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The Importance of Body Language, by Amy Cuddy

A person’s body language speaks volumes about what he or she is. Needless to say, most of us take pride in judging others, based on their body language. In this TED Talk, social psychologist Amy Cuddy explains the importance of body language and how it is instrumental in influencing our judgments.

Emotions shape body language. For instance, an athlete celebrating his victory by stretching his arms wide with feet up in the air and a raised chin and closed eyes is a classic example of a commanding posture that exudes power.  Or, a candidate for an interview sitting with slouched shoulders and darting eyes makes it apparent with his posture that he is nervous. This concept is further backed up with an interesting correlation between body language and the key hormones, testosterone (dominant hormone) and cortisol (stress hormone), that influence the mind and hence, the body. People in a position of power are essentially assertive, confident and decisive because of high testosterone and low cortisol levels. It is here, Cuddy asserts, that as much as your mind can change your body, so can your postures change your mind, thereby altering the hormonal surges appropriately. “Fake it until you become it” is what she preaches to assist in improving the body language. For instance, standing in a ramrod posture when you are anything but confident, can actually instill confidence in you.

Do watch this video where Cuddy helps us realize the importance of body language over mind with her personal experience.

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The Power Of The Mind, by Carrie Green

Carrie Green started a network for female entrepreneurs around the world with an aim to help women overcome their fears and insecurities when taking up new challenges such as starting a new business. With her power over her mind she inspires many like her to pursue their dreams with passion.

Who and what you are and how you act and react entirely depends on the way you are programmed to think. As Green puts it beautifully, “What goes on in your head largely impacts your decisions, actions, and the way you perceive the world around you.” She elucidates further on the power of mind by sharing her own experience as an upcoming entrepreneur and how this experience with tweaks of success and failure helped her understand the incredible power of the mind. She further shares interesting methods on how to give a direction to the continual influx of myriad thoughts, thereby programming the mind for success. And, the first step one needs to take towards programming the mind is mitigating negative thoughts and staying away from people who exude non-constructive vibes.

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Self-Confidence As A Skill, by Ivan Joseph

The best way to realize self-worth is to nurture self-confidence. Dr. Ivan Joseph (Director of Athletics, Ryerson University) defines self-confidence as “the ability to believe in self to accomplish any task no matter the odds, no matter the difficulty, no matter the adversity.”

Often times we live more by the worldly standards than our own. We are happy when appreciated. We are dejected when our rivals are appreciated. We feel a lot of remorse when we are berated. We are stingy about criticism as much as we feel appreciated when, complimented. And, there is self-confidence that fluctuates at various levels in all of the above, when falling for criticism supersedes the confidence that comes from compliments. Dr. Joseph explains how self-confidence is an essential ingredient in realizing self worth. He further asserts that self-confidence is honed only if you go through the rigmarole of “repetition, repetition and repetition”. Say, you are scared of public speaking. You practice not once, but many times until you are confident of nailing it irrespective of the audience number or type. It is only with a continuous repetition of a particular task that you nurture your confidence in accomplishing the task.

Watch this video to understand how self-confidence is not just a quality, but a skill to be honed, and how.

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Vulnerability Is Courage, by Brené Brown

Most of us perceive vulnerability as a weakness, as something to be ashamed of. But Brené Brown, a research professor from the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, shows us how confronting this inescapable emotion head on can be strangely empowering.

Brown spent over a decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. In this TED talk, she describes how “vulnerability is not a weakness, but is our most accurate measure of courage.” It is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.

Shame, which is often deeply ingrained in our culture, prevents us from facing our vulnerabilities and showing ourselves to people. In this regard, Brown emphasizes that vulnerability may be our path towards each other – a medium to build stronger, deeper and more meaningful human relationships.

Watch this 20-minute video for a fresh perspective on vulnerability – you’ll feel better about yourself.

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Learned Optimism, by Martin Seligman

Learned Optimism, by Martin Seligman

Learned Optimism, by Martin Seligman

Optimism is an important facet of good leadership and personal development. In Learned Optimism, father of positive psychology Martin Seligman explains what differentiates optimists from pessimists. The differences, he implies, lie in the manner the two groups perceive and analyze incidents and their environment with respect to themselves. Read more ⇉

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The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch

If you had only a few days/months to live, how would you choose to lead your life? Randy Pausch, Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, was participating in a long-standing academic tradition of “last lecture”, but in his case, the concept of “last lecture” ended up being quite literal as 46-year-old Pausch had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was told he had only months to live.

In this talk on the Oprah Winfrey Shown in September, 2007, Pausch chooses not to talk about death or his struggles, but share his mantra for life. Using various anecdotes from his personal life, Randy elaborates upon the tenets and principles he had developed and followed over the years. He inspires us to seize the moment and pursue our childhood dreams. He explains how obstacles are not meant to “keep us away from our goals” but to make us realize how much they really mean to us. He dares us to value people and relationships over material possessions, as those are the things that really matter. He stresses upon the importance of integrity in living a good life and explains that if we live our life with honesty and positivity, our dreams will come to us.

In his poignant 10 –minute talk, Randy lists 10 of his cherished childhood dreams and what he did across his lifespan to fulfill them. While he was addressing a large audience, he wrote the speech specifically for his three children, who he hopes will watch it when they grow up. Randy died on July 25, 2008 but he left behind a legacy of inspiration and positivity for all of us to learn from.

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Are You Aware? By David Foster Wallace

“The most obvious realities are often the hardest to see and talk about”. David Foster Wallace draws a parallel between the life of a young fish who is acutely unaware of its immediate environment and our fast-paced lives where we tend to put our needs before everything else and view every person/situation as an obstacle coming in the way of realizing them.

In his 2005 commencement speech at Kenyon College, Wallace starts by analyzing the day in the life of a typical working professional which is often filled with boredom, monotony and frustrations of several kinds. He then explains how humans are naturally programmed to react negatively to challenging or unpleasant situations, venting out on any and everything that stands in our path. Negativity comes easily to us, unless we make a conscious decision to check the way we think and alter our thought process, and momentarily consider other possibilities. For example, the annoying woman yelling at her kid at the cash counter may have actually had a hard day or may be tending to an ailing-husband.

Wallace says that while this may not likely be the truth, it is definitely a possibility. Considering that possibility instantly changes our perception of that woman, and makes us more sensitive and aware of our surroundings, sometimes inspiring us to place the needs of others above our own.

Wallace’s 8-minute address highlights a thought that most of us could implement in our day-to-day lives. It is an enriching lesson in mindfulness and living life with a deeper awareness of our surroundings and ourselves.

 

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Focus On What Really Matters, by Anu Aga

Anu Aga, Indian business woman and social worker, delivers a strong and brutally honest message when she openly talks about her weaknesses as a human being and how the sudden deaths of her husband and son within the same year brought her closer to herself and the things that truly matter to her.

Aga observes how, in most of our interactions with people, we “play games” to uphold our pride and posture ourselves as superior to the other. While this may give us momentary pleasure, it affects our relationships and draws us away from friends and relations. Vipassana – a Buddhist method of meditation – taught Aga that she had no control over the external world or her destiny, but she could control the way she responds to situations and people around her. Armed with this renewed and positive outlook, Aga was able to turn around her failing family business and enrich her relationships.

This 13-minute speech delves upon life’s profound truths and inspires us to grow as a person, while being honest to ourselves.

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Be True To Yourself, by Ellen DeGeneres

What really defines success? Most of us would equate this word with name, fame and money but is that all there is to it? In her 2009 commencement speech at Tulane University, popular American comedian and television host Ellen DeGeneres talks about how coming out as gay ruined her career but left her a happier and more liberated person.

Ellen narrates how losing her girlfriend to a tragic car accident at 19 allowed her to find her calling in stand-up. She earned herself money and fame, but she always lived in fear because she had a “secret to hide” – a secret that could prove devastating for her career and status as a celebrity. Ellen, however, found the courage to be true to herself and not give in to societal pressure. At the helm of her career, she came out about her sexuality, her career plummeted, but she emerged a happier, freer and stronger person.

Watch Ellen’s 10-minutes long humorous and heart-felt commencement speech (Video portion from t = 1.42 to t=11.17), where she inspires young people to live life with integrity and be true to who they are rather than pretend to be what society expects them to be.

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Have You Found Your “Element”? By Sir Ken Robinson

The Element by Sir Ken Robinson

The Element by Sir Ken Robinson

“(…) if we can each find our Element, we all have the potential for much higher achievement and fulfillment.”

Do I love what I do? Does my work help fulfill my true desires and my deep personal needs? Am I able to find the space to address my true passions? These are deep questions many of us raise to ourselves when we find some time for reflection and look at ourselves in the mirror. In attempting to answer them, it is not uncommon for other, deeper and more complex to answer questions to appear: What is my real passion? Do I have one? If I had infinite freedom to choose exactly what I want to do, what is it that I would choose? Read more ⇉

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