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10 Outstanding TED Talks to Inspire You to Live Simply

The more I move toward a simple life, the more I see how multifaceted it is.

I can donate under-used items throughout my home, but how are my donations impacting the economies of under-developed countries?

In this case, I’d like to buy less in the first place. Speaking of which, do you know what life is like for the people who work on overseas shipping barges?

How is my consumerism impacting the environment? What am I teaching my kids each time we donate a load of toys? How can I stay motivated to keep the white space in our family calendar when everyone around us is filling it with sports and music lessons?

How can I live a life of meaning? 

The TED talks in this list speak to so many of these topics. If you want an introduction to an aspect of minimalism you didn’t know much about—or if you just need a heartfelt reminder of why you’re living simply in the first place—turn to one of these 10 outstanding TED talks.

{Related: 12 Must-See TED Talks for Purposeful Women}

10 Outstanding TED Talks to Inspire You to Live Simply

1. How Do You Maximize Your Tiny, Short Life? by Neil Pasricha (36k views)

Don’t listen to this one while folding the laundry. Listen to this one when you want to think deeply—breathe deeply. At first, the pauses between his questions are almost unsettling. But by the end, it feels like it was a meditative experience, so stick with it… and enjoy.

2. Inside the Secret Shipping Industry by Rose George (1.4 million views)


A fascinating talk from journalist Rose George, who spent give weeks living on a container ship. Let’s just say that on the night I watched this talk, I decided not to make an online order I’d been contemplating.

3. How to Gain Control of Your Free Time by Laura Vanderkam (6.1 million views)


What I would give to have written this talk! 😉 It’s a message I’m passionate about. We all have more time that we realize; it’s a matter of using it with purpose. 

4. Should You Live for Your Resume… or Your Eulogy? by David Brooks (2.4 million views)


As someone whose resume is impressive to say the least (He’s written for all of America’s biggest news organizations and is currently an op-ed columnist for the New York Times.), I love that his talk explores the merits of living for your eulogy.

“We live in perpetual self-confrontation between the external success and the internal value.”

5. A Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit by Judson Brewer (9.7 million views)


Sometimes it’s our bad habits that keep us from living at the pace we feel we’re meant for. (For instance, the instinct to say yes… when maybe we should say no.) Psychiatrist Judson Brewer suggests we get… curious.

6. Wear Nothing New by Jessi Arrington (1.2 million views)


A delightful talk about stretching your creative muscles by buying used. I imagine this could be great to listen to with a teen whose interested in the fashion industry or personal style. 🙂

“I spent a whole lot of my life trying to be myself and also fit in. Just be who you are.”

7. How to Buy Happiness by Michael Norton (3.7 million views)


This list is all about simplifying—and many of the talks encourage spending less—but this? This is one smart way to spend your cash.

8. How to Find Work You Love by Scott Dinsmore (5.2 million views)


From the title, you’d assume the talk is about career, but it’s really about designing a life you love, not just a job.

9. Want To Be Happy? Be Grateful by David Steindl-Rast (6.4 million views)


It’s not everyday you get to learn about happiness from a practicing monk. 👊 It’s not as focused in subject as other talks, but who can resist Brother Steindl-Rast’s gentle manner and gems of wisdom?

10. In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honorè (2.6 million views)


I loved the humor that was threaded throughout this talk, as well as how Honorè touchingly begins and ends with what motivated him to study slowness in the first place—reading bedtime stories with his son.

(If you happen to watch TEDs with your kids, just know that this one has a one-minute segment about “slow sex.”)

Thank you for visiting, and I hope these talks inspire you to live simply and with greater purpose. ❤

If you—like me—are on a quest to simplify not just your home and your calendar but all the information that’s bouncing around inside your head, I bet you’ll enjoy this new, free resource…

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