The TED conference focuses on "ideas worth sharing" in the fields of technology, entertainment, and design. A speaker at this popular series of global conferences has no more than 18 minutes to present a way to make the world a better place. It can be an idea as big as international economics or as simple as how to tie your shoelace so it won't come undone. These presentations, known as TEDTalks, are recorded and are available to watch at no charge on the official TED site.
We've combed through their extensive archives and found 5 simple ideas from TEDTalks that can help you live a better life.
1. How to tie your shoe better
We think we all know how to tie our shoes since being taught as young children, yet our laces often come undone. Terry Moore demonstrates a simple way to tie your shoes better. In the 3 minute video he explains that after you make the initial knot and the first bow like you usually would, all you have to do is loop the lace the other way around the bow. Finish the knot and pull tight. Viola! You'll have a stronger shoelace knot.
2. How to use only one paper towel
Here's another one of those "Of course, I know how to do this!" pieces where you find out there's a better way of doing it. Joe Smith shows you how to use only one paper towel to dry your hands after washing and still have perfectly dry hands. If every American did this instead of using 3-5 paper towels, it would save 571,230,000 pounds of paper towels a year.
The trick to this is two-fold:shake and fold. Shake your hands quickly twelve times over the sink, then fold the towel once before drying for maximum water absorption. Joe demonstrated the effectiveness of this method using several different kinds of paper towels. Next year, he promises to show us how to save on toilet paper.
3. How to improve your memory
Journalist Joshua Foer went to a memory competition on assignment for a story and ended up winning it the next year. The trick he learned was simple. Associate something you want to remember with a strong visual in your mind.
For example, what if you want to remember to pick up milk on the way home? Visualize Kim Kardashian dancing with a cow at the intersection of your local grocery store. When you arrive at that intersection on the way home, your mind will call up the bizarre image you created and you will be reminded of the errand you need to finish.
4. Try something new for 30 days
Google engineer Matt Cutts explains how he tackled one small, sustainable challenge in his life every 30 days. One month he biked to work and another month he wrote a novel. Some of these changes in his life continued to stick after the one month trial period, while others, like giving up sugar, didn't. But his point is that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying something new for 30 days. You'll make many new and positive habits that will last a lifetime.
5. Tips for staying married
Author Jenna McCarthy presents scientific data on long-lasting marriages and leading causes of divorce in this brutally funny TEDTalk. Bottom line? Men need to do more housework if they are intent on keeping their wife happy and women need to watch fewer romantic comedies which cause them to view their own relationships unfavorably. For both sexes, a positive outlook in the face of adversity never hurts either.
TED is continually updating its site with new videos. Check it out for more insightful TEDTalks on how to make your life better in simple ways.