10 TED Talks That Will Change Your Life

10 TED Talks That Will Change Your Life

Are you in need of some inspiration and motivation? Here are 10 of the best life-changing TED Talks to get your thinking juices flowing.

By Hannah Doody | 28th July 2014

Need some inspiration, a bit of a laugh or maybe a feel-good cry? Then look no further.

TED – which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design – is all about “ideas worth spreading”. The speaker series began in 1984 as a small annual conference in Monterey, California and now hosts conferences across the globe and features nearly 1,500 TED Talks online. But don’t feel overwhelmed – we have compiled a list of the 10 most inspiring, tear-jerking, thought-provoking TED Talks out there. So break out the popcorn and work your way through this collection of the world’s most fascinating thinkers that will undoubtedly leave you feeling motivated, and ready to tackle just about anything.

1. Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are

We have all heard that our body language affects how others perceive us, but how about the way it affects our perception of ourselves? Social psychologist Amy Cuddy explores how “power posing” can affect our brains, and ultimately, our ability to perform in our careers and everyday lives.

2. Ken Robinson: How schools kill creativity

This talk by Ken Robinson has clearly resonated with people all over the world, with over 27 million views on TED and over 6 million on Youtube. Robinson takes a look at the short fallings of the American school system, which he describes as “educating people out of their creativity”. He calls for a system which cultivates students for their energy and curiosity and acknowledges different types of intelligence.

3. Jill Bolte Taylor: A Stroke of Insight

This is a captivating talk from a woman who has dedicated her life to researching schizophrenia and psychiatry. One day, she realises she is having a stroke and watches from the inside out as her brain functions – motion, speech, self-awareness – shut down one by one. An amazing insight into how our brains define us and connect us to the world and one another.

4. Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders

Facebook COO and author of Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg, takes a look at the glaring lack of women in leadership roles in the workplace. She offers three pieces of powerful advice to women wanting to further their careers.

5. Dan Gilbert: The surprising science of happiness

Author of Stumbling on Happiness, Dan Gilbert, challenges the idea that we'll be miserable if we don't get what we want. He discusses two types of happiness – “natural”, as being when we get what we want and “synthetic”, whereby our "psychological immune system" lets us feel truly happy even when things don't go as planned.

6. Meg Jay: Why 30 is not the new 20

Clinical psychologist Meg Jay delivers, in her charming Southern drawl, a provocative talk to the generation of twenty-somethings who have been repeatedly told they have plenty of time to figure out the rest of their lives. Agree or disagree with her stance, Jay concludes with some valuable advice to invest in “identity capital” during this formative decade which can set the trajectory for the rest of our lives.

7. Elon Musk: The man behind Tesla, SpaceX and Solar City

Creating a mass-marketed electric car, a solar energy leasing company and a fully reusable rocket – these are all achievements that entrepreneur Elon Musk lists on his resume. In this talk, he discusses the future of sustainable energy — and the necessity of solar energy in the future.

8. Andrew Solomon: Love, no matter what

This beautiful, heartfelt talk by Andrew Solomon explores what it is like to raise a child who is significantly different from yourself in some fundamental way, through a discussion of homosexuality, dwarfism and Downs Syndrome. Solomon addresses how the diagnosis of an illness can affect an identity and how these "people engage with the life they have, and they don't want to be cured, or changed or eliminated — they want to be whoever it is that they've come to be," he says.

9. Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability

Brené Brown discusses the uncomfortable feeling of vulnerability and that people who dare to embrace it are generally happier and more fulfilled. “Vulnerability is not about fear and grief and disappointment. It’s the birthplace of everything we’re hungry for: joy, creativity, faith, love, spirituality,” she says. “And the whole thing is, there is no innovation and creativity without failure.”

10. David Gallo: Underwater astonishments

David Gallo is an ambassador between the sea and those of us on dry land. Gallow shows some jaw-dropping footage of some of the most amazing creatures from under the sea: colour-shifting cuttlefish, a perfectly camouflaged octopus and beautiful neon light displays from fish that live in the deepest depths of the ocean.

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Article by Hannah Doody

Hannah is a former journalist at Style Magazines. When she is not exploring new parts of the world, you will find her at music festivals, or on her eternal quest for the best breakfast in Brisbane.