Happiness isn’t as simple as it may seem! These four experts will expand your understanding of this powerful, yet complicated, emotion!

Why Are We Happy
by Dan Gilbert

Originally recorded in 2004, this TED talk has over 15,870,305 views––and for good reason! In it Dan Gilbert, a Harvard psychologist and the author of “Stumbling on Happiness”, challenges the idea that humans will be miserable if they don’t get what they want by revealing our innate “psychological immune system” which allows us to feel happy, even if things don’t go as planned.

He posits that “our longings and our worries are both to some degree overblown, because we have within us the capacity to manufacture the very commodity we are constantly chasing when we choose experience.”

The Happy Planet
By Nic Marks

Nic Marks is a statistician and founder of the Centre for Well-Being at the UK think tank New Economics Foundation. In this thought provoking TED talk, he questions why we measure the success of a nation by productivity and not happiness or well-being of its people. His work as a statistician allowed him to create a Happy Planet Index––an index that tracks national well-being against the use of resources.

His talk reveals five positive actions that can be done to improve your well-being in life which he comes close to calling the secrets of happiness.

Measuring What Makes Life Worthwhile
By Chip Conley

Hotelier Chip Conley is both an author and a CEO with a focus on helping others realize their full potential. In his excellent TED talk, he tells the story of how the dotcom bubble caused him to search for a business model based on happiness. His journey allowed him to learn from an employee’s friendship and the ancient wisdom of a Buddhist king. This changes his paradigm on where success and happiness comes from.

“The reality is, in Western countries, quite often we do focus on the pursuit of happiness as if happiness is something that we have to go out — an object that we’re supposed to get, or maybe many objects. Actually, in fact, if you look in the dictionary, many dictionaries define pursuit as to “chase with hostility.” Do we pursue happiness with hostility?”
It’s a great discussion for anyone in leadership roles or otherwise.

The Optimism Bias
By Tali Sharot

Tali Sharot is a cognitive neuroscientist with a focus on studying why our brains are biased toward optimism. In this talk, she explores the question of whether or not we’re born optimistic, rather than realistic. She shares incredibly research which suggests that our brains are in fact wired to look on the Brightside–an effect that can be bother dangerous and beneficial. The good news, she says, “is that becoming aware of the optimism bias does not shatter the illusion. It’s like visual illusions, in which understanding them does not make them go away. And this is good because it means we should be able to strike a balance, to come up with plans and rules to protect ourselves from unrealistic optimism, but at the same time remain hopeful.”

As these talks point out, happiness is a powerful, yet complicated emotion. It impacts how we view the world, make decisions and even how we affect the world. Did you learn anything about your own happiness in these videos? Share it with me in the comments below.

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