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

By Chris Williams, updated 7 months 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!

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

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

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.”

Reset your brain:

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

“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.”

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.”

Reset your brain:

2. The power of vulnerability, Brené Brown

“…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?”

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.

Reset your brain:

1. My stroke of insight, Jill Bolte Taylor

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

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.

Reset your brain: