< Return to Previous Page

Want Inspiration for the New Year? See TED!

By Tom Lowrey, Education Assistant

On the second and fourth Monday of every month, I facilitate a program called Tuesdays with TED. For each program, I choose two or three TED Talks from a list of over 2000 videos on the TED website. TED is “a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment, and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics—from science to business, to global issues—in more than 100 languages.”

Many TED Talks are inspirational, and because we’re starting a new year, this is a good time to become inspired! Therefore, I have listed some talks that I find to be particularly inspiring. If you like this, there are plenty more. Just visit TED.com, find the little search icon (looks like a magnifying glass), and type in the subject you’re interested in, or the name of the speaker. Or come to Tuesdays with TED at our Trailside Center.

I grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church. Here’s why I left
What’s it like to grow up within a group of people who exult in demonizing…everyone else? Megan Phelps-Roper shares details of life inside America’s most controversial church and describes how conversations on Twitter were key to her decision to leave it. In this extraordinary talk, she shares her personal experience of extreme polarization, along with some sharp ways we can learn to successfully engage across ideological lines.

There’s more to life than being happy
Our culture is obsessed with happiness, but what if there’s a more fulfilling path? Happiness comes and goes, says writer Emily Esfahani Smith, but having meaning in life—serving something beyond yourself and developing the best within you—gives you something to hold onto. Learn more about the difference between being happy and having meaning as Smith offers four pillars of a meaningful life.

Nature, Beauty, Gratitude
Nature’s beauty can be fleeting—but not through Louie Schwartzberg’s lens. His stunning time-lapse photography, accompanied by powerful words from Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, serves as a meditation on being grateful for every day.

Lifelong Learning
Wofford College president Bernie Dunlap tells the story of Sandor Teszler, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor who taught him about passionate living and lifelong learning.

What reality are you creating for yourself?
Reality isn’t something you perceive—it’s something you create in your mind. Isaac Lidsky learned this profound lesson firsthand when unexpected life circumstances yielded valuable insights. In this introspective, personal talk, he challenges us to let go of excuses, assumptions, and fears, and accept the awesome responsibility of being the creators of our own reality.

Why we all need to practice emotional first aid
We’ll go to the doctor when we feel flu-ish or have a nagging pain. So why don’t we see a health professional when we feel emotional pain: guilt, loss, loneliness? Too many of us deal with common psychological health issues on our own, says Guy Winch, but we don’t have to. He makes a compelling case to practice emotional hygiene—taking care of our emotions, our minds, with the same diligence we take care of our bodies.

10 ways to have a better conversation
When your job hinges on how well you talk to people, you learn a lot about how to have conversations—and that most of us don’t converse very well. Celeste Headlee has worked as a radio host for decades, and she knows the ingredients of a great conversation: Honesty, brevity, clarity and a healthy amount of listening. In this insightful talk, she shares 10 useful rules for having better conversations. “Go out, talk to people, listen to people,” she says. “And, most importantly, be prepared to be amazed.”

Stunning Photos of the endangered Everglades
For centuries, people have viewed swamps and wetlands as obstacles to avoid. But for photographer Mac Stone, who documents the stories of wildlife in Florida’s Everglades, the swamp isn’t a hindrance—it’s a national treasure. Through his stunning photographs, Stone shines a new light on a neglected, ancient and important wilderness. His message: get out and experience it for yourself. “Just do it—put your feet in the water,” he says. “The swamp will change you, I promise.”