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Home » The Secret to Mastering Life’s Biggest Transitions: Bruce Feiler (Transcript)

The Secret to Mastering Life’s Biggest Transitions: Bruce Feiler (Transcript)

Here is the full text and summary of Bruce Feiler’s talk titled “The Secret to Mastering Life’s Biggest Transitions” at TED conference. In this talk, author Bruce Feiler shares from his experience of how his father’s Parkinson’s disease and multiple suicide attempts led him to research and explore the importance of storytelling and transitions, leading to the idea of linear living being outdated. Feiler speaks about disruptors as events that transition our lives, the average person going through three to five lives changing lifequakes in five years, and half of adult lives spent in transition. He also offers five tips on how to master life transitions, including building a team of allies and recognizing the power of storytelling to rewrite our life narratives during transitional periods.

Listen to the audio version here:


I used to have a saying that phone calls don’t change your life. Until one day I got a phone call that did. It was from my mother. “Your father is trying to kill himself.”

He’s what? My dad was a son of the American South, a Navy veteran and civic leader, he was never depressed a minute. Until he got Parkinson’s. Six times in 12 weeks, my dad attempted to end his life. We tried every solution imaginable, until one day I had a thought. Maybe my dad needed a spark to restart his life story.

One morning I sent him a question. “Tell me about the toys you played with as a child.” What happened next changed not only him, but everyone around him, and led me to reimagine how we all make meaning, purpose and joy in our lives. This is the story of what happened next and what we all can learn from it.

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