Thrive through change

Aha Moments

Sometimes those moments of instant insight or discovery come from the most unlikely places.  As a lover of people’s stories, I really enjoy TED talks.  Here are my favourite monthly TED talks:

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Month TED Talk Title (hyperlink to the video) Speaker Kath’s comment


October 2020 Loss and found Corrie Sirota Corrie is acutely aware of how most people would love to have a “quick fix” when it comes to grieving.  In her talk, through her genuine compassion and profound insight into human nature, she helps us transform the way we experience grief.  She also offers invaluable tools for individuals and families in learning how to find life, and hope, after loss.  This talk is dedicated to Milo xoxo
September 2020 There’s more to life than being happy Emily Esfahani Smith Our culture is obsessed with happiness, but what if there’s a more fulfilling path? Happiness comes and goes, says writer Emily Esfahani Smith, but having meaning in life — serving something beyond yourself and developing the best within you — gives you something to hold onto.

Learn more about the difference between being happy and having meaning as Emily offers four pillars of a meaningful life: Belonging, Purpose, Transcendence and Storytelling. As a narrative therapist, I just love the 4th pillar and her whole talk.  I hope you will too!

August 2020 When is a pandemic over? Alex Rosenthal I know we have all been bombarded with so much information about COVID over the recent months, that I hesitate to include something Covid-related in my TED talk of the month.  But we’re in August and I remember reading somewhere that experts expect to see the pandemic peak in South Africa around September – so I know I’m interested to learn more about ‘when is a pandemic over’.

Alex Rosenthal details the three main strategies governments can use to contain and end a pandemic. I found it a useful message – short and sweet.  It is also a reminder that ‘this too shall pass’, and we will be able to hug freely again!

July 2020 The three secrets of resilient people Lucy Hone Dr Lucy Hone is a resilience expert who gives a powerful and courageous talk, sharing three strategies that got her through an unimaginable tragedy⁠—and offers a profound insight on human suffering.  In a time where we may be faced, or currently facing, grief – Lucy shows a path through the pain.  Her talk really resonated with me on a deep level, and I hope you will find it equally meaningful and useful.

For those wanting to revisit her three strategies:

  1. 7:10 – acceptance/acknowledgement of situation as part of life
  2. 8:18 – selective attention (focus on things you can change/ on positive things, e.g. name three things you are/were grateful for)
  3. 12:20 – “is what you are doing helping or harming you?” (control over situation/ be kind to yourself)
June 2020 The simple power of handwashing Myriam Sidibe Handwashing with soap is a global focus during this Covid-19 time. Myriam’s talk back in 2014 is prophetic as she talks about soaps role to play during a pandemic. For a cost-effective prevention against sickness, it’s hard to beat soapy handwashing, which also cuts down risk of pneumonia, diarrhoea, cholera and more.
With everyone currently improving their handwashing habits, let us hope it is a habit that sticks. And that it helps us not only in the battle against Covid, but also with a myriad of other illnesses.
Interesting to think that the worlds best invention in health could be so simple and cost effect. Happy handwashing!
May 2020 Why we laugh Sophie Scott A month of lockdown, done and dusted. We are all wondering how long this can go on for.  Social media paints a negative and depressing picture – which often makes one wonder ‘should I laugh, or should I cry?’  The answer is definitively – you should laugh.

Why?  Because laughter boosts our immunity, lowers stress hormones, decreases pain, relaxes your muscles, prevents heart disease, adds joy and zest to life, eases anxiety and tension, relieves stress, improves mood, strengthens resilience, strengthens relationships, attracts others to us, enhances teamwork, helps defuse conflict and promotes group bonding (virtual or in person)!

Sophie Scott, a cognitive neuroscientist, shares surprising facts about laughter in this fast-paced, action-packed and, yes, hilarious dash through the science of the topic.  I especially enjoyed the last minute of her talk where she says:

‘If we can laugh together, we’re going to get through this.  We’re going to be okay’.

April 2020 Change Your Breath, Change Your Life Lucas Rockwood On the eve of our first week in lockdown, I know that we are all experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions – oscillating between feelings of uncertainty and panic, feeling overwhelmed by the media, and trying to keep a semblance of structure in our homes and with our kids.  While the whole world focuses primarily on our physical health, it’s also really important to look after our mental health, starting with our elevated anxiety levels.

One simple and accessible way to bring down your anxiety levels is to focus on our breathing.  Lucas, a yoga teacher, explains three breathing techniques in an engaging, clear and concise way.  You don’t have to know the history or technical terminology, just the knowledge in a clear digestible form.

So my challenge is to use ‘water’ breathing when you need balance, and ‘whiskey’ breathing when trying to fall asleep (or fall back to sleep) – make it a key part of your lockdown routine.  Do it whenever you feel a jolt of panic or adrenalin and feel the immediate calming benefits.  Keep well and stay safe.

March 2020 I grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church.  Here’s why I left Megan Phelps-Roper I usually don’t select religion-related talks, but this one caught my eye. Megan speaks beautifully and powerfully about the power of hate, but the even greater power of love.

Love which manifests in not assuming bad intent, lots of honest questions, staying calm and making the argument.  Add forgiveness, giving others the benefit of the doubt, and the power of seeing each other as human beings. What a winning combination.

These lessons are applicable to any conflict situation – a place alive with possibility.  I think this is a talk for everyone everywhere.

February 2020 Good boundaries free you Sarri Gilman “All of us are in the middle of a life story, and our story is being shaped by what we say ‘yes’ to and ’no’ to everyday” says Sarri.  Who battles to say ‘no’?  Who feels guilty disappointing others when you say ‘no’ to their requests? Identifying, communicating and defending your personal boundaries is crucial to lead a meaningful life.  Sarri encourages us to listen to our inner compass.  And especially in times of extra pressure or challenge we need to: 1. Increase our selfcare.  2. Reach out and build a web of resources and 3. Choose your responsibilities and limit your time during a challenge.  Learn to say ‘no’ with kindness and conviction!
January 2020 Say your truth and seek them in others Elizabeth Lesser I was looking for a special TED talk to start this auspicious new year – 2020!  And then I found Elizabeth’s talk.  Wow, what a gift.  Incredible how she deals with some heavy topics which such grace and gentle humour.  I love the way she applies earlier learnings in her life (Uncover your soul, stay open even/especially when in pain, step into ‘Deep time’) to a more recent life phase and challenge.  I love her lessons and I wish for all of us this year to have the bravery to do some soul-bearing and truth-telling.  Wishing you all a magical 2020!
December 2019 Your elusive creative genius Elizabeth Gilbert I have always been fascinated by people with amazing creativity.  It seems so ethereal to me, so I just loved discovering Elizabeth’s talk.  She’s the writer of the bestselling novel ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses.  She shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. It’s a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.  Please share this with any artists you know, as well as your artist within!
November 2019 The surprisingly dramatic role of nutrition in mental health Julia Rucklidge In this critically important talk, clinical psychologist Julia Rucklidge explores a range of scientific research, including her own, showing the significant role played by nutrition in mental health or illness.  It is such an eye opener, and judging from all the comments, it’s a controversial area that people feel very passionate about.  What I love is that it puts a lot of power back into our own hands to manage our health in a more natural, holistic way.  Thank you Nasreen for sharing this with me.
October 2019 The gift and power of emotional courage Susan David A beautiful talk by a South African speaker.  Susan speaks about the need for greater levels of emotional agility for true resilience and thriving.  How there is no such thing as a negative or bad emotion – how we are caught up in ‘a tyranny of positivity’ which leaves us with rigid responses. ‘Do you have dead people’s goals?’ she asks.  She encourages us to embrace all our emotions.  Tough emotions are part of our contract with life.  Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life. She also stresses that our emotions are data – not directives.  We own our emotions they don’t own us. I found this talk deeply insightful – I hope you’ll enjoy it too.
September 2019 Who are you, really? The puzzle of personality Brian Little Wouldn’t you like to know how you are like all other people, like some other people, and like no other person?  Brian Little is a professor at Cambridge focused on personality psychology. He gives a great summary of some personality research, and does it with grace, humour and insight.  Enjoy getting to know yourself a little better.
August 2019 How to ask for help – and get a ‘Yes’ Heidi Grant Do you battle to ask for help when you need it?  If yes, this TED talk is for you!  Asking for help is tough. But to get through life, you have to do it all the time. So how do you get comfortable asking? In this actionable talk, Heidi Grant shares four simple rules for asking for help and getting it — while making the process more rewarding for your helper, too.  Think of that ‘warm and fuzzy feeling’ you get when you help someone – it can be a win-win situation!
July 2019 Sleep is your superpower Matt Walker This title caught my eye because I – like most people – am fascinated by sleep.  I’ve always known about the wonderfully good things that happen when you get sleep, and that not getting good rest ‘pulls the rug out from under our feet’ – physically and emotionally.  But I wasn’t quite aware of how bad it is for us if we don’t get our 8hrs.

I hope you enjoy Matt’s talk – he communicates his insights so clearly.  And most importantly, the great news is that we can all take practical steps today to improve our sleep and our health.  Sleep well!

June 2019 You are contagious Vanessa Van Edwards So here’s a key question – if you are contagious, what are you infecting others with?  Is it optimism, excitement, gratitude, hope, or is it anxiety, disappointment, sadness and fear?  I have been following Vanessa for some time and I love her YouTube clips – so I was delighted to see her TED Talk.  She’s an expert on body language and science-based social skills.  I find her research fascinating and her style engaging!  I trust you’ll enjoy this jam-packed talk.
May 2019 Measuring what makes life worthwhile Chip Conley Chip starts out by telling us that we need to look back to our first lessons, when we learned to count, and rather question what we count, because ‘what we count really counts’.  He encourages us to start measuring the important stuff, the intangible.  Consider an alternative definition of success and learn about Gross National Happiness (GNH).  Ask yourself about your ‘habitat of happiness’.  This talk is a gem –  thank you to Gogo Mo for sharing Chip’s talk with me.
April 2019 The skill of self-confidence Dr. Ivan Joseph This is a wonderful talk about how to build self-confidence.  I love Ivan’s approach to self-confidence – that it is a skill that can be developed.  Through persistence, repetition and positive self-talk.  This is so empowering.  “I am the captain of my ship and the master of my fate”.  Stay away from the people who tear you down.  How about writing your self-confidence letter?
March 2019 Kate Groch & Good Work Foundation at TEDInstitute 2013 Kate Groch We have recently celebrated World NGO day and it is my incredible privilege to be involved with the Good Work Foundation based in Hazyview, Mpumalanga.  Kate is an inspiration to me every day, as are the 115 (and growing) staff who get to do ‘great’ work everyday through GWF.  If anyone wants a ‘good news story’ to lift your spirits, look no further.  Better yet, if you’re in the area and want to see it for yourself, feel free to pop by and be part of the #Education Revolution!
February 2019 How I hacked online dating Amy Webb February – the month of love, so I like to post a talk about love or relationships.  This talk by Amy intrigued me, and I’m a sucker for a good love story.  I think a key message of hers is to really know what is important to you in a partner and relationship.  As she says ‘feel free to be picky’.  Once you know what you are looking for, it makes it so much easier to identify it when you see it. Happy hacking!
January 2019 A kinder gentler philosophy of success Alain de Botton Happy New Year to you all!  The end of a year, beginning of a new one, always gives people pause to assess their lives a little bit.  I’m sure that, like me, you’ve been asked about your new year’s resolutions.  Maybe you make them, maybe you don’t – but I think you’ll all enjoy Alain’s talk which looks at our ideas of success and failure – as he questions the assumptions underlying these two judgments. Is success always earned? Is failure? He’s witty and eloquent and makes a case for us to move beyond snobbery to find true pleasure in our work.  Wishing you a wonderful 2019 full of the things that mean the most to you.
Month TED Talk Title (hyperlink to the video) Speaker Kath’s comment


December 2018 Less stuff, more happiness Graham Hill With Black Friday just behind us and Christmas fast approaching, I’m sure you’ve also been faced with consumerism on steroids.  The compulsion to buy, buy, buy!  Well, I have some news that I hope will set you free.  Less stuff actually leads to greater happiness, less debt, more freedom and less stress.  In this short talk Graham shares an age-old but recently resurfacing philosophy – minimalism.  In a nutshell, it’s about intentionally trying to live with only the things one really needs.  If you like this short talk, I highly recommend the Netflix document ‘Minimalism’  Wishing you a festive season full of the things that matter to you most!
November 2018 Rethinking infidelity … a talk for anyone who has ever loved Esther Perel This is an excellent talk for anyone who has ever cheated or been cheated on, or who simply wants a new framework for understanding relationships.  I feel her every sentence is loaded with insights and opportunity for learning.  I love how she ends her talk in the last 20 seconds by saying ‘all of us are going to have 2-3 relationships or marriages – and some of us will do this with the same person’.  Powerful stuff!
October 2018 The little risks you can take to increase your luck Tina Seelig Do you think you can increase your luck?  Tina shows us that ‘Luck’ is rarely a lightning strike, isolated and dramatic — it’s much more like the wind, blowing constantly. Catching more of it is easy but not obvious. In this insightful talk, Stanford engineering school professor Tina Seelig shares three unexpected ways to increase your luck — and your ability to see and seize opportunities.
September 2018 I’ve lived as a man & a woman — here’s what I learned Paula Stone Williams I found Paula’s talk engaging, funny and insightful.  She shares insights from experiencing both ‘sides’ of the gender continuum.  Her most valuable gift to me was her line: ‘the call towards authenticity is sacred, it’s holy, it’s for the greater good’.  I have such admiration for people who live their truth, against all odds.  It also makes one really think about “what we don’t know about what we don’t know” – being willing to listen and being willing to honour another’s journey.
August 2018 How to stop swiping and find your person on dating apps Christina Wallace I’m sure that, like me, you have some gorgeous single friends who entertain you with their stories of online dating (you know who you are 😊).  I so enjoyed this TED talk and thought that Christina’s strategy and insights should be shared.  I know if I was single, I’d be all over this!

I could have kept this one for February, but that’s just way too far away.  Who knows… if you’re single and follow Christina’s advice, perhaps you’ll have found ‘your person’ by then.  If you try it out, be sure to let me know how it goes!

July 2018 Inside the fight against Russia’s fake news empire Olga Yurkova This is a slight deviation from my normal type of TED Talk, but a really interesting and important topic for all of us.  Especially given the times we live in and the growth of the fake news phenomenon.  How do you identify ‘fake news’?  Are you aware how prevalent it is?  Olga, in her beautiful Ukrainian accent, packs so much value into this 5 min video.  A must watch!
June 2018 Where joy hides and how to find it Ingrid Fetell Lee I have always been fascinated by creative people, and here we have a creative person fascinated by joy.  What causes it, where it lives and how to find it.  And the wonderful thing is, that once you know what you’re looking for, you’re much more likely to see it, find it, and feel it.
May 2018 How to practice emotional first aid Guy Winch I love Guy’s quiet way as he speaks the truth about emotional well-being, and how we often neglect our ‘personal emotional hygiene’.  He touches on important issues like loneliness, rejection, failure, low self-esteem and battling negative thinking and gives some practical ways for us to build our emotional wellness – which in turn helps us to thrive.  How would you fair in an annual general psychological check-up?
April 2018 The brain-changing benefits of exercise Wendy Suzuki If you’re in the midst of the Easter chocolate binge – then this talk is for you.  Need some motivation to get moving?

Want to transform your brain today?  Protect your brain from Depression, Dementia and Alzheimers.  Make yourself more resilient and healthier.  Boost your mood and memory!

Yes, Wendy does get quite technical about the brain – but we’ll forgive her – she is a neuroscientist after all.  But watch right to the end as she gets people moving!  See you at the gym!!

March 2018 Do schools kill creativity? Sir Ken Robinson With almost 50 million views of Sir Robinson’s fabled 2006 talk, I’m not alone in thinking this one of TEDs best talks!  Some sound bites include, ‘If you don’t know… have a go’ and ‘Forget your fear of being wrong, and risk being original.’  I also just love his sense of humour!

Perhaps you’re one of the 50 million previous viewers, but have you seen his ‘follow up’ talk 4 years later called ‘Bring on the revolution’ where he starts ‘As I was saying…’

A knight to watch tonight!

February 2018 Are you a giver or a taker? Adam Grant As we enter the international month of love, do you consider yourself to be a giver or a taker?  A gem in Adam’s talk is the idea of the ‘5-minute favour’ and I just love the idea of ‘Pronoia’ – of plotting people’s wellbeing!
January 2018 The future we’re building — and boring Elon Musk (interviewed by Chris Anderson, TED’s Head Curator) As 2017 comes to a close and we look forward to 2018, I want to share this TED talk with Elon Musk with you.  Talk about having a vision for the future – and things to get excited about!

I know it’s longer than most TED talks, but if you’re like me, you can’t get enough of Elon!  I love the way he tackles/ignores boundaries and “can’t possibly’s” – and rather tackles the ‘how’ and ‘how long’, quantifying his dreams to guide them to a new reality. The fact that he’s South African is the cherry on the top!

Happy New Year to you all.  Wishing you a visionary 2018 and lots of fun on the way to your dreams!

Month TED Talk Title (hyperlink to the video) Speaker Kath’s comment


December 2017 Try something new for 30 days Matt Cutts Within days we are relocating to my home town, and I am so excited!  Dealing with change is an emotional rollercoaster, scary but also loads of fun – and we feel very alive!  Matt’s short talk reminds me that one doesn’t have to make huge ‘relocation’ changes to learn, grow and feel alive.  What have you always wanted to try?  Why not use the last 30 days of 2017 to try it out.
November 2017 10 ways to have a better conversation Celeste Headlee I love this straightforward practical guide to becoming more conversationally competent.  Would you like to connect with people better, be present and make people feel deeply understood?  Always remember you have something to learn.  Listen with the intent to understand, not with the intent to respond.  Do this and be prepared to be amazed!
October 2017 How to know your life purpose in 5 minutes Adam Leipzig I was pretty sceptical when I saw the title of this talk.  How could one know your life purpose in 5 minutes – impossible!  But grab a pen and paper and hold onto your hat, as Adam packs a punchy, eye-opening 5 question process into 10 minutes that will take you places!  I can’t wait for the next person to ask me ‘so what do you do’…
September 2017 The happy secret to better work Shawn Achor In Shawn’s fast-paced and funny talk – he challenges us to focus on the positive, on being an outlier – a ‘weirdo’.  He says, ‘it’s the lens through which we view the world that shapes us – and if we can change the lens, we can change our reality.’  He packs so many great, practical and manageable suggestions into the last 5 minutes – I dare you to start doing just one.  I just love love love the science of happiness!
August 2017 What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness Robert Waldinger They say hindsight is 20/20 – so benefit from the insights of this amazing longitudinal study and create your best life.  The punchline?  Good close relationships make us happier and healthier.
July 2017 Why you should define your fears instead of your goals Tim Ferriss I really like the way Tim changes my perspective here – his ‘fear setting’ technique is logical, practical and useful – helping one assess options of action and inaction. It makes me think of Roosevelt’s quote “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.
June 2017 The art of being yourself Caroline McHugh Oh wow.  I did not expect this one to be so good!  I feel like I need to re-watch this every week to motivate me to ‘be me’.  How inspiring to focus on being ourselves, in all our unique glory – larger than life.  It isn’t always easy, hence the title ‘THE ART of being yourself’ – but what a worthwhile journey… to ‘swallow the moon’.
May 2017 A new plan for anxious feelings: escape the custard! Neil Hughes Neil takes on the anxiety-provoking task of delivering a TED Talk to model and share how to deal with anxiety! I find his bravery, insight, humour and practical suggestions on how to deal with ‘custard’ – fantastic.
April 2017 ‘How to use a paper towel’ Joe Smith This short and amusing talk has an April Fool’s Day quality to me – but isn’t it amazing how such a simple thing (that we can all do easily every day) could change the face of our forests and planet.  So please remember to ‘Shake’ and ‘Fold’!
March 2017 Grit: The power of passion and perseverance Angela Lee Duckworth I love the word ‘Grit’ – meaning courage and resolve – it sounds tough and unyielding as it escapes between the teeth.  What struck me about this talk, is that you can only really show grit when the chips are down.  Your strength of character, passion and perseverance doesn’t always shine through when it’s plain sailing.  So the next time you hit a roadblock on your path, reframe it as an opportunity to show your grit!
February 2017 Love — you’re doing it wrong Yann Dall’Aglio February, the month of love.  I just love this TED talk, in part because of his gorgeous French accent, but for the most part, because we could all do with a bit more tenderness.
January 2017 Why some people find exercise harder than others Emily Balcetis Happy 2017!  If you are like so many who start the year with new year’s resolutions, only to have them dashed by the end of January – you may enjoy this talk.  So wishing you a wonderful year ahead with clear vision and SMART goals.  And remember to… “keep your eyes on the prize”.
Month TED Talk Title (hyperlink to the video) Speaker Kath’s comment


December 2016 How to make stress your friend  Kelly McGonigal As we head into one of the most wonderful but stressful times of the year, I thought rethinking how we feel about stress would add some time to our lives.
November 2016 Your body language shapes who you are Amy Cuddy I love the idea that something as simple as power poses – accessible to all – can change the course of an event, a speech, or perhaps even a proposal.
October 2016 How to speak so that people want to listen Julian Treasure For Julian’s mother, in honour of October.  I feel he has mastered the art of speaking – so smooth, so simple, so clear.