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TED Theme: What Makes Us Happy?

"The Pursuit of Happiness" was 2004's conference theme, but TED speakers over many years have found themselves driven to understand the nature of happiness. Daniel Gilbert's astonishing talk shows how we humans are poor predictors of what will make us happy. Stefan Sagmeister shares how ...

"The Pursuit of Happiness" was 2004's conference theme, but TED speakers over many years have found themselves driven to understand the nature of happiness. Daniel Gilbert's astonishing talk shows how we humans are poor predictors of what will make us happy. Stefan Sagmeister shares how great design contributed to his happiest moments, suggesting that the secret may be attention to detail. And Malcolm Gladwell, tongue in cheek, explores what we might learn about the pursuit of happiness through one man's quest to make the perfect pasta sauce. But suppose we understand happiness. How, then, do we find it? Carl Honore says the key is, simply, to slow down. Pastor Rick Warren appeals for a life of spiritual purpose. And Barry Schwartz thinks a little less choice might do us all a lot of good.

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    Monica Lewinsky: The price of shame

    "Public shaming as a blood sport has to stop," says ...

    "Public shaming as a blood sport has to stop," says Monica Lewinsky. In 1998, she says, “I was Patient Zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously.” Today, the kind of online public shaming she went through has become constant -- and can turn deadly. In a brave talk, she takes a hard look at our online culture of humiliation, and asks for a different way.

    Mar 20, 2015 Read more
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    Ruth Chang: How to make hard choices

    Here's a talk that could literally change your life. Which ...

    Here's a talk that could literally change your life. Which career should I pursue? Should I break up -- or get married?! Where should I live? Big decisions like these can be agonizingly difficult. But that's because we think about them the wrong way, says philosopher Ruth Chang. She offers a powerful new framework for shaping who we truly are.

    Jun 18, 2014 Read more
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    Dan Gilbert: The psychology of your future self

    "Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they're ...

    "Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they're finished." Dan Gilbert shares recent research on a phenomenon he calls the "end of history illusion," where we somehow imagine that the person we are right now is the person we'll be for the rest of time. Hint: that's not the case.

    Jun 3, 2014 Read more
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    Jennifer Senior: For parents, happiness is a very high bar

    The parenting section of the bookstore is overwhelming—it's "a giant, ...

    The parenting section of the bookstore is overwhelming—it's "a giant, candy-colored monument to our collective panic," as writer Jennifer Senior puts it. Why is parenthood filled with so much anxiety? Because the goal of modern, middle-class parents—to raise happy children—is so elusive. In this honest talk, she offers some kinder and more achievable aims.

    Apr 15, 2014 Read more
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    David Brooks: Should you live for your résumé ... or your eulogy?

    Within each of us are two selves, suggests David Brooks ...

    Within each of us are two selves, suggests David Brooks in this meditative short talk: the self who craves success, who builds a résumé, and the self who seeks connection, community, love -- the values that make for a great eulogy. (Joseph Soloveitchik has called these selves "Adam I" and "Adam II.") Brooks asks: Can we balance these two selves?

    Apr 14, 2014 Read more
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    Ash Beckham: We're all hiding something. Let's find the courage to open up

    In this touching talk, Ash Beckham offers a fresh approach ...

    In this touching talk, Ash Beckham offers a fresh approach to empathy and openness. It starts with understanding that everyone, at some point in their life, has experienced hardship. The only way out, says Beckham, is to open the door and step out of your closet.

    Feb 21, 2014 Read more
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    Yann Dall'Aglio: Love -- you're doing it wrong

    In this delightful talk, philosopher Yann Dall’Aglio explores the universal ...

    In this delightful talk, philosopher Yann Dall’Aglio explores the universal search for tenderness and connection in a world that's ever more focused on the individual. As it turns out, it's easier than you think. A wise and witty reflection on the state of love in the modern age. (Filmed at TEDxParis.)

    Feb 14, 2014 Read more
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    Paul Piff: Does money make you mean?

    It's amazing what a rigged game of Monopoly can reveal. ...

    It's amazing what a rigged game of Monopoly can reveal. In this entertaining but sobering talk, social psychologist Paul Piff shares his research into how people behave when they feel wealthy. (Hint: badly.) But while the problem of inequality is a complex and daunting challenge, there's good news too. (Filmed at TEDxMarin.)

    Dec 20, 2013 Read more
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    Matt Killingsworth: Want to be happier? Stay in the moment

    When are humans most happy? To gather data on this ...

    When are humans most happy? To gather data on this question, Matt Killingsworth built an app, Track Your Happiness, that let people report their feelings in real time. Among the surprising results: We're often happiest when we're lost in the moment. And the flip side: The more our mind wanders, the less happy we can be. (Filmed at TEDxCambridge.)

    Nov 5, 2012 Read more
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    Baba Shiv: Sometimes it's good to give up the driver's seat

    Over the years, research has shown a counterintuitive fact about ...

    Over the years, research has shown a counterintuitive fact about human nature: That sometimes, having too much choice makes us less happy. This may even be true when it comes to medical treatment. Baba Shiv shares a fascinating study that measures why choice opens the door to doubt, and suggests that ceding control -- especially on life-or-death decisions -- may be the best thing for us. (Filmed at TEDxStanford.)

    Jul 18, 2012 Read more
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