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All of us hit ruts in our professional, creative and social lives, where our motivation and goal orientation slips and becomes lost. With so much happening around us, it's important to remember why we do the things we do, and how we can better ourselves, not just for our future but the future of the people we leave everything to.
Here are some of the most inspiring, intellectual and impressive TED talks to get you back in the groove of constantly improving and expressing yourself. If this doesn't help, maybe a large brick over the head or kick in the groin will do the trick.
Young-ha Kim: Be an Artist Right Now
This is a theme that needs to be pressed upon people throughout their lives in education; the idea that art is a possibility at all times for all people. From early childhood, we all grow up making art, drawing outside the lines and laughing and smiling as we do it. As we get older, we begin to drop off and suppress these urges and take judgment too seriously.
Although it might not be the career choice we make for ourselves, it doesn't take a skillfully trained person or a highly educated art appreciator to make art. It's something any of us can do, whether in work or play, to widen our existence while we're here and to expand the consciousness of the people around us, if we so choose. Or it can just be because it's fun and makes us happy.
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Elizabeth Gilbert: Creative Genius
Creativity and its process is a hard thing to pin down and define with words. So is how and why the process begins and what it is that's actually happening when we're creating things, whether it's a painting or a bird house design. Is it as simple as picking up a paintbrush or putting paper in the typewriter and just "going," or is there something else we're tapping into?
Author Elizabeth Gilbert of "Eat, Pray, Love" fame talks about the pressures of success to follow-up with another, likely lesser, piece of work. She talks about creative genius, Greek mythology and the idea that we're not completely alone in the creative process. Truly fascinating.
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John Lloyd: Tour of the Invisible
John Lloyd takes us on a guided animated tour of all things invisible, noting the mystery and importance of that which we cannot see in our everyday lives. His theory is that just because we can't see or understand something doesn't mean it doesn't matter. In fact, if anything, it matters more, not so much that we understand it as much as we appreciate its importance in our daily lives. Gravity, what a joke!
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Jill Bolte Taylor: Stroke of Insight
Jill Bolte Taylor explains the experience of going through her first, and hopefully last, stroke through the eyes of a brain scientist. After being motivated to understand the brain functions due to her brother's schizophrenia, Taylor herself experienced brain trauma, as well.
Listen as she explains the sensations of her body reacting through this struggle, the power of the left and right sides of the brain, how they differ from each other in personality and gathering the strength to recover, not only back to where she left off, but to go above and beyond mentally to places she never knew possible for herself, or the human race.
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Ken Robinson: School Kills Creativity
Creative expert Ken Robinson offers an intuitive look at education and how it serves, or takes away from, the creative process. He discusses the unpredictability of our future, the marvel of youngsters in our world these days and the squandering of creativity throughout education.
Robinson offers radical ideas for change in education, how we cultivate creativity in our youth and how not all children are the same. One thing is for certain, which is that we should celebrate the free minds and creativity abilities of such young individuals. He also discusses the importance of sustaining the artist inside of each child throughout the entire course of life, if possible. Now that's a goal worth reaching for in education.
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David Gallo: Underwater Astonishments
If you're addicted to sea discovery, bioluminescence and planting yourself in front of Planet Earth for days on end, you'll appreciate this talk. David Gallo speaks not only of nature's underbelly, but also of how little we know about the ocean waters (about three percent).
Gallo shows off several impressive chameleon-type organisms in our water, and he also points out briefly the underwater ability to inspire awe. As humans, we're constantly looking for ways to be inspired, and it's been said that those who find beauty in everything will never be short on that inspiration. As you can see in this talk, it's almost as if these rare creatures were put here to do just that for us.
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Kid President: Pep Talk
Kid President is a necessary reminder that age is not only arbitrary, but also gives us a fresh perspective on how constantly slacking we are and in need of an awakening. If we cannot take cues from our co-adult peers in this crazy little world, we can at least appreciate the words of an Emmanuel Lewis-type boy to steer our ships in the right direction (his real name is Robby Novak).
Watch Kid President get down with some hard truths and see if you don't feel a need to make something happen. If nothing else, you'll shape up in order to not get outdone by a 9-year-old kid.
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Michael Pollan: A Plant's-Eye View
Author Michael Pollan gives us some insight into perception as he discusses the importance of nature in our everyday view of life, learning to empathize with how plants and animals view us, and the world.
With this vantage point, we can better understand the importance of how we act in regard to certain things on this planet, as well as our impact on the Earth. From here, we can better recognize that the human race isn't of most significance, but rather aligns with the rest of nature in a more unified approach to living. Our belief that we are more important than nature and its resources is what has had led to our recent struggles with resources in general. The sooner we learn to appreciate nature, the sooner we can move in the right direction.
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Shawn Anchor: The Happy Secret to Better Work
Good Think Inc.'s Shawn Anchor asks the very important question about work inspiring happiness. Do we take work to make ourselves happy, and do the rewards of working a job we can't stand create lasting happiness?
Anchor, a psychologist, humorously argues that it's our happiness that creates productivity, and that positive psychology is the answer. The idea of studying people and building systems based upon the "average" should be a thing of the past. Here Anchor discusses not only the idea of improving those who fall short of the average, but the idea of raising the average as a whole to higher grounds, a needed optimism in our world.
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Stephen Hawking: Questioning the Universe
One of our most unique, knowledgeable and insightful individuals aboard this planet is also one of our most restricted, Stephen Hawking. Those of us seeking answers to history, in particular the beginning of our existence and our future, might find this as helpful as it is intriguing.
Hawking's ability to articulate physics is a one-of-a-kind form. As we grow as a race and begin to experience scientific discovery as well as our faults, these questions being asked seem more and more relevant.
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