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Best of TED: Top 41 Inspirational TED Talks

Watching TV and browsing youtube for some entertaining videos is something most of us do. Yet these activities are often referred to as a waste of time. With TED videos it is actually the opposite. Their talks are not only fun, interesting and educational, but also highly inspirational.

In my previous post I have talked about some easy habits that most of us need to adopt. Taking 3-18 minutes a day to watch TED talks is one of them.

Here is a list of Top 41 Inspirational TED talks that I have put together for you:

1. Barry Schwartz on the paradox of choice

Could it be that less choice is better and that the secret to happiness is low expectations?

Watch it here

2. Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation

Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don't: Traditional rewards aren't always as effective as we think.

Watch it here

3. Shawn Achor

We believe that we should work to be happy, but could that be backwards?

[It’s] the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. And if we can change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time.” — Shawn Achor

Watch it here

4. Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability

Why we should not be embarrassed with being vulnerable? After all vulnerability stands at the base of our ability to empathize, belong and even love.

“Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.” — Brené Brown

Watch it here

5. Neil Pasricha: The 3 A's of awesome

Neil Pasricha's blog 1000 Awesome Things savors life's simple pleasures, from free refills to clean sheets. In this heartfelt talk, he reveals the 3 secrets (all starting with A) to leading a life that's truly awesome.

Watch it here

6. Daniel Kahneman: The riddle of experience vs. memory

Is it better to have memories or experiences? Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman reveals the role they play in our happiness.

Watch it here

7. Jill Bolte Taylor's Stroke of Insight

Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: She had a massive stroke, and watched as her brain functions – motion, speech, self-awareness – shut down one by one. An astonishing story!

Watch it here

8. Nancy Etcoff: Happiness and its surprises

If you are looking for ways to increase your happiness, you are not alone. Nancy Etcoff has not only dedicated 14 minutes to explaining her groundbreaking research on happiness, she also shares the easy formula for a happy marriage in her inspirational talk.

Watch it here

9. Benjamin Zander: The transformative power of classical music

If you are a fan of classical music, you will love this inspirational talk. If you are not, you will see music differently and learn some very important lessons about positive thinking, leadership and gratitude. Guaranteed!

Watch it here

10. Tim Ferriss: Smash fear, learn anything

Productivity guru Tim Ferriss and the author of “The 4-Hour Work Week” shares his own approach to overcoming fears and accomplishing his very ambitious goals. Definitely someone to learn from.

Watch it here

11. Drew Dudley: Everyday leadership

We have all changed someone’s life — usually without even realizing it. In this funny talk, Drew Dudley calls on all of us to celebrate leadership as the everyday act of improving each other’s lives.

Watch it here

12. Jonathan Fields – Turning Fear Into Fuel

One of the most successful authors, marketers and bloggers Jonathan Fields shares how to turn fear from a source of anxiety and paralysis into fuel for action and achievement.

Watch it here

13. Tony Robbins: Why we do what we do

Motivation guru Tony Robbins talks about the “invisible forces” and emotions that motivate our actions or hold us back.
“Connection and love: … We all want it. Most people settle for connection because love’s too scary.” – Tony Robbins

Watch it here

14. Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity

Find out why this talk continues to be one of the Top 10 TEDs inspirational talks and prepare for a few very valuable insights on raising creative children and have a few good laughs.

“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” — Ken Robinson

Watch it here

15. Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution!

After watching Sir Ken Robinson’s first talk, you will surely want more. So here is his entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) our talents and creativity.

“Very many people go through their whole lives having no real sense of what their talents may be, or if they have any to speak of.” — Ken Robinson

Watch it here

16. Matthieu Ricard: Habits of Happiness

Get advice on happiness from a French Buddhist monk, Doctor of Philosophy in Molecular Genetics and the “happiest man in the world”.

Watch it here

17. Dan Gilbert: The surprising science of happiness

Dan Gilbert, author of  “Stumbling on Happiness,” challenges the idea that we’ll be miserable if we don’t get what we want. Our “psychological immune system” lets us feel truly happy even when things don’t go as planned.

Watch it here

18. Jamie Oliver's TED Prize wish: Teach every child about food

In this inspirational and eye-opening TED talk Jamie Oliver explains the power of food and how it can prolong or shorten our life and the life of our children.

Watch it here

19. Dan Ariely asks,  Are we in control of our own decisions?

Dan Ariely, the author of “Predictably Irrational”, uses classic visual illusions and his own counterintuitive (and sometimes shocking) research findings to show how we're not as rational as we think when we make decisions.

Watch is here

20. Richard St. John shares 8 Secrets of Success

Why do people succeed? Is it because they're smart? Or are they just lucky? Neither. Analyst Richard St. John condenses years of interviews into an unmissable 3-minute slideshow on the real secrets of success.

Watch it here

21. Steven Johnson: Where good ideas come from

Looking for a great idea for your business? Need to resolve a complex problem? Maybe you should try the “liquid network” method.

Watch it here

22. Matt Cutts: Try something new for 30 days

Is there something you've always meant to do, wanted to do, but just … haven't? Then you need to see this awesome TED talk.

Watch it here

23. Graham Hill: Less stuff, more happiness

Graham Hill's life phylosophy is simple – “We’ve got to cut the extraneous out of our lives, and we’ve got to learn to stem the inflow. We need to think before we buy. Ask ourselves, ‘Is that really going to make me happier?‘”

Watch it here

24. Ron Gutman: The hidden power of smiling

Find out why 1 smile is just as pleasant for the brain as eating 2000 bars of chocolate and just as stimulating as receiving up to $20000 in cash.

Watch it here

25. Joan Halifax: Compassion and the true meaning of empathy

This is the strangest and the most insightful explanation of compassion that you may ever hear.

Watch it here

26. Randy Pausch: Really achieving your childhood dreams

Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch motivated thousands of students with his passionate teaching. Millions more around the world found inspiration in his moving “Last Lecture.

Watch it here

27. Aimee Mullins: It's not fair having 12 pairs of legs

Aimee Mullins talks about her prosthetic legs and superpowers they grant her. A very empowering message about living life beyond your limits from an amazing woman who lives it every day.

Watch it here

28. Eric Whitacre: A virtual choir 2,000 voices strong

A beautiful and inspirational TED talk about bringing people together to create one of the most beautiful musical pieces in history.

Watch it here

29. JR's TED Prize wish: Use art to turn the world inside out

A powerful message about how you can have a real impact on the world just by doing what you love to do. Even if you love doing graffiti.

Watch it here

30. Carl Honore: In praise of slowness

In our fast-paced society, where even instant gratification takes too long, listening about taking a deep breath and slowing down is very refreshing.

Watch it here

31. Martin Seligman: The new era of positive psychology

Learn about happiness and three different “happy” lives from  the author of best-selling book “Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life” and the founder of positive psychology himself.

Watch it here

32. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Flow, the secret to happiness

If you have heard about the state of “flow”, you will be surprised to know how it is connected to happiness, creativity, and fulfillment.

Watch it here

33. Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing your genius

Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of best-seller “Eat,Pray,Love”, shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. It's a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.

Watch it here

34. Arthur Benjamin does “Mathemagic”

Our brain can do much more than we think possible. Even transform math into mathemagic.

Watch it here

35. Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?”

Watch it here

36. Gary Vaynerchuk: Do what you love (no excuses!)

Talking about authenticity… Don't watch this video if you get offended by foul language. But please make it a must see if you need a motivation boost to do what you love.

Watch it here

37. Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are

Amy Cuddy’s research on body language reveals that we can change other people’s perceptions — and even our own body chemistry — simply by changing body positions.

Watch it here

38. Derek Sivers: How to start a movement

Learn why Derek Sivers believes leadership is over glorified and why it is much cooler to be among the first followers than the leaders.

Watch it here

39. Derek Sivers: Keep your goals to yourself

Derek Sivers shares the latest psychology test that proves – you should not be sharing your goals with other people. Here is why…

Watch it here

40. Candy Chang: Before I die I want to…

In her New Orleans neighborhood, Candy Chang turned an abandoned house into a giant chalkboard asking a fill-in-the-blank question: “Before I die I want to ___.” Find out what other people wrote…
By the way, what is your answer?

Watch it here

41. Ric Elias: 3 things I learned while my plane crashed

Sometimes we need to go through a near-death experience to have the biggest revelations of our life. Here is what Ric Elias' learned, during Flight 1549, when the plane crash-landed in the Hudson River in January 2009.

Watch it here

  • Jeff Jones
    October 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Great post and I will definitely be looking through these talks. I have watched some in the past (particularly through Netflix) and I find them to be very inspiring and full of new ideas. It seems like you have a good list here!

    Jeff Jones

    • Arina
      October 30, 2012 at 10:57 am

      Thank you Jeff. Hope that you will enjoy those TED videos that you have not seen yet.
      By the way, you have a great website. I’ve read some of your posts and I loved your idea that there is a huge artistic aspect to self-improvement. Very inspiring!

  • Dan Meyer
    May 23, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Arina, I LOVE your list of great TED Talks!

    I compiled my list of my TOP 20 Best TED Talks here:

    My favorite is the one that got the standing ovation at TEDx Maastricht
    “Doing the Impossible, Swallowing the Sword, Cutting Through Fear”

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