Welcome back! You've made it to 2018! Now that we're past the ridiculous resolutions that don't stick, here's some thoughts help you make real change this year — and not just for yourself.
For the college student resolved to do better this year (or just this term), here are 17 TED Talks to inspire you for 2018.
Ishita Katyal spent her 10th birthday on the stage at TEDxBhilwara, giving a talk about the importance of focusing on what children are doing in the present rather than asking, “What do you want to do/be when you grow up?”
“I asked myself, I am an empowered kid. Why do I have to wait ‘til I grow up to realize my dream? Why not now?”
Jill Bolte Taylor is a neuroanatomist who had the unique opportunity, as a “brain scientist,” to study her own brain while having a stroke. After the stroke, she had developed a new philosophy about the mind and the universe.
“I am an energy being connected to the energy all around me by the consciousness of my right hemisphere.”
Paul Nicklen is a wildlife photographer who had a crazy idea. He begins his talk by explaining his work and showing a gorgeous slideshow of his photography, but that’s not the focus of the talk. Paul heard the bad rap that leopard seals had gotten and when he went to see for himself, he made an unusual connection.
Content warning: penguin guts.
“I want to go to Antarctica, get in the water with as many leopard seals as I possibly can and give them a fair shake -- find out if they really are these vicious animals, or if they're misunderstood. So this is that story. Oh, and they also happen to eat Happy Feet.”
Hans Rosling is no stranger to the TED stage, but this is my favorite of his talks. In this talk, Hans examines the washing machine as a modern miracle. Not because of how it’s engineered or the economic or ecological effects, but a very special, very simple reason.
“If you have democracy, people will vote for washing machines. They love them.”
You may know Michael Stevens not as “Michael Stevens,” but as the YouTuber “Vsauce.” He uses videos as a medium for examining extraordinary questions about everyday life. In this talk, Michael divulges the motivation behind his channel, and explores why it’s important to ask questions.
“The point is to bring people in with a great question, make them curious, and once they’re there… accidentally teach them a whole bunch of things about the universe.”
Adam Driver, now known worldwide as Star Wars villain Kylo Ren, was a Marine before he was an actor. In 2015, Adam gave a TED Talk about the transition from civilian to soldier and back to civilian again. Funny and smart, he delivers a compelling story in a simple way.
“I thought all civilian problems are small compared to the military. I mean, what can you really bitch about now, you know?”
Author Malcolm Gladwell knows a thing or two about stories. In this talk, he takes us through one of the oldest tales circulating today: that of David and Goliath. However, Malcolm also gives some context that changes story entirely — while providing some hope you may be needing these days.
“The name of the giant is Goliath and the name of the shepherd boy is David, and the reason that story has obsessed me over the course of writing my book is that everything I thought I knew about that story turned out to be wrong.”
An author of entirely different genre, Sarah Knight is in the business of giving really good advice. She took the stage in March to talk about the concept behind her books, “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck” and “Get Your Sh*t Together.” Her hilarious, profanity-laced talk gives a tour of how she stumbled into that life-changing magic she loves so much.
“Let’s define your ‘f*cks’ as time, energy, and money. If you don’t care about something, you should stop giving your f*cks to it.”
Jon Ronson, Julian Treasure, and Evan Grant put together, not just a talk, but a show. With Ronson speaking, Treasure mixing the sound live, and Evan Grant’s animations playing on the screen above, this talk is funny, interesting, and visually and aurally gorgeous.
“Only in Broadmoor (Psychiatric Hospital) would not wanting to hang out with serial killers be a sign of madness.”
In this short and sweet talk, Oregonian Joe Smith shows you how to best dry your hands with a paper towel. It’s wonderful, pragmatic, and local!
“The fact is, you can do it all with one towel!”
Poet Shane Koyczan took the stage to recite his spoken-word poem “To This Day,” a piece “for the bullied and beautiful” that wrenches the heart just as much as it warms it. In the poem, Shane captures beautifully what it means to be bullied and how important you are regardless.
“And I wondered, what made my dreams so easy to dismiss? Granted, my dreams are shy, because they're Canadian.”
Designer Richard Seymour started his Ted Talk in 2011 with a story that his father had told him about a watchmaker. I won’t spoil the story, but after he delivers this story to the audience he explains that the ending caused him a physiological response because it was beautiful. He then explores with the audience how beauty feels. It’s beautiful, and very British.
“It isn’t just about nice, and this is the dilemma. This is the paradox of beauty.”
Moving from one beautiful talk to another, in 2015, Danielle Feinberg gave a talk in New York about the “magic ingredient” in Pixar films. Feinberg is the director of photography at Pixar, and shows the element that made her fall in love with making these animated films: lighting. If you love WALL-E, Nemo, Woody and Buzz, this talk is a must-see.
“There's a beauty in these unexpected moments — when you find the key to unlocking a robot's soul, the moment when you discover what you want to do with your life.”
Beautiful in an entirely different way, here, John Hodgman explains his proof for aliens through his proof of love. It’s a bit of a confusing link when put so simply, but if you listen to his talk, it will all make sense. Humorous and heartfelt, this story may not be your typical TED Talk, but it’s wonderful in its own way.
“An event like this leaves a scar on the memory, much like a piece of alien technology that has been inserted into your buttocks by a ‘Portuguese doctor.’”
And if you enjoy humorous talks, James Veitch is the guy for you. You know those obnoxious spam emails you get? (Nigerian princes, etc.) Well, James decided to annoy them as much as they annoy us. This is that story.
“It was getting a bit out of hand. Friends were saying, ‘James, do you want to come for a drink?’ I was like, ‘I can't, I'm expecting an email about some gold.’”
And if that wasn’t enough, here’s his second talk. He really got under this guy’s skin.
“I don’t know about you but, to me, that sounds like a broken man.”
And lastly, here’s a man teaching you how to correctly tie your shoes. Because innovative ideas worth sharing are what TED is all about.