Three Inspirational TED Talks for Later Life
Hearing another human giving a talk is a timeless and engaging activity.
After all, we’re wired to share stories and learn from others.
It just so happens that in later life, we often have more time to seek out interesting topics.
Plus, those giving talks frequently approach their subject with more life experience and intriguing tales to tell.
So without further ado, here are three rousing TED talks that you can watch from the comfort of your own home!
Life’s Third Act: Jane Fonda
“Jane Fonda has had three extraordinary careers (so far): Oscar-winning actor, fitness guru, impassioned activist.”
According to Fonda, we’re currently experiencing a longevity revolution, living on average 34 years longer than our great grandparents.
However, our culture seemingly hasn’t adjusted to this new paradigm.
Many philosophers, scientists and academics, though, are beginning to acknowledge this period of life, which Fonda calls The Third Act, as a distinct developmental stage.
And although the universe tends towards decline and decay, she says, the one exception is the human spirit, which continues to grow at any age.
Indeed, Fonda, in making sense of her continued development, chooses to view this stage of her life as a staircase, leading to wisdom, wholeness and authenticity.
In so doing, she sees age “not as pathology, but potential”.
So, she asks the question – how can we live wisely and successfully in later life?
At the start of Fonda’s own Third Act (her 60th birthday), she performed what psychologists call a life review of her younger years to provide a sense of clarity and meaning.
This process, she says, helps to change our relationship with the past, freeing ourselves to finish the act of finishing ourselves.
Scientists have shown that this activity can change the neural pathways in our brain. By creating better feelings about the past, we thereby become more positive in the present.
In our innocent youth, Fonda maintains, we are whole human beings, but into adulthood, conforming to the norm and popularity anxiety become predominant forces.
It’s only in the Third Act that we can circle back and know ourselves once again for the first time.
Older women are the largest demographic in the world. By embracing the Third Act, she says, those in later life can create a cultural shift, providing a shining light for younger generations to come.
How to Live Passionately – No Matter Your Age: Isabel Allende
“Isabel Allende writes stories of passion. Her novels and memoirs, including The House of the Spirits and Eva Luna, tell the stories of women and men who live with passionate commitment — to love, to their world, to an ideal”.
Society decides when we get old, usually around 61 and yet, we all feel younger than our years because the spirit never grows old.
In this way, Allende says, ageing is all about attitude.
Admittedly, we do lose things along the way: people, places, independence and the energy of youth to name a few.
But then, we also gain a huge amount.
Allende talks about the freedom of feeling like she now has nothing to prove. Unbeholden to expectations, she’s no longer stuck in who she was or wants to be.
She’s able to enjoy what she has and feels lighter for it. Having shed her grudges, ambition and vanity of youth, she advocates letting go.
She finally feels softer, she says, and doesn’t regard vulnerability as a weakness.
So in later life, Allende tries to live mindfully and through meditation, experience a connection to the present moment.
Remaining passionate is a priority for her and should be for others too, she states.
But how can we keep the passion alive?
Well, whenever she feels flat or bored, she fakes it. Attitude is everything, after all.
Allende’s been training her mindset in this way for a long time, by saying yes to whatever comes her way, every day.
Retirement in Spanish, she says, is “jubilacion” or “celebration”, which is exactly what retirement should be; a time for enjoyment.
We all have a choice she says, to remain engaged and living life with an open heart.
Isabel Allende is a prime example of someone who’s embraced this philosophy, working hard to live a passionate life every day.
Never, Ever Give Up: Diana Nyad
“A record-setting long-distance swimmer, Diana Nyad writes and thinks deeply about motivation”.
It was the fifth time she’d stood on the shore, believing that she was going to complete the 100 mile swim from Cuba to Florida, traversing the Gulf Stream.
It was an expedition of endurance like no other.
She’d previously made the attempt four times, beginning in her 20’s, a feat that had beaten the best swimmers in the world since 1950.
Her failed attempts had taught her much about the journey of life, and in a desire to avoid future regret, Nyad was drawn back to the seemingly insurmountable challenge once more.
All of the experts, including her own team, said it was impossible, but she wasn’t deterred.
If you have a dream, she says, there will always be obstacles to overcome, but if the belief is big enough and you persevere long enough, you’ll find a way.
The swim, through powerful currents and eddies, was one of the most unpredictable and dangerous in the world.
Sharks circled while Box jellyfish littered the path, delivering stinging poison from which she’d nearly died previously.
The challenge naturally spanned ultimate highs and extreme lows, in what Nyad describes an intense, unforgettable life experience.
From gazing into azure seas for what seemed like miles and being moved by the majesty of the natural world, to suffering desperate fatigue, vomiting and the onset of hypothermia, it was a journey as much psychological as it was physical.
However, after 53 hours of relentless struggle, Nyad finally reached that distant shore, accompanied by sheer determination and her dream.
During the beachside speech, she told the crowd three things:
- Never, ever give up.
- You’re never too old to chase your dreams (Nyad was 64 and accomplished something that no-one at any age or gender had managed before).
- The people supporting her were the only reason she managed to succeed.
Nyad and her story demonstrate just what we’re capable of at any age, given the right mindset.
The Power of Talks
There’s nothing better than listening to someone who is passionate about a topic, their enthusiasm contagious.
The three talks above focus on powerful individuals who don’t let age define them.
The main takeaways from their speeches are:
- Reconcile yourself with the past and try to live mindfully in the present
- Stay passionate and playful, no matter your age. It’s all about attitude.
- You’re never too old to achieve your dreams. Never give up.
At Mirthy, we encounter people who exhibit such qualities every day.
They provide a living example and inspiration to their community of exactly what’s possible in later life.
At Mirthy, we want to make talks available to the masses, allowing retirees to hear some of the best speakers around.
Whether that’s an inspiring personal history, as in the videos above, or more instructional talks, we believe everybody has something to say and that there are plenty who are willing to listen.
So if you would like to try speaking at one of our events, or know someone who would, please reach out.
We’d love to hear from you!