’Tis the season to watch It’s a Wonderful Life for the thousandth time (if only because it’s on repeat on almost every channel). ’Tis also the season to start thinking about the year to come — and crafting your annual list of resolutions. Combine the two, then: Instead of zoning out in front of a movie you don’t really care about, get caught up in these 10 inspiring TED Talks.
1. The Art of Stillness: Travel writer Pico Iyer regularly treks across the globe, and yet, in his talk, he examines the need for stillness rather than constant motion. It’s not just a way to get a quick break, but an essential method to process and truly cherish all that happens in our lives. So, go on, add it to your list: Next year, do nothing for a while.
2. The Surprising Science of Happiness: Feeling like you’ve spent some time in a funk? If you’re looking for ways to get happier, Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert speaks about how happiness isn’t something to quest after. Instead, it’s something we can learn to synthesize inside ourselves. Almost like a secret superpower — no radioactive spiders required.
3. Try Something New for 30 Days: What’s your greatest, most secret ambition? Write a novel? Learn to climb mountains? Even just give up sugar? Turns out, as Google technologist Matt Cutts counsels, all you need is 30 days — just enough time to try something out and get new habits to stick. (Or unstick, if you realize you don’t actually want to do away with cookies. We won’t judge.)
4. Why Dieting Doesn’t Usually Work: Looking to improve yourself from the inside out? Subscribing to whatever pop diet is big this week probably isn’t going to work, says neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt. The fact is, many dieters are heavier five years later than they were pre-diet. Aamodt’s tips for healthy-eating success could flip that script.
5. Should You Live Life for Your Resume — or Your Eulogy?: Worried about what you’ve accomplished lately? Don’t, says New York Times columnist David Brooks. It’s time we all start thinking more about our inner lives — and our fundamental characters — than our resumes. 2015 is all about you time.
6. Invest in Social Change: 2015 is the perfect time to think more about the world around you. Inspire your awareness with social-investment visionary Toby Eccles’s compelling speech. He’s proposing an ingenious new way to create lasting change. The new year’s already looking bright.
7. How Art Gives Shape to Cultural Change: In 2015, it’s high time you get yourself to your local museum. At least according to Thelma Golden, curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem. In her talk, she discuses how exhibitions inspire awareness-raising dialogue — and all that art can do to expand our social horizons.
8. Your Elusive Creative Genius: Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, knows a thing or two about harnessing creativity. But she isn’t a special case, she says in her speech. Rather, she envisions genius as an external force that collaborates with us during our creative projects. Think of that next time you’re trying to dream up the next Great American Novel.
9. Elon Musk: Anyone who thinks about transportation as much as we do will find it hard not to be inspired by the audacious and boundary-pushing Mr. Musk, inventor of PayPal and Tesla electric cars, and the man behind SpaceX, which is pioneering personal space travel. We’re more than happy to sit back and catch his pearls of wisdom.
10. Brilliant Designs to Fit More People In Every City: At Zipcar, there’s nothing we like more than thinking about how cities work — and how they’re evolving. Architect Kent Larson here envisions how our urban hubs will change in the future. From self-driving cars to robotic apartments, watch to understand how you might be living in 30 years’ time.