When you’re feeling blah, meh or just generally uninspired, there’s a quick cure: the TED website. The TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conferences started back in 1984, and today TED Talks are known for launching the most innovative, mind-blowing ideas into the world. Here are nine TED Talks we love. Side effects may include laughter, tears and sharing them with everyone you know on Facebook.
This 2010 talk at TEDxHouston started it all for researcher/storyteller Brene Brown, who’s now a bestselling author. In her work, she’s found that people living wholehearted lives have the courage to be imperfect, are kind to themselves and embrace vulnerability. When we let go of the need for control, our lives get better. That’s a message we need in these tightly wound times: Her talk has been viewed more than 15 million times.
Jill Bolte, a brain scientist, woke up one day and discovered that her own brain was broken. A blood vessel exploded in the left half of her brain, leaving her unable to walk, talk, read, write or recall any of her memories. The story of her recovery, and why she believes her stroke was blessing, will make you appreciate the power of your own brain, and of human resilience.
Even if poetry is not your thing, spoken word poet Sarah Kay will blow you away with performances of her work. She also tells the story of how she went from a teenager hanging out at poetry clubs to becoming a teacher with Project V.O.I.C.E. You’ll be a spoken word fanatic by the time this talk is over.
What if you could increase your lifespan by playing games? Sounds crazy, but McGonigal’s brainchild SuperBetter does this by boosting your physical, mental, emotional and social wellbeing. She argues that instead of being a waste of time and an escape from reality, games can help you gain the confidence, strength and the optimism you need to conquer life’s toughest challenges. What are you waiting for? Start playin’.
After the success of her memoir Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert realized that to avoid anguish (and gin in the mornings), she needed to separate what she was writing from her anxiety about how others might react to it. She learned that in Ancient Rome people believed that creativity came from a divine spirit they called genius. That concept helped her manage the expectations and fear as she wrote her second memoir, Committed. Applying this mentality will help you cope with the insecurities that pop up around creative work.
Four years ago, Logan LaPlante’s parents pulled the then-13-year-old out of traditional schooling. He says most schools don’t teach how to be happy and healthy. In this talk, he walks us through how he hacks his education and shares why his favorite class is an internship to get better at design and sewing. This talk will take you back to when you were Logan’s age, and it just might make you an advocate of less-traditional schooling.
If you have ever felt overwhelmed in big social gatherings and just wanted to retreat, Cain’s talk will make you realize you’re not alone. There’s no shame in being an introvert: Own it and bring your unique talents and abilities to the world, Cain urges.
Model Cameron Russell knows she won the genetic lottery. And while she admits that people treat her differently because of her good looks, she also confesses that she’s insecure. So the next time you start wondering whether thinner thighs, cooler clothes or shinier hair will make you happier, stop yourself, Russell says. Listen to this talk and walk away knowing that beauty doesn’t always equal success or happiness.
So, you want to live a purposeful life. But sometimes that’s easier said than done. There’s fear that tries to stifle you and that makes it difficult to know where to start. In this talk, Novogratz reminds you that there’s a cost to everything you choose in life, and that immersing yourself in a cause or a community is worth taking on the fear (and punching it in the face).
What TED Talks should we all be listening to during our commutes or workouts? Give us your picks in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.