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10 Life Changing TED Talks

By Aimee Foster
Updated December 10, 2016

Millions of people across the world listen to TED talks for a variety of reasons. Here are ten popular TED talks which will inspire, inform and challenge your way of thinking in 18 minutes or less.

Each talk provides immense food for thought and has a guaranteed motivational pull, helping each and every listener to, in some way, improve their life.

1. Robert Waldinger – What Makes A Good Life? Lessons From The Longest Study On Happiness

Robert Waldinger is the director of the longest study on adult life and happiness, which spanned 75 years. The subjects of the research, hundreds of men from very diverse backgrounds, were interviewed and tested at regular intervals throughout their lives.

Waldinger shares three important lessons acquired from the study. If you think money, fame or success contributed in any way to the fulfillment of those who had the happiest lives then this talk will change your perspective on happiness forever.

2. Gill Hicks: I Survived A Terrorist Attack. Here’s What I Learned

Gill Hick’s life was transformed in a terrifying instant as she stood on the same underground train as a terrorist on the day of the London bombings in 2005. As the bomb went off, everything changed for her, including her view on what is important in life.

On the 7th July 2005, Gill lost both her legs yet she gained something incredibly special – a unique perspective on love and humanity. In this talk, she recounts the events from that day and passes on the wisdom of what she learned during her struggle to survive.

3. Brene Brown: The Power Of Vulnerability

Dr. Brene Brown is a researcher and storyteller who spent many years studying human connection. In her amusing and heart-warming TED talk, she reveals the one trait common to all those who lead well-connected and whole-hearted lives. Her findings will alter your view on the role vulnerability plays in your life and your wiliness to embrace it.

4. Dan Gilbert: The Surprising Science Of Happiness

Most of us believe that unhappiness flows from not getting what we want. Dan Gilbert challenges this belief with his findings. According to Gilbert, not only can we synthesize happiness when we don’t get what we want but, more importantly, this synthesized kind of happiness is more satisfactory and long-lasting. This is another talk which challenges our, often mistaken, views on happiness.

5. Elizabeth Gilbert: Success, Failure And The Drive To Keep On Creating

Author Elizabeth Gilbert, received rejection letters for six continuous years until her writing was finally published. In this inspiring talk, she explains how the aftermath of the phenomenal success of her book, Eat Pray Love, left her feeling as vulnerable and distressed as her years of failure.

Gilbert describes how the parameters of success and failure are actually quite similar and implores us towards to enjoy the creative process and detach from outcome.

6. Matt Cutts: Try Something New For 30 Days

This short talk is a quick burst of inspiration for anyone feeling stale or stuck. Acting on research that reveals gradual changes are more long-lasting that radical ones, Cutts decided to try one new thing daily over a 30 day period. Hearing the impressive list of things he achieved will surely motivate you to take the plunge and try your hand at something you’ve always wanted to do!

7. David Brooks: Should You Live For Your Resume….Or Your Eulogy?

David Brooks’ short talk makes us question the type of person we want to be. He suggests we all have two characters within us; one who strives for material success and one who craves human connection. Brooks shares his wisdom on how to balance the two.

8. Kelly McGonigal: How To Make Stress Your Friend

Kelly McGonigal challenges the widely held perception that stress is bad for us. If we can change our mind-set about stress, we can change our body’s reaction to it. According to McGonigal, how we perceive stress matters. It’s time to unlearn everything you thought you knew about stress in order to use it for your benefit. This talk will help you achieve that.

9. Amy Purdy: Living Beyond Limits

Amy Purdy’s story is one of determination, perseverance, and grace. Losing both her legs to meningitis at age 19 sent her into a severe depression. However, she eventually realized she could either continue feeling sorry for herself or adapt to the changes and go and live her new life. We’ve all heard the saying, ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.’ Purdy has lived it.

What follows is one of the most heart-warming and inspiring tales you will ever hear. Purdy couldn’t find prosthetics that would allow her to snowboard and so she decided to make her own. She went on to become a professional snowboarder as well as founding a charity to help other people with physical challenges to enjoy sports.

10. Jennifer Senior: For Parents Happiness Is A Very High Bar

In an age where children are ‘economically worthless and emotionally priceless’, Jennifer Senior discusses why so many parents turn to parenting books, guides, and websites for help and advice. If you have children, listening to Senior’s parenting wisdom will help you feel comforted and reassured.

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Katherine Hurst
By Aimee Foster
Aimee Foster is a mum of three and in 2011 she co-founded a UK based, friendship website for mums.. After her own experiences are giving birth to her first child, she's helped thousands of mums reduce the loneliness that sometimes accompanies motherhood by enabling them to find other mums that they have things in common with for friendship and support.

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