Food for thought – four of the most wholesome TED Talks to nourish your mind

By Chris Williams, updated 1 year ago in Health / Mental wellbeing

Man giving a TED talk on stage

Feeling like you could do with a good dose of mind-expanding material? Covering the insecurities of being beautiful, the intrinsic connection between mind and body, our worthiness of connection with other people, and how surviving a major stroke shaped one woman’s perceptions of what it means to be human — these inspirational TED Talks will give your brain something poignant to ponder.

Founded in 1984 as a conference and held annually since 1990, TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a non-profit media organisation which posts free talks online under the slogan “ideas worth spreading”. With subtitles and transcripts available for many, there’s a searchable cornucopia of talks available on almost any topic you can imagine.

Focussing on some of the most fascinating, engaging and moving ones, here’s a selection for when you feel like you could do with a fresh slice of perspective.

If you find yourself rather moved or in cognitive overdrive, there’s also a short video after each one to help you reset your brain – think of it as a delicate fruit sorbet to gently cleanse your palette between courses. Bon appétit!

1. Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model, Cameron Russell

Cameron Russell has made a career out of how she looks. With fearless honesty, she bears all to describe her privilege as a white woman in an industry full of racial disparity where aesthetics are currency, and the price is high: “…the thing that we never say on camera, that I have never said on camera, is, ‘I am insecure.’ And I’m insecure because I have to think about what I look like every day.”

“Image is powerful, but also, image is superficial.”

Reset your brain:


2. Your body language shapes who you are, Amy Cuddy

In a surprisingly moving talk, Amy Cuddy proposes how testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain might impact on our day to day success, simply as a result of how we physically position ourselves. Despite being a controversial topic among social scientists, one quote is undeniably valuable: “…don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it.”

“So I want to start by offering you a free no-tech life hack, and all it requires of you is this: that you change your posture for two minutes.”

Reset your brain:

Li Hongbo: Statues in Motion

3. The power of vulnerability, Brené Brown

Researcher and storyteller Brené Brown studies human connection. In a highly amusing and deeply personal talk about expanding perception, she unravels connection, shame, the necessity of vulnerability, and the importance of believing that we are enough.

“…shame is really easily understood as the fear of disconnection: Is there something about me that, if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection?”

Reset your brain:


4. My stroke of insight, Jill Bolte Taylor

There aren’t many brain scientists who experience first-hand what it’s like to have a massive stroke, but Jill Bolte Taylor is one of them. After eight years of recovery, she shares this gripping and emotional story which features a real human brain and combines well articulated science with a powerful and moving message about what she thinks it means to be human.

“…in the course of four hours, I watched my brain completely deteriorate in its ability to process all information.”

Reset your brain: