These Ted Talks About Habits Will Make You Rethink Your Approach To Life in 2023

Who doesn’t love a good Ted Talk?

I am an avid consumer of these 10-20 minute nuggets of wisdom and cool facts I never knew existed.

On the topic of habits, Ted has a wonderfully diverse library of content. You’ll question previously held beliefs and re-evaluate what is possible for your own life in terms of changes you are trying to make.

And it’s free?!

Sometimes the internet isn’t all bad. (Sometimes.)

1. Forget Big Change, Start With A Tiny Habit by BJ Fogg

BJ Fogg is social scientist at Stanford University who has spent years studying habits. He’s the author of the book “Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything.”

In this Ted Talk he discusses the science behind how we form (and keep) new habits, but taking it one, tiny step at a time. His research inspired the name for this blog and I know you’ll get a lot of value out of watching this 18 minute clip.

2. A Simple Way To Break A Bad Habit by Judson Brewer

Judson Brewer is a psychologist who specializes in addiction. In this Ted Talk, he talks about how mindfulness can help break bad habits like smoking and overeating. He argues that by focusing on the habit itself, you can start to undo some of its power and work on stopping.

Why, you might ask?

Because so many of our really bad habits are escape tactics – ways we check out of whatever moment feels bad, stressful, boring, or upsetting to us. By using mindfulness to examine our habits we get a better sense of how the habit actually makes us feel (not great) which steals a bit of its magic.

This is a different approach from Fogg’s because it deals specifically with those bad habits that become addictions. If you struggle with quitting cigarettes, overeating, or some other bad habit, I hope you find his talk applicable.

3. The Science of Habits by Marco Badwal.

This Ted Talk focuses a lot of the science of habits, how they play a role in our life, and the chemical process in the brain that reinforces them. It’s a truly fascinating subject matter if you haven’t read or listened to anything about the science of habits so far.

You’ll find a lot of the information presented here in Charles Duhigg’s book “The Power of Habits,” a book I highly recommend to anyone who wants to use habits to make monumental (yet slow) change in their life.

Badwal then goes on to explain how he’s applied these theories to his own life by replacing his bad habits and implementing new, healthier ones. It’s a great talk and useful if you’re looking for examples of real-world applications of some of these concepts.

4. Nothing to Regret – small bad habits cause lifelong regrets by Iman Aghay

This Ted Talk approaches habits from a slightly different angle. How do our bad habits accumulate over the course of a lifetime? And what role do these compounding habits play in regret?

He opens his talk by stating that 9 out of 10 people regret something big in their lives. I know I’m certainly among that 90%. Chances are you are nodding your head right now thinking, “yah me too.”

What I find so useful about this talk is how he makes the audience really consider these small, daily habits that maybe don’t seem that bad at the time and lays out for us just how they all add up to longterm regret.

Whether it’s wasting hours of our life watching TV, scrolling social media, or buying a bunch of stuff we don’t need, Aghay paints a picture of how we lose so much of our lives to these bad habits.  In fact, when I think about periods of my life that I wasted to various bad habits, I always cringe a bit.

Most of us are guilty of this at some level.

Aghay walks the audience through a powerful thought exercise to help them identify the source of current or future regrets and how to intervene now, eliminate those bad habits, and live a regret-free life.

5. The Habits of Happiness by Matthieu Ricard

Matthieu Ricard, the happiest man in the world, is a Buddhist monk, photographer, and author. This is the oldest Ted Talk in the line up but it is evergreen.

In this warm and refreshingly funny talk, Ricard discusses the idea of happiness, how it differs among different people and cultures, and what we can do to train our mind to be more receptive it. Much of his approach is rooted in Buddhist philosophy, but even if you’re not big on Buddhism, you’ll still get a lot of value.

I swear, just watching this video makes me feel calm and at peace. Ricard has a beautifully calming presence. I enjoy listening him to speak and I think you will as well.

Start small, but start now.

I hope at least one of these Talks has been helpful in your habits journey and that you’ve found something you can start applying in your own life.

You don’t have to do it all at once! (In fact, don’t do that.)

But pick one powerful, tiny thing you can work on today. Commit to it. Then see the ripple effects throughout your life.

Best Ted Talks about Habits

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