I remember when I was younger, I used to roll my eyes and groan at the thought of having to watch another Ted Talk in school. Although they got us out of class time, they were super long, and I wasn't into the type of deep analytical thinking that those videos tend to bring out in viewers just yet. But I've since come to enjoy them, even though they are long, because they open me up to new perspectives and help me think about life in a different way. Sometimes I spend hours at night watching them, often getting caught up in a rabbit hole of videos before realizing it's almost 2 AM.
And while I enjoy almost all of the ones I watch, some of them impact me a little deeper. So, here are seven of the most motivating, inspiring, and life-changing Ted Talks that I have seen so far.
1. The power of vulnerability | Brené Brown
This is hands down my favorite Ted Talk. Brené Brown explains perfectly how essential it is to feel vulnerable in life and how important it is to know you are worth loving. She talks about human connection and our desire and struggle to find it at times, saying that those who embrace authenticity and know they are worthy of connection are most likely to feel 'wholehearted'. Her message is one that everyone needs to hear, and I think that the whole word could benefit from her insight.
2. Depression, the secret we share | Andrew Solomon
When I first started watching this Ted Talk in consideration for this list, I remember thinking, "This is too sad to include in a list of life-changing talks." As I continued to listen to the stories of struggle and despair, I thought, "But maybe it's exactly what people need to hear."
Depression and mental illness are not things that should be dealt with in private. They are debilitating illnesses that so many people struggle with every single day. This Ted Talk not only reminds us of that truth, but also encourages dialogue about those struggles. Andrew Soloman speaks about how terrible living with depression and mental illness is, emphasizing, then, how important it is to speak and acknowledge those difficulties in order to cope with them.
It is honestly one of my favorites on this list, and as someone that finds mental illness to be such an important issue, I feel that this Ted Talk holds so much value. The stories and insight that this Ted Talk offers were so impactful, and they're stories that need to be shared.
The danger of a single story | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I actually first watched this Ted Talk in one of my college classes last year. I loved it then, and the message seems to be growing in truth the more that I listen to it. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discusses what she calls "the single story", which is the idea that someone has a held presupposition of a group of people that they apply to the whole group. It's the same as stereotyping, and as explained in this Talk, it's a dangerous trap to fall into.
I'm sure everyone has done it at one point or another, and this Ted Talk has helped me become more aware of how I might be doing the same thing in my own encounters. Hearing this Talk encourages listeners to become more open-minded when associating with others of different backgrounds, and I think that can be pretty life-changing.
Lessons from the Mental Hospital | Glennon Doyle Melton
The analogies that Glennon Doyle Melton uses in this speech are honestly incredible. She talks about how every person has a mask that they wear and how lonely it can be to hide behind that mask all the time. My favorite line is when she says, "It's braver to be Clark Kent than it is to be Superman." That phrase speaks so much volume to me, and it's so important to realize the weight of the struggles that we hide. This Ted Talk is so eye-opening, and it's definitely one of my favorites.
Do schools kill creativity? | Sir Ken Robinson
This one will definitely make you think about life a little bit. Sir Ken Robinson talks about the fear of error that education instills in us, the systematic valuation of certain subjects over others, and how our creative expression is often silenced in the classroom at a young age. He proposes an idea that we should look at intelligence in a multifaceted way rather than in the narrow, hierarchical way it is often developed within people from the school system. Intelligence, he says, goes beyond just one hemisphere of the brain; intellectual expression can be produced using the whole body.
The Value of YOU. | Trista Sutter | TEDxVail
I absolutely love the message behind this Ted Talk because I find Trista's struggles to be so relatable. She talks about how we often "beat people to the punch" in attributing failure to ourselves and diminishing our own self-worth. Sometimes we don't feel good enough, or worthy enough, or *insert something here* enough, and we tend to beat ourselves up in a way that doesn't allow us to feel praise or love from others. This Ted Talk has such an important message and I think it's one everyone should hear.
Your elusive creative genius | Elizabeth Gilbert
The premise behind this Ted Talk is so interesting to me. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about how we shouldn't have to take full responsibility for the work that we create, and at first, that seems a little weird. She goes on to explain that a lot of artists, whether it be dancers, writers, painters, or any other creator, often feel troubled to create again after they have reached what they fear might have been their "peak", including herself.
Gilbert explains that instead of seeing it as, "I have reached the best of my ability and anything that I create from now only will be lesser in value than that work", we could mimic other cultures in history that have attributed the ability to create something so magnificent to a higher power. In turn, this would also allow us to lessen the blame on ourselves when we fail to reach our own standards of greatness.
It's definitely a Ted Talk that every artist should listen to because it'll change the way that you think of and approach your own creative process.