I’m a student at seminary. I spend the vast majority of my time thinking about the deeper parts of life, what might come after life, and how we bring the two together by serving and loving one another right here and now. It’s an absolute ball and the greatest privilege of my life. It’s not just books, class discussions, and work experiences that spur my imagination; there also are TED talks for me to listen to when I want to keep thinking in a new vein. I put together a list of five that have moved me the most.
Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability
Being in a group therapy book club about I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t), one of Brené Brown’s books about shame and how to move through it, changed my life and helped to convince me that I wanted to spend my life listening to people’s stories (including, amazingly enough, my own). If you don’t have the time to read that book, The Gifts of Imperfection, or Rising Strong, all of which I can recommend with high praise, watch this. She has powerful words about how vulnerability and openness will allow empathy and connection to fill your life, making less room for shame and the deleterious effects it has on our souls.
Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts
If you’ve ever wished you were extroverted and pushed yourself too hard to make yourself into someone you’re not, or if you’re one of the third in the world who considers themselves an introvert, you need to listen to this talk. It will encourage you to embrace your own strengths and see yourself as just as valuable to groups, friends, workplaces, and the world as extroverts are. (I also recommend her book, Quiet, especially if you enjoy psychology.)
Joseph Primo: Grief is Good
American society is a terrible one if you’re grieving the loss of a loved one. People will push you to “get over it” rather than process it and allow you to integrate your loss into your new life, for better and for worse. We just don’t talk about it, and we try to stop others from sharing what they need to share because it can be painful to deepen our relationships in that way. Joseph Primo is the CEO of a beautiful organization in New Jersey called Good Grief, which is a non-profit that provides community through peer-based support groups for grieving children, young adults, and parents. Children need our support more than you know, and he’ll teach you the basics of how to give it. (He also has a wonderful book called What Do We Tell the Children?: Talking to Kids About Death and Dying.)
Amy Cuddy: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are
Did you know that how you position your body can affect how you feel? This one has a simple practical implication, and it’s fun and empowering.
Kelly McGonigal: How to Make Stress Your Friend
Stress is an upside-down U-shaped curve: if you have none or too much, it will affect your performance negatively. But how about that middle part where you can, indeed, make it your friend? Kelly McGonigal’s got your back and is here to teach you about learning to see it differently. (She’s also got a book that’s well-rated: The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It.)
If this isn’t enough for your appetite of interesting research wrapped in fun and bite-sized presentations, here’s a list of 31 more inspiring TED talks.