The 5 Best TED Talks On: Motivation

August 05, 2014

Motivation is one of the things we crave most when listening to any public speaker. We want to hear stories of success, how one person can defy all odds, break the norm and create dreams and feelings that seem to only fleetingly reside in our minds. We listen out of want to improve our self determination, our lives and our livelihoods, and simply – we listen to get motivated.

Delivered eloquently, succinctly and with just the right amount of humility, talks on motivation can be the most empowering of all speeches and can have a profound effect on our outlook.  It's no surprise then that we seek out those who have found the tools and the methods to attain a mantra of mindfulness that can be used to tackle the curious, and ever-present, problem of life.

So if you're looking to find some new ways to inspire yourself – or perhaps you're looking to find that elusive right kind of motivational speaker – here are some of the best TED talks on motivation around today.

Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are

Back in your school days you have probably been told to "stop slouching", "take your hands out of your pockets" or "sit up straight", but what is it exactly about body language that can affect not only how others see us, but how we see ourselves?

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy elucidates on the concept of "power posing" – simply standing in a confident manner even when we don't feel like it – and how it can alter our mental state, increasing testoterone, cortisol and a host of other chemicals in the brain that may just give us that extra boost to succeed in life. It brings the concept of "fake it till you make it" to a whole new level.

Larry Smith: Why you will fail to have a great career

Don't let the facetious title fool you – In this talk, economist Larry Smith is refreshingly blunt and honest about your chances, or lack therof, to pursue a great career. 

No it's not as pessimistic as it sounds, in fact he spends most of his time talking about the logical fallacies and excuses people come up with when they find themselves not "enjoying" their career or failing to pursue their passions.

Anyone that wants a bit of guidance on what they should (and should not be) doing with their lives and how to follow their dreams will greatly benefit from this talk.

Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius

In this personal and moving talk, writer Elizabeth Gilbert takes on the perception of what it is to be "a genius" and shares the idea that genius is not a rare or coveted genetic gift, rather we all have a genius to be called upon.

If you've ever felt demotivated because you think you're not smart enough, or maybe you're looking to harness a bit of your creative energy, this talk is perfect for motivating you to reach that innate potential inside of you.

Andy Puddicombe: All it takes is 10 mindful minutes

Andy Puddicombe is an expert in mindfulness, a concept that can be described simply as being aware of your own mental state.

He insists that your inner motivation comes from your inner self and exposes the harsh truth that we're all too focussed on things like our personal appearances, what cars we drive, our financial state instead of what really matters – our minds.

Take 10 minutes to watch this and another 10 to put what he's said in practice and you'll do yourself more good than you could imagine, which is, kind of the point.

Narduwar: Do it yourself!

Over the years, punk rock journalist and interviewer Narduwar the Human Serviette has been subject to verbal assault, ribbings and all manners of affrays from his career in speaking to the biggest names in rock'n'roll. But did that stop him from doing what he loved? You can guess the answer.

No, he's not an expert in psychology or an experienced academic but his refreshingly candid talk coupled with a few humorous anecdotes is intensely motivating for the pure message it sends – anybody can do what he did, they just have to do it for themselves. How? Through asking.

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By Stephen Warr