What is happiness and how do we get it? Sometimes this seems like a difficult task. From discussions on spaghetti-sauce to vaginas, these 14 TED talks from the ‘What makes you happy?” playlist are a must for anyone who wants to understand this magical emotion better.
1. The surprising science of happiness – Dan Gilbert
“Stumbling on Happiness’ author Dan Gilbert explores the idea of our “psychological immune system” in this 21-minute talk.
Note: This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you buy from my link I might make a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay. See the full affiliate disclosure here.
“This almost floors me —a recent study showing how major life traumas affect people suggests that if it happened over three months ago, with only a few exceptions, it has no impact whatsoever on your happiness. Why? Because happiness can be synthesized.“
2. Choice, happiness and spaghetti sauce – Malcolm Gladwell
In this 19-minute talk, author of the “Tipping Point” Malcolm Gladwell explores the development of the American food industry, the nature of choice and how these relate to happiness.
3. Happiness and its surprises – Nancy Etcoff
We desire it, need it and we evolved to actively pursue it; Happiness. Nancy Etcoffs’ 14-minute talk explores how common it is, the psychology of it and some surprising effects it has on us.
4. What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness – Robert Waldinger
This 13-minute talk is not to be missed. As the director of a 75-year-old study on adult development Robert shares three important lessons he has learned about happiness and life fulfillment.
5. Flow, the secret to happiness – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
This is a fascinating 19-minute talk by Mihaly on his research on flow states and how they relate to happiness. What are flow states you ask? It’s best to watch the video, but basically, they are the mindset you experience when you are highly in tune with your creative element.
6. How to buy happiness – Michael Norton
It’s not the money, it’s how we spend it. What would you do if you won the lottery? In this quick 11-minute talk Michael challenges the classic saying ‘Money can’t buy happiness.
7. The paradox of choice – Barry Schwartz
Choice. It can free us or paralyze us. I remember my best friend at primary school always struggled with which 5 cent candies to pick. Too many options. Is freedom of choice always a good thing? Does it make us happier? In his amusing 20-minute talk Barry explores ‘The paradox of choice’.
8. Want to be happy? Be grateful – David Steindl -Rast
The topic of gratefulness has been popping up all over the place lately and for good reason. The link between happiness and gratefulness is strong. The more grateful you are the happier you will be. Learn more in Davids interesting 15-minute talk.
“There is something that we know about everyone we meet anywhere in the world, on the street, that is the very mainspring of whatever they do and whatever they put up with. And that is that all of us want to be happy.”
9. Remember to say thank you – Laura Trice
Short and Sweet; 3-minute talk. Laura Trice discusses the importance of praise, admiration san saying thank you.
“World peace… starts in every household”
10. Less stuff, more happiness – Graham Hill
Another one to watch when you have a spare 6 minutes. Graham discusses how minimalism can make you happier and save you money. Check out his website lifeedited.com
“We want stuff that we’re going to love for years. Not just stuff”
11. The habits of happiness – Matthieu Ricard
Matthieu Ricard has led an interesting life as a biochemist turned Buddhist monk. In this 21 minute talk, Matthieu discusses well-being and how we can train our minds to experience well-being, serenity, and fulfillment.
“If you look at the high sea. There might be a beautiful calm ocean like a mirror, there might be storms, but the depths of the ocean is still there, unchanged. So how is that? It can only be a state of being. Not just a fleeting emotion, sensation, even joy”
12. The riddle of experience vs. memory – Daniel Kahneman
In his 20-minute talk Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel laureate, discusses what he describes as our two selves, the ‘experiencing self’ and ‘remembering self’ and how these two selves perceive happiness in different ways.
“…we’ll have to adopt the more complicated view of what well-being is”
13. The hidden power of smiling – Ron Gutman
Want to live longer? Start smiling. Learn more about smiling in this quick 7-minute talk.
“Smiling is evolutionarily contagious”
14. Happiness in body and soul – Eve Ensler
Last but not least. This is an amazingly powerful 21-minute talk. Eve is the creator of “The Vagina Monologues”. She talks vaginas, how she has learned about happiness, what it really means and how we can stop violence against women.
“If I go with the wave, and I trust the wave, and I move with the wave I go to the next place, and it happens logically, and organically, and truthfully”