7 TED Talks that will transform your approach to life

With TED2017 just around the corner, here are seven picks from the TED treasure trove bound to alter your life’s philosophy for the better.

by Nikhil Sreekandan

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© TED

What started out as a one-off conference about technology, entertainment, and design in 1984, and later on an annual conference in Monterey, California, has since become the worldwide viral video phenomenon that celebrated its one billion video views back in 2012.

TED, with its curated content from some of the world’s greatest thinkers, leaders, and experts, is the finest source of intellect, inspiration, and motivation on the Internet today.

Here are seven of them – some viewed a million times over and some hidden gems – that will have an influence on the way you approach life:

1. Turning adversity into opportunity | Muniba Mazari

Muniba Mazari is an artist and a writer who believes in playing with vibrant colours and the flawless portrayal of true emotions. While doing her Bachelor in Fine Arts, she met with an accident that made her paraplegic. Currently, she runs her brand by the name ‘Muniba’s Canvas’ with the slogan ‘Let Your Walls Wear Colours’.

Sharing with us her heart-wrenching tale, Mazari teaches us the art of converting adversities into opportunities.

“The moment you are going to learn it, the sky is the limit!”

2. Inside the mind of a master procrastinator | Tim Urban

Tim Urban has become one of the Internet’s most popular writers. With wry stick-figure illustrations and occasionally epic prose on everything from procrastination to artificial intelligence, Urban’s blog, Wait But Why, has garnered millions of unique page views and famous fans, including the likes of Elon Musk.

In this hilarious and insightful talk, Urban encourages us to think harder about what we’re really procrastinating on, before we run out of time.

“We need to stay aware of the instant gratification monkey, that’s a job for all of us, which we should probably start today – maybe not toohdaay – but sometime soon.”

3. How to make stress your friend | Kelly McGonigal

Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal is a leader in the growing field of “science-help.” Through books, articles, courses and workshops, McGonigal works to help us understand and implement the latest scientific findings in psychology, neuroscience and medicine.

In this TED Talk,  McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: by reaching out to others.

“When you choose to see stress in this way, you are saying that you can trust yourself to handle life’s challenges and you are remembering that you don’t have to face them alone.”

4. The art of stillness | Pico Iyer

Pico Iyer is a writer and traveller who has spent more than 30 years tracking movement and stillness, and the way crisscrossing cultures have changed the world, our imagination and all our relationships.

In this counterintuitive and lyrical meditation, Iyer takes a look at the incredible insight that comes with taking time for stillness.

“In an age of distraction, nothing is so luxurious as paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still.”

5. How the worst moments in our life makes us who we are | Andrew Solomon

Andrew Solomon is a writer, lecturer and Professor of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University. The president of PEN American Center, and a regular writer at The New Yorker and the New York Times.

In this heartfelt and at times downright funny talk, Solomon gives a powerful call to action to forge meaning from our biggest struggles.

“Forge meaning, build identity. FORGE MEANING, BUILD IDENTITY. And then invite the world to share your joy. ”

6. A rich life with less stuff | The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, better known to their readers as The Minimalists, helped over 20 million people live meaningful lives through their website, books, podcast, and documentary.

In this anecdotal presentation of how they adopted a life of minimalism, Millburn and Nicodemus show us the value of community and what it truly means to be rich.

“We tend to lose sight of our real priorities, we lose sight of life’s purpose, so maybe getting some of the excess stuff out of the way, clearing the clutter from our lives, can help us all focus on EVERYTHING THAT REMAINS.”

7. Choice, happiness, and spaghetti sauce| Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell searches for the counterintuitive in what we all take to be the mundane: cookies, sneakers, pasta sauce. A New Yorker staff writer since 1996, he visits obscure laboratories and infomercial set kitchens as often as the hangouts of freelance cool-hunters, and for that has become a star lecturer and bestselling author.

Extra-chunky spaghetti sauce, milky weak coffees and a mustard of more sophistication and culture and meaning. In this hilariously funny telling of the food industry’s search for the perfect product, the Tipping Point author makes a larger argument about the nature of choice and happiness.

“In embracing the diversity of human beings, we will find a surer way to true happiness.”

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