The Perfect Happiness Storm


Singing in the RainThis year, instead of my traditional review of TED talks, I’m going to link to a single page on the TED site – but first let me explain why.

As I grow older, my need for gifts at Christmas diminishes, but this year my wife hit the nail on the head when she gave me a small pocket book titled “Be Happy.”  Each page has a one line aphorism like “Get a good night’s sleep” or “Keep learning” or “Don’t isolate,” along with a simple cartoon illustration.  In 60 lines of text and less than 300 words, it pretty much condenses all you need to know about how to achieve happiness with about 95% accuracy.

The reason it was so apt is that I’ve come to realize that finding the key to happiness has been at the core of my being my entire adult life, and with my wife’s help, I’m just now beginning to really get what it means to be happy. Although I’m still not all the way there yet, at least I feel like there is a path for me to follow that will take me progressively closer.  As I mentioned in my previous post, an analysis of CNN Money’s “Best Advice I Ever Got” leads to “follow your passion” as a very common piece of advice.  After doing that analysis, I started thinking about what I’m passionate about – what should I be “following”? I started listing things, and the one that resonated with me the most was “finding meaning and happiness, knowing myself.”

There seems to be an increasing interest in happiness, not only on a popular level (as one indicator, searches for “happiness” have been on the rise in the last few years), but also in terms of the scientific study of what makes us happy (see, for example, Happiness: No Longer the Dismal Science, or Maslow 2.0: A New and Improved Recipe for Happiness).

This year, I discovered a new feature that LinkedIn put together – soliciting The Biggest Ideas of 2013 from about 60 different influencers.  Many of the so-called big ideas are just whatever the author happens to be working on (i.e., they were using this feature as a self-promotion tool).  So in an attempt to discern the larger themes, I ran all of the text of these ideas through a textual analysis.  Naturally some terms like “social media” and “data” rose to the top as being important themes for this year’s big ideas.  But to my surprise, “happiness” was also relatively high on the list.

Last, but not least, Netflix recently recommended, and I happily watch The Happy Movie.  It was great.

So it’s all coming together – a book and a movie about happiness arrive at the same time that some scientists and influencers are focusing on happiness, while simultaneously and independently, I decide that happiness is my passion.  Naturally, I went to the TED site to see what those bright people might have to say about it, and you know what I found?  A whole collection of talks that TED had already organized around just this topic!  So, to start the new year off, here’s a dose of happiness talk, curated by the fine folks at TED.

As I’ve learned elsewhere, one of the components of happiness is sharing your passion with others, so I’ll try to do more of that here on this blog by following up on the themes I discover as I try to discover the secrets of happiness.

Happy New Year!