If you’re interested in making happiness possible right here and now, and in making it last for the rest of your life, I recommend watching these three TED Talks about happiness.
“There isn’t time, so brief is life, for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving, and but an instant, so to speak, for that.” – Mark Twain
More than a century ago, Mark Twain reflected on what it might mean to live a good life. The TED Talks shared below contemplate a few ways in which people can live happy, fulfilled lives, based on real-life studies and employable advice.
TED Talks are part of a larger nonprofit organization, TED, that’s devoted to spreading ideas and inspiring messages through short, powerful lessons that span a wide range of topics.
TED Talks are a great way for scientists, psychologists, and experts in various industries to share exciting research findings and enlightening discoveries with audiences all over the world. It’s an easy and fun way for individuals to learn more about what they’re curious about.
Here are three of my favorite TED Talks about happiness.
3 TED Talks about Happiness
1. The Happy Secret to Better Work, with Shawn Achor
In this lively 12-minute “lecture” (it’s also a bit of a comedy skit), positive psychologist Shawn Achor humors the audience with some impressive scientific research and an important message: The lens through which we view the world shapes our reality.
While many people assume that the external world is predictive of their happiness, it turns out that 90% of long-term happiness is predicted by the way our brains process the world.
Shawn shares some other amazing statistics that counter the current formula for happiness and success, which is this: If we work harder, we will be successful, and when we are successful we can be happy. “The problem is that every time we enjoy success, we change the goal post of what success looks like,” he explains.
He then goes on to share some of the proven positive practices that can transform the way people live, and reverse the currently backwards formula for happiness and success.
For instance, we can train our brains to scan the world not for the negative, but for the positive first. By doing this, we increase our chances for success in all arenas of life. We experience what is called a happiness advantage: Your brain performs better when it’s positive than when it’s negative, neutral, or stressed; your intelligence, creativity, and energy levels rise.
This is an eye-opening, fast-paced yet easy-to-digest video that I would recommend everyone watch at least once.
2. The Surprising Science of Happiness, with Dan Gilbert
In this 21-minute video, Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, explains how our beliefs about what will make us happy are often misguided and ultimately wrong.
Dan explains the amazing machinery that is the human brain, and how we’re equipped with the ability to simulate experiences before they happen, which is both extremely helpful and potentially detrimental (because we tend to lean toward the negative).
He describes two kinds of happiness: synthetic versus natural. “Natural happiness is what we get when we get what we wanted, and synthetic happiness is what we make when we don’t get what we wanted. And in our society, we have a strong belief that synthetic happiness is of an inferior kind.”
The lesson of this video is that our longings and our worries (the experiences we simulate in our head) are to some degree overblown, because we have within us the capacity to manufacture the joy of living; we aren’t greeted with joy only when we get what we want in life.
3. What Makes a Good Life? With Robert Waldinger
This 13-minute video is really interesting because it recaps the longest study on happiness, as presented by Robert Waldinger, Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development.
The question is this: What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? Young people might claim wealth and fame, but the reality, according to a 75-year-old study on adult development, is that a fulfilling and long life shares three common threads (none of which have anything to do with money, fame, or working harder).
The main message of this video is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.
Robert goes on to explain just how and why relationships (of all kinds) are so crucial to our long-term happiness and good health.
Another key takeaway from this video is that happiness definitely isn’t a quick fix; it’s not something that we can get that will make our lives better immediately and forever. Relationships are great examples of this, because they’re lifelong and sometimes messy; they require our lifelong attention if we want happiness that sticks around.
I’ll be sharing 3 more TED Talks about happiness next week.
- Which of these TED Talks about happiness did you really enjoy?
- What practices support positive thinking in your own life? What has been a big supporter of your happiness?
- Which relationships could you work on improving?
- How can you bring a little more joy and enthusiasm to what you’re doing today, instead of waiting for joy to come to you?
Please share your thoughts, any other TED Talks about happiness that you like, lessons learned from your own happiness journey, and any stories with me in the comments.
Share these TED Talks with someone who might enjoy the messages.
You have the magnificent capacity to manufacture long-lasting happiness right here, right now.