When it comes to inspiration and motivation, there is nothing quite like a TED talk. Whether you are feeling down at work, need some relationship lessons or just want to see what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes. Sadly, there are just not enough hours in the day to watch every single TED talk that has been recorded (although the person who did that would be the most enlightened human ever!), however you can find here few of the best insights from various talks that have been done over the years.
A meaningful life is more important than a happy one – Emily Esfahani Smith
Emily is an incredible author and psychology expert who traveled around the United States trying to find out what people considered most important in their lives. Contrary to what you may have expected, fame, fortune and even happiness did not feature very heavily on the list. To most people, the important thing is for life to be meaningful. How do we measure meaning? Well, according to Emily’s data, meaning is made up of purpose, belonging, storytelling and transcendence. As Emily says, life isn’t always a happy journey, but it can be rewarding.
Some choice is better than none, but more choice isn’t necessarily better than some – Barry Schwartz
In his talk, “The Paradox of Choice” Barry discusses decision-making and the way in which it is actually better to have a limited choice rather than a vast catalog of decisions to make. We think we want unlimited choices but this can actually cause a lot more stress than happiness, and so it is better for our mental health to have a many options that are limited to a few.
Hard choices are opportunities to define who you are – Ruth Chang
A similar lesson was taught by Philosopher Ruth Chang in her talk “How to Make Hard Choices.” She explains that people find it particularly difficult when having to pick from two similar options where neither is clearly a better or worse option. Where Barry Schwartz’ talk on choices looked at the amount of options affecting the difficulty of making a decision, Ruth Chang discussed the benefits of making hard decisions, especially when there are two equal options; for example, choosing whether to choose an urban lifestyle or a rural country one. That said, Chang also states that we must be happy and embrace these decisions as they help us to find out who we are going to be.
If you want something, you have to ask for it – Amanda Palmer
During her time as the lead singer of The Dresden Dolls, Amanda traveled around on tour, relying on the kindness of absolute strangers on Twitter to provide everything from places to sleep, food and even instruments. Rather than seeing this asking this as an egotistical act, Amanda frames it more as a collaborative way of working together that should be more natural. By simply asking for help (a skill that we could all benefit from developing) Amanda was able to carry on with her shows and made a whole load of new friends too! This talk teaches us the power of asking and reminds us that we don’t have to be ashamed or afraid to ask for help.
The world of TED talks is vast and varied, and the lessons that can be found within them are endless. These are just a few fantastic insights from TED talks that help remind us how to live our best life.