10 best TED talks that will change your life

Are you looking to feel inspired or comforted? Check out the 10 best TED talks that will change your life – they’re all the inspiration you need

Best TED talk for: self love

The power of vulnerability – Brené Brown

‘We can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t first treat ourselves kindly.’

Brené Brown studies human connection – our ability to empathize, belong and love. Her talk is entertaining and poignant as she relays her personal quest to understand both humanity and herself. Brown describes how our struggle with vulnerability can lead to a cycle of misery. She explains that we need to realise that by embracing our vulnerabilities we can learn to love ourselves, make deeper connections with others and lead happier more fulfilling lives.

Takeaway tip

Dare to be vulnerable. To make strong connections in your life don’t be afraid to say ‘I love you’ first, to do something when there are no guarantees or to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out.

Best TED talk for: Love lessons

Why we love, why we cheat – Helen Fisher

‘People kill for love, they live for love, they die for love. They have songs, poems, novels, sculptures, paintings, myths, legends. In over 175 societies people have left their evidence of this powerful brain system.’

Helen Fisher is an anthropologist who tackles that trickiest topics – love. Discussing the topic of love from poetry to chemistry, Fisher discusses the evolution of love by exploring its biochemical foundations and its social significance. Romantic love is on the rise, people from around the world in a study of 37 societies want to be in love with the person they marry. Fisher discusses the three different types of love that exist and the impact of women’s role in society and the effect that this has on love. She closes her talk with a warning about the potential disaster inherent in antidepressant abuse.

Takeaway tip

We all know women are great talkers. But Fisher explains that as women our verbal ability to find the right word rapidly and to articulate ourselves well is more pronounced in the middle of our menstrual cycle when estrogen levels peak – so this might be the best time of the month to have that argument you’ve been waiting for. But she also says that even whilst menstruating women are better at talking than the average man.

Best TED talk for: success

Surprising lessons from 100 days of rejection – Jia Jang

‘I started going out and asking for some crazy stuff to get rejected. For example, I went to a burger joint and when I finished eating I asked “can I get a burger refill?” instead of a drink refill.’

Jia Jang realised that his fear of rejection was holding him back from being successful. So he set off to experience rejection every day for 100 days. Every day he would ask a stranger for something crazy and face the rejection. Through this he came to understand that reaching your goals requires throwing yourself totally into something and also means dealing with the consequences. He also had surprises along the way and found that sometimes people say yes when you least expect it.

Takeaway tip

Rejection is constant, the higher you go the more you’ll get rejected. CS Lewis was rejected over one hundred times before he was published. Imagine life without Narnia? So put yourself out there, face rejection and you will reap the rewards.

Best TED talk for: Quiet people

The power of introverts – Susan Cain

‘Some of the greatest leaders in history have been introverts… Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Gandhi. All of these people describe themselves as quiet, soft spoken and even shy and yet they all took to the spotlight when every bone in their bodies was telling them not to. People could feel these leaders were at the helm not because they enjoyed leading others, they were there because they had no choice.’

A self confessed introvert, Susan Cain talks about how she tried hard to prove that she could be loud and assertive. One third to a half of the population are introverts Cain explains and yet these people are not valued in the same way that social and outgoing people are. In her talk Cain argues that introverts bring amazing talents and abilities to the world and that introversion should be encouraged and celebrated too.

Takeaway tip

Harnessing the power of introverts can be advantageous in the workplace. When in a group environment we instinctively follow the beliefs of the most charasmatic person in the room, even if they don’t have the best ideas. By taking time alone to contemplate our ideas we can then come together and discuss things free from the distortions of group dynamics.

Best TED talk for: motivation

How great leaders inspire action – Simon Sinek

‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy how you do it’

‘Why is it that Martin Luther King lead the civil rights movement.. Why is it that it was the Wright brothers that were able to achieve powered manned flight?’ Why them? Simon Snek has codified a pattern between all the inspirational leaders in the world which he calls the golden circle. Start with why, he explains. Watch this talk and get inspired.

Takeaway tip

Believe in what you are doing and others will believe in you too.

Best TED talk for: body language

Your body language shapes who you are – Amy Cuddy

‘When you pretend to be powerful you’re more likely to feel powerful.’

We all know that body language can affect judgement and influence the ways that others feel about us. It can affect who we hire or promote, who we ask out on a date but did you know it can also impact how we feel about ourselves? Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.

Takeaway tip

Before a job interview or public speech spread yourself out and use Cuddy’s power poses to improve your chances of success.

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Best TED talk for: reading others

How to spot a liar – Pamela Meyer

‘Lying is a cooperative act, its power emerges when someone else agrees to believe the lie.’

This TED talk is one useful life skill. On any given day we lie from 10 to 200 times and strangers lie three times within 10 minutes of meeting each other. The clues to figure out when someone is lying and when not can be subtle and might not be what you would think. Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting, shows the manners and “hotspots” used by those trained to recognize deception — and she argues honesty is a value worth preserving.

Takeaway tip

Learn to look out for the tell tale signs of a liar. A frozen upper body, too much eye contact and overly formal language.

Best TED talk for: new experiences

Try something new for 30 days – Matt Cutts

‘Think about something you’ve always wanted to add to your life and try it for 30 days.’

This talk is only 3 and a half minutes long so there’s really no excuse not to watch it right now. It is capable of changing your life. Matt Cutts explains why 30 day challenges are an amazing way to make our time more memorable and productive and to improve our self-confidence. From taking one photo every day to writing a book in a month Cutts improved his self confidence, health and life.

Takeaway tip

‘If you really want something badly enough, you can do everything for 30 days.’

Best TED talk for: sex

10 things you didn’t know about orgasm – Mary Roach

‘There was a case report of a woman that had an orgasm every time she brushed her teeth… you would think this woman would have excellent oral hygeine, sadly she believed she was plagued by demons and switched to mouthwash for her oral care.’

Roach’s talk is a bizarre and hilarious look at orgasms. It’s not a talk that is going to change your life but it is bound to make you laugh and will give you some interesting orgasm-related facts to share with friends. She makes ten surprising claims about sexual climax including the fact that there is such thing as a knee orgasm and an orgasm can cause bad breath. Bonk author Mary Roach delves into obscure scientific research, some of it centuries old.

Takeaway tip

Suffering from chronic hiccups? An orgasm might just be your saviour.

Best TED talk for: Time management

How to gain control of your free time – Laura Vanderkam

‘There are 168 hours in a week. Twenty-four times seven is 168 hours. That is a lot of time. If you are working a full-time job, so 40 hours a week, sleeping eight hours a night, so 56 hours a week — that leaves 72 hours for other things. That is a lot of time.’

Laura Vanderkam argues that time is elastic, we just need to stretch ourselves to make time. By organising ourselves and prioritising the things that we really want to achieve we can make time for anything no matter how busy we are. The time management expert studies how busy people spend their lives, and she’s discovered that many of us drastically overestimate our commitments each week, while underestimating the time we have to ourselves. She offers a few practical strategies to help find more time for what matters to us, so we can “build the lives we want in the time we’ve got.”

Takeaway tip

Change the way you think about time. Instead of watching television, puttering around the house or deleting emails spend those extra hours in the day doing things that are worthwhile and that really mean something for you. Because when you add them up, there are a lot of spare hours there.

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