For something that's been around for only a few years, TED talks have quickly become an important medium for learning and inspiration. They help people in all kinds of pursuits with knowledge and inspiration--and there's something wonderfully accessible about seeing and hearing someone communicate directly.
If you're not already a fan, these 12 TED talks represent some of the best and are a great place to start, especially if you are looking to become a better you.
1. Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability
When we work from a place, I believe, that says, "I'm enough" ... then we stop screaming and start listening, we're kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we're kinder and gentler to ourselves.
With insight and humor, Brené Brown shares findings from her research and where they led her in terms of human connection that leads toward knowing oneself and others.
2. Dan Gilbert: The Surprising Science of Happiness
Our longings and our worries are both to some degree overblown, because we have within us the capacity to manufacture the very commodity we are constantly chasing when we choose experience.
The author of Stumbling on Happiness, Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert takes exception to the idea that happiness lies in getting what we want.
3. Richard St. John: Success Is a Continuous Journey
Why do so many people reach success and then fail? One of the big reasons is, we think success is a one-way street. So we do everything that leads up to success, but then we get there. We figure we've made it, we sit back in our comfort zone, and we actually stop doing everything that made us successful. And it doesn't take long to go downhill.
Richard St. John tells the story of the rise and fall of his business as the basis for a discussion about the importance of tenacity and the nature of success.
4. Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work
By training your brain just like we train our bodies, what we've found is we can reverse the formula for happiness and success, and in doing so, not only create ripples of positivity, but a real revolution.
We believe we should work hard in order to be happy, but what if it's the other way around? Positive psychology researcher and teacher Shawn Achor uses humor and rapid-fire delivery to make the case that happiness makes us more productive.
5. Larry Smith: Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career
If you don't find the highest expression of your talent, if you settle for "interesting," do you know what will happen at the end of your long life? Your friends and family will be gathered in the cemetery, and there beside your grave site will be a tombstone, and inscribed on that tombstone it will say "Here lies a distinguished engineer, who invented Velcro." But what that tombstone should have said is, "Here lies the last Nobel laureate in physics, who formulated the Grand Unified Field Theory and demonstrated the practicality of warp drive."
Larry Smith uses humor and blunt truth to call us out on settling for anything less than pursuing our passions.
6. Tony Robbins: Why We Do What We Do
Your model of the world is what shapes you long term. Your model of the world is the filter. That's what's shaping us. It makes people make decisions. To influence somebody, we need to know what already influences them.
Understanding motivation--our own and that of others--is a key to success. Famed success coach Tony Robbins discusses the forces that compel us to do the things we do.
7. John Wooden: The Difference Between Winning and Succeeding
If you make an effort to do the best you can regularly, the results will be about what they should be. Not necessarily what you'd want them to be but they'll be about what they should; only you will know whether you can do that. And that's what I wanted from them more than anything else.
Legendary coach John Wooden shares his thoughts about the meaning of success, the wisdom he gained from his father, and the values and lessons he passed on to his players.
8. Ron Gutman: The Hidden Power of Smiling
Smiling can actually make you look good in the eyes of others. A recent study at Penn State University found that when you smile, you don't only appear to be more likable and courteous, but you actually appear to be more competent.
Learn about the evolution and purpose of the human behavior we call smiling--a behavior that has a surprisingly strong influence on our well-being.
9. Matt Cutts: Try Something New for 30 Days
The next 30 days are going to pass whether you like it or not, so why not think about something you have always wanted to try and give it a shot for the next 30 days?
Google engineer Matt Cutts presents a new way to think about goals. Pick something you keep intending to do and commit to trying it for 30 days.
10. David Steindl-Rast: Want to Be Happy? Be Grateful
Grateful people are joyful people, and joyful people--the more and more joyful people there are, the more and more we'll have a joyful world.
Benedictine monk and interfaith scholar Brother David Steindl-Rast shares the "gentle power" of gratitude.
The bottom line is: your life only gets better when you get better.