TED Talks on Happiness: 10 Must-Watch Presentations

ted_talks_happinessIf you’re not familiar with TED.com I’d go so far as to say you just struck gold.

TED conferences bring together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, and challenges them to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less).

So what happens when you hand this challenge to some of the worlds greatest happiness researchers and experts?

Well, you get talks like the following 10 must-watch presentations (in no particular order of course, these babies all need to be watched):


Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, Dan Gilbert, challenges the idea that we’ll be miserable if we don’t get what we want.

Our beliefs about what will make us happy are often wrong – a premise he supports with intriguing research.

Check out Dan’s work:


We believe that we should work to be happy, but could that be backwards?

Positive psychology researcher Shawn Achor argues that actually happiness inspires productivity rather than the other way around.

Shawn is the founder of GoodThinkInc and author of:


Why do people succeed? Is it because they’re smart? Or are they just lucky?

The answer is neither according to analyst Richard St. John who condenses years of interviews into a 3-minute slideshow on the real secrets of success.

To find out more about each trait have a look at these videos.

Also check out Richards book The 8 Traits Successful People Have in Common: 8 to Be Great (Apple Ebook version here and Kindle version here.)


Has choice made us more paralyzed and dissatisfied rather than freer and happier?

Professor of Psychology at Swarthmore Barry Schwartz discusses the negative sides to freedom of choice.

Check out Barry’s books:


What is happiness, and how can we all get some?

Biochemist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard says we can train our minds in habits of well-being, to generate a true sense of serenity and fulfillment.

Matthieu has written several books, including:


Writer and designer Graham Hill asks: Can having less stuff, in less room, lead to more happiness?

He makes the case for taking up less space, and lays out three rules for editing your life.

Graham is the founder of eco-blog and vlog TreeHugger.com and author of Weekday Vegetarian.


Professor of economics at the University of Waterloo in Canada, Larry Smith, calls out the absurd excuses people invent when they fail to pursue their passions.

Larry featured in Forbes Magazine.


Neil Pasricha‘s blog 1000 Awesome Things savors life’s simple pleasures, from free refills to clean sheets.

In this heartfelt talk, he reveals the 3 secrets to leading a life that’s truly awesome.

Check out Neils blog as well as The Book of Awesome: Snow Days, Bakery Air, Finding Money in Your Pocket, and Other Simple, Brilliant Things


Rory Sutherland proposes that a change in perceived value can be just as satisfying as what we consider “real” value.

His conclusion has interesting consequences for how we look at life.

Rory writes The Spectator’s Wiki Man column.


Founder of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman, talks about psychology as a field of study and as it works one-on-one with each patient and each practitioner.

As it moves beyond a focus on disease, what can modern psychology help us to become?

Martin Seligman directs the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania and has written several books, including:

Did You Enjoy These Talks?

If so, I got three quick things for you to do.

  1. Spread the word. Think of two friends who’d also enjoy these talks and email this list to them.
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  3. Share your favorites. Let us know about the best TED talks you’ve come across in the comments.