8 TED Talks That Will Help You Get Through the Holidays

published Nov 23, 2015
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Are you prepared for the holidays? For traffic jams, holiday travel, potlucks, screaming kids, wrapping gifts, nosy family members? Take some to watch a handful of these TED talks on subjects like listening, happiness, mindfulness and more…they just might help you keep things in perspective, save your sanity and perhaps even survive the holidays this year.

Derek Sivers at TEDGlobal 2010 — 3:15 minutes to watch

Maybe not share your excitement over a new goal you’ve made with your family around the dinner table this Thanksgiving.

“The repeated psychology tests have proven that telling someone your goal makes it less likely to happen. Any time you have a goal, there are some steps that need to be done, some work that needs to be done in order to achieve it. Ideally you would not be satisfied until you’d actually done the work. But when you tell someone your goal and they acknowledge it, psychologists have found that it’s called a “social reality.” The mind is kind of tricked into feeling that it’s already done. And then because you’ve felt that satisfaction, you’re less motivated to do the actual hard work necessary.”

Sherry Turkle TED2012 — 19:48 to watch

Consider putting that technology down this holiday so you can really cultivate connections with those you love:

“Human relationships are rich and they’re messy and they’re demanding. And we clean them up with technology. And when we do, one of the things that can happen is that we sacrifice conversation for mere connection. We short-change ourselves. And over time, we seem to forget this, or we seem to stop caring.”

Amy Cuddy at TEDGlobal 2012 — 21:02 minutes to watch

Nervous about facing family or coworkers for any holiday events? Consider practicing your body language, first.

“Tiny tweaks can lead to big changes. So, this is two minutes. Two minutes, two minutes, two minutes. Before you go into the next stressful evaluative situation, for two minutes, try doing this, in the elevator, in a bathroom stall, at your desk behind closed doors. That’s what you want to do. Configure your brain to cope the best in that situation. Get your testosterone up. Get your cortisol down. Don’t leave that situation feeling like, oh, I didn’t show them who I am. Leave that situation feeling like, I really feel like I got to say who I am and show who I am.”

Julian Treasure at TEDGlobal 2011 — 7:50 minutes to watch

Work on really listening to what the folks next to you at the dinner table are saying this year:

“Now sound is my passion, it’s my life. I wrote a whole book about it. So I live to listen. That’s too much to ask from most people. But I believe that every human being needs to listen consciously in order to live fully — connected in space and in time to the physical world around us, connected in understanding to each other, not to mention spiritually connected, because every spiritual path I know of has listening and contemplation at its heart.”

Julian Treasure at TEDGlobal2013 — 9:58 minutes to watch

And work on speaking in a way that can help those across the dinner table really hear what it is you’re saying.

“Now let me just put this in context to close. This is a serious point here. This is where we are now, right? We speak not very well to people who simply aren’t listening in an environment that’s all about noise and bad acoustics. I have talked about that on this stage in different phases. What would the world be like if we were speaking powerfully to people who were listening consciously in environments which were actually fit for purpose? Or to make that a bit larger, what would the world be like if we were creating sound consciously and consuming sound consciously and designing all our environments consciously for sound? That would be a world that does sound beautiful, and one where understanding would be the norm, and that is an idea worth spreading.”

Laura Trice at TED2008 — 3:29 minutes to watch

Make sure you say thanks this holiday.

“And it’s simple. And why should we care about this? We talk about world peace. How can we have world peace with different cultures, different languages? I think it starts household by household, under the same roof. So, let’s make it right in our own backyard. …”

David Steindl-Rast at TEDGlobal 2013 — 14:30 minutes to watch

Being grateful is another big part of celebrating Thanksgiving and the holidays.

“…What is the connection between happiness and gratefulness? Many people would say, well, that’s very easy. When you are happy, you are grateful. But think again. Is it really the happy people that are grateful? We all know quite a number of people who have everything that it would take to be happy, and they are not happy, because they want something else or they want more of the same. And we all know people who have lots of misfortune, misfortune that we ourselves would not want to have, and they are deeply happy. They radiate happiness. You are surprised. Why? Because they are grateful. So it is not happiness that makes us grateful. It’s gratefulness that makes us happy. If you think it’s happiness that makes you grateful, think again. It’s gratefulness that makes you happy.”

Andy Puddicombe TEDSalon London Fall 2012 — 9:24 minutes to watch

When things get stressful, lean on mindfulness.

“I think the present moment is so underrated. It sounds so ordinary, and yet we spend so little time in the present moment that it’s anything but ordinary. There was a research paper that came out of Harvard, just recently, that said on average, our minds are lost in thought almost 47 percent of the time. 47 percent. At the same time, this sort of constant mind-wandering is also a direct cause of unhappiness. Now we’re not here for that long anyway, but to spend almost half of our life lost in thought and potentially quite unhappy, I don’t know, it just kind of seems tragic, actually, especially when there’s something we can do about it, when there’s a positive, practical, achievable, scientifically proven technique which allows our mind to be more healthy, to be more mindful and less distracted.”