TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, contributes some of the most inspirational videos on the internet.
And speakers having a time limit of 18 minutes, those bits of inspiration come in small but mighty packages.
For me, TED Talks have become a fun way to pass the time during my morning and evening commute. I feel like I’m expanding and growing myself every day by listening to other people’s stories of hardship, hard-won triumphs, life lessons and discoveries, instead of just zoning out while sitting in the relentless traffic of the L.A. freeways.
On particularly challenging days, when I feel I need that kick in the ass, I re-listen to the ones that moved and inspired me.
With that, I present to you some of the TED Talks that have not just inspired me by changing my mind about long-held judgments and beliefs, but have similarly impacted millions of others:
1. The Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown—I always assume that everybody in the world has heard Brené Brown’s deeply insightful TED Talk on vulnerability by now, but I’m consistently surprised that there are still people out there who haven’t heard it. Don’t deprive yourself. Brené is brilliant.
What do people who have a sense of worthiness—of love and belonging—have in common? They believe that what makes them vulnerable makes them beautiful. And in a world where we still see vulnerability as a “weakness,” Brené shows us through her research how it’s the only way to live if we want to feel deeply connected to others as we move through life.
Best quote: “In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen. Truly seen.”
2. Living Beyond Limits by Amy Purdy—After losing her spleen, kidneys, the hearing in her left ear and both her legs below the knee at age 19, Amy went on to win two World Cup gold medals in snowboarding. What I immediately thought of as a huge handicap for her, quickly changed into what I saw as her greatest gifts.
She challenges us to start looking at our limitations as “magnificent gifts that help us ignite our imaginations, and help us go further than we ever knew we could go.”
Best quote: “This is when I learned our borders and our obstacles can only do 2 things: 1) Stop us in our tracks or 2) Force us to get really creative.”
3. Lessons from the Mental Hospital by Glennon Doyle Melton—I love Glennon! I think she’s one of the most authentic, real, vulnerable writers of our time. Author of Momastery, Carry On Warrior and her newest NY Times bestseller Love Warrior, she talks with candid humor about her eating disorder, addictions and how she learned to stop hiding her feelings and show up for her own life. Hearing her story makes us feel that we, too, can be messy and imperfect and not feel the need to hide that from the world. The world needs to hear we’re just like them.
Best quote: “I’m not afraid of my feelings anymore. I know they can take over for a little while but at the end of the day they’re just guides telling me what is the next right thing to do.”
4. The Person You Need to Marry is You by Tracy McMillan—Three times married and divorced, you may think Tracy is a “failure” at relationships, which is not true at all. Because as she says,”the places where you have the most challenges are the places where you have the most to give if you do your inner work.”
When we judge and berate ourselves for our failures, Tracy helps us see that nothing is a failure if we learn from it. She talks about the idea of marrying ourselves, where we enter into a sacred relationship with ourselves and then fully commit to ourselves right where we are, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, learning to forgive ourselves for our mistakes. After all, how can we ever really commit to another person if we can’t make this deep commitment to ourselves?
Best quote: “You’ll learn that there is no man, woman, job or circumstance that is going to make you whole. And this changes your life.”
Monica gave one of the bravest, most honest TED Talks I’ve heard to date. With a confidence and strong sense of self that only comes from having walked through the most brutal of fires, Monica brazenly took the stage and laughed at herself and her mistakes even after all she’s been through.
She speaks of shame, public humiliation and of doing what so many of us have done before but were probably never judged so harshly for…falling in love with the wrong person. Unfortunately for her, that wrong person was her boss and the President of the United States, Bill Clinton. Her talk reminds us of the impact we have on another human being when we subject them to cyber-bullying, ridicule, humiliation, cruel comments and judgement.
Best quote: “Can I see the hands of someone who didn’t make a mistake or regret a decision they made at the age of 22?”
6. Rethinking Infidelity For Anyone Who Has Ever Loved by Esther Perel—This incredibly healing TED Talk is for anyone who has ever cheated or been cheated on. A deeply complex and insightful take on how to view infidelity as a whole, relationship therapist Esther Perel examines why people cheat and why affairs are so traumatic. Esther says that “When we turn towards another person, it’s not always our partner we’re turning away from but the person we have become. We aren’t looking for another person but for another self.”
She takes away the glaring judgements we have around infidelity by explaining why it happens and what we are searching for when we cheat on our partners.
Best quote: “Affairs are way less about sex and more about desire…desire for attention, desire to feel special, desire to feel important.”
7. Why 30 is Not The New 20 by Meg Jay—You may wonder why this talk meant anything to me at all since I’m well past my 20s. Well, it’s because I’m one of those people who Clinical Psychologist Meg Jay says is hurting 20-somethings everywhere by patting them on the back and telling them, “You have plenty of time to figure things out. You don’t need to get serious about anything…just have fun.”
According to Meg Jay, the truth is our 20s are a time when the things we do and don’t do will have an enormous effect on our lives down the line. We’ve trivialized what is actually the defining decade of adulthood.
She shares stories of her 20-something clients and students who come into her office talking about relationships and jobs they know they shouldn’t be in and dreams they’ve put on hold because they feel they have all the time in the world to pursue what they really want. Until they find themselves in their 30s with fewer options and a lot less time.
Best quote:“What do you think happens when you pat your 20-something on the back and tell them they have plenty of time? You have robbed that person of their urgency and ambition and nothing happens.”
May these be of benefit to you.
Author: Dina Strada
Editor: Catherine Monkman