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16 Powerful TED Talks To Inspire

Written by James Kicinski-McCoy

Photography by Photograph via SeriesBlog

Once you’ve finally put the kids to bed and you’re ready for some much needed/deserved “me” time, why not dive into something a bit more inspirational than Game of Thrones? Not sure where to start? We’ve rounded up 16 of our favorite TED Talks that are sure to uplift your spirit and get your wheels turning. From Brene Brown taking on the power of vulnerability to a rumination on whether schools are killing our ability to be creative, take your pick, grab some popcorn, and dive in.

If I Should Have A Daughter by Sarah Kay. Spoken-word poet Sarah Kay recites a poem and gives a speech that applies to all of life’s important moments. In this talk, she encourages listeners to grow, explore, take risks, and challenge yourself through self-belief and self-motivation.

What We Learn Before We’re Born by Annie Murphy Paul. This discussion professes the idea that the conditions before birth tremendously influence our individual characteristics and shape the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of the developing baby for the rest of its life.

The Power Of Vulnerability by Brene Brown. Brene Brown studies human connection—our ability to empathize, love, and belong. She asks the question, “Is vulnerability the same as weakness?”. Too often we associate vulnerability with emotions like fear, shame, and uncertainty, when we should also correlate it with joy, creativity, and belonging.

The Art Of Stillness by Pico Iyer. In a counterintuitive and lyrical meditation, this inspiring writer talks about the unexpected adventure of staying put. He raises the idea that the more ways we have to connect—email, social media, texting, and so on—the more we seek to unplug.

The Surprising Science Of Happiness by Dan Gilbert. Believe it or not, science can tell us about how we can achieve happiness. Psychology Professor Dan Gilbert explains how the brain has developed a habit of predicting how happy we will be in a given situation—in other words, already determining our happiness from past situations and circumstances.

How Motherhood Supercharged My Professional Career by Gesine Thomson. This heart-warming oration gives a view into motherhood and all the challenges and success that come with it. Gesine Thomson discusses the leap of faith that each mother has to take when embracing motherhood, and states that her children alone taught her about diplomacy, leadership, and common sense.

A Warrior’s Cry Against Child Marriage by Memory Banda. This incredibly captivating talk takes a peek into Memory Banda’s life and how she took a divergent path from her sister’s by saying “no” to child marriage. She refused to go to “initiation camp” and went on to organize others and push a bylaw that no girl should be forced to marry before turning 18, changing the lives of many.

Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are by Amy Cuddy. Amy Cuddy’s research on body language proves that we can change other’s perceptions and even our own body chemistry simply by paying attention to our body positions. Amy teaches that people can actually become more successful in life just by making a few simple tweaks.

Love No Matter What by Andrew Soloman. Loving people isn’t always easy, which we all know too well. In this inspiring lecture, writer Andrew Soloman highlights how parents maintain unconditional love for their children, no matter if they are different when they are born, how difficult they may act, or who they grow up to be.

Why 20 Is Not The New 30 by Meg Jay. Time waits for no man or woman. In this informative talk, Meg Jay pushes the listener’s panic button by explaining why the clock does matter. She outlines reasons why we all need to strive harder in our 20s. This discussion will have you wanting to live more and worry less—now.

How To Live Passionately—No Matter Your Age by Isabel Allende. The famous Chilean writer gives a persuasive talk on living a truly passionate life regardless of age. She encourages listeners to embrace everyday, say “yes” to whatever comes your way, and live in the present.

The Key To Success, Grit by Angela Lee Duckworth. This thought-provoking homily explores grit—the quality that enables people to work hard and stick to their passions and goals, regardless of situations and hurdles. Angela Lee Duckworth reflects on the importance of helping students develop grit and other traits necessary for success.

Do Schools Kill Creativity? by Ken Robinson. Do schools and education strip us of our unique imagination and creativity? Sir Ken Robinson explains his theory on how education puts us under pressure to reach a certain ideal and how society stigmatizes mistakes.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The award-winning Nigerian author discusses the reality of gender expectations in this inspiring talk. The Orange Prize winner explores the various obstacles and issues women in Africa and throughout the world are experiencing, which offers listeners a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century.

Why We Do What We Do by Tony Robbins. In this fascinating dialogue, Tony Robbins discusses the six fundamental needs that each person has in common along with the “invisible forces” that motivate everyone’s actions and explains how all behavior is simply an attempt to meet those six needs.

The Power Of Introverts by Susan Cain. The world praises extroverts—it’s no surprise, but this talk is all about how introverts just might be more worthy of applause. Cain discusses how introverts enjoy more, listen more, and think more, resulting in healthier relationships and meaningful work.

Any great TED Talks we missed? Let us know your favorites in the comments below.

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