15 TED Talks on Gratitude, Mindfulness & Thanks

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It’s becoming increasingly evident that practicing daily gratitude and mindfulness shouldn’t be done only when we feel we have things to be grateful for. Countless studies and personal anecdotes have confirmed gratitude may be a cause of happiness instead of a result.

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There are many ways to learn how you can take advantage of gratitude’s benefits. Reading books about gratitude is one option. Another is watching or listening to TED Talks on gratitude. This is a convenient option when you have a busy day-to-day life and want to learn about the subject in a dynamic and fast way.

However, because there are many TED Talks on gratitude, you might not know which you should seek out first. Keep reading if so. This overview covers some of the strongest TED Talks on gratitude and mindfulness, making it easier to learn precisely why you should make a point of being more grateful and mindful.

Great TED Talks on Gratitude 

Again, there are plenty of TED Talks on gratitude. Consider starting with these:

1. 365 Days of Thank You by Brian Doyle

Narrowly escaping death is an experience that offers those who endure it a renewed perspective on life. That’s what happened to Brian Doyle, who almost lost his life on the first day of 2012. Brian came remarkably close to being involved in what would have likely been a devastating car accident.

This near-death experience made Doyle reflect on the numerous opportunities he’d overlooked throughout his daily life. He realized he wanted to ensure those close to him knew he loved and appreciated them. In this iconic TED Talk about gratitude, he describes how he embarked on a mission to authentically express gratitude to at least one person every day for an entire year.

This isn’t a popular TED Talk merely because Doyle explains how this practice positively impacted his life. It also resonates with many because it genuinely touches on how we might not show gratitude as thoroughly as possible. Doyle explains this is often the case because it involves being vulnerable and open in a way that many are uncomfortable with.

2. The Power of Appreciation by Mike Robbins

Some of the best TED Talks on gratitude reference the practical ways embracing gratitude can change our personal and professional lives.

This TED Talk from former pro basketball player Mike Robbins focuses on the power of practicing genuine gratitude at work. Robbins argues that too many leaders mistakenly assume generic recognition is a substitute for authentic expressions of gratitude. Robbins explains how expressing genuine gratitude for the efforts of employees and coworkers can create a more positive company culture. Ultimately, that will lead to measurable results for a company as a whole.

3. How Gratitude Awakens Our Thinking by Dr. Kelly Howells

This Ted Talk on gratitude covers how its use can have practical benefits in specific settings. This particular talk focuses on the beneficial role of gratitude in the classroom, and Dr. Kelly Howells explains how it can be applied by students and teachers.

4. The Transformative Power of Gratitude by Katia Sol

Once more, there is substantial research to support the idea that practicing gratitude can result in several life improvements. Instead of diving deep into a specific study, in this TED Talk, Katia Sol gives a general overview of the noteworthy research experts have conducted in recent years. It’s a solid introduction to the research being done on gratitude. You’ll find it especially interesting if you’d like to understand the scientific basis for the arguments supporting gratitude.

5. How Gratitude Rewires Your Brain by Christina Costa

In this TED Talk, psychologist Christina Costa highlights research showing gratitude practice can result in measurable improvements in brain function. In turn, these improvements may boost one’s overall well-being. 

This isn’t merely a dry and clinical talk. The topic has personal relevance for Costa. Although she had already studied well-being for some years, she began to learn how gratitude could improve her own wellness. Costa came to understand this when she embraced a gratitude practice after receiving a cancer diagnosis.

6. Want to Be Happy? Be Grateful by Davis Steindl-Rast

David-Steindl Rast is a monk whose experiences have consistently revealed that you need to regularly show genuine gratitude to cultivate more happiness. Like many TED Talks on gratitude, this one reminds us that gratitude creates happiness—not the other way around.

7. Remember to Say Thank You by Laura Trice

When you’re pressed for time but want a reminder that gratitude is an important element of happiness, this TED Talk will do the trick. It clocks in at only three minutes, but speaker Laura Trice uses those three minutes to make a compelling argument for the numerous ways showing gratitude can improve various areas of our lives.

8. The New Era of Positive Psychology by Martin Seligman

Gratitude research is often one component of the burgeoning positive psychology movement. This movement examines how various practices and strengths can help individuals and groups overcome the difficulties we face. Martin Seligman gives a general introduction to positive psychology and how gratitude plays a role.

9. How a Penny Made Me Feel Like a Millionaire by Tania Luna

Tania Luna’s childhood was not one many would feel grateful to have. In the wake of the Chernobyl disaster, she and her family fled Ukraine. They took refuge in the United States, and they initially lived in homeless shelters. During one particular day at the shelter, Luna found a penny on the ground. In this TED Talk, Tania describes how she “never felt so rich” at that moment.

This personal story reminds us that children often have less trouble experiencing gratitude than some adults. Luna explains to her audience that we can feel more gratitude in our lives by reflecting on those types of simple childhood experiences.

10. How the Worst Moments in Our Lives Make Us Who We Are by Andrew Solomon

Like Tania Luna, writer Andrew Solomon experienced numerous struggles in childhood and early adulthood. While some suggest it’s impossible or unreasonable to feel gratitude in the wake of major adversity, Solomon explains how the most painful experiences may play the greatest role in forging our strong characters. Instead of believing we can’t feel grateful because of the pains we’ve endured, we can actually hold gratitude for those exact experiences. His example of overcoming struggle is another illustration of the very real way gratitude can help us overcome our personal challenges.

Great TED Talks on Mindfulness

Mindfulness, which often involves meditation, is the practice of focusing on the present moment without judgment. Instead, many of us are often wishing to be elsewhere. With time, those who practice mindfulness find it helps them feel gratitude more easily. TED Talks on mindfulness worth checking out include the following:

11. All it Takes is 10 Mindful Minutes by Andy Puddicombe

Many understand they could benefit from practicing mindfulness and meditation. Nevertheless, we often don’t because, at least partially, we feel undertaking it will be exceedingly challenging. Andy Puddicombe, co-founder of Headspace, a company that offers an app helping users develop mindfulness meditation practices, addresses these concerns. He explains how merely setting aside 10 minutes a day for mindfulness can lead to profound changes.

12. The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer

If everyday life overwhelms you or stresses you out, you’re certainly not alone. In this TED Talk on mindfulness, Pico Iyer explains how learning to be present throughout your day can help you cope with these stresses more easily. Iyer also offers some advice on becoming more present in a time when many find embracing stillness to be a challenge.

13. Want to Be Happier? Stay in the Moment by Matt Killingsworth

Many who embrace mindfulness begin exploring the topic because they hope it will help them experience more joy and happiness. Matt Killingsworth developed an app that tracks when people are happiest and most satisfied. He explains how the results of his experiments with the app support the idea that people are happiest when they’re focusing on the present moment instead of allowing their minds to wander.

14. What Happens in Your Brain When You Pay Attention? by Mehdi Ordikhani-Seyedlar

Science can explain why and how practicing gratitude boosts happiness and well-being. In addition, there’s strong research showing how mindfulness can yield similar results.

In his TED Talk, computational neuroscientist Mehdi Ordikhani-Seyedlar delves into some of that science. He explains how the functioning of a person’s brain changes in measurable and positive ways when they are paying attention to the present moment. He also describes how this research could help develop computer models that serve as a reference for ADHD treatments and similar developments.

15. Everyday Compassion at Google by Chade-Meng Tan

Chade-Meng Chan has earned the nickname “Jolly Good Fellow” among his coworkers at Google for reasons that become obvious to anyone who watches or listens to him speak. He explains how practicing mindfulness and compassion at Google has benefited one of the most successful companies in the entire world. His insights describe how mindfulness and compassion can be most valuable when entire groups or organizations practice them together.

TED Talks About Gratitude & Mindfulness: How Positive Practices Change Lives 

These TED Talks on gratitude and mindfulness explore the topics from different angles, but they all share a common strength: providing insights into why embracing gratitude and mindfulness are major components not only of human happiness, but of human health as well. For ideas about how you can begin practicing more gratitude in your life, check out our guides on gratitude jars and gratitude journals.

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