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April 19, 2019
3 mins read

5 TED Talks to level up your life

As I apply my makeup at 8:00 am, I’m also receiving a pep talk from CNN Contributor Mel Robbins.

This is because I start my mornings with TED Talks. These talks are "ideas worth spreading"—spoken from places of experience, emotion, and life-changing realizations.

TED is an organization devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful speeches. The concepts I’ve learned and ideas I’ve discovered from listening to TED Talks have slowly but surely changed the direction of my life.

Here are 5 TED Talks that levelled up my life—and can change the trajectory of yours, too.

1. “Smash fear, learn anything” - Tim Ferris

Asking yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” may be the key to accomplishing things you never thought possible.

How it levelled up my life:

Interestingly, this TED Talk inspired me to become a TED speaker. One day, a friend asked me if I would like to be a speaker for TEDxYouthDeerLake. I was definitely nervous at first. Me? Giving an 18-minute presentation on a TEDx stage? But by asking myself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” I discovered the courage to say yes.

This talk hasn’t happened yet, but I’m certain it’ll be a highlight of my year—thanks to overcoming the barrier of fear!

2. “Why 30 is not the new 20” - Meg Jay

“The 20s are not a developmental downtime—they’re a developmental sweet spot.” Meg Jay reframes what it means to seize the years while you’re young.

How it levelled up my life:

Knowing that I’m at a prime age to learn, I decided to make my summer meaningful by applying for Sauder’s Brand Management Mentorship Program. After the first lab, I learned more than I thought possible within 2 days. I feel proud knowing that I’m filling my 20s with opportunities and experiences for building a strong future. When I look back on this time, I won’t need to ask myself, “What the heck was I doing?”

3. “Your elusive creative genius” - Elizabeth Gilbert

Maybe we aren’t the geniuses. Maybe we have a genius perched on our shoulders. Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, redefines the creative process.

How it levelled up my life:

When life threw more things at me than I could take, I used to fall into a slump and default to blaming myself. Learning to ‘speak to’ my negative emotions has helped a lot. Like Elizabeth’s examples, I’ll mentally isolate my feelings, and tell the negative ones to go away—and then turn to my creative genius for the solution. Treating my emotions as external (instead of internal) entities has helped me manage my mood better.

4. “How to stop screwing yourself over” - Mel Robbins

Mel explains a painfully simple, yet absolutely genius, tactic for hacking your willpower and ultimately, making minor decisions that can change your life.

How it levelled up my life:

Months ago, I fell into a spiral of constant social media use that consumed a lot of my time. I realized that I lacked willpower to put down my phone—when I opened an app, I would scroll mindlessly and lose track of time. After learning Mel’s 5-second rule, I’ve conquered self-control. I count in my head,  “5, 4, 3, 2, 1”, and put down my phone immediately, learning to override my cravings with rationality.

5. “Inside the mind of a master procrastinator” - Tim Urban

The instant gratification monkey, rational decision maker, and panic monster are 3 controllers that live in our minds. Tim puts procrastination into perspective.

How it levelled up my life:

Tim’s talk was a wake-up call (that also had me laughing the whole duration). Suddenly, I saw my life differently. Free time no longer meant free time to me, and procrastinating on life goals that had no deadlines became my biggest fear. It gave me a push to seize opportunities now rather than later. One prime example of this is not procrastinating on my dream of starting a personal blog. “Why wait?” I asked myself. So I started one!

The power of ideas

TED Talks carry messages that can mean something different to every listener. They can inspire you to think about a past decision, help you make a choice about navigating the day ahead, or give you that final push to enact that idea you’ve always had in the back of your mind.

To me, listening to TED Talks is like sitting down with an experienced mentor, a funny friend, or a life coach—and opening my eyes to the reality, complexity, and full potential of my life.

World-changing ideas are at your fingertips. What will you do with them?