Feel like getting inspired, motivated or just looking for a feel-good cry? Then look no further. There’s no better way to start your day than with a fresh cup of coffee and a nice TED talk to make you feel ready to take on your day. TED — which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design — features “ideas worth spreading.” The speaker series launched in 1984, and there are now more than 1,400 TED talks available online.
But don’t feel overwhelmed, we’ve rounded up 15 of the most inspirational, tear-jerking and downright beautiful TED talks out there. So sit back, relax and get ready to listen to some of the most courageous and fascinating people in the world. Each talk is shorter than 30 minutes, so feel free to bookmark for later consumption.
Did we miss one that you love? Share it with us in the comments.
1. Jill Bolte Taylor: A Stroke of Insight
This is an incredibly moving talk from a woman who has dedicated her life to researching psychiatry and schizophrenia. One day she realized she was having a stroke — and instead of being devastated, she thought, “This is so cool! How many brain scientists have the opportunity to study their brain from the inside out?” Her talk details her experience of having a stroke, and the nirvana she found as a result.
P.S. That’s a real human brain she’s holding.
2. Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability
Brené Brown’s extremely personal talk explores the uncomfortable feeling of vulnerability, and how those who dare to be vulnerable are generally happier and feel more deserving of love.
3. Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius
“We’ve completely internalized and accepted collectively this notion that creativity and suffering are somehow inherently linked, and that artistry in the end will always ultimately lead to anguish — are you guys all cool with that idea?” Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk aims to shift the way our society thinks about creative genius, hoping to to help artists manage the emotional risks that often come hand-in-hand with creativity.
4. Meg Jay: Why 30 Is Not the New 20
Meg Jay hopes to motivate a generation of twenty-somethings who have repeatedly been told they have plenty of time to figure out their lives. On the contrary, Jay sites statistics about careergrowth, relationship development and reproductive capabilities that all emphasize the importance of our 20s as a formative period that sets the trajectory for the rest of our lives.
5. Amy Cuddy: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are
There has been a lot of research into how others perceive our body language, and the importance of sending the right message. However, Amy Cuddy delves into how we are influenced by our own body language — and how a few strategic power poses can make a world of difference in our self-confidence and stress levels.
6. Dan Pink: The Puzzle of Motivation
Dan Pink explores the efficacy of rewards and punishment in the workplace — and the results are surprising. Differentiating between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, and different types of rewards, Pink explains why we need to rethink how we run our businesses, and how leaders can motivate more effectively.
7. Deb Roy: The Birth of a Word
Deb Roy takes you through some mind-blowing data visualization as he charts his son’slanguage acquisition. Roy then explains the larger implications of applying his language analytics to news, TV and social media — and the emerging social structures we see as a result.
8. Nilofer Merchant: Got a Meeting? Take a Walk
Nilofer Merchant’s concept is quite simple: We are sitting 9.3 hours per day on average — and it is slowly killing us. “Sitting has become the smoking of our generation,” she says. So instead of having the typical work meeting, take your meetings outside — and you’ll be surprised by how easily fresh air can drive fresh thinking.
9. Ken Robinson: Schools Kill Creativity
This brilliant talk by Ken Robinson will make you laugh out loud, and also make you seriously think about our education system. Robinson discusses some of the pitfalls of education in America, including how we measure academic ability and intelligence, and how we need to encourage creativity in our children.
10. Elon Musk: The Mind Behind Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity
Elon Musk discusses the innovative thought processes behind some of his greatest ventures: Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity. He also explores the future of sustainable energy — and the necessity of solar energy in the future.
11. Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action
Simon Sinek leads a thought-provoking talk about how some of the greatest leaders have inspired those around them, including Martin Luther King, Jr., the Apple founders and the Wright brothers. Sinek believes true inspiration comes from believing in something strongly yourself, and communicating that belief to others — “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
12. Sheryl Sandberg: Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders
The successful author of Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg, leads a TED talk about the glaring lack of women in leadership roles in the workplace. As Sandberg sheds light on some differences between men and women in the office, she gives aspiring female business leaders a few actionable tips to take their career to the next level.
13. Andrew Solomon: Love, No Matter What
This incredibly moving talk by Andrew Solomon addresses how diagnosis of an illness can affect identity. Through an exploration of vertical and horizontal identities, Solomon discusses homosexuality, dwarfism and Downs Syndrome with startling insight. “People engage with the life they have, and they don’t want to be cured, or changed or eliminated — they want to be whoever it is that they’ve come to be,” he says.
14. Bryan Stevenson: We Need to Talk About an Injustice
Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, addresses the poverty distortion and racial inequalities that are rampant in the United States today. Discussing controversial issues such as the death penalty and life in prison without parole for children, Stevenson encourages us to talk about our uncomfortable past and present in order to solve the problems facing our society.
15. Rita Pierson: Every Kid Needs a Champion
Rita Pierson is one of the most inspiring speakers we have ever heard. She discusses the importance of connections and relationships in education, and how every child deserves to have someone believe in them completely. At the end of the talk, you’re just going to want to give her a big hug — we promise.