5 TED Talks to Help You Discover True Happiness

How happy are you? More importantly, how consistently happy would you say are you? These days I fall into the ‘pretty much always happy’ camp. I wasn’t always like this, however.

I used to let circumstances dictate my mood, so on any given day I’d score an eight, a five or even a zero out of 10 on the happiness scale. Oftentimes I’d have multiple scores in a single day or week.

I viewed happiness as an extrinsic goal to be pursued rather than an intrinsic state of being accessible in any given moment. I believed I’d be happier when I reached my goal weight, found my ideal partner, got that promotion or better yet, won the lottery. Right!?

By pinning my wellbeing and life satisfaction on these ‘when’ and ‘if’ goals, I robbed myself of the opportunity to be happy in the moment. Saying I’d be happy ‘when,’ by its very nature implied I wasn’t happy now.

If that sounds like you, I have some good news. Happiness is something you can learn. In The How of Happiness, for example, research psychologist and University of California professor of psychology Sonja Lyubomirsky, offers easy-to-follow advice to increase happiness both in the short term and over the long term.

Self-taught philosopher and lover of wisdom, Brian Johnson, has read 475+ books of the top optimal living books ever and he rates The How of Happiness as his favorite. I’d say that makes it a good place to start.

Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment by former Harvard lecturer and happiness expert Tal Ben Shahar also has a lot to offer. In it he outlines the four archetypes of happiness: the rat racer, the hedonist, the nihilist and the happy person. Hint: the happy person is the archetype we should be striving for.

Both are worth reading, however if you’d like some instant inspiration these TED talks on happiness will definitely do the trick. From living with less stuff and nurturing relationships to spending money on others and finding your flow state, each of them will help you understand that happiness is indeed within your control.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD LIFE? LESSONS FROM THE LONGEST STUDY ON HAPPINESS BY ROBERT WALDINGER

The Harvard Study of Adult Development is probably the longest study of adult life that’s ever been done. For nearly 80 years researchers have sought to understand what makes a good life. What they found is that good relationships keep us happier and healthier.

People who are more connected to family, friends and their community are happier, physically healthier and live longer than people who aren’t that well connected. But it’s not about how many friends you have or if you’re in a committed relationship, it’s the quality of your close relationships that matters.

In their youth, the study’s participants thought fame, wealth and career success were goals worth pursuing for a good life, but in the end they discovered that happiness and meaning came from the relationships they’d nurtured.

FLOW, THE SECRET TO HAPPINESS BY MIHALY CSIKSZENTMIHALYI

The New York Times calls him a man obsessed with happiness. A leading researcher in positive psychology and someone who has devoted his life to studying what makes people truly happy, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has certainly earned the title.

In his TEDx talk he looks at what makes a life worth living. What Csikszentmihalyi found is that after a certain point, which corresponds to just a few thousands dollars above the minimum poverty level, increases in material wellbeing don’t seem to affect how happy people are.

If that’s the case, then where in our normal everyday life do we feel really happy? The short of it is, we find immense pleasure and joy in creativity. When we are immersed in a creative endeavor, we have a sense that we’re living more fully.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined the term ‘flow’ to describe this creative state when we’re completely involved in an activity for its own sake. Creativity implies art in some form or another, but you can be in a state of flow whether you’re cooking, writing, painting or creating a spreadsheet. It’s not so much what you’re doing, but how you feel when you’re doing it.

HOW TO BUY HAPPINESS BY MICHAEL NORTON

Think money can’t buy happiness? Think again. Social science researcher Michael Norton shares some fascinating research on how money can indeed buy happiness. There’s a small caveat, however. This theory only works when you don’t spend it on yourself.

Michael offers surprising data on the many ways prosocial spending can benefit you, your work and the people around you. If you’re at all curious about how we feel about what we buy and how we spend, then you’ll really enjoy Michael’s talk. If nothing else, it’ll prove your mom right. Because giving really is better than receiving.

WANT TO BE HAPPIER? STAY IN THE MOMENT BY MATT KILLINGSWORTH

Matt Killingsworth studied people from all over the world across a broad range of demographics to discover when humans are most happy. He sent participants the same three questions at various time throughout the day and they responded in real time using an app called Track Your Happiness.

  1. How happy are you right now?
  2. What are you doing?
  3. Are you thinking about something other than the task at hand?

What he discovered is that we’re often happiest when we’re lost in the moment. Conversely, the more our mind wanders, the less happy we tend to be. A simple approach to happiness, but one that clearly works.

If you’re interested, you can download the app and track your own happiness to find out what factors contribute to your personal wellbeing. You’ll also be helping Matt and his team in their ongoing research efforts.

LESS STUFF, MORE HAPPINESS BY GRAHAM HILL

Using a cardboard box to drive home the point, Graham Hill explains how less stuff can lead to more happiness. In his short but thought-provoking talk, he explains how less stuff and less space results in a smaller footprint, helps you save money and provides a little more ease in your life.

He started a project called Life Edited to explore the idea further and crowd-sourced the renovation of his 420 square foot Manhattan apartment to create his ideal living space. What he ended up with is mind-blowing.

Graham’s three rules for editing your life are super simple. You need to edit (declutter) ruthlessly, adopt the ‘small is sexy’ mantra, and opt for multifunctional when it comes to your home and the things you put into it.

As a card-carrying minimalist since 2008, I can promise you: the less you own, the more you have. And by more I mean happiness.

THE PRICE OF HAPPINESS BY BENJAMIN WALLACE

In this bonus sixth TED talk, Benjamin Wallace —journalist and author of The Billionaire’s Vinegar embarked on a quest to find out why people are inclined to spend ridiculously large amounts of money on things like wine or food.

Essentially, he wanted to know if happiness could be bought. To find out, he set out to sample the world’s most expensive products, including a bottle of 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc, an overpriced bar of Cor soap and a pair of $800 Jomons jeans.

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53 comments

Marie W
Marie Wabout a month ago

tks for sharing

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Linda L
Linda L6 months ago

I will be HAPPY to watch these
: )

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Cathy B
Cathy B6 months ago

Thank you for posting.

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Winn A
Winn A6 months ago

Thanks

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Winn A
Winn A6 months ago

:-)

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Teresa A
Teresa A6 months ago

Happiness for me is a soul state and we cannot feel happy everyday/everytime. But feeling yourself in peace and with a clear conscience is already a strong way of happiness at least for me.

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Danuta W
Danuta W6 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Jaime J
Jaime J6 months ago

Thank you!!

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Danii P
Past Member 6 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Sonia M
Sonia M6 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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