Top 10 TED Talks on the pursuit of happiness


Our minds define our limits. We often do not realise the power our thoughts can have in shaping our lives. We can reduce the effect of negative influences in our lives by merely… thinking about it – in a different way of course. We also need to learn to control our thoughts, and instead of thinking big all the time, try to think small sometimes. What’s important, is to have a real purpose and know what you stand for, instead of simply doing things in a grand fashion.

In this series of inspiring TED Talks you can learn more about the amazing power of the human mind, everything it controls and how it can be utilised to push all kinds of boundaries.


Kelly McGonigal – How to make stress your friend

The conventional view of stress is a negative one. However, the effect of stress may only be negative if you believe that’s the only possible outcome. Research conducted at Harvard showed that participants who were told to rethink stress and see it in a positive light were not affected by it in a negative way. From a medical point of view, our body can react positively to stress. As you will learn – under stress, chemicals in our body naturally force us to open up and connect with others.


Andy Puddicombe – All it takes is 10 mindful minutes

Our mind influences everything: emotional stability (the way we behave in our relationships), our ability to focus, create and – in general – perform at our best. When it comes to stress, we have many different ways of dealing with it, but in most cases, it makes our mind wander and generally makes us unhappy. This talk presents us with the concept of mindfulness – a set of practical techniques which allow our mind to be healthier and stress-free. Spending just 10 minutes a day doing these exercises can have a huge impact on our inner balance and improve the way we approach relaxation.


Paolo Cardini – Forget multitasking, try monotasking

This talk raises doubts about the effectiveness of multitasking. Let’s face it, this “skill” is not for everyone. To be really honest, though, it’s actually only useful for 2% of the population – the “supertaskers”. The rest of us would benefit from the opposite – focusing on only one task at a time. This entertaining talk illustrates the struggles of multitasking and what contributes to it on a daily basis.


Julian Treasure – 5 Ways to listen better

We are becoming surrounded by more and more noise. As a result, our ability to listen suffers and we retain only about 25% of what we hear. There are numerous reasons for this: we record everything, we have become impatient, and finally, we only want to hear certain soundbites due to an overload of messages including the messages that the media hurl at us every day. This problem is not to be taken lightly. Listening is in fact, our access to understanding. In his speech, Julian Treasure explains 5 simple techniques which will improve our listening and help make sense of what we hear.


Rory Sutherland – Sweat the small stuff

People with power like to do things on a larger scale. But not everything that is large and expensive serves it’s purpose effectively. In fact, as Rory Sutherland shows us, many of these grande solutions fall under what he calls ‘Terminal 5 syndrome’ –  magnificent in terms of budget, but when it comes to usability, they are catastrophically poor. Unfortunately, the tendency to overdo is ubiquitous when it comes to organisations. What they need nowadays, is the people who are simply people, and not distracted by the big budget, understanding that it’s the little details that make things better.


Ruth Chang – How to make hard choices

We always come to a point in life when we are faced with a difficult decision. But it’s exactly these kinds of decisions, which help us realise our potential – quite often potential we might not have realised we had. The tricky thing about many hard choices, is that a ‘better’ alternative may not exist, only a ‘different’ one. So we find ourselves facing a different kind of challenge. Instead of choosing what is better we need to think about the values we want to represent.


Richard St. John – 8 Secrets of success

It was a casual conversation on a plane that inspired Richard St John to spend seven years asking people what leads to success. The result is a two-hour presentation that he now presents to high schools students. In this shortened version, he talks about 8 rules that were pointed out to him by personalities such as Bill Gates, Carol Colletta and Rupert Murdoch.


Dan Gilbert – The surprising science of happiness

Dan Gilbert explains that human beings are able to play out various experiences in their mind before they go through them in real life. Interestingly, whether we achieve success or suffer failure overall, has much less impact on our happiness than we might expect. Based on series of experiments it was proven that happiness can be synthesised. He talks about cases where people were surprisingly made stronger by bad experiences. The conclusion is that even though we have preferences that lead us down a particular path instead of another, we need to approach each alternative with moderation. It’s not fate that moulds our feeling about life, but the stance we decide to take in each situation.


Stefan Sagmeister – 7 Rules for making more happiness

Stefan decided to create a documentary about his own happiness, where he challenged himself to train his mind in the same way as people train their bodies, to increase the feeling of happiness. He argues that outside circumstances impact people’s happiness a little bit, but what really makes the difference, is if an individual finds their life purpose and does mostly what makes them happy.


Martin Seligman – The new era of positive psychology

In this talk, Martin Seligman examines why psychology is no longer helping people. According to him, the issue is that the science with which we treat the human mind has strayed from what its main pursuit should be. Or at least one of its main pursuits – happiness. The analysis and concept of a happy life, and what can lead to it. Finally, the audience is given several useful examples of positive interventions which can return happiness to people’s everyday lives.