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Published on May 3, 2018

Showing Signs of a Nervous Breakdown? 15 Quick Fixes to Help You Re-Center

Showing Signs of a Nervous Breakdown? 15 Quick Fixes to Help You Re-Center

Emotional breakdown can present itself in the form of crises when you have reached peak stress in your life.

Signs of a nervous breakdown can present themselves as anxiety attacks, depression or full-blown panic. These emotional disruptions can take you down the wrong road and have you regretting the consequences after it is too late.

At the very least, they will be some of the most unpleasant moments in your life.

The good thing is, you can avoid running off the cliff, because today you will learn 15 quick fixes that will help you re-center in these moments.

Recenter Your Thoughts to Combat Excess Stress

Choose Your Own Thoughts

You don’t have to agree to every thought that crosses your mind, especially when you are having an emotional breakdown. Many of these thoughts can be pretty tough to swallow.

Maybe nobody has told you this, but you can actually choose your thoughts.

How?

Start by being mindful of all the ideas you are having. Do not get involved with them, simply observe them.

While you’re at it, learn to distinguish good thoughts from bad ones.

Good thoughts will lead you to something better.

Bad thoughts are mostly hurtful or they only lead to other undesirable thoughts or emotions.

When you are facing emotional breakdown, most of the thoughts that will cross your mind will be hurtful and detrimental. These are the kind of thoughts you want to get rid of.

So, how do you do this?

You refuse to interact with the bad thoughts.

There is not much that can be done once you have “thought a thought”. In the end it’s already there, in your mind. But you can refuse to participate with the consequences of having that thought.

You will notice how these thoughts arrive at your mind. But, after you realize that they have no grip on you, they will simply go away; and. you will quickly regain emotional stability.

Get Off the Treadmill

Life is like a treadmill, and sometimes it goes faster than we can handle.

Emotional breakdown is the indicator that tells you the treadmill is just going too fast. And since we cannot use a dial to lower the speed, you must do the next best thing:

Get off the damn treadmill.

Whenever you start feeling things are just “too much to handle” simply interrupt whatever it is you are doing. Take 5 minutes for yourself, and for those 5 minutes do nothing but be with yourself. Ignore everything around you and focus on you.

Taking a small break from tension has never hurt anyone, and it’s a great way to break the downward spiral.

Don’t get too attached to “getting off the treadmill”, because that would be evasion.

Take a Step Back

A nervous breakdown is a consequence of being far too immersed in your problems.

We get too attached to our issues and our circumstances; and, that’s understandable, because they do affect us. We end up believing they define us; but, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Everything changes when you practice detachment.

How do you do this? Breathe deeply, mentally take a step back, and refuse to see your problems as something that defines you or as part of yourself.

With a relaxed attitude take a new look at your problems and you will notice a few things:

  • Because of the accumulated tension, you are having an unrealistic view of your problems.
  • Such problems are simpler than you thought, and there is an answer to everything that you are feeling.
  • If you don’t yet see the answer don’t get attached to the feeling of despair; instead, refuse to take no for an answer and keep looking.
  • The trick is to take a step out of your emotions, because they will cloud your judgment.

Practice Pranayama

Maybe you haven’t noticed it, but your breathing changes according to your mood.

It happens to all of us, and it becomes especially shallow when we are going through an emotional breakdown.

Practicing Pranayama (breathing techniques in Yoga) will have an immediate and positive impact on your mind and your emotions.

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Although there are many techniques you only have to remember a very simple exercise:

  1. To interrupt your thinking pattern, quickly exhale until your lungs are “empty” without feeling any strain.
  2. Take 6 seconds to inhale, making sure you expand your belly to allow your lungs to take in as much air as possible.
  3. Hold your breath for 3 seconds.
  4. Then take 6 seconds to exhale as much as possible without straining yourself.
  5. Repeat from step 2.

It’s that simple.

Exhale, 6 seconds to inhale, hold for 3 seconds, 6 seconds to exhale and then repeat.

Keep doing this for at least 5 minutes, and both your mind and your emotions will be in a completely different state.

Pro tip: Try increasing the length of your inhalations and exhalations. You will easily do 10 in and 10 out, but how about trying 15 or 20? Experiment with this and leave a comment about how you felt!

The beauty of Pranayama is that you don’t have to simply believe it works, because you will immediately feel the results. Try it out now!

Write It Out

If you feel the tension accumulating, the thoughts running faster and faster, and a nervous breakdown hovering just around the corner… stop everything you are doing, take out a notebook and write.

But that is just one part of the solution. Now you’ll need to understand what you will write about.

First write down everything you want about the way you feel. Take it out, everything. Then write the reason why you are overwhelmed, but not without a proper structure. Write down a list of problems that are currently afflicting you.

By this point you will be feeling much better, but go the extra mile and to finish the exercise by adding a possible solution to each problem in your list.

Most likely, this will take you around five minutes, and it makes a real difference.

Talk it Out

Human beings are like pressure cookers.

The more you hold in your tension the stronger the explosion will be.

Talking to someone will not only provide you a valuable extra point of view, by verbalizing how you feel you will also be taking pressure off yourself and acquiring a new angle on things.

Moreover, sometimes we only need to say it out loud in order to understand the issue and feel better.

Talk about the things that bother you. Talk about your fears and frustrations. And, most importantly, talk about what you plan to do about it all.

Talk To Yourself

Self-talk can really get you over the hump if you know how to do it the right way.

Why do we fall into the downward spiral? We do this because we are conducting an uncontrolled ‘mental dialogue’. This is self-talk, and it can be positive or negative.

Take a moment to analyze what your self-talk is like when you are facing an nervous breakdown.

If it is chaotic, it will continue to be chaotic if you don’t do something about it.

Whenever you are facing a crisis, pay attention to your mental dialogue and put order where there is none.

Instead of allowing your mind to wander into terrible places and destructive “what-if’s”, take control and guide yourself to a better place.

Talk to yourself aloud if you need to.

Treat yourself as a friend and study all the possibilities. Talk about the things that bother you, and then, as a friend, propose something that will help you.

For some this will be unusual, but it’s very common in creative people such as inventors and artists.

Just remember: you are your own friend; so, give yourself a hand if you need it!

Do Now, Feel Tomorrow

Taking It One Step at a Time

Take a deep breath and take your emotions out of the equation.

Resolve that tomorrow you will have as much emotion as you want, but today you need only mind and action.

This is especially helpful when you are overwhelmed. During this time, you will have many things to do, but you will be also faced with a lot of emotions.

What do you do? Resolve that you don’t need an emotional side for now and approach the nervous breakdown with a logical perspective only.

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Carefully take a look at your issues, and tackle them one by one until you are out of the crisis.

It’s not that you are forcing yourself not to feel; instead, you are just assigning a certain time slot to deal with the other side of the coin: your emotions.

It’s all about prioritizing. Thinking this way will trick your mind into a completely productive and effective attitude.

In most cases, the trick will work just as expected and you will feel all the tension afterwards, just diminished by the way you handled things.

Get Your Adrenaline Pumping

Want an easy fix? Take a walk.

The most illustrious characters in history have been hit by inspiration when talking a walk.

And it’s not only historically proven. A study conducted by the American Psychology Association found out that people got more creative after taking a walk. [1]

Walking and physical activity will help you break the negative emotional cycle and will reframe your reality.

You don’t even have to go outside if you don’t have the time for it, just walk around in circles indoors and it will have the same effect.

Combine this with the proper self-talk and your emotions will settle down.

Engaging in more rigorous exercise takes things to an entirely new level. Aim to exercise regularly so that you can keep yourself centered as many emotions can be released through exercise.

And you don’t really need a gym to work out, you will be fine with doing squats and pushups at home.

The important thing is to allow emotions to flow out along with the exercise. With each movement, breathe in and out mindfully, and allow the exercise to help you release negative emotions.

Bring It Back to the Present

A nervous breakdown is often a product of catastrophic thinking. It can be a product of intense episodes that become crises or by prolonged intervals of replaying depressing scenarios in our heads.

Whatever the case, you must remain mindful of the present.

Thinking about how the past has affected you belongs in the past. Thinking about how worrisome the future might be belongs in the future.

So, stop rehashing the same old issues and stop the what-if thinking. Remind yourself that the only moment you can do anything in is the present moment.

Ask yourself: “What are the things I can do right now to make my situation better?”

It doesn’t have to be the ultimate solution to all your problems, but every little improvement that you can do in the present will help you get through a moment of crisis.

Accept your past and embrace it.

Recognize there is nothing you can do about the past. The longer you take to accept that you cannot change the past, the longer the past will have power over you.

If the uncertainty of the future is giving you trouble, be aware that fortunately you have the power to influence your outcomes.

Don’t think about the future, think about your present best self and the future will play out the way you want it.

The past is gone, and the future you want will never come unless you act in the present.

Divide and Conquer

Being overwhelmed can play an important role in whether or not you will be facing a nervous breakdown. When overwhelmed, our problems become a huge, formless mass of burden. Eventually this mass becomes invincible.

Often, this mass can make us feel buried under a pile of rubble–too heavy for us to even breathe. This is because we are seeing our problems as a whole.

So, if you are overwhelmed, refuse to face the many “monsters” at once and instead focus on just one.

Take one issue, just one. You don’t even have to select it very carefully; tackle the first one that comes to your mind.

It is much simpler to divide your issues one by one than to have think about them all at once and be crushed by their weight alone. And while you are at it, don’t allow the other problems to affect you simultaneously. You will have to deal with issue B later, but right now make it only about solving issue A.

Unleash Your Emotions

Sometimes we just need that moment of raw emotion to guide us.

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Why? Because too often our negative emotions end up swept under the rug, slowly accumulating and becoming a subconscious burden. That is, until you burst!

So go ahead and scream, curse, kick a punching bag, cry or whatever… do everything you need in order to release the tension and stress.

As long as nobody gets hurt you will be doing yourself a favor. Your negative emotions also need expression and release.

When you unleash your emotions a lot of things will start coming to the surface. Those are the issues that you really need to be working on.

Prioritize Positivity

Activate Affirmations

For many, affirmations are just pipe dreams with magical overtones. If you have used them before, though, you know they work.

But, you know what?  You don’t need to believe in them in order to reap the benefits.

Simply repeat the affirmations either aloud or in your head and most importantly, become aware of what you feel when reciting the affirmations.

Notice I said feel, not believe. Just embrace what it feels like. Be aware at the emotional level during the moment you are repeating your affirmations… you will simply be blown away. But don’t just take my word for it; try it out. In fact, try it out right now.

Take a deep breath and repeat this:

“I will overcome all my problems and find every answer need.”

Now please read it again, close your eyes and pay close attention to your feelings.

Not your mind, not your thoughts, not your doubt… be mindful of your feelings, that’s all.

How does it feel?

Now take three deep breaths and repeat:

“Everything is possible for me, my potential is limitless.”

Create your own affirmations according to your own situation and repeat them to yourself when you are feeling down.

Forget Vulnerabilities, Focus on Your Powers

You might be having a very hard time and potentially facing a nervous breakdown, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it.

In fact, you have everything it takes to defeat it. But you won’t be able to defeat these issues if you focus only on the things that keep you down.

I can’t do this” will surely defeat anyone, no matter how strong and capable.

This is a dead end! Therefore, it makes no sense to stay there.

Instead, you must focus on everything you can do, not the things you cannot change.

Think of at least 10 things you can do to make your situation better. 10 may seem like a lot, but you can actually come up with many more–10 is actually quite conservative.

You have a lot of potential, don’t let it be eclipsed by your current situation, because there is no point of comparison.

Stop thinking in terms of your shortcomings, think in terms of your capacity.

Everything Has an Expiration Date

Remind yourself that this feeling is temporary. Holding on to this principle has helped me through the most intense anxiety attacks. Because it is absolute truth.

When we are immersed in emotional breakdown our vision of the future is distorted… and pretty painful.

And the emotional overload makes us think that “this is it”.

But it is only a byproduct of the emotions bringing us down, not reality itself.

So, next time anxiety draws you a picture of your future, simply refuse to take it as a real vision.

Recognize how distorted it is. Also recognize that the nervous breakdown is only a temporary state. And like everything else, this too, shall pass.

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This quick-fix may as well be called “wait for the storm to pass”, because that’s what you can do.

Take every thought and emotion you have as something fictitious. Painful, yes, but only temporary.

You are only going through a very bad time, but you will soon return to your baseline, and then up to a better state of mind.

It will pass. So be still and know it will only be temporary.

Recenter With Visualization

What good can visualization do if you are having an emotional breakdown!?

Actually, it can do a lot.

Visualization takes you out of the emotional state that is holding you down.

Visualization is not just wishful thinking, but a clear vision of the exact goal you are aiming for–even when you don’t yet know it.

Maybe you can’t quite see where you are heading because you are swamped by emotions right now. But, this is precisely when visualization comes in handy. In visualization there are no barriers. It’s just you, your desire and the constructive use of imagination.

How do you do it and how to make it work?

First, when I say visualize I don’t necessarily mean that you have to create a crisp, crystal clear vision in your mind.

Just thinking about what you want is enough.

Some people are more visual than others, but this doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you start immersing yourself in the visualization and start feeling the effects of this positive thinking.

Putting It Into Practice

Close your eyes and imagine a moment in the future where every worry is gone. You handled all the adversity like a pro and now you are living that moment.

What would it feel like? Is there anybody by your side? What are you doing? Why do you feel so happy? What happened to the things that were worrying you so much?

Take a couple minutes to register in detail how everything feels in that vision.

And after you are done it’s time to make it work.

What solutions were implemented immediately before your visualization? That is, what led to that moment of joy in your life?

What caused it all to culminate on that visualization? Did someone new come into your life? Or maybe somebody left?

Did you finally learn how to deal with that difficult confrontation? What decisions did you make?

Tone Down the Tension

You see what we’re doing? We are reverse-engineering your visualization.

You know where you want to be. Now walk backwards and observe everything that needs to happen so that you can get there. Do it in as much detail as possible until you get to the present moment.

This process of visualization takes the tension off and works the other way around. Don’t focus on your problems, but on the desired outcome.

Visualization plus action will help you defeat a nervous breakdown.

Practice Makes Perfect

These quick-fixes are only the first step to get you over your hump. As you can see, they help you at these difficult moments, but they are not the solution in itself.

Generally speaking, you must face a nervous breakdown with emotional detachment and practice stillness to avoid being shaken.

Nobody likes to be thrown around by emotions, and that’s why you must develop a more stoic approach when it comes to your emotional breakdowns.

Always keep in mind that these periods of intense stress are only temporary states, and that they do not hold absolute power over you.

The more you practice these quick-fixes, the easier you will handle crises in the future.

In the end, it’s not about trying to avoid pain, but to learn how to be bigger than your suffering. Putting these tactics above to use will help you regain control over your emotions.

Featured photo credit: Imani Clovis via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

George Alonso

Anxiety Coach, author and mental health advocate.

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Last Updated on July 12, 2018

17 Ted Talks for Kids to Inspire Little Minds to Do Big Things

17 Ted Talks for Kids to Inspire Little Minds to Do Big Things

A few years ago, I watched Brene Brown’s TED Talk on Vulnerability. Her story, her research, her authenticity, and yes, her vulnerability resonated with me deeply. One of the concepts that stood out the most was that in order to live wholeheartedly, we must feel the full range of emotions. The positive: joy, gratitude, happiness. And the not so positive: grief, fear, shame, sadness, disappointment.

This talk moved me, changed me and challenged me to think differently. And that is what TED talks have the power to do. They can make the hairs on the back of our neck stand up, bring us to tears, and most importantly, motivate, inspire and challenge our thinking.

Which is why I’m so excited to share these TED Talks for kids. I’ve always had a passion for working with children; I have three daughters of my own, co-lead two local Girl Scout Troops, spent time in my career working in education and am a member of the Galileo community advisory board (an innovation camp for kids).

I’m involved in all of these because I feel deeply how important it is to help our kids build their confidence, self-esteem, innovation and creativity. I want every kid to realize they are awesome just as they are. That they have the ability to make anything happen if they dream big and work hard. Imagine what that would do for our youth.

If you Google or scour lists of top TED talks, you tend to get similar ones popping up. That’s because they’re awesome. But they’re not all appropriate for kids.

How I shortlisted these TED Talks

I’ve done the hard work for you. Along with my family, kids, their friends and a few others, we vetted over 100 TED Talks and picked out the 17 that I believe send powerful and inspiring messages our kids desperately need.

So, whether your kid is 6 or 16, I hope you find something that inspires, moves, motivates and challenges them.

  • They’re short enough for young brains to stay engaged. While there is an 18 minute “rule” for TED talks, many of the most popular talks are 20+ minutes. Recently, as I toured middle schools for my daughters, one of the principals shared that a kid’s attention span is the kids age minus one. So, if you have an 11 year old, then 10 minutes is his/her attention span. You can’t expect him/her to listen to 18 minutes and stay focused the whole time. All of the talks highlighted below are under 15 minutes. Some are as short as three.
  • They all include life lessons I believe are important for today’s youth. For me, this meant searching for talks that would build confidence and self-esteem; help kids be true to themselves. Understand what makes a happy and successful life. How to dream big. To communicate, interact and treat others. Above all, these talks will help kids see that they are awesome and that anything is possible when they dream big and work hard.
  • They’re kid-friendly. You might think this is obvious, but I found many speakers share political views, curse, or share content or concepts that that could be scary or confusing for young minds. If you ask those around me, I’m probably a little overcautious about what I expose my kids too. I’m ok with that. They have plenty of time to see the darker side of the world as they age. I would be comfortable with my seven-year-old watching all of these.
  • They’re interesting. Kids need to be engaged, interested and motivated to even sit through a video. While this isn’t always easy to do, I’ve tried to find videos with likeable speakers, compelling topics and inspiring stories. And don’t worry, they’re not just for kids – these are awesome talks for adults as well.

Top 17 Ted Talks for kids

1. A Life Lesson From A Volunteer Firefighter (4:01)

I started with this one because all of my kids absolutely loved it. It’s an easy entry point for kids – short and sweet with a powerful message. (And what kid doesn’t like a firefighter?!)

Volunteer Firefighter and Activist Mark Bezos shares his story about how small things can make a big difference.

My 11-year-old’s key takeway? “It shows we don’t have to do something big to make a difference”.

Here’s a key piece of his message:

“In both my vocation at Robin Hood and my avocation as a volunteer firefighter, I am witness to acts of generosity and kindness on a monumental scale, but I’m also witness to acts of grace and courage on an individual basis. And you know what I’ve learned? They all matter.”

2. What Adults Can Learn From Kids (8:06)

One of my 11-year-olds was riveted by this one. In fact, at one point, I tried to increase the volume on the iPad while she kept pushing me out of the way so she didn’t miss anything.

Twelve-year-old Adora Svitak is incredible. This talk is inspiring not only because of what she says, but because of how incredible and confident this young girl is as she presents.

Here are some of my favorite excerpts from her talk:

“Kids don’t think about limitations…they just think about good ideas.”
“Learning between grown-ups and kids should be reciprocal.”
“When expectations are low, trust me, we (kids) will sink to them.”

3. Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection (8:50)

Recommended by several people when I was asking around, I found myself choking up in the first two minutes as Reshma shares her personal story about bravery in the face of failure.

“This is not a story about failure or resilience…it’s about bravery.”

She talks about our “bravery deficit”.

“When we teach girls to be brave, and we have a supportive network cheering them on, they will build incredible things.”

She shares one of my favorite philosophies: Progress, not perfection.

This is a great one for those who need a little more confidence to raise their hand, try out for that team, or face an upcoming challenge.

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4. 10 Ways To Have a Better Conversation (11:30)

This is one of my all-time favorites. I’m becoming increasingly concerned about our kids’ ability to have a face-to-face conversation. Just look around at a restaurant and see how many kids have their faces in phones. One recent survey of managers said 46% of recent grads need to hone their communication skills.

As someone who spent many years earning a living helping people communicate better, I think this is necessary for every kid. It’s a lost art. A skill that is becoming extinct with the world of technology.

Radio Host Celeste Headlee provides great tips for how to have a better conversation, and, more importantly, how to listen.

At one point, she shares this thought written in the Atlantic by a high school teacher named Paul Barnewell.

“I came to realize that conversational competence might be the single most overlooked skill we fail to teach. Kids spend hours each day engaging with ideas and each other through screens, but rarely do they have an opportunity to hone their interpersonal communications skills. It might sound like a funny question, but we have to ask ourselves: Is there any 21st Century skill more important than being able to sustain coherent, confident conversation?”

My older daughters both really enjoyed this talk. They learned “how important it is to listen and to think about other people, not just yourself”.

My favorite line of all time: “There’s no reason to show you’re paying attention, if in fact, you are actually paying attention.”

This is a great one to share with your teenagers – even if you need to text them the link?

5. A Promising Test for Pancreatic Cancer… From A Teenager (10:46)

I just love this one. Jack shares his story, how as a teenager he searched for and found a promising cure for pancreatic cancer. Motivated by the death of a close family friend, Jack shows some of my favorite attributes: thinking, process, initiative, perseverance, determination, courage…and humor. He’s a fantastic speaker and will keep your kids interested and engaged.

One of my favorite quotes:

“You don’t have to be a professor with multiple degrees to have your ideas valued…Just imagine what you could do.”

“He did that all by himself?” One of my daughters asked at the end. Yep, he did. And you can, too.

6. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (6:09)

With three kids, I’m always driving a car full of kids somewhere. As I was researching for this article, during each of my rides, I took the opportunity to ask whoever was in the car about their recommendations. This talk was recommended by a 16-year-old high school student. (Thank you, Bella!) I had seen it before and was so glad she liked it as much as I did.

Angela Lee Duckworth left her consulting career and became a 7th grade math teacher in the New York public school system. She was fascinated by what helped students succeed. This talk is the story of what she found.

Here’s a quick preview:

“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint. “

Need another reason to share this with your kid? Angela highlights that kids with grit are more likely to graduate…and be successful in their chosen careers.

We all know how important grit and perseverance are; let’s help our children see that.

7. Dare To Dream Big (8:49)

With just over 22,000 views, this video hasn’t hit “mainstream” TED world yet, but Isabella Rose Taylor, a freshman in college and a working fashion designer, tells a fantastic story.

“Today I want to talk to you about dreams and stories.”

She shares one of my favorite stories about the 4-minute mile and how belief is such an important part of success.

“They didn’t all the sudden get faster or stronger, they just believed it was possible.”

The rest of her talk is filled with lessons on dreaming big, believing in yourself, courage, authenticity, and the importance of relationships.

“We should aim as high as possible and dream big.”

Yes. We. Should.

8. Yup, I built a nuclear fusion reactor (3:26)

Even the title shows the confidence that 17-year-old Nuclear Physicist Taylor Wilson has. As he says…and proves,

“Kids can really change the world.”

I love his passion and confidence. He started out with a dream and ended up meeting the President.

9. Underwater Astonishments (5:18)

While this may not have any explicit life lessons, it’s incredibly interesting and fun to watch with kids. Approved by my 7-year-old, who said, “It was very interesting and I liked the pictures. I didn’t know an octopus could do that.”

The underlying lesson? For me, it shows how everything is incredible. When we look for beauty and awe, we will find it.

I also think it’s fascinating as Geologist David Gallow shares:

“And in a place where we thought no life at all, we find more life…there’s still 97 percent, and either that 97 percent is empty or just full of surprises.”

This teaches kids that there is so much in life and in their world to discover.

10. What Makes A Good Life? Lessons From the Longest Study on Happiness (12:40)

I’d say this talk is better for older kids. Robert Waldinger shares what makes a good life, from the longest study in history on happiness.

If your kids are having a hard time getting into it, head to 5:51 for the highlights:

“So what have we learned? What are the lessons that come from the tens of thousands of pages of information that we’ve generated on these lives? Well, the lessons aren’t about wealth or fame or working harder and harder. The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”

I love the focus on the importance of relationships and friendships.

11. The Happy Secret To Better Work (12:14)

Positive Psychologist Shawn Achor is funny, fast and witty. He begins his talk with an incredibly funny story about his sister and him when they were little.

He shares that:

“90 percent of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world. And if we change it, if we change our formula for happiness and success, we can change the way that we can then affect reality.”

If you want to get to the essence, head to 9:09 for his suggestions.

This is another one that’s probably best for older kids and teenagers.

12. Weird, or Just Different? (2:35)

The shortest talk on this list, Derek Sivers talks about the power of perspective. It teaches kids that we all have a different lens through which we see the world and we need to be aware of our assumptions and bias.

One of Derek’s thoughts:

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There’s a saying that whatever true thing you can say about India, the opposite is also true. So, let’s never forget…that whatever brilliant ideas you have or hear, that the opposite may also be true.

My daughter’s thoughts: “It shows we can both be right.” YES.

13. Living Beyond Limits (9:44)

When I said earlier that I would let my 7-year-old watch all of these talks, this might be my one exception. Amy Purdy’s message is incredible but with an illness and near-death experience, it could be scary for little ones.

When she was just 19, Amy got bacterial meningitis and after a long fight for her life, she survived, but lost both legs below the knee. Now, a pro-snowboarder, she shows how “It’s believing in those dreams and facing our fears head-on that allows us to live our lives beyond our limits.”

Her message:

“If your life was a book, and you were the author, how would you want your story to go?”

As my daughter and her friend watched this video, they loved Amy, were completely engaged by her story and got this lesson – “Don’t give up on our dreams just because something bad happens.”

14. 8 Secrets of Success (3:26)

In this short video, Analyst Richard St. John condenses a decade of research on success into three minutes. It’s a two-hour presentation he gives to high school students on what’s needed to be successful. Quick. Fast. Interesting with lots of great life lessons including serving, persisting, hard work and passion.

15. Nature. Beauty. Gratitude. (9:47)

The title says it all.

Filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg’s beautiful cinematic time lapse imagery is paired with words of perspective from a little girl and an elderly man about what makes life so beautiful.

It may feel slow for some kids, but contains a compelling and valuable message.

I loved when the little girl shared her perspective about why we should be exploring nature and not watching TV and when the elderly gentlemen shared these thoughts:

“You think this is just another day in your life? It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today. It’s given to you. It’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness.”

Kids might also find it interesting why we say OMG. I did.

16. Why Some Of Us Don’t Have One True Calling (12:26)

This is a great talk, especially for high school students who are trying to figure out what to do with their life! In my coaching practice, this question still evokes a sense of stress, whether someone is going into high school, graduating from college, or in a mid-life career change.

Emilie’s powerful message:

If you have multiple dreams, goals and interests, “There’s nothing wrong with you. What you are, is a multipotentialite. Someone with many interests and creative pursuits.”

The statistics back up this concept. Studies have shown that only 27 percent of college grads have a job related to their major; the average person changes jobs 10-15 times during his or her career; and people change careers anywhere from 3-7 times over the course of their lifetime.

Emilie then goes on to share the skills and benefits of being a multipotentialite, complete with examples of successful individuals who have created a life that works for them.

My absolute favorite message from this talk is one that I’m deeply aligned with in my coaching practice:

“We should all be designing lives and careers that are aligned with how we’re wired… Embracing our inner wiring leads to a happier, more authentic life.”

Amen.

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17. How I Harnessed the Wind (5:52)

Incredible and inspiring. At the age of 14, William Kamkwamba, with very little education or resources, motivated by poverty and famine, created a windmill to power his family’s home. As he looked at his life, he felt that what he was living was a fate he couldn’t accept. So rather than live the life he was “destined” to live, he decided to change it.

Not only is this story about courage, drive and innovation, it will also help kids gain perspective about what others in the world are facing on a daily basis.

He closes with these words of wisdom:

“I would like to say something to all the people out there like me, to the Africans, and the poor who are struggling with your dreams. God bless. Maybe one day you will watch this on the Internet. I say to you, trust yourself and believe. Whatever happens, don’t give up.”

BONUS: I Think We All Need a Pep Talk (3:28)

Ok, so it’s not officially a TED Talk, but it was on their site[1] and I just had to include it! Many of you have probably seen this Soul Pancake video before. I don’t need to say much. Just watch it.

Here are three of my favorite lines from 9-year old “Kid President”:

“We’re all on the same team.”
“We were made to be awesome.”
“Give the world a reason to dance, so get to it.”

Now What? Watch these with your kids!

Now that you’ve read through these options, it’s time to pick a few and watch them with your kid(s). I recommend you choose three that are relevant to your family, a situation your kid is in, a life lesson you feel is important for them to learn, or something that you’re just excited to share.

That’s the easy part. Now you have to get them to watch it!

Here are a few recommendations for sharing these with your kids:

1. Share your thoughts and a few W’s

Who is this talk about, why you think it’s important for them to watch and what you think they’ll find interesting. Get them hooked before they watch it. Giving them high-level context will not only get them interested, but get their minds primed for learning.

2. After you watch the video, have a discussion.

Not sure what to ask? Here are some ideas:

  • What did you think of the video?
  • What did you enjoy?
  • What do you think motivated this speaker to speak on this topic?
  • What did you learn?
  • What do you think you’ll do differently as a result of watching this?

3. Ask them to stick with it and be patient.

When I started testing these with my daughters, I could see in the first minute they were wondering if they really wanted to do this. I asked them to be patient, keep an open mind and stick with it. Once they got through the initial, “Ugh, Mom!”…. they enjoyed watching.

Lucky for you, the ones they couldn’t get through didn’t make this cut! Watch one (maybe two) at time. Stick with the age minus one rule.

I loved researching these talks, watching them with my kids and their friends, and hearing their thoughts and reactions. I hope they provide a great discussion for you and your family, some inspiration for your kids and something that moves, motivates and challenges you both.

I’d love to hear which of these resonated with you and your kids – and if you have other favorite TED talks you think would be great for kids, please let me know!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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