Engaging your mind is the best way to keep it sharp, but in the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s easy to fall into a slump. If you need a mental pick-me-up, check out these fascinating TED Talks. Get inspired. Get engaged. Give your brain a boost.
Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin discusses the physiological effects of stress on the body, including the release of cortisol which clouds judgment, leaving us unable to perform at our best. Stress is inevitable, but learning how to better handle it is possible. Daniel explains how we can use a process called “prospective hindsight” to plan ahead and be better prepared to deal with highly stressful situations.
How important is body language? Very important, as it turns out. Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, describes how “power posing” improves how we view ourselves and can lead to greater success. Learn how to “fake it until you make it ,” as Amy says, or even better, “fake it until you become it.”
Social science has proven over and over that “if-then” rewards are not an effective approach to motivating individuals, yet such practices still largely prevail in the business world. Dan Pink, career analyst, explores why this traditional yet ineffective approach persists, and how to develop a better approach—one based upon intrinsic motivation, as opposed to extrinsic rewards.
Is optimism the secret to happiness? Cognitive neuroscientist Tali Sharot discusses the numerous benefits of positive thinking, but cautions against the dangers of unrealistic optimism. Research shows that most of us are indeed optimistic, but extreme optimism can leave us ill-prepared to deal with reality. Tali believes, however, that we can indeed have the best of both worlds—we can protect ourselves from the pitfalls of optimism while still remaining hopeful.
Dan Gilbert, Psychologist and Happiness Expert, explains why happiness is not necessarily rooted in getting what we want. So-called “synthetic happiness,” happiness that is essentially manufactured by the human brain, is much more powerful than many of us would guess.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s brilliant TED Talk is a personal and quippy speech about her fear of not being able to top her greatest creative work, her incredibly successful book, Eat, Pray, Love. She explores the perceptions of artists as tortured souls, how other societies throughout history have regarded creativity, and how we can change our ways of thinking to better support the creative process.
Who would have thought the way we stand can actually affect our performance? Or that optimism can potentially hurt us? Learning is a life-long experience. The more we know about our minds and bodies and how they work, they better we can leverage for success and happiness. Be curious, and stay engaged.
This first appeared in Forbes.