Personal Development

Seven TED Talks About What Makes You Happy

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Something about a good TED talk makes my learning-loving, educator heart do a happy dance. What I find most fascinating about them is that the disciplinary and cultural experts who deliver these talks are able to take topics that have been discussed thousands of times across numerous decades and present them in a way that is not only powerful and moving and illustrative but also uniquely fresh and relatable to the everyday consumer. And to beat it all, they are able to do it in under 20 minutes.

Facts and Feelings

If you have spent some time here on the blog, you know I am a fan of introspection. I like to learn and talk about the things that make us tick by exploring the whos, whats, whens, wheres, whys, and hows that form our identities. Self-awareness, personal alignment, and courage and vulnerability are just a few of the buzzwords you’ll see me default to as I navigate my ever-changing pursuit of happiness and attempt to share my newfound perspectives and lessons learned. I strongly believe “there is joy in the journey,” and I feel both compelled and privileged to understand its origin. TED talks are one of the many tools I use to do just that.

So, on to the good stuff.

seven TED talks about what makes you happy

Today I am sharing seven TED talks that do a beautiful job at challenging us to be more discerning about how we define and perceive happiness as it manifests in our daily lives. The presenters in these videos combine empirical data with personal experience to provide us with fresh perspectives surrounding some of the most distinguished variables influencing our ability to find joy along life’s long journey. They discuss memory and experience, hopes and fears, choice and decision making, relationships and connectivity. If you’re a human being, which I suspect you are, you’ve likely stumbled upon a few situations where you could have used some unprecedented wisdom on those topics. I think you will find that here today.

The Surprising Science of Happiness

It’s not a stretch to assume that always wanting what we can’t have is a sure prescription for misery. In this talk, author Dan Gilbert challenges us to question the idea that the only path to happiness is getting what we want. Instead, he argues our “psychological immune system” allows us to adapt to our circumstances and experience true joy even when things don’t turn out the way we had initially hoped.

The Paradox of Choice

Anyone suffer from analysis paralysis? If so, this one’s for you. Barry Schwartz is a psychologist who has long studied the freedom of choice in western societies. In this talk, he shares how too many choices can lead to mental and emotional paralysis, causing us to feel unsatisfied with the outcomes of our decisions. He unpacks our experiential perceptions in a way that suggests more options does not necessarily mean more happiness.

The Riddle of Experience vs. Memory

This one is quite interesting. Behavioral economics expert Daniel Kahneman, uses relatable examples to illustrate the clear the distinction between our “experience selves” and our “remembering selves.” His insight will leave you wondering how you would live your life if you planned for the memory instead of the activity.

What Makes a Good Life? Lessons From the Longest Study on Happiness

Psychiatrist Robert Waldinger serves as the fourth director of a 75-year-old study on adult development. The lessons he and his colleagues have learned from its participants are both humbling and inspiring. The wisdom he shares may not be so new, but it sure does provide some practical applications for living a life well loved.

Why you Should Define your Fears Instead of Your Goals

When it comes to actionable advice, this one takes the cake. Goal setting strategies are all the rage in today’s society. But what keeps us from achieving our goals is many times, not the failure to implement these strategies, but rather, the failure to begin in the first place. In this talk, Tim Ferriss shares his personal experience and explores “fear-setting” as a new and better way to pursue our dreams and convert them into realities.

The Habits of Happiness

Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk who has been called the “happiest man in the world.” Here, he talks a bit about how we can develop habits that promote well-being and help guide us on our journey to living a fulfilled life grounded in serenity. His presentation is full of simple truths sure to warm your heart make you want to be a better human being.

The Hidden Power of Smiling

Smiling is contagious. It just is. This talk is short, but Ron Gutman uses his time wisely to share some light-hearted, yet enthralling, statistics that reveal the surprising impact a simple smile can have on our well-being. According to his studies, our smile can even predict how long we’ll live. Spoiler alert… bigger smile, longer life!

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Well, friend, that’s all I have for today. As always, I hope your visit to the blog brought you a smile and a smidge of wisdom!

Until next time,


TED Talks About What Makes You Happy

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