My BFF, TED

There is an old saying that suggests the difference between who you are now and who you are five years from now comes down to the people you meet and the books you read.

Everyone: meet TED.

Ted.com is a house of brilliance. In it you will find a smorgasbord of 18-minute talks on a wide variety of topics by some of the world’s greatest thinkers and passionistas. While the official name is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment and Design, my pet name for TED is Thinkers, Enthusiasts and Demigods.

With the simple mission to spread ideas, and an inception date that reaches back to 1984, the first videos were put online in 2006. By the fall of 2012 TED celebrated its one-billionth video view (full history here).

Can you say wildfire?

The first TED talk I watched was back in 2010. My friend Tracy sent me Brené Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability. I was recently separated and hungry for that particular message. (Apparently, I wasn’t alone in my hunger as that talk has since garnered over 18 million views.) Intrigued to no end, I perused TED’s vast library and an incredibly generative friendship ensued.

The range of topics and spirit of speakers is extraordinary. I receive a new TED talk in my inbox each day, often listening to them while completing the dreaded task of blow-drying my hair. Not all of them capture my interest, of course, but the ones I choose to watch never disappoint.

Always available, free of charge and feeding my heart and mind, TED is a giver. In the quid pro quo world we typically inhabit, this is indeed a free lunch. Order up!

You can search by topic or check out the 20 most popular of all time to see what all the hoopla is about. Today, I’d like to turn you on to the following five that are about love, relationship and emotional hygiene. (Running time and official synopsis from the website are included for each.)

My hope is that you will find these talks both interesting and useful. We get by with a little help from our friends. In deep gratitude to you, TED.

The Secret to Desire in a Long-Term Relationship (19:10)

“In long-term relationships, we often expect our beloved to be both best friend and erotic partner. But as Esther Perel argues, good and committed sex draws on two conflicting needs: our need for security and our need for surprise. So how do you sustain desire? With wit and eloquence, Perel lets us in on the mystery of erotic intelligence.”

The Brain In Love (15:56)

“Why do we crave love so much, even to the point that we would die for it? To learn more about our very real, very physical need for romantic love, Helen Fisher and her research team took MRIs of people in love — and people who had just been dumped.”

Why We All Need to Practice Emotional First Aid (17:24)

“We’ll go to the doctor when we feel flu-ish or a nagging pain. So why don’t we see a health professional when we feel emotional pain: guilt, loss, loneliness? Too many of us deal with common psychological-health issues on our own, says Guy Winch. But we don’t have to. He makes a compelling case to practice emotional hygiene — taking care of our emotions, our minds, with the same diligence we take care of our bodies.”

How I Hacked Online Dating (17:27)

“Amy Webb was having no luck with online dating. The dates she liked didn’t write her back, and her own profile attracted crickets (and worse). So, as any fan of data would do: she started making a spreadsheet. Hear the story of how she went on to hack her online dating life — with frustrating, funny and life-changing results.”

Fifty Shades of Gay (15:10)

“Artist iO Tillett Wright has photographed 2,000 people who consider themselves somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum and asked many of them: Can you assign a percentage to how gay or straight you are? Most people, it turns out, consider themselves to exist in the gray areas of sexuality, not 100% gay or straight. Which presents a real problem when it comes to discrimination: Where do you draw the line?”

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