Yesterday I helped my local library host a small discussion group on Happiness using TED Talks as the springboard. It was incredibly interesting.
First, if you are not familiar with TED, let me give a brief background. TED hosts conferences under the slogan "ideas worth spreading". It was founded in 1984, the T-E-D is an acronym which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. The main TED conference is held annually in Long Beach, CA and TED events are also held throughout the U.S. and in Europe and Asia.
I have found dozens of fascinating TED Talks including the 5 I have provided links to below.
Here's why this is important. Happiness is one thing the few things that we all want in our lives, in fact a large number of people answer the question, "What do you want out of life?" with "To be happy." And it makes sense, right? We all want to be happy.
Here's the challenge, and this is what these TED Talks on happiness can help with, we often do not understand the TRUTH about happiness. Our upbringing, our society and even our experiences can, if we are not careful, engage us in a lifelong game of happiness Hide-and-Seek. This is one of the primary reasons I have started the Greatest Gifts of All website and have no named myself The Happiness Ambassador.
We can EASILY experience much more happiness in our lives if we understand a bit more about the TRUE causes of happiness. These TED Talks on Happiness will help with that.
1. Martin Seligman on Positive Psychology
In this TED talk Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology and the author Authentic Happiness and Learned Optimism, looks at ways healthy people can lead happier, more engaged, and more meaningful lives. http://www.ted.com/talks/martin_seligman_on_the_state_of_psychology.html
2. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on Flow
Check out this TED talk from psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who authored the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Csikszentmihalyi talks about how average people become extraordinary which he attributes to the idea of "flow" when one become completely involved in an activity for its own sake. http://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow.html
3. Matthieu Ricard: Habits of Happiness
Biochemist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard examines happiness and well-being in this TED talk. He differentiates between pleasure and happiness as pleasure if fleeting and reliant upon circumstance. He feels that true happiness is found by training the mind to be happy regardless of the situation we find ourselves in and to tap into the deeper happiness of the awareness that we are more than our fleeting emotional states. http://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow.html
4. Dan Gilbert: Why Are We Happy? Why Aren't We Happy?
Check out this TED talk from Harvard psychologist and the author of Stumbling on Happiness, Dan Gilbert. Gilbert provides info from studies that reveal that what we often think will make us happy is the opposite of the case. http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html
5. Ron Gutman: The hidden power of smiling
Ron Gutman reviews a raft of studies about smiling, and reveals some surprising results. Did you know your smile can be a predictor of how long you'll live — and that a simple smile has a measurable effect on your overall well-being? Prepare to flex a few facial muscles as you learn more about this evolutionarily contagious behavior. http://www.ted.com/talks/ron_gutman_the_hidden_power_of_smiling.html
Understanding what we can do to increase the happiness we experience in our lives is important because it changes our behaviors. We act differently. We talk differently. We buy different things. We find that our happiness is actually very much our natural state and we can easily allow ourselves to slip back into that state if we simply start looking at things differently, if we will wake up from the dream and see the illusion for what it is, an illusion. Happiness is not determined by what we have, it's determined by who we are.
I would love to discuss these TED Talks on Happiness. Please leave your comments, thoughts or experiences.