Many people I know have playlists that vary according to their mood, the period of their lives they are at, and what they are going through at that time. And not just musical playlists—playlists of funny clips on YouTube, of inspiring videos, or of brain food like TED talks. And while there are always one hit wonders, there are some that just stick for the long haul, popping back after absences as long as a few years to take their spot in the pantheon, fulfilling their job of inspiring you as needed before slipping away into the darkness again.
Current concerns of mine, as reflected in the topics recently covered on Sahar’s Blog, include finding tools to pursue personal development; learning how to have conversations with others; contributing to the building of strong communities; and The X-Files. And so, the only surprising feature of my current cycle of TED talks is the lack of paranormal activity.
Beware: this is not the most original of lists, bringing forth little known talks. Quite the contrary, actually. If you or many of your Facebook friends are avid TED Talk fans, you have probably listened to these already or seen them lurking on your feed. But if recent posts on this blog have resonated with you, these talks just might hit just the right spot—even if they are not freshly pressed.
Matthieu Ricard: The Habits of Happiness
Everyone wants to be happy; the pursuit of happiness involves the quest for foundational elements such as contentment. Thankfully, these foundational elements are relatively easy to put in place, but it is their systematic application that can be a challenge. This is all the more difficult as we are encouraged to do more, better, and faster, which does not give us time to do so, or even to enjoy the simple things in life. Matthieu Ricard is a French Buddhist monk whose TED talk on The Habits of Happiness cycles through regularly on the playlist of many of my friends. It remains timeless because it is not a prescription for happiness; rather, it is a reflection of sorts on how to achieve it. You might not agree with everything he presents—I don’t!—but he always manages to stimulate insightful reflection.
Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability
Building a new type of community in which everyone is fulfilled requires recasting fundamental conceptions. One such conception is that of vulnerability. While perhaps in prehistoric times or in the Middle Ages, being vulnerable led to being killed by wild animals or one’s castle being stormed, we live—in North America, at least—in an era where being vulnerable doesn’t put us in mortal danger. Furthermore, certain forms of vulnerability are essential to the building of new communities; they allow for consultation to happen with the key focus being the problem at hand, rather than trying to prove the worth (or invulnerability) of our opinion. Brene Brown’s talk is all the more important that we seem attached to conceptions of heroism that are disempowering to the masses.
Kevin Robinson: Schools Kill Creativity
The arts, especially music, are a ladder to the soul. But current educational systems, for the most, doesn’t nurture our creativity. Mistakes, an important part of the learning process, are considered a bad thing which stifles creativity and create the burden of guilt. And yet creativity is also vital to the process of building elements of a new society, including, perhaps ironically enough, a new educational system. Kevin Robinson’s talk discusses how schools are killing creativity and will make you laugh—this guy has quite the sense of humor.
Kelly McGonigal: How to Make Stress Your Friend
I have been long fascinated by how our perception of reality is just as important as reality itself—if not more so (Fringe, anyone?). Stress has been labelled as one of the Big Bads in North America. But in her speech, Kelly McGonigal proposes that it in itself is not a bad thing, but that our perception of stress is.
Dan Pallotta: The Way We Think about Charity is Dead Wrong
Rethinking the status quo is one of the first steps in recasting reality in a new light. There are a lot of good people out there who sincerely would like to do good. A number immerse themselves in charity work making this talk both difficult yet important. Just like with some of the other talks in this list, there are limitations to it. But the eloquence with which Dan Pallotta explains how broken the system created to help the most vulnerable of our brethren helps listeners acquire the vocabulary to discuss it amongst themselves and consult necessary changes.
Image courtesy of TED.