5 TED Talks for Encouragement and Motivation

So, when I get stressed or worried, one of my favorite things to do is watch TEDTalks. Not only do they provide much needed study breaks, but they also are a kind of guilt-free way to relax. You still get a little mental break while still learning some crazy interesting facts and ideas. I've actually been wanting to write a blog post on TEDTalks for quite some time now, and since it's Valentine's season, I decided to take a couple days to revisit hobbies I love (because there are more kinds of love than just the romantic kind), like blogging on a more consistent basis than I have for the past six months. So, if you ever feel stressed or like you're in a rut, or even if you're just flat out bored, check out some of these amazing TEDTalks for inspiration!

1. Your Body Language Shapes who You Are, by Amy Cuddy: This is some powerful stuff right here. I honestly watch this TEDTalk at least once every two months because 1) I do believe very much in power posing (watch the talk to learn more!) and 2) This talk also discusses the deeper issue of feeling like "I'm not supposed to be here." As the spring semester unfolds, you may find yourself feeling this when you're in a tough class with people who seem more qualified than you, or at a job where you feel intimidated by how put-together your coworkers seem. Just as this TEDTalk says, you do belong there; you may just need to adjust your body language (and as a result, your mindset) to help you see this.

2. How Not to Be Ignorant about the World, by Hans and Ola Rosling: I think it's important to keep up with current events, which is something I'm working on this semester. (I tend to watch Sports Center on a loop before even thinking to tune into a news station.) This talk not only gives us an idea of what's happening in the world around us, but it also has a note of optimism as Hans and Ola Rosling discuss the progress we have made but have forgotten because of our tendency to focus solely on what's wrong. As Hans and Ola Rosling say, we can only attempt to tackle the important world issues when we have a true sense as to what these problems are and how we are continually improving.

3. The Happy Secret to Better Work, by Shawn Achor: Goodness, I love this talk. I think I legitimately needed this talk in my life. We are taught to believe that getting what we want will make us happy, that once we get the grade, the job, the car, we'll feel content. But, we continually set higher and higher goals, and this isn't terrible in its own right, but then, we're never satisfied and never content. The big idea of this talk is that being happy makes you more productive. So, this talk serves as a reminder to take care of yourself, spend a Friday night out or treat yourself to dinner and a movie without feeling guilty because you actually are improving productivity more than you would if you constantly stayed in and studied, focusing on the tasks that need be to done before your own mental health. So, next time you're feeling stressed with too much to do, 1) watch this talk, and 2) put your happiness at the top of your to-do list!

4. Do Schools Kill Creativity?, by Sir Ken Robinson: This talk focuses uses a whole lot of humor to talk about a serious problem: is our education system only focused on certain areas of learning (like the sciences) and disregarding (and possibly even insulting others)? Sir Ken Robinson brings up an interesting point of how children are far more willing than adults are to be wrong. As he says, we have to be ready to make mistakes in order to be creative and ultimately, to be successful. He also poses an interesting thought that "we don't grow into creativity; we grow out of it." Overall, this TEDTalk will remind you to seek out your creative side and to stay willing to make mistakes, which are two things we tend to forget or even reject, possibly because of years of schooling telling us to strive to get it right the first time.

5. Try Something New for 30 Days, by Matt Cutts: This talk is pretty motivational stuff for how short it is. We can get caught up with our daily, weekly, monthly tasks and forget our bigger dreams and the small steps we should be taking to make those happen. We all have this vision of the person we would like to be, and getting there can seem like an insurmountable task. But, by making changes in your life for thirty days, you can try that new workout class, or become that person who watches the news every single day. Thirty days is a great amount of time to build lasting habits, or just try out something new, even if you're not planning on continuing the routine. As Matt Cutts says, doing these thirty day challenges have made his days feel more meaningful rather than simply feeling like time has flown by, which can be all too common in college. So, go revisit all those New Year's Resolutions you almost surely have given up on or forgotten, and just try them out for thirty days; it could end up making a permanent change in your life!