10 Inspirational TED Talks Perfect For Anyone Having a Tough Day

You know those days when your boss blames you for something that wasn’t your fault, or your co-workers are passive-aggressive, or you get some horrible news, or you weren’t picked for the job?

Yeah, those days suck.

Luckily, I’ve found a new cure: TED talks. An inspiring or poignant speech never fails to reaffirm my faith in humanity — and yes, get me out of bed. Check out my 10 favorites for the next time things aren’t going your way.

1. If You’re Feeling Blah: The Museum of Four in the Morning

Performance artist and storyteller Tom Rives is obsessed with 4 AM. Yes, the time. He shares the many media and pop culture references to 4 AM that he’s collected with help from strangers around the world.

As you watch this talk, you’ll probably be intrigued but a little confused (at least I was). Be patient—the end is fantastic and will definitely make you smile.

2. If You’re Feeling Sorry for Yourself: Living Beyond Limits

Amy Purdy loved to skateboard and travel. However, pursuing those passions became way more difficult when she unexpectedly lost both of her legs below the knee.

Purdy’s story of her life post-amputation is so impactful, I yelled, “That’s amazing!” to myself.

My favorite line: “Because my legs haven’t disabled me. If anything they’ve enabled me.”

3. If You’re Feeling Drained: Your Elusive Creative Genius

This presentation is perfect for anyone who’s feeling creatively challenged. Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, lays out why we shouldn’t think of people as “geniuses.” Instead, we should think of people as vessels for genius.

I’ll let Gilbert explain the why and how of this theory. All you need to know is that listening to her arguments will make you feel optimistic about your abilities and work.

4. If You’re Feeling Sad: The Three A’s of Awesome

Neil Pasricha, whose 1000 Happy Things blog won a Webby, lets us in on his secrets to a happy life.

When I started this video, I thought I knew where it was going—but then it took an unexpected (and awesome) turn.

I dare you to finish watching this without falling in love with Pasricha’s philosophy and feeling at least two times better than you did before.

5. If You’re Feeling Like a Corporate Drone: A Guerrilla Gardener in South Central LA

Sometimes, you need to know there are genuine “good guys” out there, trying to make a difference in unlikely ways.

Well, Ron Finley definitely qualifies. He and his crew take over abandoned lots, traffic medians, and curbside spaces to make urban gardens. His story will not only make you feel better, it might just inspire you to cause some of your own grassroots change. (Pun intended.)

6. If You’re Feeling Lonely: A Virtual Choir 2,000 Voices Strong

Composer and conductor Eric Whitacre had an admittedly unusual dream: to lead a virtual choir. In this heartwarming talk, he explains how he got people from around the world to send him their audio recordings for the “performance.”

Not only is the final product chillingly beautiful, but so are the stories of what happened after the video was posted. If you feel lonely or isolated, this is the video to watch.

7. If You’re Feeling Negative: The Surprising Science of Happiness

Happiness is such an elusive, slippery thing. But psychologist and “human happiness expert” Dan Gilbert is here to tell us that we can actually synthesize it. He provides several examples of people who have made mental lemonade, including a man who spent 37 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit—and called the experience “glorious.”

While I’m not sure I’ll ever be capable of that level of positivity, Gilbert’s lesson is a fantastic one to put you on the happy track.

8. If You’re Feeling Stressed: How to Make Stress Your Friend

Stress. It’s a huge mood-killer—and unfortunately, as long as we face encroaching deadlines, competing responsibilities, overloaded schedules, last-minute crises, financial troubles, and social conflicts, we’re going to encounter it often.

Kelly McGonigal, PhD, a health psychologist, has a life-changing solution: Make stress your friend. I know, it sounds pretty weird, but watch the talk, try her techniques, and tell me you don’t feel better.

9. If You’re Feeling Upset: Love Letters to Strangers

To pull herself out of depression, Hannah Brencher started writing letters to strangers. As you can imagine, this project led to some amazing experiences—the kind that make you feel better about being a human.

I loved this speech even more because writing letters to strangers is something I do all the time, and it’s had more impact on my career and my relationships than anything else.

Hopefully, if you’re upset, this video will make you feel better and inspire you to send some notes of your own.

10. If You’re Feeling Down: Nature. Beauty. Gratitude

Maybe you need some gorgeous visuals to cheer you up. Enter Louie Schwartzberg’s jaw-dropping timelapse photography. The images are presented along with words from a Benedictine monk and will give you reasons to be grateful every day.

This video is so captivating and uplifting, it’s become my default way to give a friend a virtual boost.

I hope that at least one of these video can get you through your bad day.

Reference: The Muse by Aja Frost

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