From decluttering to finding your purpose, here are the most inspiring TED talks on minimalism that will change your life.
There’s nothing like a good minimalism TED talk to inspire you to simplify your life – or just declutter your closet.
Minimalism is a huge trend that’s sparked everything from thrift store donations to the tiny house movement.
But at its core, a minimalist lifestyle is about getting rid of clutter to make space for what really matters.
Though it’s not just about capsule wardrobes and clean kitchen shelves.
Adopting a minimalist lifestyle takes effort – and some real mindset shifts.
If you’re looking for that dose of inspiration to get started (or fresh insights to keep going), then tune into these powerful TED talks.
These incredible speakers will inspire you towards a simpler life.
Here are the best minimalism TED talks:
1. Minimalism For a More Full Life – Grant Blakeman
With emails flooding inboxes at all hours, it’s easy to spend all day just keeping up.
Blakeman says the hyper-connectivity that creates a barrage of distractions in your life also makes it impossible to focus.
And it’s easier to not make any choices when you’re faced with an abundant variety.
Blakeman argues that you need negative space and time to process your thoughts. Especially in a constantly distracted world.
Though it’s not about stripping everything away. Instead, it’s about curating your life and having priorities.
2. The Magic of Not Giving a F*** – Sarah Knight
Be forewarned: this TED Talk contains a lot of swearing.
But it’s also a funny look at how the principles of decluttering can apply to your life and relationships.
When you make more calculated decisions, you end up with more time, energy and money for the things you really care about.
And that means politely saying “no” to the social events you feel obligated to attend – but don’t actually enjoy.
People, activities and events can impose on your time and leave you drained.
But choosing what you care about leaves you more energy for what’s really important. And you’ll be less burdened when you stop caring about your supposed obligations.
3. Get rid of the unnecessary to get down to basics – Colin Wright
Colin Wright is an author and full-time traveler who moves house every four months.
He says once you define what you want, you must act intentionally and look at your life to evaluate what really moves you towards your goals.
And the less you spend on what doesn’t matter, the more time you have for what does.
Being intentional with relationships means asking yourself if the most valuable people in your life get the attention they deserve.
At work, it means looking at your overall goals and asking if your work moves you towards them.
4. From Clutter to Clarity – Kerry Thomas
Clutter is not just stuff. There’s also digital, emotional and spiritual clutter.
From an overflowing garage to your own self-doubt, clutter keeps you from the life you want.
All the different types of clutter are just postponed decisions, Thomas says.
Clothes that don’t fit are postponed decisions to lose weight, for example.
Once you stop postponing these decisions, you’ll move past the overwhelm that clutter brings.
5. The ten-item wardrobe – Jennifer L. Scott
Scott lived with a French family while studying abroad and learned some crucial lessons about keeping a minimal yet stylish wardrobe.
The more thought you put into your wardrobe the easier it is to get dressed in the morning, she says.
And a smaller wardrobe helps you define and fine-tune your style.
You can completely change your life by putting more thought into your daily routine and more intention into your everyday habits.
Hone our personal style and be more discerning instead of filling your closet with the latest trends.
6. Adventures with Minimalism and Happiness – Marty Stano
Stano has experimented widely with minimalism – from deciding to live homeless for a semester in college to working in Chile to learn about the local community.
Stano’s travels led him to re-examine his values and create an intentional life governed by meaningful experiences, community and relationships.
You must ask yourself what you really need to be happy, Stano says.
Then experiment and temporarily get rid of things. And ask yourself if you’re better off without them.
7. Quit social media – Cal Newport
Newport doesn’t have any social media accounts. Yet he’s up-to-date, has friends and a fruitful career.
Newport claims he’s happier without Facebook and Instagram.
Social media isn’t a fundamental technology in life, he says. It’s entertainment that’s designed to be addictive.
But it’s not exactly harmless fun, either.
Social media permanently reduces your capacity to concentrate and breaks up your attention.
The psychological damage includes loneliness, depression and anxiety.
Life without social media is difficult at first. But when things settle down you’ll find yourself more productive and better relaxed, Newport says.
8. The Art of Letting Go – The Minimalists
This viral TED talk – from the duo behind the Minimalism Netflix documentary – talks about how the death of Millburn’s mother lead him to re-examine his own life.
Going through his mother’s lifetime of accumulated possessions taught Millburn that your memories are not inside things.
And it taught him to reevaluate his own quest for the material American dream.
Millburn eventually went from being a “well-organize hoarder” to living a simple life with only the things that bring value.
He ended up getting rid of about 90% of his possessions and became calmer and less stressed.
9. The 100 Things Challenge – Dave Bruno
Bruno is the author of the 100 Things challenge, which challenges budding minimalists to live with less than 100 personal items for a year.
He asks what’s really necessary to live a happy and fulfilled life?
Society defines success as excess and affluence. But this kind of consumerism doesn’t really bring you happiness – only debt and anxiety.
By pursuing simplicity, you prove to yourself that you don’t need that model of excess to thrive.
And that can be life-changing.
10. A Rich Life with Less Stuff – The Minimalists
This inspiring talk by the Minimalist duo asks what constitutes a rich and intentional life.
Ryan Nicodemus talks about how a six-figure salary and impressive job title only made him look successful on the outside.
But in reality, he felt stressed and miserable, filling that void with purchases that plunged him further into debt.
Nicodemus then noticed how his friend seemed a lot happier – and then his friend told him about minimalism.
They threw a packing party and stored away all of Nicodemus’ belongings. In the coming months, Nicodemus unpacked only the items he needed. And he got rid of everything else.
A month later, his entire perspective changed.
11. Getting Rid of 1,000 Things – Liz Wright
Wright set herself a challenge to get rid of 1,000 items from her life and exist more simply and clutter-free.
After spending decades climbing the corporate ladder, she realized she didn’t like the life she built for herself.
But Wright discovered the more she got rid of things, the more energy, time and openness she gained.
She had space for dinner guests, for example, and fewer cookbooks that made finding a good recipe easier.
12. Less Stuff, More Happiness – Graham Hill
A rugged camping tent and a sleek hotel room are peaceful environments that prove less stuff often means more freedom.
Hill argues that smaller spaces mean less debt, less stress and less of an environmental impact on our planet.
But how do you live more simply?
Edit ruthlessly and think before you buy.
Think small – go for space efficiency and digitization. And opt for multi-functional spaces and housewares that serve multiple purposes.
13. The Art of Stillness – Pico Iyer
Iyer talks about the power of sitting still to find what really brings you happiness.
The power of self-reflection is more important than experiences and distant travel adventures, Iyer says.
Sitting still lets you turn your experiences into insights. And in our rushed and digital age, it’s crucial to stay connected to yourself and take breaks from technology.
Through quiet, you gain depth in your thoughts and bring meaning to your life.
14. The Paradox of Choice – Barry Schwartz
Psychologist Barry Schwartz argues that the more choices you have, the more paralyzed and dissatisfied you are.
From salad dressings at the grocery store to treatment options offered by medical doctors, society assumes that a wide range of choices makes you happier.
But Schwartz argues that’s not the case.
A multitude of choices makes it difficult to make a good decision.
And when you do make a choice, you’re likely to be dissatisfied because you imagine how other options might have been better.
15. In Praise of Slowness – Carl Honore
Honore talks about the benefits of slowing down in the culture of speed and efficiency.
People are hurrying through their lives instead of living them, Honore says, until they get a wake up call – like heath problems or a ruined relationship.
By slowing down, you can eat better with more pleasure, sleep better and have deeper relationships.
Though speed is seductive because it distracts you from deeper questions.
While slowness is taboo in society and often synonymous with laziness.
16. Sell Your Crap. Pay your debt. Do what you love. – Adam Baker
Baker made a radical choice right after the birth of his daughter. He sold everything and took his young family backpacking for a year across Australia.
He realized he no longer wanted a life of consumerism and debt – and he took a risk to regain his freedom.
You need to define what freedom means in your own life – and how your possessions give you a false sense of security.
Are your possessions plunging you into stress, debt and overwork?
An inspiring speaker can change your outlook and inspire you towards a more mindful and minimal lifestyle.
If you’re looking for some minimalism inspiration, TED talks are a great place to start.
I would love to hear from you. What are your favorite minimalism TED talks?