5 Best TED Talks for People over 50

Not too long ago, I was having coffee with a friend on the verge of retirement. She was relaxed, smiling – she had that special glow….

I admit to a bit of jealousy. I am about eight years out from my own retirement. Or maybe nine? I love my job – most days. I love the challenges of connecting kids with possibilities. But it is exhausting.

In reality, I don’t have time for a job. Between writing and the gym and church and volunteering and travel – it would be much better if I could snap my fingers and become instantaneously wealthy. Meh. Not going to happen.

But I am so aware that my life is really just beginning. Jeff and I are on the cusp of our best years. And I want to be prepared to meet them. So I seek out sources of information from people who know way more than I do. Books, blogs, podcasts – if it sounds interesting, I’ll check it out.

I am a huge fan of TED Talks. For those of you who have yet to stumble across this vast collection of ideas from some of the most dynamic people on the planet, here’s the scoop.

TED is a non-profit organization that launched in 1984 as a conference. It’s original purpose was to bring together technology, entertainment and design (hence the TED acronym) in order to facilitate the spread of ideas on everything from ‘science to business to global issues.’ Today, TED talks are available in over 100 languages, and there are TEDx events all over the world.

I’ve linked to the ‘About Us’ page at TED for more information, especially about the selection of speakers and topics. Each TED Talk video runs approximately 18 minutes. I listen to a couple a week, generally while I’m on the elliptical or grading papers.

Here are my recommendations for some of the best TED talks for anyone over 50, both for their wisdom and their ability to make me question whether I am living the best life I can. I hope you enjoy them!

  1. A Woman Over 50: A Life Unleashed by Connie Shultz, TEDx Cleveland State University. I love what she says about our hands as emblems of our wisdom.

2. Author Isabel Allende, age 71 at the time of this TED Talk in 2014, shares her fears about aging, and her determination to live life passionately. I love her books – and am inspired by her absolute joy in life.

3. The 20th century marked a significant increase in the average lifespan. We are living longer than ever before in history, which raises questions as to whether we are making the most of those additional years. In this TED Talk from 2011, psychologist Laura Carstensen discusses the research that says, YES! The older we get, the happier we are. Who knew?

4. Mel Robbins is the host of her own syndicated radio show, The Mel Robbins Show. She’s done is all – wife, mom, lawyer, and one of America’s top career and relationship experts. In this take-no-prisoners talk, entitled How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over, Robbins admonishes us to stop settling for ‘fine’. Go out and get ‘unstuck’.

5. By the time we hit 50, most of us have a lot of ‘stuff’. By comparison to millennials and Gen Xers, our homes are stockpiles of our kids’ kindergarten projects and baby clothes, tax returns from 20 years ago, and great-great Grandma’s ugly-as-sin candle holders that we don’t dare get rid of.

In this TED Talk, writer and designer Graham Hill offers 3 rules for editing your life, and maybe finding more happiness in the process.

Honorable mention:

I could not let this list go without mentioning a TED Talk that calls to my literature-loving soul. This talk, by journalist Joshua Prager, reminds us that we all pass through the same patterns of life, and that those patterns have made their way into the books we love. Prager explores every stage of life through the words of some of the world’s most beloved authors. So powerful! But then, I am an English teacher, so maybe it’s just me.

Books tell us who we’ve been, who we are, who we will be, too,” Joshua Prager.

Weigh in online and give us some of your favorite TED talks. And if you’re new to them, welcome!

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