge
at sunset with the new moon rising. Man, how does it get any better?
15 minutes later… Great frame. Change your lens, change your life! I lecture all over the country…
to all different kinds of people. And you know what? They all hunger
for this lens of celebration. They all want to try it on. We all have it.
It’s right there waiting to be picked up. Why don’t we do it? Maybe, it’s because every day
the internet and the media bombard us with all that’s wrong with the world. And it’s so easy to buy into it. It’s so easy to stare into that darkness. But wouldn’t you rather focus
on the light rather than the dark? Wouldn’t you rather focus on what’s right
rather than what’s wrong? That’s the change we make when we put on that lens of celebration. Do I have that lens on all the time? No, come on, I’m human. But a long time ago
I was given a touchstone, a touchstone and a guide
that should I ever I take it off, help me put it right back on. I’d like to give both
of those to you tonight, by telling you the story
of how they came into my possession. I was photographing on an island
off the coast of British Columbia. And it wasn’t going well. (Laughter) The weather was gloomy,
so were my pictures, but I was getting ready
to go out there again. I got a big camera bag and a huge tripod–
and I looked up, and on the steps of the lodge where I was staying,
there sat a five-year-old boy, a five-year-old boy
with a very big smile on his face. He looked down at me and said,
“Do you have a camera?” I was festooned with cameras. (Laughter) I said, “Yeah, I got one”. And then he raised his hand
and I realized why he asked because he had a magic camera. It was yellow. It had a blue lens.
It had a red eyepiece and a turquoise rewind knob
with a little straw coming out of it. He said, “Can I photograph with you?” Well, that was about the last thing
I wanted to have happen, but I didn’t know how to say no,
so I said, “Come on”. So we went down into the woods,
and I got my first shot. And then this kid was so cute,
he squeezed in front of the tripod like this, backed up against it,
raises it, (click). – Did you get it?
– Yeah (Laughter) And again– that smile.
Well, we kept going. Me shooting and grousing,
him shooting and smiling. And it started to rain. It started to rain. And I was setting up what I thought
was the last dismal shot of a dismal day, And he’s just sitting
next to me in the grass, looking very intently at all of my gear,
and finally he raised his face toward me, and he said, “Does your camera
have juice in it?” (Laughter) I said, “No.” He said, “Mine does.” (Laughter) Sucked on that little straw. (Laughter) His question almost knocked me over–
“Did my camera have juice in it?” No, mine didn’t, and his did.
I was the one with the wrong perspective. I was the one who’d lost the passion
to find that next right answer. There wasn’t anything more to say, I went out and bought myself
a juice camera. (Laughter) (Applause) And every day, Adam and this camera remind me to celebrate
what’s right with the world. And every time I do– Every time I allow myself
to fall in love with all of it, I really do see a world of light
and possibility. Come on, you’ve all seen it —
not just in the faces of your children and your grandchildren, it’s out there all the time. And, you know,
the beauty of that world– our world, shows us a wonderful example
of how to live, of how to love. Of a banquet laid, of a cup overflowing. And I know that
if we let that beauty fill us up, that we, too, will overflow,
and it’ll come out in everything we do. In the ideals we hold,
in the passion and compassion we feel, in the love we are no longer
afraid to express. That perspective, that lens,
it will change your life, as it has changed mine. See that vision, my friends,
and celebrate… what’s right with the world! Thank you very much. (Applause) Thank you. (Cheering)

100 Replies to “CELEBRATE WHAT’S RIGHT WITH THE WORLD! | Dewitt Jones | TEDxSouthLakeTahoe”

  1. I joined Dewitt's movement to spread his vision of Celebration over 5 years ago. One thing that I have learned is that Dewitt speaks from his heart and truly lives what he "preaches". You cannot be in his presence without absorbing his positive energy and vowing to look at your perspective of life, changing the way you view everything – maximizing the positive while minimizing the negative. Since I met him, I have been on a life-enhancing journey while embracing the world of Celebration. Can you just image what the world would be like if everyone truly lived their lives this way? Many thanks, Dewitt, for this amazing talk – an affirmation of how to live life to the fullest!

  2. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing your profound yet simple message, and your experiences of beauty in the world. We need more of this! Until we are overflowing…

  3. I agree with all the comments here from viewers who feel Dewitt's eloquent, original, authentic presentation is the most INSPIRING TEDx talk … ever. I hope people take action on what they saw and choose to show this video at staff meetings to facilitate a discussion that focuses on what's right with their organization instead of what's wrong. I hope people choose to watch this video with a friend or with their family and they choose to turn that into a daily ritual where they discuss what they experienced that day that made them grateful to be alive. Choosing to celebrate what's right with the world is the single best thing we can do to improve our quality of life, and it's something every single one of us can do. Thank you Dewitt for your timely, timeless message.

  4. Wow! This was funny, entertaining, enlightening and inspiring. We all need to view life through the “lens of celebration” – each and every day. What a wonderful perspective! Thank you, Dewitt!

  5. I must start buying National Geographic Magazines, Thank You Dewitt Jones, may we all try spending more time celebrating what's right in the world and stop lingering on the negative, truly a message that should be heard by all. And your photos are Beautiful. God Bless and Keep You.

  6. A soul invigorating, beautiful speech and a heart-warming and truly intelligent point of view. Thanks Dewitt for your presence on our beautiful planet and for spreading your warmth like the sun rays you capture.

  7. Thank you for your words of wisdom. The power to lift and levitate, vibrating where we are meant to be, at home. Much love.

  8. Just what I needed to remind me of the beauty, power and magic of nature (and especially to deter me from entering the darkened doorway of cabin fever). Thank you Dewitt Jones, TEDx and Mike Dooley for sharing this in today's Note from the Universe!

  9. Simply put…..just a beautiful Inspiration Dewitt. I am saving this so I can watch in my later years with my Grandchildren. More people like you and we can make this planet a Heaven…..a world with no wars no crime but just filled with love and beauty. Look forward to seeing more talks from you. Thank you. Rgds Pradip Kotecha from South Wales UK.

  10. Dewitt Jones…you are my new hero! Thank you for allowing me to share your world view with others. I feel this way and have for many years. I am often accused of always looking through "rose colored glasses"…and I must now agree with my accusers. I am, I do, and I will continue. You so eloquently demonstrated why! Thank you.




  12. Thank you Mr. Jones…..for sharing this much needed message with all of us…… I am sharing it far and wide. I feel validated in that I have tried to be optimistic in all situations much to the consternation of people I encounter….. but now i know it works…. for sure and its my reason to celebrate.

  13. More confirmation that the universe, the world, your heart, your lens, brings you to exactly what you need to see when you need to see it. Beautiful truth. Thank you so much. ☺️

  14. I was listening with a smile all the time. So that is what I feel when I'm taking photographs! Thank you for this positive and inspiring talk! I really needed it.

  15. "Change your lens. Change your life." Indeed. Indeed. SO much to celebrate. SO much to be grateful for. Thank you Dewitt for an uplifting, inspired and beautifully illustrated talk. That 'puff ball' shot was the one!!

  16. I love it! I watched 5 times in a line, enjoying each minute of it. Not only the magnificent photographs but also the content…thank you so much dear TUT for sharing it. Really powerful! You are great Dewitt!

  17. Oh my, yes!! This man echoes my thoughts – and what people have said to me – so well. I chuckled at the "pollyanna" moment … as I cannot tell you how many times I've been called that. But what he says is right … it's not a denial of the difficulties and pain of the world, but it is simply in choosing what lens through which to see it. Challenges = opportunities, and to have a life here on this incredible planet, spinning in this amazing universe, is such a gift. Truly one of the best, if not THE best TEDx talk ever. Kudos, and thank you, Mr. Jones.

  18. By far the best TED I've watched, in a time when it's so needed. Thank you – thank you so much for putting something out there that is positive. LOVED IT! I hope all of my friends, all over the world, watch this and enjoy it as much as I have. Wow, what a gift – thank you.

  19. Dewitt, what a pleasure to hear you speak again, even thought it is through video. I first heard you at the Center for Creative Imaging retreat we sponsored when employed by MetaCreations in the middle 90s. You inspired me to find the "juice in my camera," and it is something I aspire to every day. Thank you!







  21. I never comment on videos, but this one deserves such celebration. I agree with so many here – the best and most inspiring talk I've seen, at least in my opinion. There is so much wisdom and complexity here in such a simple message. Potent, pertinent, and powerful! I happened to have the honor of being in the front row at Dewitt's talk since I live in Lake Tahoe too, and was moved to tears. Alongside the beauty of his message I feel is so relevant for these shifting times, I'd never heard someone express so eloquently, my own way and perspective of life that like him, often has been very pollyanna to many. Thank you Dewitt for sharing this with the world through the lens of your heart. For bringing this message through with ease and grace that anyone can understand and that even if not embraced, will plant seeds for that divine alignment.

  22. Thank you Dewitt! Your energy is uplifting and light! Your photographs are beautiful! This talk was awesome, thank you!

  23. Muchas Gracias, Mr. Jones! I, too, made the decision to "See Life Through New Lens for 2018," following a series of events that would cause shock and devastation in my "Pollyanna" heart! I refused to allow ANY of these things to destroy my New Year, and for those who CHOSE to put a "thumbs down" on this masterpiece, I encourage you to see life through the lens that Mr. Jones so eloquently describes here. Benediciones, Mike Dooley, for, once again, leading me to this MUY BONITA place!!! <3 <3

  24. Dewitt- you are extraordinary! You have grown more beautiful with every passing year as you explore the next exquisite right answer and share it with a world sickened by media that insists on capturing what's wrong with life and making that the prevailing focus. Keep on celebrating with your special passion this deeper reality and helping folks see the essential joy and overwhelming goodness of life. Bravo and amen!

  25. Thank you so much !!!! When I first became interested in photography, you were the first photographer i followed and I continue to learn from you. I grew up loving National Geographic, too. I’m reading Wrinkle in Time again in anticipation of seeing the movie. It’s been at least 40 years since I first read the books. I’m struck by the beauty in her writing and the truth that light outshines darkness. I’m a psychologist. Most of my waking hours are spent listening to and sitting with people in their pain. Your daily emails celebrating what’s right in the world help me remember the world contains more than painful experiences. I did a photography challenge daily for three years, mostly just around my yard and neighborhood, looking for what’s delightful to photograph and share. I discovered much beauty that I had never noticed before. The way the sunrise turns bare trees bright orange for a few seconds. Thank you again. I can’t begin to tell you how much I needed this TEDx talk today. Blessings to you sir!

  26. Hats off to you Dewitt for your constant passion and vision down through the years to see what is good with our world and to keep encouraging us to do likewise. Keep celebrating!

  27. It was over 10 years ago when I was first exposed to Dewitt Jone's  "Celebrate What's Right with the World". His words and images continue to have a powerful impact on me and his message is one I remind myself of whenever I catch myself focusing of what isn't right in the world.  Thanks Dewitt.

  28. Totally amazing! Thank you for this simple and POWERFUL message reminding all of us to celebrate what's right with the world! And how this is a choice we can all make. It doesn't negate the turmoil and suffering, but choosing to celebrate creates more possibilities of celebration in the world! Thank you for your kindness, compassion to share this message with us!

  29. Thank you so much for this beautiful message Dewitt. Ever since I saw you speak at the USANA convention I have looked for more opportunities to hear your message and this is absolutely perfect.

  30. Thank you very much Dewitt, that was the best and greatest, also inspirational, video I have seen in a long, long time – thank you very much and have a nice day

  31. I think I have a new favorite TEDx talk.

    Thank you for the reminder of everything that is right in the world.
    I wish this sold news papers as well as all the bad news seems to these days. Maybe then the world could be a better place.

  32. I hear him say that what it takes to make a good photo is not a particular lens or particular camera or following rules of composition, it is being passionate and enthusiastic about what you are seeing. What an exciting idea.

  33. I shared this on Facebook. My business is called Through A Different Lens, and I have been trying to express how this photographic metaphor can be life changing. But now, when I am facing a challenge that sometimes looks too big, Dewitt Jones has inspired me and taught me how to "find the juice." Thank you so much!

  34. Straight from his heart celebrating "What is right with the world" with the "change of a lens". Thank you Dewitt Jones for your beautiful perspective and endearing wisdom.

  35. This is a tremendous positive message on perspective and looking for what’s right in the world! Illustrated by beautiful photographs. I recommend you watch this on a large screen. I was privileged to see Dewitt give this about 20 years ago. I reflect on this often. Definitely a top five message I’ve seen in my lifetime!

  36. To begin with, I grew up devouring every National Geographic I could get my hands on. My family had saved copies of the magazine dating back to the 1920's. I would spend hours reading the articles and looking at the photos. I could escape and travel the world in my own mind

    I love Dewitt's perceptions and attitude, he represents what National Geographic USED to stand for. Unfortunately, as of late, the magazine has taken a more negative, myopic view of how life should be. Like many types of media these days, Nat Geo has taken on a narrow, politicized viewpoint. To that regard, I have canceled my subscription, since I am so dismayed of what this publication has become. It hurt me to throw away a National Geographic, but I have felt compelled to do so after reading the past few issues. Go back to presenting the facts, the geography. Don't lecture us on what our political viewpoints should be. We don't all share the same perceptions, don't force yours on us.

  37. I've been struck in the past by the idea that calling someone a "Pollyanna" is an insult. What does it say about our world when the people who celebrate beauty and love are thought to be schmucks. Ah, there I go focusing on the negative! Time to change my lens and celebrate that 1.6 thousand people liked this video and only 30 didn't!

  38. Wow….talk about timing….just getting home from work…grumbling to myself about nothing important lol and actually realizing I am grumbling and thinking…'I need to change my focus' (yes I really said this lol) and what do you know…I found this video. Thanks Dewitt…what a joy your job must be – nature has always been my 'church' 🙂 Yet now I will spread my focus to seeing even more good in other areas as well.

  39. Thank you so much Dewitt ?
    I was privileged to have been influenced by the National Geographic which was delivered to our house from the age of 6- on the southern tip of Africa! I remember waiting for the postman every month and couldn’t wait to open that brown envelope to see what was in the latest edition.
    I can fully identify with your philosophy and view of the world and what is right with it?
    From my first love of my mother ( who ordered the magazine in the first place), my darling wife, my magnificent sons, the sun rises and sun sets, the stars…the passion for life…all made clearer by the way l was “educated “ by what l saw and witnessed in the National Geographic.
    We as a family have been fortunate to have travelled the world and l would claim that the magazine is what ignited my imagination!
    We have seen the unique sights of the African bush, the beauty of the Seychelles and the grandeur of Yosemite – and many other great scenes on this beautiful planet, and we get what is right with the world. All you have to do is open your eyes and have the right attitude!
    Thank you so much for sharing and reminding us ?
    Kindest regards
    James Pullen and family
    Cape Town

  40. wow , this video changes my way of looking things around, i always wounder why we cant enjoy the things happening around us now i got more then 1 answers for my question, really we need to focus how to spread love around us instead focusing on how to cheat and dominate others, and its a good motivation talk for passionate photographers who wish to take good & great snaps

  41. My heart is exploding with happiness – I swear this actually feels like a religious experience. I may just watch this every single morning for the rest of my life! Thank you, sir, this is so joyful and uplifting, I have been brought to tears. Beautiful, happy, grateful tears. <3

  42. You don't have to be a photographer to benefit from this talk. What Dewitt Jones has to say is universal. And inspirational.

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