10 Uplifting TED Talks To Watch Now

With events as they currently are, it’s easy to feel deflated, uninspired and frankly, a bit depressed. Which is why it’s never been more important to remind ourselves of our own potential, and that of the wider world. If you’re in need a little inspiration, here are ten uplifting TED Talks worth the watch…
10 Uplifting TED Talks To Watch Now
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Alison Ledgerwood: A simple trick to improve positive thinking

Have you ever noticed that failure seems to stick in your mind so much longer than any kind of success? According to social psychologist Alison Ledgerwood, there might be a reason for that: namely, our perception of the world tends to lean negative. The answer? Reframing how we communicate could be the key to unlocking a more positive outlook – something we probably all need to cultivate right now. In this sharp talk, Ledgerwood shares a simple trick for kicking negative thinking to the curb so we can start focusing on the upside.

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Amy Purdy: Living beyond limits

There’s nothing quite like a global pandemic to make you feel as though you’re not fulfilling your potential. But if you’re looking for some fresh perspective on adversity, then this is the TED Talk for you. When she was 19, Amy Purdy lost both her legs below the knee. Today, she's a pro snowboarder and has even competed on the US’ equivalent to Strictly Dancing with the Stars. In this powerful talk, she shows us how to draw inspiration from life's obstacles, and how to truly live life to the fullest, even when it feels like the odds are stacked against you.

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Louie Schwartzberg: Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.

If there’s one thing we’ve all noticed the benefit of over the last year, it has to be the power of being in nature – not to mention appreciation? of the little things. And while you might think nature’s beauty can be fleeting – Louie Schwartzberg proves in this powerfully uplifting TED Talk that’s not the case at all – at least not through his lens. His stunning time-lapse photography, accompanied by poignant words from Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, serve as a meditation on how to be grateful for every day – no matter how tough getting through the next 24 hours might feel.

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Robert Waldinger: What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness

Rarely has there been a more important question than ‘What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life?’ If, prior to the global health crisis, you thought it was things like fame and money, you weren’t alone – but, according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, you were mistaken. As the director of a 75-year-old study on adult development, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction. In this talk, he shares three important lessons learned from the study as well as some practical, old-as-the-hills wisdom on how to build a fulfilling life out of the smallest of things.

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Caroline McHugh: The art of being yourself

As founder and CEO of the company IDOLOGY – a movement dedicated to helping individuals and organisations to become fully, original versions of themselves – Caroline McHugh has developed the "I Complex" model which helps individuals and organisations determine what the "I" really means. In this TED Talk, she explains her model, and how it can help you truly know who you are – an important concept at a time when many of us are struggling to understand or reclaim our identity. 

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Sophie Thomas: The power of the uplift

As part of her day job as the founder of BornGloryUs, Sophie Thomas uses emotional connection to make brands feel more purposeful and valuable because she believes humanity and business are not separate – something we’ve probably all come to understand more clearly in the past year. Having coined the terms ‘uplifter brands’ and ‘lateral brand stance’, she combines her deep knowledge of self-worth, ecology, social impact and gender to call on individuals and businesses to discover a genuine purpose that serves the world in a positive way.

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Dan Gilbert: The surprising science of happiness

Over the last 12 months, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been robbed of something and, at the very least, like you haven’t got what you’ve wanted. In this highly scientific TED Talk, Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness challenges the idea that we'll be miserable if we don't get exactly what we set our heart on – a useful skill when everything appears largely out of your control. He explains how our ‘psychological immune system’ is what lets us feel truly happy, even when things don't go as planned. Originally filmed in 2004, this one feels hugely prophetic. 

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Sophie Scott: Why we laugh

You might think there’s been much to laugh about in the past year, but did you know you're 30 times more likely to laugh if you're with somebody else than if you're alone? Cognitive neuroscientist Sophie Scott shares this and other surprising facts about laughter in this fast-paced, action-packed and, yes, hilarious dash through the science of cracking up – proof that as humans, it’s being around others which helps lift our mood more than anything else.

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Emily Esfahani Smith: There's more to life than being happy

It’s safe to say our culture is obsessed with happiness, but what if there's a more fulfilling path that could help you feel content even during the darkest of times? Happiness comes and goes, says writer Emily Esfahani Smith in this TED Talk, but having a meaningful life – that is, serving something beyond yourself and developing the best within you – gives you something to hold onto when it feels like everything else is falling down around you. 

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Chip Conley: What makes life worthwhile

Although this TED Talk was published close to a decade after the fact, it was the bursting of the dotcom bubble which prompted hotelier Chip Conley to go off in search of a business model based on happiness. While businesses tend to measure success via the metrics of tangible elements, Conley makes a strong case for them to measure the intangibles – such as customer feedback or whether the employees find their work meaningful (the latter has arguably been thrown into sharp relief by the global pandemic and rise of a working from home culture). Plus, Conley is proof this approach works – by following this set of principles, his own hotel business boomed to become the second largest group of boutique hotels in the world. 

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