TED Conversations

Ella Ben Zvi

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You want to make God laugh? Tell him about your plans...

The problem is not that we have choices; the problem is that we just don’t know how to choose... But we can learn:
We can learn how to be better and smarter consumers
We can learn how to live in the moment
We can learn how to choose without being disappointed – and NOT by lowering our expectations and aspirations. Killing our hopes and dreams won’t do us any good!

What make us unhappy are not the multiple choices, we are unhappy because we try to control and plan their outcomes. And planning and controlling are the predetermined failure that leads us to depression. BTW, if we’ll stop trying to control, we would also be able to live in the moment...

And about the consuming, I find it not surprising that most of the examples were about shopping… We tend to mix buying with being, and that is the real problem of western industrial societies…

I think that the quote: “The secret to happiness is low expectations” is a cynical and negative statement. And living in a dictatorship of options is clearly not the solution…
I believe we can learn to choose with love, and not with fear. We can learn how to go with the flow, instead of complaining about him. And we can be happy and contented with our choice.
Freedom, choice, and the freedom of choice are essential to our happiness, because the real secret to happiness is do what you want.

Topics: happines
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  • Apr 1 2012: Your question alone made me laugh. It reminded me of a favorite quote: "Plans are man's, odds are God's." After 64 years of life and having virtually none . . . I repeat, NONE!! of my plans come true for myself, I am beginning to see that God had a different plan for me all these decades, and it took that time and those experiences of banging my head into a brick wall to realize that maybe He had something greater in mind for me. At least, I hope that's how it's working out, and not that I'm just coming up with some "sour grapes" rationalization to my frustrations. (For one: I've written 14 books; none of them are published or selling.) I've got, perhaps, a few more years to live and try and function in what I am slowly perceiving to be His superior plan for me. I just hope I have enough time and humility left to die with a smile on my face. Thanks for bringing this topic to my attention, and thanks to TED for the forum to put feelings into words.
    • W T 100+

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      Apr 28 2012: Three quotes came to mind reading your beautiful comment:

      "It takes courage to grow up and turn out who you really are" e.e. cummings

      "It is never too late to be what you might have become" George Eliot

      "The only failure which lacks dignity is the failure to try" Unknown

      Be Well
  • Apr 12 2012: I agree that the quote: “The secret to happiness is low expectations” is cynical and negative.

    But it is true that one of the reasons of the sadness is too high expectations about what it is possible.

    I do not know what it the secret of happiness, but I think that one of the key to reach it is the awareness of what you can really do, and what you cannot do.

    If you are conscious about what are your skills and your possibilities in life, you will not have "low" expectations, but you will have "realistic" expectations. That can seems the same thing, if you are a pessimistic, but in my opinion is not.
    Dream about a better world is inspiring. It is necessary also to imagine the real actions that can be taken to make a better world possible. And if you are engaged in working toward it, the world will became better for you, as you will be happier to live in it.

    My mother used to say to me: "Do not expect from people more than what they can offer." I think this is another key of happiness. Too often we rely on the others as our source of happiness, and this is quite natural as we are social being.
    But also here, what is fundamental (in my opinion) is the consciousness. We cannot ask to others more than what they can offer, and this can be either remember a date, or helping us in an important project.

    In conclusion, I think I would say: The secret of happiness is an expectation based on being concrete.
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      Apr 14 2012: Hi Maria,

      Thank you so much for your response.
      I want to ask you a question, how can you know what you can or cannot do?
      how can you be aware of what you can really do?
      you have to try first, you have to experience it on yourself before you decide.
      Why close your options? reduce your point of view in advance?

      Life is full of Disappointments, but they are also full of surprises
      • Apr 16 2012: Hi Ella,

        Thansk for your reply :)

        I think that the experience is fundamental to became aware of who you are and what you can do.
        I did not intend to say that we should not try. But there is a time to try, and a time to undestand the result of us trying. I think that this is what in general is missed of the youth: the life full of possibilities.
        As whe you grew up, you became aware that you cannot do anything, but only something.
        I'm not being cynical and I am in general really optimistic, but I try also to be realistic.
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    Apr 1 2012: Hi Eric,

    Thank u for the good laugh : D
    And thank u for sharing, TED is indeed an amazing platform

    Ella
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    Apr 1 2012: Hi Sourabh,

    Thank u for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I really believe that we can do what we want and be happy, and it is not the expense of someone else! Quite the opposite... when we do what we want, we inspire the ppl around us to do the same.
    If you wan to read more about it, I highly recommend you to read the book "Badulina" by Gabi Nitzan.

    Keep on smiling :)
    Ella
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      Apr 1 2012: Thanks Ella. And, yes! not at the expense of someone else! Well, I tried to give yet another reason to be happy when somehow magnetic influence of the sad state creates repulsion. Ok, lets put this into an example..lets say i want X or want to do Y stuff... but, I neither get X nor get to do Y.. in that case, in simple words ..probably, there would be someone else happier in my shoes..again not at the expense of that someone..but a momentary feel of a comfortably numb state..and, then get back to state of belief and happiness and start with a fresh hunt for a brand new X/Y.

      And, thanks for recommending the book. Cheerio!
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    Apr 1 2012: Very well articulated. Though, it is true and sort of self-pleasing to say that being happy is about doing what you want, but, the very premise of saying that is self-contradictory, as it is flirting with the rules of our planet, all of which come under the purview of 'demand & supply'. Just doing what you want can at times be very hard or rather improbable to achieve or obtain because of the increase in the degree of randomness in our society. And, there either one tries to downplay the same so as to attain the state of happiness, or will be heading into dark shades of sadness. When you say that you need to learn a number of things vis-a-vis the state of being happy, you are confining the two-facet world into one. One needs to accept and be happy about the very fact that he/she can also get unhappy because of which someone else is getting happier. Yes, there is definitely something to learn :) which is 'going with the flow'!! Experience the limited time of yours before you lose your ability to feel your physical presence.