TED Talk Videos For Difficult Times - Expat Spouse Series

Updated: Sep 16

Heartwarming and inspirational talks are a great tool to brighten up someone's days, especially when times get difficult -- and what better sources than curated and selected ones from TED Talk contributors? TED website has a number of playlists on selected issues. However, there are no specific categories that address expat spouses or expat partners. Hence, at Thriving Aliens, we try to create this particular category for you. Below are our picks on the best TED talks tailored to specific moods that hopefully will help you navigate life as an expat spouse.




For When You Feel Overwhelmed


Why We All Need to Practice Emotional First Aid - Guy Winch

(18 minutes watch)


When was the last time you took the time to check on your mental state and took care of it? For a long time, the importance of emotional health has always been put much below physical health, and the result can be disastrous. Guy Winch in his TED talk gave us a gentle reminder to constantly look out for this often neglected part of our health.



How to Make Stress Your Friend - Kelly McGonigal

(15 minutes watch)


Most of us see stress as a bad emotion and have a terrible effect on not only our emotional health but also physical health -- so did Kelly McGonigal. However, through her study, she revealed that stress itself isn’t the culprit, but how our response to stress is. It is not only possible to make stress our friend, but doing so actually gives us a better outlook in life, better health, and even longer lifetime. In her inspirational talk, she suggested the benefits of befriending the stress and how to do so.




All It Takes is 10 Mindful Minutes - Andy Puddicombe

(8 minutes watch)


Nowadays, most of us have found ways to keep ourselves busy, consciously or not. We are constantly doing something: either working, watching tv, on social media, thinking about the past or the future, or just being lost in thoughts. Andy Puddicombe explained how much we overwork our minds: we use it all day long without stopping. He argued that just like any other part of our body, our mind needs to take a break as well, and meditation is a very effective solution to do so. In this interesting talk, he proposed the act of 10 minutes of meditation every day and, most importantly, how to do it the right way.




The Art of Stillness - Pico Iyer

(16 minutes watch)


“It’s not our experience that makes our lives, it’s what we do with it.” This video is another beautiful talk about the importance of taking a break with our mind. Pico Iyer suggested how technology which used to help us, has largely become our enemy by never letting our mind rest. He illustrated that the only way we can figure out ourselves and our aspirations is by stepping back from our life and giving us the luxury of sitting still. That means no distraction: no book, no phone, nothing.





For When You Feel Vulnerable


The Power of Vulnerability - Brené Brown

(15 minutes watch)


We as humans crave connections -- to our friends, family, colleagues, and especially to ourselves. Researcher Brene Brown went for intensive research to figure out why some people block themselves from these connections. She found that these people have different senses of worthiness. Surprisingly, the only difference between people having a great sense of worthiness or not is their innate belief that they are worthy, and the only way is to have the courage to embrace vulnerability instead of avoiding it. When you feel some form of shame or fear, this heartwarming talk is the one to go.




The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage - Susan David

(17 minutes watch)


We tend to see our emotions as good or bad. However, humans are complex beings, and so are their emotions. Psychologist Susan David explained how important it is to have emotional agility to build resilience in navigating our life, as our emotions shape our actions, careers, relationships, health, and happiness. She explained that to build this agility, we have to have the courage to embrace all the aspects of our emotions, instead of trying to pick and choose.





For When You Feel Like A Failure or Inadequate


A Kinder, Gentler Philosophy of Success - Alain de Botton

(17 minutes talk)


Living abroad to support your partner often resulted in change or delay, or even pause on one’s career, which can be devastating. In his funny yet inspiring talk, Alain de Botton argued that this is a global phenomenon, derived from rather positive things: equality and meritocracy. He pointed out that it is normal to sometimes feel inadequate in this society. Comparing ourselves to others is not only dangerous but illogical. This talk is perfect for those who feel that your career or aspirations are being held back by uncontrollable situations.




Why some of us don't have one true calling - Emilie Wapnick

(13 minutes talk)


The pressure of staying in one field for our entire career has always been the norm and highly encouraged since we were very young, through the well-known question: what do you want to be when you grow up? Emilie Wapnick offered a few thoughts on why it is normal and possible not to follow through with this traditional advice, that it is okay to not even know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life. For some people, perhaps embracing all the things that feel good to you is the right thing to do.




Your elusive creative genius - Elizabeth Gilbert

(20 minutes)


We believe that most of you have heard about Eat Pray Love. It is tempting to think that, as talented and successful as she is, Elizabeth Gilbert would have nothing to worry about. However, as a lot of people -- even herself -- doubt the possibility of creating something better than the Eat Pray Love, the fear of failure can be paralyzing and stop one from even starting. In her funny talk, Elizabeth Gilbert proposed that a lot of us put too much pressure on ourselves and our ability to make things happen, most of the time. Often, the only thing we need to do is showing up for our job.




A Special Treat for Spanish Speakers


How to survive expat life - including 23 moves abroad

(17 minutes talk)


While Andrea Schmitt’s TED talk is only available in Spanish, we will love to share some of the insight she got from 23 moves abroad. In her talk, she highlights two main important aspects that could be the keys on how to better cope as a trailing spouse. First, do not follow or lead your partner, but walk along with one another. Second, actively finding ways on how to adapt faster. For the last one, she includes five tips: being a chameleon in your new country, develop a routine, learn the language at least for basic conversation, find balance, and help those in your community.




We will try to update the list as we find more videos we believe suitable for expat spouses. In the meantime, we hope that you enjoyed the few mentioned above. Which one is your favorite? Will you like more videos related to migration, work visa, or living abroad? Let us know by leaving us some comments below!

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