It’s a fact universally acknowledged that people want to be happy.
The ideal approach, however, is far more of a mystery.
Thankfully, several TED speakers have researched how humans can achieve ultimate happiness and shared their findings with us.
Some of their tactics are surprising, and some are surprisingly simple, but regardless, each of these talks will bring you one step closer to understanding happiness and how to achieve it.
The Harvard psychologist explains the fallacy behind the notion that to achieve happiness, one must get what they want. He uses psychology and neuroscience to explain that what we think makes us happy is, oftentimes, completely wrong.
'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,' he says. 'In our society, we have a strong belief that synthetic happiness is of an inferior kind.'
Killingsworth, a happiness researcher, designed an app, Track Your Happiness. It lets people report their happiness in real time, and he discovered some key insights into the big causes of happiness.
The researcher says much of our happiness boils down to the contents of our moment-to-moment experiences, and one key determinent involves our ability to focus our attention on something other than the present. Simply put, a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.
Iyengar, a psycho-economist, debunks the idea that the more choices you have, the better decisions you make. In fact, she says, when you give people 10 or more options, they tend to make poorer decisions in areas like healthcare and investing.
Ultimately, Iyengar says it's about accepting that constraint can, in some contexts, be more satisfying than freedom.
This monk and interfaith scholar's approach to happiness is simple: Slow down, look where you're going, and above all, be grateful.
'A grateful world is a world of joyful people,' he says.
Happiness, as defined by this biochemist-turned-Buddhist monk, is a deep sense of serenity and fulfillment, a state of being that underlies all our emotional states, and a conscious choice.
In his TED Talk, he explains how we can train our minds in the habits of well-being as an antidote to destructive emotions.
In less than five minutes, journalist Hill makes the case for having less stuff in a smaller space and lays out three simple rules for editing your life.
'By all means, we should buy and own some great stuff. But we want stuff that we're going to love for years, not just stuff,' he says.
Time for a little life editing.
Flow, according to Csikszentmihalyi, a psychology and management professor at Claremont Graduate University, is a state of heightened focus and immersion in activities like art, play, and work. This, he says, makes life worth living.
According to the behavioural economist, every individual is divided into an experiencing self and a remembering self. The differences between these two selves are critical to our understanding of human happiness.
He explains that what makes you happy in the immediate present won't necessarily make you happy when you reflect on your life overall -- and it's important to consider that idea the next time you're making a big decision.
According to this social science researcher, money can actually buy happiness -- the key is not spending it on yourself.
In this ten-minute talk, Norton shares fascinating research about the many ways pro-social spending can benefit you, your work, and other people.
When it comes to happiness, there may in fact be a way to fake it until we make it: by smiling more.
Gutman, CEO of HealthTap, shares surprising research that suggests a simple smile has a measurable effect on your overall well-being and help you live a longer, healthier, happier life.
Iyer, a travel writer, believes that in our ever-chaotic and noisy lives, we need to slow down, tune out, and give ourselves permission to be still.
He explores the insight that comes from stillness and the strategies we all can use to take back a few minutes every day.
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