TED Conversations

Nic Marks

Director, Happiness Works


This conversation is closed.

Can we really become happier? Happier ourselves? Can we create happier places to work? Or even happier societies?

Happiness can often seem elusive ... like love ... the more we chase it the more it seems to slip away from us. Can we really become lastingly happier? Are such efforts worthwhile or futile?

What about organisations and businesses? Can we create happier organisations? Would they be more effective or simply not be competitive?

How about whole societies? Should governments be seeking to help citizens lead happier lives? Or is that somehow sinister?

The new emerging science of happiness and well-being seems to offer some insights but the real world is not the same as controlled experiments.

What do you think? What are your favourite recipes for happiness?

Take part in this Live Conversation this Wednesday, 11th January at 10am PST / 1pm EST / 6pm GMT (my time zone in London!)


Closing Statement from Nic Marks

Well I enjoyed 'hosting' this conversation very much ... we touched on so many topics from the meanings of happiness, the pathways to happiness and a look at the darker side of depression and suicide. We talked of determination, choice, acceptence, contentment and love ... of generosity and poverty ... of consumerism and education ... of passions and curiosity, mediation and exercise ...

It seems to me that a conversation about happiness can get to the core of the human experience ... and in a world facing difficulties of today and tomorrow (a MLK quote!) it could just be that thinking and having conversations about human happiness could be the start of a quiet revolution of our shared world ...

Thanks for talking with me today

Be well


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    Jan 11 2012: Ah ha! And now we are down to the crux of the issue. The rights and obligations of citizens, employees, employers and government in the our happiness. In a crisis, such as now, we are blaming the system and structure for failing us when we become unhappy. And that happiness in the US is HIGHLY subjective. Very, very few of us are homeless (truely) and starving but if we no longer own our home it is a tragedy. However, in the US our rights only pertain to the pursuit of happiness, not the guarantee of same.

    So in my experience as employee, employer and citizen (US) I find the following to be true; That we as individuals are responsible for our own happiness and that happiness is a blend of emotional responses and suportive environmental factors (including health). That the best possible solution for the future near term is a cooperative relationship between our freedom and our structures that ensures the optimal environmental factors within which the emotional component that is under our control can arise. If you work for an unethical company who treats you without respect and are given no creative control over your environment, you are unlikely to be happy and productive. A company MUST recognize that bottom line cost. However, the employee must take responsibility for his or her own happiness and productivity within a healthy corporate structure that supports the overall health of all employees, clients and the corporation itself. Beyond an environment that would ALLOW us to thrive, a company should have no obligation to our current happiness or long term success.

    But to your question, can it be done, I would answer "yes". In fact, I would suggest that it not only can be done but in fact, must be done to recover and move into a new frontier of corporate and governmental systems that will support us in the future. For surely, and without question, the old way is dead.

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