5 Inspiring TED Talks About Minimalism + Simple Living

 Inside this post: a curated list of inspiring TED Talks about minimalism and simple living.

If there’s one thing I love about the Internet, it’s how easy it is to share new and inspiring ideas. One beautiful example of this is TED Talks.

If you’re not familiar with TED, it’s a “nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less)”. They invite experts and inspiring people from all walks of life to speak on a wide range of topics.

You can listen to thousands of speakers, but in the interest of simplicity, I thought I’d curate a few of my favourites for you. If you’re looking to watch something inspiring about minimalism or simple living, then I think you’ll enjoy this list!

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Minimalism + Simple Living TED Talks

WHAT MAKES A GOOD LIFE? LESSONS FROM THE LONGEST STUDY ON HAPPINESS BY ROBERT WALDINGER

I have always believed that minimalism is about creating space for the things that matter most—but what’s on your list? What do you (and I) truly need to live a good life?

This question is answered in this TED Talk by Robert Waldinger. He’s the director of a 75-year study by Havard, which is considered to be one of the longest ever conducted. 

Watch this if you feel like you’re always striving for more out of life, and you want to be reminded about what truly matters. (Hint: the people you love will always count more than the things you own).

Add to Your Reading List: If you like this video, I think you’ll also enjoy the Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing by Bonnie Ware. I’ve read it several times and it is always inspiring to me.

LESS STUFF, MORE HAPPINESS BY GRAHAM HILL

A short but inspiring TED Talk by Graham Hill about living small and owning less: this is an excellent introduction to minimalist living (especially for friends or family members who aren’t entirely “sold” on the idea of living with less).

Sidenote: I enjoyed this talk, but I think it’s helpful to balance the ideas expressed in the video with a reminder that minimalism looks different for different people. If you want to simplify, but you’re never going to live in a 400 square foot apartment, then check out this post for encouragement.

THE ART OF STILLNESS BY PICO IYER

I absolutely LOVED this talk on The Art of Stillness by travel writer Pico Iyer, and I highly recommend it for anyone who feels like “there’s never enough time”. 

His thoughtful words helped release some of the guilt I feel while resting, and he inspired me to look for more opportunities to simply be still. It’s also a powerful reminder that we all need to step back from the pursuit of “more” in order to see the big picture in life.

Related Post: 3 Important Lessons on Finding Balance in Life

Books and candles sitting on a table in front of a window.

THE PARADOX OF CHOICE BY BARRY SCHWARTZ

This TED Talk by Barry Schwartz about the Paradox of Choice is 15 years old, but it still feels completely relevant. (In fact, you could argue it’s even more relevant now.)

Schwartz believes that we have too many choices, and as a result, we feel paralysed and dissatisfied with our lives. Watch this if you need convincing that fewer options (fewer toys for your kids, fewer clothes in your closet, etc.) will have a positive impact on your life.

Add to Your Reading List: If you enjoy this talk, the author has also written a book by the same name: The Paradox of Choice, which includes 11 practical steps you can take to limit choices in a manageable way.

IN PRAISE OF SLOWNESS BY CARL HONORÉ

Another old TED Talk that has only become more relevant with time is this one by Carl Honoré about the benefits of slowing down. The entire talk is inspiring but I especially like this bit:

We fill our head with distraction, with busyness, so we don’t have to ask, am I well? Am I happy? Are my children growing up right?” 

Using busyness as a way to avoid confronting difficult questions or painful emotions is something I’ve struggled with in the past, and I don’t think it’s talked about enough. 

Watch this video if you need a reminder to slow down and—perhaps more importantly—connect with the people and things that truly matter.

Related Post: How to Create a Culture of Slow Living

Learn More About Minimalism + Simple Living

If these TED Talks have inspired you to learn more about minimalism and simple living, here are a few resources that you might find helpful or inspiring. 

If you had a chance to watch these TED Talks, let us know in the comments which was your favourite? (I enjoyed them all but I think the Pico Iyer one is my top pick!)

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1 thought on “5 Inspiring TED Talks About Minimalism + Simple Living”

  1. These were all great, but I think that Robert Waldinger’s is my favorite. It’s all about happiness after all. I think that’s what we all want more than anything else in this world.

    I also really enjoyed “The masterpiece of a simple life” by Maura Malloy.

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