Four TED talks to help you become a better investor

Here are four entertaining videos about psychology, handling stress, decision making and how to buy happiness. Each contains an important lesson for investors.

We’ve long been fans of TED, a global non-profit that conducts conferences on technology, design, business and scientific topics and then shares the lectures on their website. Presenters are usually experts in their fields and have included Bill Clinton, Jane Goodall, Richard Dawkins, Bill Gates, Bono, and many Nobel Prize winners. Here are four of our favourite talks with some compelling lessons for investors.   

1. Learn to delay gratification

In a Stanford experiment, 4-year-olds were left alone in a room with a marshmallow and told that they’d be given a second if they could resist eating the first for 15 minutes. Without too much surprise, two-thirds couldn’t fight the temptation. But when the experimenters checked on the kids a decade later, those who had the self discipline were more successful in many other aspects of life. Author Joachim de Posada explains the importance of delaying gratification in this short and enjoyable talk.

 

2. Accept that you are irrational

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely lays out a series of experiments that demonstrate just how messed up our decision-making can be: We don’t save, we favour the default, and we follow the crowd. But when you accept your limitations you can start to build around them.

 

3. Stop fearing stress

Health psychologist Kelly McGonigal used to warn people that stress does you harm. And the research shows that it does – but only if you believe it does. In an experiment, people who experienced a lot of stress but recognised it was their body preparing them for action were immune to the negative effects. The next time the market plunges, this talk will help you get through it.

 

4. Be generous

Researcher Michael Norton shows how money does, actually, buy happiness – but only when spent in a certain way. If you want to be happy, it’s not about choosing this product over that product – shift your focus away from consumption and start giving back to society. It will make you happier, and help those around you.

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