TED Talks that will make you optimistic about the world

When the evening news is all gloom and doom, it’s difficult for us to be optimistic about the world. Fortunately, the world isn’t what happens to us, it’s what we make it. Listen, with open mind and heart, to just one of these inspirational TED Talks each day, and within a week you will find yourself empowered to help put our world back on the right track.


Drew Dudley: Everyday leadership

No one expects you to change the world. Leadership educator Drew Dudley encourages us to redefine leadership so that each of us, in our own big or small way, can make a truly important difference.

Dudley relays a story about how his simple, unwitting actions changed the entire course of one woman’s life. She told him, “You have been an incredibly important person in my life,” and yet he doesn’t recall even meeting her.


Gabby Giffords: Be passionate. Be courageous. Be your best.

On Jan. 8, 2011, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in the head. Her recovery journey, with astronaut husband Mark Kelly at her side, has inspired hope across the nation and around the world.

Giffords says that her recovery — a long, hard haul —will not reclaim the “old Gabby Giffords” but rather a “new Gabby Giffords: better, stronger, tougher.”

Giffords’ brave story of triumph over evil encourages each of us to get involved in our communities to reduce violence in our often-frightening culture.


Steve Jobs: How to live before you die

“This was more than a speech; it was a blueprint for capturing and reigniting your passions for life, its nuances and the indomitable spirit of the creative,” says one fan of Steve Jobs and his 2005 Stanford University commencement speech.

Steve Jobs speaks openly and honestly — not about his tremendous career successes and accolades — but about the life-changing moments that led him there.


Boyd Varty: What I learned from Nelson Mandela

Wildlife activist Boyd Varty started his talk on the same day that Nelson Mandela died with “I’m a man who’s trying to live by his heart.” Varty says Mandela was an inspiration to him, and he gave this speech as he was mourning the loss.

Get out the tissues as Varty explains how “our own well-being is deeply tied to the well-being of others” through the story of a young handicapped elephant named Elvis.


Joan Halifax: Compassion and the true meaning of empathy

“Compassion has many faces: fierce, wrathful, tender and wise. Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries; without them, humanity cannot survive.”

Buddhist roshi Joan Halifax, who has worked with hospice patients and death-row inmates, believes that compassion “is an inherent human quality” that each of us possesses. It’s a quality that can be activated to significantly transform the suffering of others.


Andrew Solomon: Love, no matter what

“What is the difference between unconditional love and unconditional acceptance?” Writer Andrew Solomon offers an answer to this question, particularly for parents who are raising children who are different than themselves.

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