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TED talks are becoming a forum in airing ideas about many aspects of our lives. From time to time, I visit their website for inspirational talks on life, nutrition, or anything that provokes my curiosity. These discussions aim at the global audience, for everyone eager to listen and learn. These thought-provoking talks can help us rethink who we are and what we should change and improve in our lives.
Meaghan Ramsey: Why thinking you’re ugly is bad for you
“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” Buddha
Meaghan Ramsey is the global director of the Dove Self-Esteem Project, an ambassador who is trying to change the way we are perceived and the way we perceive and see ourselves in today’s image-driven popular culture.
In the culture that is obsessed with physical appearance, enforced by digital media, it’s easier to forget who you truly are in comparison to who you think you are, or who the society wants and pressures you to be. In her thought-provoking talk, she calls on everyone to rethink the devastating impact of low body and image confidence, and its consequences on younger generations. At the beginning of her talk, she reminds us that, unfortunately, around 10,000 people (mostly young teenage girls) a month Google the phrase “Am I ugly?”, explaining, in numbers, how low image confidence leads to lower grade points and a higher risk of turning to drugs and alcohol.
What are the values of our culture and society? To whom are teens turning to for inspiration today? What is the message we are sending? What are the things we are teaching them? We need to be better role models. If we are shaped by our thoughts, and we are, we need to think carefully about who we want to be.
Rishi Manchanda: What makes us get sick? Look upstream.
“Where health begins in not in the four walls of a doctor’s office, but where we live, and where we work, where we eat, sleep, learn and play, where we spend the majority of our lives.“
Rishi Manchanda is a physician and public health innovator, who is dedicated to teaching doctors and medical providers to think more about other aspects of life that are very often the causes of sickness, such as social and environmental conditions. He has worked as a doctor in several medical facilities, treating patients who lived in harsh conditions. He is the author of the TED Book The Upstream Doctors, the book that looks into how health begins at home and in the workplace, including social and environmental factors of everyday lives. He advocates that the future of the healthcare system should focus on those who are looking into the cause of illnesses, not the symptoms.
“Scientists now know that living and working conditions that we all are part of have more than twice the impact on our health than does our genetic code. And living and working conditions, the structures of our environment the ways in which our social fabric is woven together, and the impact those have on our behaviors, all together, those have more than five times the impact on our health than do all the pills and procedures administered by doctors and hospital combined. All together living and working conditions account for sixty percent of preventable death.”
While this approach might associate many with the idea of alternative medicine and their methods, it is of immense importance that modern medicine agrees with the influence other aspects of our lives have on our overall health.
Isabel Allende: How to live passionately—no matter your age
“When do we start aging? Society decides when we are old, usually 65, when we get Medicare, but we really start aging at birth. We are aging right now, and we all experience it differently.”
Isabel Allende is a novelist who writes of passionate lives, and some of her popular novels include The House of the Spirits, Eva Luna and The Stories of Eva Luna, while the most popular amongst the younger readers are Kingdom of the Golden Dragon and Forest of the Pygmies. She is also active in the non-profit sector, and The Isabel Allende Foundation is working with nonprofit organizations in Chile and San Francisco Bay Area to empower women and girls.
In her 8-minute talk, she questions the ways one can accept the fears that come with aging, the greatest fears of all, and still be passionate in life and about life. How? By staying in love with life and saying: YES to all that comes your way, whether it is a tragedy or a comedy. Her talk reminded me of one Buddha saying: “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly. ”
Dan Gilbert: The psychology of your future self
“Why do we make decisions that our future selves so often regret? Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The only constant in our lives is change.”
Dan Gilbert is a psychologist whose book Stumbling on Happiness, which was published in 2006, became a New York Times bestseller and is translated into 20 languages. His research is supported by clinical research from neuroscience and psychology. He is present as a writer for The New York Times, Time and Starbucks, and runs Hedonic Psychology Laboratory.
In all his work, we can sum up two most important questions he is asking (those we are to ask ourselves): “Are you sure you know what makes you happy?” and “Do you believe in change?”. If you know the answers to these questions, and are firmly confident in your vision of life, no need to listen to him, however, if you are not, and most of us aren’t, stop for a few minutes and question yourself. While it might sound too confident to claim that the only constant we have in our lives is change, the change is what makes us be and do better, what reshapes our lives, because, “you cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself,” as Buddha said.
Share your inspirational TED talks in the comments below.
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