This post originally appeared on Om Malik's blog and is republished here by permission.
Right there on the corner of Brannan and Fourth Streets, there is a billboard advertising some marijuana brand, saying, "Hello marijuana, goodbye stress." It got me thinking about stress and what is that is making people stressed out? Also, what does it say about people living in this tech town — are we so stressed, because of work?
Then I read that piece in The New York Times about Esalen Institute, which described it as "a storied hippie hotel here on the Pacific coast south of Carmel, Calif.," which has undergone a techie makeover. Now it is "Where Silicon Valley Is Going to Get in Touch With Its Soul." At help are reformed rich techies who have found enlightenment and spirituality. The kind of people I tend to avoid in my daily life, so I do not lose my soul.
I have said in the past, San Francisco (and Silicon Valley) has become a cliche wrapped in a punchline, and this article and Esalen makeover is just the latest testimonial. By the way, well played Tristan Harris, for starting by preaching the addictive effects of new technologies and transforming into a new age guru for lapsed technologists. Deepak Chopra had to write a book, you did it with an essay!
And you can do it with all the creature comforts. You can spend thousands of dollars, so you can also talk about your spirituality over coffee, during cocktails and even do a podcast about your experience and path away from technology. Mindfulness is natural when you do not need to think about minor daily problems like making a living! Didn't someone say religion is for the poor, spirituality is for the rich? You know opiates versus designer nootropics?
The whole thing seems like a damn scene from Silicon Valley. If I need Google and Facebook millionaires to find my soul, then the battle is already lost. Want to feel your soul — live among real people, breathe some polluted air, travel to the far corners of the world and come back and say thank you, god almighty that I can spend $5 on an espresso and $10 on some avocado toast. Seriously?
Finding your soul begins by discovering our ability to listen! Alternatively, by sharing a smile, a laugh and just by being human to everyone – from friends, colleagues, family and especially strangers, including those who are not from the same station in life as you. As my mama once said, you feel better about yourself by making others feel better! In fact, every holy scripture, ever philosopher and every holy man has said that for eternity. Again, you need to find your soul – start by listening and caring for others, not going to some spiritual version of Barry's boot camp.