Sometimes changing your life takes lengthy soul-searching, years of therapy, or buckets of hard work. Other times, all you need is a flash of insight that shifts your perspective or rewires your thinking. And that can come in an instant.
Or in a 20-minute TED Talk.
Speakers at the wildly popular speaking event cover everything from cave diving to racial injustice, but according to a fascinating recent Reddit thread (hat tip to Apartment Therapy), just the right message sometimes collides with a prepared mind, changing the course of a life. Here are the talks Redditors swear changed their lives. Maybe the same thing will happen to you.
1. "Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator," Tim Urban
"I resolved to look at my life calendar every day for 90 days, and it kicked me into gear to get some stuff done," claimed intensely_human of this talk by the popular blogger.
2. "Depression, the Secret We Share," Andrew Solomon
Here's the lesson mfball took away from this one: "We're taught in so many ways that we must endure and persevere. Some things should not be endured. Some things cannot be surmounted in that way. Seeking help is not cowardice or weakness, it's realizing that you have value and are worthy of others' support in your recovery." Dozens more Redditors who had struggled with mental illness agreed.
3. "The Power of Vulnerability," Brené Brown
This is one of the most viewed TED Talks ever for a reason. Redditor Jeratain claims it even led to his marriage. "I cannot recommend this TED Talk enough," he enthused. (If you want the whole story, his post offers tons of details).
4. "How One Tweet Can Ruin Your Life," Jon Ronson
"It was amazing to hear him succinctly dissect how in the blink of the eye we are all willing to destroy someone's life for a small mistake," insisted the_desert_fox of this talk from the British journalist. Several others on the thread recommended Ronson's books highly.
5. "I Was Almost a School Shooter," Aaron Stark
Rapscapadoo recommends this "tearjerker" about the power of friendship in which Stark "talks about the horrible abuse he went through growing up. Then he talks about the plan he crafts to shoot the school and how he gets the gun ... and then his friend shows up and changes his mind."
Another Redditor, LordOryx, noted this quote from the talk has stayed with him: "Love the person who deserves it the least because they're the person who needs it the most."
6. "The Power of Introverts," Susan Cain
This one isn't just life changing for quieter types. It "made me (extrovert) realize my young son did not have a behavioral disorder -- he's just an introvert in a world of extroverts -- and THAT is a beautiful way to be. Loved it!" raved penelopepoo.
Introverts, of course, endorse it too. "I pushed myself past my limits for a long time because it's what I thought I needed to do to have friends and a social life and just exist the 'right' way ... all I was accomplishing was exhausting myself, but seeing that talk really hit home that it's ok to enjoy being alone just as much as I enjoy people," wrote frickeneh.
7. "How to Use One Paper Towel," Joe Smith
Not all the life changes TED Talks were credited with were momentous. Several Redditors enthusiastically remembered this five-minute talk because it changed how they used paper towels forever. "It is now impossible for me to not try to flick my fingers 12 times after washing my hands before using half a sheet of paper towel to dry them OFF the rest of the way," reports DaveBeard. "I use that info every day," agrees cnewman11.
8. "The Danger of a Single Story," Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
"We watched it at school and it made me realize how unfair it is to judge someone based off appearances. And what my own 'single stories' were of people," recalled one Redditor of this talk by the renowned novelist. Mzcilade called the talk "priceless."