TED Conversations

Aidan Talcott

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What is something you do that makes you genuinely happy?

I want to know what makes you happy. An activity or something of that sort. Something you always look forward to and that you could see yourself doing all the time. If this thing is NOT your job, then I am curious to find out your reasoning of why it is not. I'll read and respond to all answers. I'm a 18 year old kid about to go into college and responding would really help me out. Thanks.

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    May 4 2013: Helping people makes me happy. It isn't my job because that career field doesn't exist.
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      May 4 2013: Hi Henry,

      It does exist, I think, it's interdisciplinary. I don't know if there is a name for it though. Well said.
    • May 5 2013: I think the same way of you Henry, i love help people, but from education... this is my pasion and, fortunately, my job. I'm really enjoy to give my students a diferent perspective, i love when the people open their mind and can imagine a different world... a better, and they can to propose something to change it. When i can do that in my students, thats really makes me happy...
  • May 3 2013: Talking to people who I casually meet and make them laugh at something. Reflecting on the positive side of life, not paying much attention to the negative. Always seeing the humorous side of events. Observing nature in a beautiful park. A smile of child. Have the feeling that I learned something new.
    Usually, when I can contribute to make someone happy, it also makes me genuinely happy.
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    May 6 2013: Unselfish Help to others makes me real happy and be with family and friends .....
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    May 5 2013: I'm undergraduate in chemical engineering at one of the best programs in the country. After spending two years of watching friends struggle to pursue an engineering career they loved while others who easily succeeded discovered they were stuck in an engineering career they didn't want, I realized my calling was to change engineering education. Everyday since then, I've been happy when I'm pursuing this goal.

    I'm not simply happy because I know what I'm supposed to do with my life. I'm happy because I know I will help other people and make their lives better. I'm happy because I am constantly able to interact with new people and hear their stories while sharing passions. I'm happy when I'm helping to improve other people's lives and I think that's what you should strive for in your career, relationships and life.
  • May 4 2013: I am blissfully happy when someone reads my blog about my volunteer work with orphanages in Mexico and they volunteer to help the children when they vacation in those areas. The joy I see from the children's faces and the volunteers who connect with the children ripple out contagiously to their friends and relatives and who are also making trips to help the children. There is nothing that makes me happier than to know that these little kids who have no families now have food to eat and toys to play with. But most importantly, every person who goes to volunteer shares the most important gift of hugging the children and giving them attention that they so much need.
  • May 3 2013: Play on field , not just sitting before your computer, and when your team wins and when your opponent gives a handshake to you saying " You played well " , it really makes you genuinely happy
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    Apr 10 2013: Hi Aidan. I know I couldn't live without hiking the hills and mountains at least once a week. I treat this as a kind of meditative thing, as an antidote to the noisy distractions of everyday life at work and at home. It has to be either with 1-2 like-minded people or on my own. However, it's much better on my own - more restorative, and I can spend time taking photos and sketching. I come home tired, but reinvigorated to face another week!

    You ask why this is not my job - well, I have thought about photojournalism for outdoor magazines and newspapers, but there is massive competition, even as a freelancer. However, I do make a reasonable income from selling paintings and prints from my own artwork on the fine art market here in UK, and photography of the British mountain landscapes. But income is not why I do it - happiness has more value than money.

    It sounds like tennis takes up a lot of your time, and it's a fantastic achievement to get where you have on the pro circuit. How many 'boxes' does that tick for you? Would you be able to carry on pursuing the tennis training schedule separate to the demands of college? What about your filming interests? Does that tick different boxes? What subjects have you chosen to study academically?

    I think the secret to happiness is how one treats the times that aren't so good, and the resilience we develop against disappointment. The good times will then remain spontaneous (rather than 'designed') - and all the more profound for that.
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      Apr 11 2013: Allan thanks for your amazing response. I love the outdoors so your hobbies that are your outlets from everyday life are very similar to my interests. Tennis pretty much takes up all my time. When I am not training, I am doing schoolwork. I am still a senior in high school currently. In college I will have to find the balance between academics and tennis training because I'm forced to do both since it's a D1 tennis program and they have a very intensive training schedule. I train much more now than I will there, but I don't have nearly the amount of schoolwork I will have when I go to college.

      As for what I will study. I'm leaning more and more towards the film and entertainment industry. It's tough because I know I'm decent at it and that if I put in the time and effort I could be really good, however its a really tough industry to make it in and sometimes that overwhelms me. For instance, I wanted to get into studying business or becoming a doctor because I thought I'd have a better chance of making good money doing that, but recently I've tried to get myself away from the money and more towards what I really would enjoy doing everyday. I have a ton of scripts written out for short films (around 5 minutes) that I would normally do but tennis just takes up a bit too much time.

      Thanks a lot for your response though. I'd love to see some of your artwork.
  • Apr 6 2013: I genuinely like helping other people.

    I genuinely like going to garage sales with my wife.

    I genuinely like designing gizmos and gadgets.
    • Apr 7 2013: im like Robert im the type of guy that can fix almost anything and when i have free time or if someone has an emergency i will help them. i dont take money. im kind of a conversationanist and i truly enjoy talking about things i have read learned or seen to others and hearing there take on it or stories about things from there life. but my accual hobby is hand crafting i carve on of a kind hand carved pens. its a wonderful feeling when each one is done and im left with a piece of are that has a use
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        Apr 7 2013: I would really like to see some of those pens. It sounds really interesting. I like helping people and being generous but I feel as though I do it in a selfish manner. That feeling you get when you successfully help someone out through an act of genuine kindness is indescribable. I do it for that feeling. I'm not sure if that takes away from the good deed, however it still gets done and more people are happy because of it.
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      Apr 7 2013: Those are some really cool outlets. I've come to realize very quickly that everyone has there own unique hobby no matter what it entails. I also find it interesting that you've found that special someone (your wife) and how she is part of one of these activities that make you genuinely happy. I think that takes a really special relationship and, me being 18, I'm not there yet but I hope to have that sort of one someday. Thanks for your post!
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    May 5 2013: Smiles are incredibly infectious.
  • May 5 2013: I'm 21 years old, college student.

    I've never thought whether I'm happy or not in my life.
    But one thing I'm pretty sure is I have an ambition and I know it's not impossible to achieve it if I try hard. Nothing is too late.
    When I think about this, I feel sort of happiness.
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    May 5 2013: Fix something that didn't work.

    I'm an electronics technician and that's my job.

    When I do it well, I'm happy. When I do it poorly, I'm sad.

    Happiness is not some condition that just sits there continuously.

    You have to constantly re-create it, over and over.

    If you are sad (or happy) without doing anything obvious to create that, then you are nevertheless doing something to create that. Not all the things we do are we fully aware of. I learned that from LRH.

    Another thing that makes me happy is to study the work of someone who obviously wanted to help others through his writings (or lectures). In a sense that is also fixing something (my ignorance) that was causing malfunctions.

    I recommend the writings and lectures of Hubbard. Maybe studying them would make you happier, too.
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    May 4 2013: Traveling. The rush I get from exploring and discovering new things never gets old. I don't travel professionally, but I have chosen to work for myself doing something that requires only a computer and Internet connection for the specific purpose of the freedom to spend my time how and where I please. Best of luck to you in discovering and expanding upon your passions as well. If you are still figuring out how you want to spend your life (or even if you have a plan already), I encourage you to be as open to new experiences and possibilities as you can be. You are entering a very critical (but exciting) time of your life, and how you choose to develop yourself now will have a lasting impact on your future.
  • May 4 2013: Great query Aidan.

    Today is Kentucky Derby Saturday.
    I am happy to be able to Handicap
    this Horse Race and find the winner, before it is run.
    As of this moment, I do not even know who is in the race.
    It is about 11am here on the central coast of California.
    I will soon have the winner selected.
    That will make me genuinely happy.

    For the last 12 years I have gotten it right 9 times.
    It is NOT my job. I am retired.
    I started 21 businesses and Cancer retired me.

    I handicap by phone,
    against another guy, everyday for the last 10 years.
    From about 3pm until around 8pm.
    We compete.
    We never wager.

    I used to think happiness was attached to money.
    I find that not correct.

    Do only that which makes you happy. Only that.
    But rise at 4:30am and start to find your happiness.
    Long before the sleepyheads awaken.
    It is the only way to fly.

    Successful people do those things unsuccessful people won't.
  • May 4 2013: There are so many things that make me happy that I could spend hours answering your question. The fact there are so many things is one of them in it's own right. I suffered from clinical depression for years, on and off, and to now be at a place in my life where I am happier than I've ever been it' s a great source of happiness to me.

    An activity that makes me really happy is rummaging around charity shops and boot fairs looking for things I can use to make art or do crafty things with. This is a relatively new love and something I've only been doing for a year or so there's not been much time to make it a "job". I am, however, toying with the idea of putting some packs together for fellow creatives to use and seeing if I can sell them.

    I love this new found "hobby" since I know nothing about art which leaves me free to play without having a whole load of judgmental dialogue going on in my head! Being naturally analytical this is a huge change for me.
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    May 4 2013: I am genuinely happy when I teach somebody something.....anything.....and I see their eyes light up with the new found knowledge.

    I am a teacher.....guess I chose the right profession for me. :)

    The latest TED talk by Rita Pierson is a good reflection of how I feel about my chosen career.
    • May 4 2013: How inspiring, Mary. I haven't been teaching all that long, but I know that moment you described. It is truly thrilling! I also loved Rita's talk.
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        May 4 2013: Lizanne, I think one of the greatest joys in life is learning something new.

        One of the very first quotes I ever recorded in my collection, and probably the one that got me thinking that you can say something powerful with very few words:

        "The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to it's original size"
        Oliver Wendell Holmes, American writer

        Now, imagine being on the giving part of the idea/learning......it's enough to make a teacher want to scream......YES!!!! I got this kid to learn this.....me!!!!

        I think TED is so unique, because we come here not only to receive, but also to give. Some give generously, I am very thankful for all that I have learned, but I am genuinely happy when I can take what I learn and share it with others.

        I think a good many teachers feel this way. And I also think mothers are the best teachers of all, don't you think so Lizanne? Are you teaching music?
        • May 5 2013: I so agree, Mary!

          I give music/voice workshops, I direct a children's choir and give voice lessons. I am self-taught, and have developed a technique based on the fact that I know my body was genetically designed to sing, and pass that technique on to my students.
          The main objective, whether it's the workshop, the choir or the lesson, is that the children have a successful experience in expressing themselves through music!
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        May 6 2013: That sounds fantastic Lizanne.......using your gift, to help others develop theirs.....through music.
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      May 4 2013: Thank you, Mary. I work as a teacher too and also feel that is positive to see how giving and sharing changes others' lives for the better.
      • May 5 2013: I agree, making other people happy is the source of our happiness.
  • May 4 2013: With the flexibility granted to me by my healthcare employer, I leave my job at midday on Friday to volunteer at Southeastern Guide Dog (Palmetto, FL) in their puppy socialization program. It's a structured program of "exposures" for puppies 6-9 weeks of age bred to train as guide dogs for visually impaired people. We have to document their reactions to different surfaces, sounds, housebreaking, etc.; but the paperwork is very minor and before and after our "work" is done, I get to play, hug, "kiss" and watch little pupppies interact with their littermates. As a major dog lover, there is absolutely nothing better in this world than a constant supply of little puppies.

    Nothing in my life has ever captured my interest and curiosity like healthcare, but it can be absurdly stressful. No matter how bad my week at work may have been, 60 seconds inside the puppy kennel and it's all forgotten. My volunteer work is far and away the best stress buster I have ever found, it gives me something to look forward to at the end of the week and I miss it terribly if, for some reason, I can't go. All of this and the fact that this organization's mission is special...over the top.

    Getting a guide dog brings to visually impaired people a degree of independence otherwise unachievable. And dogs who don't get an "A" in training get "career-changed" into law enforcement or search and rescue, support dogs for veterans with PTSD, therapy dogs for VA medical facilities and companion dogs for visually impaired teenagers. I gave up some salary to get the flexibility to do this and I'd pay Southeastern to let me continue! It just doesn't get any better than this.
  • May 3 2013: Teaching. Admittedly not every day, but most days.

    Specifically when students are wrestling with a topic and that light bulb turns on and I can see it happen. Or when there is excitement in their eyes when they are successful or have accomplished something that they did not think that they could. Those genuine learning moments when a student is successful and accomplishes something. It is incredibly fun to watch.
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    May 3 2013: As an artist, I feel genuinely happy when I'm creating. Whether it be composing just a few notes of music, taking a photograph, or writing some words, I feel the best when I satisfy my non-stop craving to create.
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      May 4 2013: Good one Ricardo !

      I believe we are all creators, what better thing to create than our own lives !
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        May 4 2013: > what better thing to create than our own lives !
        Humbly suggest, that there is one better thing: Create a world where everyone has the means to create their own lives to the fullest.
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    May 3 2013: Reaching out to one who thinks I can be of any assistance, brings me happiness. If appreciated in the bargain is an additional bonus.
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    May 2 2013: I enjoy those moments of serenity after a meditation. It is at those moments that i question the phrase, "home is where the heart is". For my heart belongs to that moment and every other moment like it.
  • May 2 2013: Appreciate why I am here and what I can do to make it better is a wonderful thing. OK, I had to admit that I did't answer your question directly.
  • Apr 29 2013: tackling poverty. helping those who are less fortunate merely because they were born into that situation, and I into a developed country. I wish it were my career, hopeing to make it one day... the reason I haven't yet is because of the disagreement of my conservative family with my liberal views, and being an only child. So, working on that one, and that's leading the way to being truly comfortable with who I am and not leading my life to please others, which I think is the biggest battle in my life so far.
  • Apr 20 2013: I eat walnuts but I think this is probably just a chemical reaction in my brain
    they are a very good brain food -Walnuts develop 3 dozen neuro-tr
    ansmitters for your brain, so I was told
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    Apr 20 2013: Aidan,
    I look forward to each and every day with curiosity and live the life adventure to the fullest, being present in each and every moment. Nothing "makes" me happy. I carry happiness/contentment/joy in my heart, and that is a choice for each and every one of us. I Especially enjoy "play days" (skiing, biking, hiking, kayaking, etc.) with my "play group", since we are all a retired bunch of kids:>)

    "Don't let ANYTHING ever be ordinary"
    (Mary Engelbreit)
  • Apr 9 2013: I am currently in the process of finding out more about what makes me as an individual happy. I'm halfway through a book that I have found fascinating called 'The Happiness Project' by Gretchen Rubin which is about seeing whether you can increase your own base level of happiness. I agree that if you are constantly striving for happiness then you can find yourself feeling discontent with your current life as you think things aren't as good as they can be, but striving for improvement and discovering who YOU are can bring joy and happiness and rekindle old passions. My own list seems to be growing as the more I find out about what I enjoy, the more it opens me up to enjoying new experiences.

    I love volunteering (particularly with children as they have an amazing take on life), I love learning Mathematics so I'm currently doing a degree in it, I love cooking for people, I love sitting with a cup of tea on the sofa with the front door open and a breeze coming in, I LOVE reading, I love seeing my family and particularly my grandparents as often as I can, I love boardgames, I love sitting on a swing, I love documentaries and gaining new knowledge from them, I love walking aimlessly while listening to my music, I love dancing (in private), I love singing, I love riding my bike, I love discussing new topics, I love meeting new people...and I'm still learning to love even more things and take happiness from them. Sorry it is a long list!
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      Apr 11 2013: As I've watched more and more videos on TED, I've come to realize that these tiny interests are always worth pursuing. I've been starting to pursue any little thing that I once had interest in as of 2 weeks ago and it's been amazing. I feel like I'm not leaving any stones unturned and that I'm trying everything that comes my way. Definitely a better way of going at things. I think I'm like you in the way where the more things I try, the longer my list will get. I also couldn't agree with you more on the child's perspective of life. I'm a tennis player and I'll help out the club I go to by teaching some younger kids and their view of the world is so simple and almost unaffected by some of the poisons we acquire with age. Thanks a lot for your response and keep trying new things!
  • Apr 8 2013: something makes me happy like: play gameswhit child , music , help poor peole, to bestow gifts, thanks giving of god and etc...
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      Apr 11 2013: Those are great and simple activities. It's great to have some things that make you get that feeling inside. Thanks for your response.
  • Apr 8 2013: You know, I've found the the individual things you do don't so much bring happiness. They can be fun, rewarding, important, and meaningful for sure, but happiness comes from something else. Happiness comes from who you are. It comes from loving people and doing the right thing and knowing that you're doing it.
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      Apr 11 2013: I've thought about looking at it that way. It's different from what most people are saying but it is true. It's sort of like karma but a more accurate and consistent thing. If you are caring to everyone around you, then you will receive a lot of love and kindness in return. This in itself brings humans general happiness. I think that as humans, we all have a connection with each-other and that it is in our DNA to naturally care for one another. Some of us execute that gene better than others but I think for the most part people do want to improve the world around them on an emotional scale. Thanks a lot for your response.
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      Apr 11 2013: I've recently discovered the same thing! It's almost as if I open up my computer and I think, "I have no idea what video I'm going to click on or what article I will read, but it's going to be new and I'm going to be more knowledgeable at the end of today than I was at the beginning". It's a really exciting process and there's endless amounts of this stuff on the web. Keep letting that inner geek shine! Thanks for your response.
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      Apr 7 2013: It took me awhile to learn that these "challenges" are just learning experiences that make us more experienced and more knowledgeable. A lot of people get consumed and overwhelmed and forget that these moments are opportunities rather than setbacks. I'm glad to see you've recognized that and I wish you the best of luck as you continue to live in the moment! Thanks a lot for your post.
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          Apr 7 2013: Thanks a lot for your support! One of the best feelings is to know that I'm not alone when it comes to tackling these life obstacles. Thanks again! :)