The 1940 Mortimer Adler classic How To Read A Book posits a great comprehension exercise:

When reading a book chapter or consuming content, an effective checkpoint is to try and summarize the assigned passage in a single sentence.

I found this challenge helped me better understand other articles, videos, and podcasts as well.

So in the spirit of practice, for each of these 18 previously-enjoyed TED talks, I’ve taken a stab at a passable single-sentence summary.

Read. Or watch. Or just skim. Then let the inspiration bleed into your day.

“3 Questions To Ask Yourself About Everything You Do”

A compelling personal story opens this powerful share from Ms. Abrams; for any goal in life, ask yourself “What do I want?”, “Why do I want it?”, and “How will I get it done?”.

Stacey Abrams, TED

“How to Achieve Your Most Ambitious Goals”

Marginal adjustments to your daily routine can lead to rapid results, as evidenced by the speaker’s eclectic achievements over the years, from ‘yarn bombing’ to rapid skill acquisition to achieving Guinness world records.

Stephen Duneier, TEDxTucson

“Inside The Mind Of a Master Procrastinator”

Mr. Urban of Wait But Why distinguishes the two types of procrastination we experience in our lives in this vibrant talk.

Tim Urban, TED

“Quit Social Media”

The bestselling author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Deep Work, and Digital Minimalism tackles the three biggest objections people have around quitting social media.

Dr. Cal Newport, TEDxTysons

“My Philosophy For a Happy Life”

A month before his passing, 17-year-old Mr. Berns delivered this stunner about 3 ways to reframe your mindset for a happier life.

Sam Berns, TEDxMidAtlantic

“The Super Mario Effect: Tricking Your Brain Into Learning More”

A YouTuber and former NASA Engineer explains the interesting results of an experiment in which failure was de-stigmatized and tenacity was encouraged.

Mark Rober, TEDxPenn

“Why Comfort Will Ruin Your Life”

Complexity is where you’re most likely to experience sustained growth; Mr. Eckstrom outlines three ways complexity and a growth state can be achieved.

Bill Eckstrom, TEDxUniversityOfNevada

“The Four-Letter Code To Selling Anything”

Mr. Thompson addresses the phenomenon of the “familiar surprise” and why we’re wired to desire new experiences that feel familiar to old experiences.

Derek Thompson, TEDxBinghamtonUniversity

“Don’t Find a Job, Find a Mission”

Ms. Headlee, both a professional NPR radio journalist and a professionally trained opera singer, discusses why we’re so bad at choosing what we think are our dream jobs, as well as how to course-correct.

Celeste Headlee, TEDxAugusta

“Top 10 Tips To Keep Your Brain Young”

Ms. Amini debunks the myth that all Alzheimer’s disease is genetic and provides tips for brain health that are easy, free, and actionable now.

Elizabeth Amini, TEDxSoCal

“Honest Liars — The Psychology of Self-Deception”

Dr. Warren breaks down why we cognitively distort our situation and surroundings on a regular basis, and shares what to do to take back personal responsibility.

Dr. Cortney Warren, TEDxUNLV

“How To Motivate Yourself To Change Your Behavior”

Dr. Sharot points out why warnings rarely elicit change, how your brain gravitates toward positive information, and what to implement for everlasting transformation.

Tali Sharot, TEDxCambridge

“My Journey From Marine To Actor”

Mr. Driver discusses both his transition back to civilian life after a medical separation from the Marines and how he stitches together his military and theater communities.

Adam Driver, TED

“3 Reasons You Aren’t Doing What You Say You Will Do”

Ms. Crowell, a cognitive psychologist, explains the idea of “defensive failure” and what brain games you must overcome to achieve your goals.

Amanda Crowell, TEDxHarrisburg

“How To Change Your Behavior For The Better”

Mr. Ariely, a psychologist, discusses why enticing free offers still fail and the dangerous allure of the “no-action benefit”.

Dan Ariely, TED

“How To Make Stress Your Friend”

A psychologist by trade, Ms. McGonigal showcases the interesting phenomenon in which the way you think about stress can change your biology and your lifelong health.

Kelly McGonigal, TED

“What Makes a Good Life? Lessons From The Longest Study On Happiness”

Dr. Waldinger highlights the process of a continuing study on happiness, now 75 years deep, and points out that the quality of our relationships often point to better octogenarian health than any one physical health marker.

Dr. Robert Waldinger, TEDxBeaconStreet

“The Discipline Of Finishing”

Mr. Neill discusses both the decision-making process of Warren Buffett and the unnerving accuracy of “the marshmallow test”, an experiment given to toddlers that can predict their future quality of life.

Conor Neill, TEDxUniversidaddeNavarra

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