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The 8 Best TED Talks for the Whole Life Challenge

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The next Whole Life Challenge starts in:

I’ve always loved TED Talks. They’re like mini-seminars on an almost endless variety of topics. Originally a platform for some of the most elite experts, TED Talks now happen all over the country and host highly specialized individuals who have a unique point of view.

We’ve brought together here eight great TED Talks related to the Whole Life Challenge. From stress, happiness, gratitude, and achievement, to struggle, habits, creativity, and games, these talks will demonstrate just how simple it can be to incorporate these simple principles into your daily life.


1. At 64, Diane Nyad became the first person to swim unassisted and unprotected from Cuba to Florida. Day and night, fighting cold, jellyfish, and hallucinations, Diana Nyad succeeded where not only others have failed, but where she had failed multiple times before. (15:35)


2. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal turns the notion of stress as a hindrance on its head. She sees stress as an ally. With strategies for dealing with the effects of stress, Kelly McGonigal points to one of the most important—connecting with others. (14:28)


3. Taking a unique and real-time approach to happiness research, Matt Killingsworth began a study like no other. He used technology we’re hooked to every day, text messaging, to gather data on what people were doing and how they felt. One of the most important things he discovered about happiness? Get lost in the moment. (10:16)


4. Writer Andrew Solomon is used to telling stories of struggle. In this touching and funny talk he talks about his own struggles and how your courage and the way you head into adversity defines who you are. (20:27)


5. Wanting Happiness. It’s what we all have in common. The Key, Brother David Steindl-Rast tells us, is not being grateful once you’re happy, but being grateful to find happiness. (14:30)


6. You won’t know until you try. You often won’t start something new out of the overwhelming thoughts of what it would take and what you’d have to change. In this talk, Matt Cutts talks about the power of committing to something for just 30 days. (3:27)


7. There are no rules that say meetings have to take place in chairs. In this short talk, business strategist Nilofer Merchant suggests that making your meeting a walking meeting can have positive impacts on your health and get the ideas flowing. (3:28)


8. Reality is broken. Or so says gaming expert, Jane McGonigal (yes, sister of Kelly McGonigal from the 2nd talk on the list). What she means is that it’s unnecessarily boring and sterile. It doesn’t have to be, and we can create games wherever we are to solve problems and make life just a little more interesting. (20:03)

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Michael Stanwyck
Michael Stanwyck is the co-founder of The Whole Life Challenge, an idea that developed during his seven years as a coach and gym manager at CrossFit Los Angeles.

He graduated from UCLA with a BA in philosophy as well as a degree from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, and feels food is one of the most important parts of a life - it can nourish, heal, and bring people together.

Michael believes health and well-being are as much a state of mind as they are a state of the body, and when it comes to fitness, food, and life in general, he thinks slow is much better than fast (most of the time). Stopping regularly to examine things is the surest way to put down roots and grow.

He knows he will never be done with his own work, and believes the best thing you can do for your well-being starts with loving and working from what you’ve got right now.