Top 5 TED Talks on Happiness

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Audience watching filmIt’s not always clear what happiness really is. To some it can seem like a kind of mythological state. Happiness is variable: sometimes we feel more happy than others. Certain situations will influence whether we are happy or sad.

Is there really no secret to happiness? No button we can push, no pill we can take, no fluffy kitten we can pet? What is it that makes us happy? What contributes to our enjoyment of life, the universe, and everything? Why is it that once you add ‘fun’ to certain situations (like learning), people are more enthusiastic about taking part?

To help us answer these questions, we scoured the TED Talks superhighway to bring you our favourite videos on what it is to be happy. (If you’re looking for our 5 favourite motivational TED Talks, click here.)

Let’s get started…

1. Matt Killingworth: Want to be happier? Stay in the moment

In the last few years, there’s been an explosion in research on happiness. What are the big causes of happiness?

Matt says that the potential answer is the contents of our moment-to-moment experiences. He has come up with a way to measure people’s happiness all over the world, on a moment-to-moment basis. uses an iPhone to monitor people’s happiness. What happens is this: people are sent signals at random times and they’re asked to fill in questions about what they’ve been doing, who they’re with etc. The information then shows how their happiness is changing during the day and what factors might be influencing it.

Check out his talk below:


2. Nancy Etcoff: On happiness and why we want it

We are wired to pursue happiness. We can’t not strive to be happy.

In this TED Talk, Nancy, with her background in psychology, explains how our brains are wired to be extremely sensitive to negative emotions, and how our stress response influences how we feel. She goes on to illustrate how standard perceptions of what make us happy are flawed (for instance, that those with a lot of money are happier).


3. Stefan Sagmeister: 7 rules for making more happiness

We all want more happiness, right? As we’ve already seen, we can’t help but strive for it! So finding out how to create more happiness is something we’d all like to achieve.

Stefan explains in this TED Talk which things come together to make us most happy – such as being in a relationship, doing things we love and being close and invested in what it is we do.

Check it out below:


4. Matthieu Ricard: The habits of happiness

In an echo of what we’ve just watched, Matthieu, a Buddhist monk, explains that “somehow, consciously or not, directly or indirectly … whatever we do, whatever we hope, whatever we dream, somehow is related to a deep profound desire for well-being or happiness”.

It seems clear from this and the previous TED Talks that in terms of desire, happiness is not something we really have a choice about: we all want to be happy.

So how do we proceed in our quest for happiness? Matthieu has a few ideas…

(Grab a cup of tea before you start this one as it’s a bit longer than the others!)


5. David Steindl-Rast: Want to be happy? Be grateful

Happiness, says David, a monk and interfaith scholar, is born from gratitude.

Most people would not argue that people are grateful to be happy. Grateful for having a fast car, owning their house, having a high-flying job, a happy relationship and healthy children.

But is that the correct way around? Is it not our gratitude for what we have that makes us happy? David delves into this issue in the below video:


As you may have guessed from the topic of this blog post, we think it’s really important to be happy, enjoy your life and be motivated and engaged. And of course, that applies to learning new things, too. If we’re happy and having fun, our brains are more active, meaning we can take in more and push our self-development forward at a much faster rate.

Check out our free white paper below to read more about why happiness and enjoyment in learning is important!

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