Granted in some cases of depression therapeutic intervention may be necessary. But I am unable to take pharmaceutical drugs due to allergic responses so I have to rely on keeping my physical health and mental health in balance through alternative means.
Let’s suppose we understand what happiness is. Then how do we find it? Many TED Talks speakers have been engaged in this quest for years. During the holidays I made the time to watch just 5 videos and as they informed and inspired me I want to share them with you.
Too much choice undermines happiness. What it leads to is setting unreasonably high expectations, questioning our choices before we even make them, and blaming our failures entirely on ourselves.
It’s a paradox. Our abundance of choice in Western countries is leading to our unhappiness, any policy limiting choices would be considered oppressive and average person would reject it out of hand.
Schwartz thinks that’s why a less choice might do us all a lot of good.
“The secret to happiness is low expectations.”
Daniel Gilbert shows how poor predictors of what will actually make us happy we are. In the same way that optical illusions fool our eyes – and fool everyone’s eyes in the same way – Gilbert argues that our brains systematically misjudge what will make us happy. And these quirks in our cognition make humans very poor predictors of our own bliss.
Human beings have something that we might think of as a “psychological immune system.” A system of cognitive processes, largely non-conscious cognitive processes, that help them change their views of the world, so that they can feel better about the worlds in which they find themselves.
“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. … In our society, we have a strong belief that synthetic happiness is of an inferior kind. I want to suggest to you that synthetic happiness, is every bit as real and enduring as the kind of happiness you stumble upon when you get exactly what you were aiming for.”
Carl Honore, a Canadian journalist is best known for his advocacy of the Slow Movement. His book In Praise of Slowness dissects our speed-obsessed society and celebrates those who have gotten in touch with their “inner tortoise. “
The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting.
“By slowing down at the right moments, people find that they do everything better: They eat better; they make love better; they exercise better; they work better; they live better.”
Biochemist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard been the subject of intensive clinical tests at the University of Wisconsin, as a result of which he is frequently described as the happiest man in the world.
After training in biochemistry at the Institute Pasteur, Matthieu Ricard left science behind to move to the Himalayas and become a Buddhist monk — and to pursue happiness, both at a basic human level and as a subject of inquiry. Achieving happiness, he has come to believe, requires the same kind of effort and mind training that any other serious pursuit involves.
“Mind training is based on the idea that two opposite mental factors cannot happen at the same time. You could go from love to hate. But you cannot, at the same time — toward the same object, the same person — want to harm and want to do good.”
Michael Norton is an Associate Professor of Business Administration in the Marketing Unit and Marvin Bower Fellow at the Harvard Business School. He shares fascinating research on how money can, indeed buy happiness — when you don’t spend it on yourself. Listen for surprising data on the many ways pro-social spending can benefit you, your work, and (of course) other people.
“The specific way that you spend on other people isn’t nearly as important as the fact that you spend on other people.”
Here’s the Good News
The good news is that these days I’m celebrating my mind training success. Don’t get me wrong though, I do know I haven’t arrived. But it feels good to wake up and be ready to face the day smiling, instead of wanting to pull the covers over my head and check out until tomorrow.
You can simplify, synthesize, slow down, train your brain and practice generosity to become happier.
You can be happy even when
- people have disappointed, betrayed or even defamed you.
- someone gets upset when you don’t join in their misery.
- nobody seems genuinely supportive of your goals and dreams.
- you are falling short of your high expectations.
- nothing runs smoothly, on time or according to your plans.
You can cultivate happiness by
- living simply in accord your core values;
- affirming your self-worth;
- seeding your mind with positive thoughts;
- washing regret away with compassion;
- fertilizing creativity with love;
- celebrating growth;
- giving more to others;
- expecting less.
Enjoying Life Every Day
Beyond Fear: Creativity
Letting Go, Moving On, and Growing
Learn to Include More Humour in your Life
The Power of the Smile
Seeking Happiness: Focus on Relationships
Hope and Happiness as Skillful Means