10 Must-Watch TED Talks on Positive Emotions

Positive Psychology Ted Talks

Barbara Fredrickson (2009), the researcher who developed the Broaden-and-Build Theory, introduced us to the idea that as we experience more positive emotions, we travel in an upward spiral where happiness and well-being can become a reality. Fredrickson’s research on the dynamics and benefits of positive emotions focuses primarily on the 10 most common positive emotions.

In this article, we recommend some fantastic TED Talks that offer insight into these positive emotions. We hope you get inspired to both broaden and build your life. Enjoy!


1) Joy 

The Joy of Surfing in Ice-Cold Water by Chris Burkard

How can surfing in freezing cold water gives you joy? In this talk, Chris Burkard explains a new perspective to experiencing joy. Prepare to be inspired, playful, and pushed to your edge.


2) Gratitude

Want to Be Happy? Be Grateful by David Steindl

In this video, David Steindl explains what gratitude is and how it works. He also reveals how to rethink the relationship between happiness and gratitude. Learn the key to the one treasure that we all have the power to attain.


3) Serenity

The Habits of Happiness by Matthieu Ricard

In this video, Matthieu Ricard, a biochemist who became a Buddhist monk, will take you on a journey into the Himalayas. He presents his belief that well-being is, in fact, a deep sense of serenity and fulfillment rather than a just a pleasurable sensation. He explains how training your mind and finding serenity can help you deal with the constant fluctuations of human emotions.


4) Interest

A 12-year-old App Developer by Thomas Suarez

Thomas Suarez used his deep interest in app creation to pursue his dream and achieve the previously unachievable.


5) Hope

The Family I Lost in North Korea. And the Family I Gained. by Joseph Kim

Surviving famine, finding a lost family, crossing borders, and living as a refugee, Joseph Kim has not had an easy life. In this talk, he inspires us to use hope as a tool for overcoming harsh realities and transforming challenges into motivation for a better life. He does this all while remaining grateful for his difficult past.

If hope is the belief that things can change, then this is the perfect talk to get the message across. Plus, I hope you can also find that one “chicken wing.”


6) Pride

Never, Ever, Give Up by Diana Nyad

Of which achievements in your life are you the proudest? What have you done today that you won’t regret when looking back on your life? At age 64, Diana Nyad swam from Cuba to Florida and achieved her lifelong goal. Let’s take the time to learn from her achievements and her thrilling story of pride and commitment.


7) Amusement

It’s time for “The Talk” by Julia Sweeney

If you are the caretaker of children, you will eventually come across the “birds and the bees” conversation. In her talk, Julia Sweeney shares the most amusing moments from explaining human reproduction to her 8-year-old daughter. Get ready to laugh. 


8) Inspiration

I’m Not Your Inspiration, Thank You Very Much by Stella Young

Stella Young’s pithy presentation asks why disabled people are expected to serve as inspiration for the able-bodied. Instead of being inspired by any perceived adversities in Young’s life, be inspired by her vision of a future where genuine achievement is valued by all.


9) Awe

Please, Please, People. Let’s Put the “Awe” Back in “Awesome” by Jill Shargaa

“Awesome!” Do you know the true meaning of this word? In her short but powerful talk, Jill Shargaa explains what inspires awe and reminds us how to use this powerful word the way it is intended. 


10) Last, But Not Least: Love

Love, No Matter What by Andrew Solomon

Have you ever set a condition for your love? In this talk, Andrew Solomon will take your understanding of love to another level. Through his personal story, and the stories of his friends who are viewed as “different” by society at large, Solomon will show you that love is the fundamental key to healing and making real progress toward a better world.


What’s your favorite TED Talk about positive emotions?


Fredrickson, B. (2009). Positivity. Oxford: Oneworld Publications

All videos were sourced directly from https://www.ted.com/talks

About the Author

Chompoo occasionally works as a motivational speaker for educational institutions in her country. She has taken part in numerous motivational speaking conferences, laughter therapy workshops, and Changing Life with Positive Thinking project which became the best-selling book ‘Nang Yang Lang Jai’. She is looking forward to undertaking postgraduate study in Positive Psychology and to bringing it back to Thailand to help the Thai people flourish.

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