Casen Phillips

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What is the key to happiness?

Whether it's the warm embrace of a loved one or an ice cold beer, a day spent fishing or a day doing nothing at all, Jack Johnson or Aerosmith, what makes you happy? Regardless of its simplicity or complexity, what have you found in life that makes you the happiest? This question goes hand in hand with an earlier question I posed titled "What advice would you give to a younger you?"* and is designed to allow the TED community to establish a list of all the things that make life worth living.

This thread will not only give you a chance to possibly help out others, it will also provide you a list of all the reasons you have to smile, all the things you have to be thankful for, and all the things you might take for granted.


-Casen Askew

  • Aug 7 2012: I learned an important lesson: Life is precious and time is short. Often I spend my time worrying me about what happened to me in the past, with what could happen to me in the future and with the hassles of everyday life. With all this worry, sometimes I do not see the beautiful gifts that life has to offer. My fear prevents me to see and appreciate these gifts. So not only should we wish to gifts in our lives, but also have the wisdom to recognize them, catch them, taste them..
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      Jul 29 2012: Hello Kate,

      Personally, I have a tendency to be happy more often than not. :) I understand that any day I wake up in the morning is a good one, and things, no matter how bad they might seem, can always be worse.
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    Jul 24 2012: That's how I'd list the 'keys' to happiness according to what I know (which is very little):
    1- Being helpful to others, specially those who need help, and not expecting anything in return
    Making others happy is what trully makes one happy.

    2- Making something, or doing a kind of work that helps people or other creatures

    3- Having an honest and balanced relationship with:
    --- yourself (understanding your needs, understanding your goals and dreams, understanding which road do you want to take),
    --- with others (what they expect from you and what you really can)
    --- and with the world (We share life on this planet with others. Others have the same right to have a good life and to share the same resources of this planet as we do. This planet has, and maintains, balance with the creatures that live on it, with itself and with the moon, other planets and stars and this is the way humans should probably try to be too.)

    4- Trying to understand life as it really is
    - Understanding the purpose of life and living
    - Understanding that one doesn't 'really' own anything (since we take nothing with us when we die, except our deeds and choices.) All the land, money, property, power, buildings and fame are just something we temporarily have and use. We don't really 'own' and all we have is only a limited and temporary permission to use all this.
    - Understanding that everything we enjoy in life is a gift to us and that we should be thankful
    - Understanding humans' role in life
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    Jul 13 2012: they say ...
    "Happiness is a decision, you are as happy as you decide to be"

    think and decide :)
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    Jul 13 2012: Happiness is a state of mind ....
    To be happy we must content and grateful with whatever we have and then happiness automatically comes to us ...
    There is a lesson in every pain so even when we come across pain, it is only making us stronger in the future ..
    • Jul 15 2012: That's what I discovered also. To be willingly and actively and passionately grateful is a gift we can give ourselves. It generates happiness. Life is good. It's good to be the king. Bharath, do you remember where you learned this?
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    Jul 13 2012: Simply, to be happy with yourself in its entirety.
  • Ou Lin

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    Jul 13 2012: To live with a contented heart!
  • Jul 13 2012: Let go of what you cannot control. Let go of past hurts, jealousy, envy, anger, or other negative aspects of relationship with others. Learn to forget. Be happy with your lot in life! Coveting what others have can add a lot of stress and worries.

    But, be willing to work on goals and show ambition for doing something good. Be happy that you may fail a few times, for knowing you have other opportunities to try a project again is a feeling of freedom. Satisfaction experienced for a job well done adds to happiness and well being. Be confident you are valuable to humanity for your skills and experience. Value here is more than money or material wealth. Share what you know to be good for humanity and experience that good feeling of aiding your fellow man. Happiness is a result of reaching higher than your self-serving human nature.

    Is there more definition from others?

  • Jul 19 2012: There is no key to happiness, just a door to push open or to keep closed.
  • Jul 17 2012: Don't persue happiness - let it chase you.
  • N SHR

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    Jul 15 2012: The key to happiness is not to take things we already have for granted, and appreciate them greatly and enjoy them :) It's to count our blessings, rather than listing (infinitely many) things we don't have. Happiness is a state of mind!
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    Jul 15 2012: start enjoying what you have....
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    Gail .

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    Jul 15 2012: Education has brought me rewards of every kind. Not education in a boring classroom somewhere, but self-education, where I get to study, ask the questions, search for the answers to my questions, and not be restricted by limits that others have imposed on any particular field of study.

    Unfortunately, it has its downsides as this condition leaves one rather isolated (knowing so much more than those around me), but the isolation is small penalty for self-respect. You will be so buzy and so fulfilled that you will not recognize it as a penalty, but rather a reward that increases your happiness.
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    Jul 14 2012: NOTHING is EVERYTHING
  • Jul 14 2012: Perception. Things exist in the world and they affect us by how we see them. We transfer feelings (good and bad) to things and situations and then those things alter our perception (good and bad). We cloud up our sensory filter with our experiences (good and bad) and it alters how we feel about things.
    Here's an example: I used to hate mowing the lawn and doing the yard work. Now I see it as an opportunity to get some good exercise and listen to my favorite music on my headphones for a couple of hours.
    Almost every situation can be seen as good or bad.
  • Jul 13 2012: Happiness is an instinct that every day gets taken farther and father from us every growing moment of our lives. Look at people who live in the Jungles and forests the plains, the mountains...they are happy
  • Jul 12 2012: What is the key to being happy? You just be happy, all there is to it. It's up to you whether or not you're happy, you can choose to take stuff badly and be sad, or you can choose to not let it bother you at all and just be happy with everything. The mind is a very powerful thing, and you are the sole controller of it. If you tell it to be happy, then it'll tell you that you're happy.
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    Jul 12 2012: The key to happiness is appreciating what you have: the life, the health, the beauty of nature, family, friends and the opportunities.

    Then one should accept world as an imperfect realm. It is important for one to try his or her best to change unfavourable circumstances. It is important to have hope in adversity, and persistence in difficult times.
    But one must know, through it all, that the time to be happy, is now.

    Happiness should not be tied to a future event.
  • Jul 18 2012: I think the key to happiness is the want to be happy. By want; I mean the strong urge that can provoke us to act and do things that will make us happy. We have dreams, hopes and expectations that we carry around, with little concern of our actions or experiences that actually influence our thoughts, thereby our feelings.

    We qualify happiness as an emotion, and willingly let it be influenced by other people and things. Happiness is a state of being; that is to be sought/pursued; not merely by stating it as something desirable, but as something you have planned for.

    The key to be happy is not to wake up a morning and say, "I feel happy, I wish I would every day", but to wake up every morning and go, "I plan to be happy today."
  • Jul 15 2012: For me one of the keys to happiness is that I did not put things off till tomorrow that I am doing today.
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    Jul 13 2012: Luck.
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      Jul 16 2012: For me it usually comes down to two things: health and love.
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        Jul 16 2012: Coincidently, two things that often result in the production of offspring.
        Yeah yeah yeah, being a vehicle for genes is a blast. I love the fact that consciousness, and particularly consciousness of being a biological pawn, doesn't change a goddamn thing in our lifestyle.

        We're pawns with jet engines, orchestral symphonies and expensive microscopes.
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          Jul 17 2012: If you had told me I was a sheep I could baaaaaaaaaaaaa! but what does a pawn say?
          The strange thing is that once we turn into them we think it is what we have always been and we stay so happily.
          I am not sure that the lifestyle you recommend works or ever worked for women. Unfortunately, people now realize that you have to ask 'what does this person have to gain from this advice?:
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        Jul 17 2012: I was unaware that my comment could be read as advice, or lifestyle recommendation! This must be a terrible misunderstanding.
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          Jul 17 2012: Hmmmmm ,maybe it is yhr phraseology of it:

          "I love the fact that consciousness, and particularly consciousness of being a biological pawn, doesn't change a goddamn thing in our lifestyle."
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        Jul 18 2012: "I love the fact that consciousness, and particularly consciousness of being a biological pawn, doesn't change a goddamn thing in our lifestyle."

        I guess one can tell english is not my mother tongue.
        I was trying to say that although we know that love is a trick played on us by evolution, we still fall in love like every other thing. And we know we cherish and take care of our children for biological reasons as well, but what does that change...
        So what I'm trying to say is ; happiness is what keeps an organism working for its genes. Being healthy, enjoying food, enjoying sex, enjoying family and friends, loving children, etc... And we know it. Yet it does make us happy so we indulge in all of this with shameless abandon.
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          Jul 18 2012: Gerald. if everything we feel is a product of evolutionary bioloy - what is the purpose of shame?
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        Jul 23 2012: Everything we feel is a product of evolution, yet not everything we feel has a direct "evolutionnary purpose". Taking care of a pet cat may seem absolutely pointless for the survival of one's genes. But the instinct to take care of something, to feed and love is evolutionnary advantageous, since most of the time it'll benefit one's own offspring. It's easy to find numerous examples. Masturbation, sky diving, web browsing...
        Now about shame. And pride. These feelings are very common among other animals, especially social mammals. They are part of an individual's awareness of its behaviour whithin a group. We love the feeling of pride because doing things that make us proud is socially and sexually advantageous.
        And we hate the feeling of shame because of its association with a low hierarchical status, or worse, ostracism, etc... So when you say or do something stupid that totally discredits yourself SHAME is the felling that'll help you remember to think twice, next time.
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    Lejan .

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    Jul 13 2012: I see it as a bunch of keys. Not labeled, of course, to keep you seeking.
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    Jul 13 2012: Hi Casen.
    I think happiness & contentment go hand in hand. If we can live without that next great ambition necessarily being fulfilled, then we can be happy. Some people however seem to work hard at being unhappy, but that is a choice.

    I find my Christian faith is a major bonus for me. I can rest easy knowing that my ultimate future is secure. So, yes, contentment is where it's at.

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    Jul 13 2012: It meas how much you are thankful for the blessing you have
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    Jul 13 2012: Check out the Martin Seligman TED talk on the subject.
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    Jul 12 2012: The key to happiness is choosing to be happy. Having that power is the greatest one can rely to be happy most of the time.