TED talks are good mental nutrition.


Gandhi once said “Live as though you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Our community got a good dose of healthy learning last week, when speakers with bold ideas graced the TEDxFargo stage. Explorers, gardeners, doctors, film-makers, philanthropists and artists shared their passions and purpose with hundreds of attendees.

On any given day, there are 5 TEDx events going on somewhere in the world. TEDx events are community-organized events authorized under the TED brand. They’ve been held in more than 150 countries, with some folks walking for miles and braving roadside bombs to come together and learn. All talks are recorded and released to the public within a couple of months after the event.

Some of these talks launch to the big TED.com website. So while the event itself is powerful, the real power of TED talks is their lasting presence on video that gives a long tail of potential influence. TED talks are streamed 2 million times per day. Wow!

Why do people love them so much, what do we learn and why are TED talks important?

I think our brains crave new ideas and TED talks are like sparks in the brain. But the real magic doesn’t happen unless these new ideas fuel action. Research shows that new learning improves memory, enhances confidence, keeps the brain sharp and gives a powerful sense of accomplishment. It gives you new information to share with family and friends.

Writer Annie M. Paul suggests that the platform has great power because the videos are visually stimulating, are based on stories and experiences, and are self-selected by the participant. The time frame of 18 minutes or less is the ideal amount of time to have a substantial discussion without putting people to sleep.

If you don’t know where to start, search “Best TED talks” and see what pops up. You can even google good TED talks under 6 minutes if you feel pressed for time!

NPR hosts TED Radio hour and Delta has TED talks on in-flight entertainment.

If you go to the main site at TED.com, there are playlists for certain topics like education, love, parenting advice, artificial intelligence, talks by brilliant teens and kids, and the wonder of the natural world. You can even select “Surprise me!”

One of my new favorites is Astronaut Chris Hadfield’s, “What I Learned From Going Blind In Space,” His story of being prepared, in space and in life, is accompanied by breathtaking photos. He is also well-known for his YouTube music videos and tweets from space. My interest in this video was sparked by my son’s Cub Scout module on space and his attendance at NASA Space Camp through MSUM’s College for Kids. We now gaze at the night’s stars with more curiosity and questions.

Another fun short video by Google engineer Matt Cutts is Try Something New for 30 Days. This lighthearted talk offers a cool way to think about setting and achieving goals. Hmmm… wondering what I should try next!

But probably the best way to choose what to watch and listen to is explore your own interests. What creates a spark for you? And more importantly, what does it fuel for you?

Author Brian Herbert stated “The capacity to learn is a gift; The ability to learn is a skill; The willingness to learn is a choice.”

Ted talks are a positive choice for good mental nutrition.

Happy discovering,

~Dr Sue


image courtesy of TEDxFargo.com

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