• Priyanka Agarwal

My 7 favourite TED & TEDx talks for anytime inspiration

A few minutes of these motivational videos can turbocharge your day

(From L to R): Kristin Rivas; an illustration from Tim Urban’s TED talk; Stephen Duneier from a hiking trip.

I’m not exaggerating when I say 2019 was one of the worst years of my life. So bad, it made 2020 look like Disneyland in comparison. Imagine.


One of the forces that helped me survive that terrible phase was TED.


Not a guy named Ted, but TED talks. You know, the ones we turn to on YouTube for anytime-anywhere motivation.


While the world binge-watched shows and movies, I devoured these videos at the rate of 5–10 a day. I was in a desperate need of answers, willing to go wherever they possibly existed.


I’m much better now and back to bingeing on movies etc.—the worst has passed (hopefully). But there are a few TED and TEDx talks I still watch repeatedly so I can internalise their messages thoroughly. Sharing 7 of these with you for your time and inspiration:


‘Change Your Mindset, Change the Game’ by Dr. Alia Crum

If there was any data missing on the effect of one’s mindset on their performance, this video bridges that gap.


Dr. Crum from Stanford uses a few case studies of hers to make some stunning revelations about the power of our beliefs.


The most shocking takeaway from the video—that exercise is actually a “placebo”, and that I might be getting more of it than I think I do. I must watch this video every day, I know.

‘How to Achieve Your Most Ambitious Goals’ by Stephen Duneier

Breaking down a huge task into smaller doable units isn’t any new advice. Institutional investor, artist, and author Stephen Duneier takes it to the next level.


Duneier uses this technique to ace a new language, read scores of books in a year, hike 33 trails, learn to fly a helicopter, and do much, much more with his time. It’s also how he achieved Guinness records for crocheting granny squares and “yarn-bombing”. All these, despite having been a C and C-minus student with focusing problems!


The best part: his approach is ridiculously simple to follow.


The only thing left is to get my ruthless, pushy inner taskmaster on board. Hope a daily watch will help.

‘Your Elusive Creative Genius’ by Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love may be one of my least favourite books, but this unconventional video on creativity by its bestselling author has changed my entire perspective about writing.


Though I have to add these words to my bios for explanatory purposes, I no longer tell myself that I’m a ‘writer’ or ‘creator’. Instead, I say I’m a ‘scribe’, a ‘record-keeper’ for the stories dictated to me by an intangible force some of us call the ‘muse’.


The same, I now realise, applies for this blog post and also my book, PiKu & ViRu (click here to buy or download it if you haven’t yet, now that you’re here :)).


Eerie, I know, but putting things this way removes all the pressure in my head to come up with creative ideas and get my writing right. And then, things fall in place automatically. A highly recommended video for writers and the creative types.

‘The Life-Changing Power of Words’ by Kristin Rivas

Seattle-based hypnotherapist Kristin Rivas demonstrates the impact of words on our minds by narrating her poignant life story.


Ever since this video, I try to be more careful and responsible about what I say or write, though I may not always be successful. Words can, indeed, hurt or heal, depending on how we use them, and Kristin’s emotional journey is solid proof.

‘The Most Important Lesson from 83,000 Brain Scans’ by Daniel Amen

While the video pertains to the importance of brain scans in treating psychiatric problems, I find it equally useful in reminding me about the power of data and facts.


Whenever I face an issue, I try to collect all the facts and perspectives surrounding it till I reach the root cause.


It’s also something I do for my daily schedule so I can track, monitor, analyse, improve, and make better use of it.


It’s more or less the same principle immortalised by management guru Peter Drucker—“What gets measured, gets managed.”

‘If You Want to Achieve Your Goals, Don’t Focus on Them’ by Reggie Rivers

Former football player Rivers, in a humorous TEDx talk, underlines the significance of converting goals into behaviours and processes.


This talk helps me understand what lies in my control and what doesn’t. It, thus, helps take fear and any unhealthy obsession with ‘success’ out of the equation.

‘Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator’ by Tim Urban

This one’s a TED blockbuster, but if you haven’t watched it yet, it’s a super hilarious and entertaining take on procrastination by WaitButWhy blogger Tim Urban.


Most of the video is about how procrastination takes place in the brain. It doesn’t propose any concrete solutions, except for the calendar in the end. Yet, I revisit it often, especially whenever I’m in need of a good laugh and a perspective into my habits.


Trust me when I say this blog post has made it through whatever Urban’s described, with the“instant gratification monkey” in me agonisingly at odds with my ruthless, pushy inner taskmaster. He’s right when he states we’re all procrastinators, and I’m just no less.

Which are your favourite TED and TEDx talks? Do share in your comments.


Lede image: Screengrabs of YouTube videos by TEDx Talks and TED

© 2018 by Priyanka Agarwal.