Playlist TEDTalks

13 TED Talks to cheer you up on a bad day

Posted by: Kate Torgovnick May

It’s a widely documented fact: bad days are cumulative. They begin with pouring yourself a bowl of cereal, only to find that you’re out of milk. They escalate with discovering that the hot water isn’t working in the shower, and they percolate over a terrible morning commute. Add in a thunderstorm or an unexpected tiff with a co-worker and, well, it is all downhill from there. Your bad day will keep on rolling, picking up more and more material as it spins, like a tumbleweed of annoyance.

Bad days are the worst. But these TED Talks are very likely to cheer you up. Enjoy.

Louie Schwartzberg: Nature. Beauty. Gratitude. Louie Schwartzberg: Nature. Beauty. Gratitude. Louie Schwartzberg: Nature. Beauty. Gratitude
What better to do on a meh day than to stop and smell the flowers? Photographer Louie Schwartzberg’s talk lets you do that very quickly, as he gives them to you in timelapse form. This talk meditates on the beautiful dance of nature, with words from Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast, soothing flute music and the insights of an adorable kid.
Kathryn Schulz: On being wrong Kathryn Schulz: On being wrong Kathryn Schulz: On being wrong
Perhaps it’s maybe, kind of, sort of possible that something you did contributed to your bad day. Kathryn Shulz’s talk will make you feel very comfortable with the idea of being wrong, because fallibility is just part of being human. Bonus: the opening anecdote will make you laugh.
Improv Everywhere: A TED speaker's worst nightmare Improv Everywhere: A TED speaker's worst nightmare Improv Everywhere: A TED speaker’s worst nightmare
At the beginning of this talk, a speaker gets hung up on a technical malfunction with his slide deck. And then … things get really interesting as the Mac “spinning beachball” turns into an incredible dance.
Amy Webb: How I hacked online dating Amy Webb: How I hacked online dating Amy Webb: How I hacked online dating
Maybe it’s that slippery thing called “love” that’s got you down. If that’s the case, this talk from Amy Webb is the answer. After a string of disastrous dating incidents, she decided to write her own algorithm for love and reverse-engineer online dating. The result: well, it’s really good. And her conclusion: the problem wasn’t that she was being too picky, it was that she wasn’t being picky enough.
Candy Chang: Before I die I want to... Candy Chang: Before I die I want to... Candy Chang: Before I die I want to…
This talk will get you motivated to do that thing you really want to do. Candy Chang has asked people around the world to (anonymously) finish the sentence: “Before I die, I want to _________.” Their answers are revealing, inspiring and often very amusing.
Andrew Bird: A one-man orchestra of the imagination Andrew Bird: A one-man orchestra of the imagination Andrew Bird: A one-man orchestra of the imagination
What, people, is more uplifting than a glockenspiel? Here, musician Andrew loops that wonderful instrument with his signature whistles and violin work, to a beautiful end.
Phil Hansen: Embrace the shake Phil Hansen: Embrace the shake Phil Hansen: Embrace the shake
When artist Phil Hansen developed a debilitating hand tremor, he thought his career was done. And then a doctor suggested: “Embrace the shake.” In this talk, he shares how a physical limitation drove him on to incredible creativity. Think: portraits in matches, painting with karate chops and tattooed bananas.
E.O. Wilson: Advice to young scientists E.O. Wilson: Advice to young scientists E.O. Wilson: Advice to young scientists
“The world needs you: badly.” That’s what legendary biologist and TED Prize winner E.O. Wilson has to say to young scientists in this talk. Here, he reminds us that wonder and creativity are at the center of science — and, well, life — and that every mind involved helps contribute to what we know.
John Legend: "True Colors" John Legend: "True Colors" John Legend: “True Colors”
Here, the piano man gives a heart-melting rendition of the Cyndi Lauper classic. Seriously, it’s the next most touching thing to those athlete documentaries that air during the Olympics.
Ed Gavagan: A story about knots and surgeons Ed Gavagan: A story about knots and surgeons Ed Gavagan: A story about knots and surgeons
This talk is about taking a moment to be thankful for something we rarely think about — the incredible skill of surgeons. In a very moving story, Ed Gavagan shares how this skill helped him recover after being stabbed — and how it gives him a continued appreciation for life.
Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion
Work can be draining, yes. But this talk from Rita Pierson will have you up on your feet and ready to take on any challenge. A long time educator working in some of the most challenging classrooms in the country, Pierson has found a foolproof way to get through to any student: by actually taking the time to form a relationship with them.
Dan Gilbert: The surprising science of happiness Dan Gilbert: The surprising science of happiness Dan Gilbert: The surprising science of happiness
Psychologist Dan Gilbert has spent decades studying what makes us happy — and it isn’t what we think. This talk gives insight into why lottery winners and paraplegics report themselves as being equally happy a year after the moment that changed their life. Because of our incredible “psychological immune system,” which helps us synthesize happiness when things go wrong. It’s certainly something to tap into on a bad day.
Sleepy Man Banjo Boys: Bluegrass virtuosity from ... New Jersey? Sleepy Man Banjo Boys: Bluegrass virtuosity from ... New Jersey? Sleepy Man Banjo Boys: Bluegrass virtuosity from … New Jersey?
And your final cheer-up talk: Kids! Playing bluegrass! Really well!

Now get back out there, tiger …