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PHOTO: TED.COM

A TED talk a day could change your life.

If you haven’t heard of them yet, TED talks are short videos (around 20 minutes or less) of speakers sharing ideas worth spreading.

TED started in 1984 as a conference for the intersections between technology (T), education (E), and design (D). Since then, it has morphed into a global community of people dedicated to the pursuit of a better understanding of the world.

TED.com now has thousands of videos available for free. These talks range in subject from business, psychology, and global issues to dance, architecture, and medicine.

TED talks will expand your mind, challenge your beliefs, and leave you curious about subjects you had no idea existed. They can also instill in you a sense of wonder and gratitude— perfect antidotes for when you’re having a crappy day.

Next time you’re feeling down and need a mood boost, watch one of the following four TED talks.

Louie Schwartzberg - Nature.Beauty.Gratitude

PHOTO: TED.COM

Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.

The first time I watched this TED talk, it brought tears to my eyes.

You may not be impacted as strongly as I was, but I’d be surprised if this video didn’t at least shift your mood to one of gratitude, joy, and appreciation— three essential ingredients for a mood boost!

In this talk, photographer and filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg shares how shooting time-lapse photography of nature has positively impacted his life.

These days, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the rat-race of life, where you feel like you’re always strapped for time and yet never get enough done. If your lifestyle is anything like this, you’ll probably feel drawn to Schwartzberg’s way of life.

Louie Schwartzberg - Nature.Beauty.Gratitude

PHOTO: TED.COM

Schwartzberg likes to slow waaaayyy down. For example, he often spends a whole month shooting for just a 4-minute roll of film. In fact, he’s spent the last 30 years shooting time-lapse flowers continuously, non-stop, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

What a job, right?

This may seem extreme to you, but Schwartzberg shows us how slowing down allows us to notice and appreciate the beauty of nature— and how much this improves our quality of life.

Schwartzberg drives home this point by giving us a look at a beautiful project of his, “Happiness Revealed.”

In the video, a little girl and an old man speak of the importance of exploration, curiosity, and above all, gratitude. They remind us that these states are essential to a life well-lived, and they’re easily accessible if we only stop to notice (and marvel in!) the beauty all around us.

If you’re feeling uninspired by life, drop what you’re doing and watch this TED talk. It will open your heart and leave you feeling grateful just to be alive.

Photo of Neil Pasricha On Stage At TED Talks

PHOTO: TED.COM

The Three A’s of Awesome

In this funny talk, Neil Pasricha reminds you of the power of the little things.

He shares his story— how he battled loneliness and depression by starting a blog dedicated to appreciating the thousands of tiny things that are awesome about our world and our lives.

Things like:

  • Waiters bringing free refills without you asking.
  • Wearing warm underwear fresh out of the dryer.
  • Cashiers opening new lanes at the grocery store and calling you over to be first in line.
  • Finding $20 in your jacket pocket.
Photo of Neil Pasricha On Stage At TED Talks

PHOTO: TED.COM

By focusing on simple, universal pleasures like these, Pasricha grew his blog from an audience of one (his mom) to millions of readers around the world. He even ended up winning the “Best Blog in the World” Webby Award!

Pasricha reminds us to focus on the positive when life is looking bleak— even if the only positive you can find is in the little things!

If life feels only heavy and dark for you right now, remember that you can build yourself back up by focusing on and appreciating the thousands of tiny pleasures in daily life.

As Pasricha reminds us at the end of this motivating talk: “There are so many things to be happy about.”

Photo of Dan Gilbert On Stage At TED Talks

PHOTO: TED.COM

The Surprising Science of Happiness

Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert starts this talk with a simple quiz: “What makes people happier in the long run— winning the lottery or becoming a paraplegic?”

Winning the lottery, of course! Right?

Wrong! Surprisingly, studies show that people who win the lottery and people who are paralyzed are equally as happy with their lives a year later!

What?!

Gilbert explains two reasons behind this.

First off, in general, we humans aren’t very good at predicting how a future situation will impact our happiness. This is known as the “impact bias.” Things we long for and things we avoid at all costs usually end up impacting us far less than we imagine they will.

Photo of Dan Gilbert On Stage At TED Talks

PHOTO: TED.COM

Secondly, happiness isn’t as dependent on outside circumstances as you might think.

Gilbert explains that happiness can be synthesized. Essentially, you have a “psychological immune system” that helps you change your view of the world so you can feel better about the world you find yourself in.

Happiness isn’t necessarily dependent on you getting what you want. In fact, you can be just as happy not getting what you want! Basically, no matter your life circumstance, you have the power to make yourself happy.

Let me say that again.

You have the power to make yourself happy.

In Gilbert’s words, “We have the capacity to manufacture the very commodity we are constantly chasing when we choose experience.”

Sound crazy? Watch the video and see for yourself!

Photo of Hannah Brencher On Stage At TED Talks

PHOTO: TED.COM

Love Letters to Strangers

This short talk is a gem!

The speaker, a young woman named Hannah Brencher, shares how she fights depression— by helping lift up others.

Brencher came to love the hand-written letters she received from her mother during school.

Then she moved to New York and found herself in a deep depression. In the midst of her battle against loneliness and depression, Brencher realized she could give what she loved to others— the gift of the hand-written letter. And so Hannah started writing hand-written love letters to strangers!

By turning outward and focusing on helping others, Brencher models a sure-fire way to boost your mood and lift the heavy weight of depression.

If you’re feeling depressed, give this talk a watch and consider joining Brencher’s movement at The World Needs More Love Letters.

Photo of Hannah Brencher On Stage At TED Talks

PHOTO: TED.COM

Take a break from the internet and screen conversations. Spend the time it takes to fill an entire page with words of empathy, encouragement, and love.

Even though you may never meet the person you’re writing to, you’ll be surprised at how much better sending them a letter will make you feel!

Summary

These four TED talks will open your heart, lift your spirits, and clear your mind.

Any time you’re in need of a mood boost, you now know where to turn!

Remember that this small playlist is only the tiniest tip of the iceberg when it comes to TED talks. TED has videos on their website on nearly every subject imaginable.

I highly recommend you start perusing their catalog. Once you start watching these talks regularly, your life will never be the same.