How Can We Learn to Be Happier?

How Can We Learn to Be Happier?

In the widely beloved and well known podcast, Tedx Radio Hour, host Guy Raz interviews a number of Ted Talk speakers to learn more about their talks, who they are, and their lessons on life.

The episode “Simply Happy” is one of Tedx Radio Hour’s most popular releases–and with good reason. In this hour, we learn from presenters of various backgrounds who share their research and philosophies on the simplicity of happiness. Here is a breakdown of this episode and its overarching ideas on happiness:

1. Mind Wandering (Matt Killingsworth):

UC San Francisco researcher Matt Killingsworth suggests that our minds wander and focus on things that aren’t particularly helpful to us. He explains that we tend to lose our attention to thoughts that are not “productive, useful, and adding to experience.” Moreover, he suggests that mind wandering may be a cause of unhappiness and not just a symptom. Speaking from experience, I feel a lot happier when I am in the moment with things and feel more connected and accepting of myself when I can enjoy my time, actively doing something without distractions, which may be reading, listening to podcasts, etc.

See his Matt Killingsworth’s app on tracking happiness/ mind wandering tendencies here.

2. Culture of speed (Carl Honore):

Speaking on the culture of speed, journalist Carl Honore suggests we refrain from the idea that slowness equates to laziness and unhappiness. Honore raises a valuable point in explaining how slowing down can help us ask meaningful questions about the quality and wellness of our lives.

3. Simplicity and Happiness (Graham Hill):

Designer Graham Hill recalls his life after selling a website designing company he founded for ten million dollars at barely thirty years old. After acquiring so much money, he talks about how he purchased many luxuries, including a new and expensive home, a car, furniture, and more, but concludes that these luxuries began to overwhelm him and make him more unhappy. The big change for him? Experiencing the joys of simplicity. He got rid of these luxuries and looked to things that were space efficient, that were decluttering and could “nest, stack and digitize.”

4. Misfortune and Long Term Happiness (Dan Gilbert)

Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert explains the relationship between misfortune and long term happiness. He emphasizes the “impact bias” in all of us: our tendency to overthink the severity of outcomes. At the same time, Gilbert notes we are built with processes that make us resilient to adversity–processes that we are many times unaware of. We can frame things in more positive light to help us overcome life’s most troubling tribulations.

5. Gratefulness and Happiness (David Rast)

Monk and interfaith scholar David Rast defines living gratefully by way of appreciating gifts that are both given and valuable to us. Moreover, he notes that every moment can be considered a given opportunity that we can avail in. Through gratefulness, we can act out a sense of enough instead of scarcity and thereby, change our perspectives on fulfillment and life’s meaning.

His method for noticing when we are being grateful in life?

“Stop, look and go.”

Listen to the full podcast here.

Feature image via.

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