Give yourself a motivational boost with these incredibly inspiring TED Talks…
In times like these, when you’re stuck behind a computer screen in your make-shift home office, it can be difficult to find the motivation to take action and make changes in your life. Sometimes, we just need that little push to shift our mindset and cultivate the life that we want to live. To that end, we’ve rounded up the best TED Talks to inspire and empower you to pursue your passions and live your life to the fullest.
Don’t call people out – call them in | Loretta J. Ross
Loretta J. Ross is someone who often found herself at KKK rallies – not somewhere that you might expect a black woman to be. But, as her job is to monitor hate groups, her presence there makes sense. Loretta always wondered how people could hate strangers, particularly for something as arbitrary as the colour of their skin, but she was determined to work for peace and justice. As a survivor of racial violence, rape and incest, Ross is no stranger to things that can incite hate and anger.
But, instead of turning towards hatred, she shifted her moral compass towards love. In this TED Talk, Ross teaches the audience how to build a “calling in” culture – one that encourages people to have a conversation and approach others with empathy and compassion, acknowledging that their experiences are just as complex and difficult as your own. This talk will inspire you to be more open-minded in a world full of cancel culture and to open yourself to forgiveness when others may show anger.
Grit: the power of passion and perseverance | Angela Lee Duckworth
Often, it can feel like our social media feeds are flooded with successful people, people that have the jobs that we want, people who manage to reach the goals that always seem out of our reach. It might seem like their success comes down to raw talent, socioeconomic class or good looks – a lot of the time it is. But, according to Angela Lee Duckworth, something is missing from that list of characteristics: grit.
In this TED talk, Duckworth talks about the idea of grit, how those most successful are the people with grit, which she defines as passion and perseverance for long-term goals and the stamina to stick with your future. She also talks about the importance of recognising that failure is not a permanent state, that we always have room to learn and grow. If you feel like success is just out of reach, Angela’s TED Talk will convince you to keep going and growing.
Read more: 5 Ways To Recognise And Prevent Burnout
How craving attention makes you less creative | Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, known for his acting roles in 500 Days of Summer, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Snowden, and many more, is no stranger to getting attention. But, much like many of us, he is also a victim of getting wrapped up in the feeling of wanting to get attention through social media. We all know that feeling, of wondering why our Instagram post didn’t get as many likes as the last one or trying to figure out why your friend has more followers on Twitter when you’re pretty sure that your tweets are funnier. However, according to Gordon-Levitt, craving this attention is not only a waste of time but stunts your creativity.
Many of us are addicted to social media, and these big tech companies know it, they train you to crave attention. Instead of thinking of ways to get attention, we should look for ways to pay better attention to what is going on in the world around us. Once we start to pay attention to the bigger picture, technology becomes a tool to collaborate with others. If you feel like you’re falling deep down a scroll hole of inadequacy, perhaps this TED Talk can pull you out of it.
How to gain control of your free time | Laura Vanderkam
For anyone who has ever claimed that they are “too busy” or “don’t have enough time” to start training for a marathon, open up their Etsy shop, or learn a new language, time-management expert Laura Vanderkam has something to say to you: you do have time. In Vanderkam’s powerful TED Talk, she discusses how, in the 168 hours of the week that we have, time will stretch to accommodate what we put into it.
Often, when we claim that we don’t have time for something, it’s just not a priority. Consider that pile of old clothes that you have been meaning to sort out but just don’t have time to attend to? If someone offered you a million dollars to do it, you would probably have time to sort it out. Vanderkam argues that we have the power to fill our lives with things that bring us joy, that our time is flexible enough for us to do so. Even if you feel like you never have enough time, this talk might just change your mind on what is truly a priority in your life.
2 questions to uncover your passion – and turn it into a career | Noeline Kirabo
If you have a comfortable job and a decent salary that allows you to afford the necessities, and even treat yourself now and then, people expect you to feel fulfilled. A lot of the time, finding your passion doesn’t even fit into the equation. Perhaps pursuing your passion is a luxury that only the rich can afford or something that only the retired have time for. Noeline Kirabo thinks otherwise – she believes that everyone can find their passion – but not only that – pursue that passion as part of their career.
Kirabo suggests that many people just go through life’s routines: go to school, perhaps attend university, and then pursue a job in one of the pre-selected categories that society has set out for us. Many people have no idea what makes them happy because they never stopped to think about it. She presents two questions to help you find out what your passion is and how to create a career that follows your passions. We won’t reveal the two questions just yet, you will have to watch the TED Talk yourself to find out!
Read more: How To Become Successfully Self-Employed
How to turn your dissatisfaction into action | Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr
We can often feel unhappy about the way things are going in life, frustrated or dissatisfied with our own lives or the state of the world. And more often than not, we choose to live in this dissatisfaction, feeling powerless to make a change. Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr became the mayor of her hometown, Freetown in Sierra Leone, in 2018. But she used her dissatisfaction to make changes to the town, back in 1999.
Dissatisfied, devastated, and angry with the rebel invasion of Freetown in 1999 and the Ebola epidemic in 2014, Aki-Sawyerr refused to be paralysed by her frustration with the unacceptable status quo. Her dissatisfaction gave birth to change: she started a charity to help women and children affected by the war and worked with medical experts and epidemiologists to make a change. In this inspiring TED Talk, Aki-Sawyerr shares how you can find power in your dissatisfaction. She shows that although the scale of circumstances may differ, if you believe that things can be better, you always have the choice to do something about it.
What silence can teach you about sound | Dallas Taylor
There has been a lot less noise over the last two years, the streets seem emptier, and with many people still working from home, work seems much quieter too. The quiet can make you feel lonely, or hyper-aware of what you’re missing out on. That’s why we listen to music or put on a podcast when we’re cleaning or cooking – it’s a way to distract ourselves from the silence. In this TED Talk, sound designer Dallas Taylor explores this idea of sound, or rather, lack thereof.
The talk focuses on a composition by John Cage, titled 4’33”, one of the most controversial and debated musical compositions in recent history, which consists of four and a half minutes of silence. Taylor discusses how an environment with no distractions, which so many of us try to cultivate, is not about controlling noise, but about the sounds you hear for the first time when you are really ready to listen. This talk encourages you to take a step back, and bask in the silence and noise of the world around you.
“Everything happens for a reason” – and other lies I’ve loved | Kate Bowler
Whenever something goes wrong in our lives, our friends and family might tell us “everything happens for a reason” or “it’s all part of a plan”. Many of us subscribe to the notion that virtue and success go hand in hand; if you’re a good person, good things will happen to you; if you work hard, success will come. This is what Kate Bowler believed too, at least until she was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer at age 35.
In this TED Talk, Bowler speaks about how we all find it difficult to accept that a problem that would change the course of our lives completely could happen at any time, for no good reason. We want to have a reason for bad things happening to ourselves and others, when a lot of the time, there isn’t one. If you are going through a difficult time, this talk is for you – it is equal parts devastating, funny and profound, showing us that even in darkness, there is beauty and love to be found.
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