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: As for creating a happier society, it's going to remain a huge challenge while identity and success continue to be defined by consumerism. As a life coach and professional declutterer, I know that retail therapy doesn't work, that acquiring material stuff doesn't make people happier. On the contrary, giving away things you don't need, finding ways to connect with other people, and learning to recognize what you really do value - those are keys to happiness, in my opinion. I think it is possible to promote a more mindful approach to consumerism but it will take massive changes, not least in the realm of political discourse. Any one else out there? I'm eager to hear other opinions.
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      Jan 11 2012: We did this work for the UK government on what are 5 things that make people happier. I mention themin my TED talk
      Connect ...
      Be Active ...
      Take Notice ...
      Keep Learning ...
      Give ...

      None of these are necessarily materialistic ... this is the great hope of societal transformation I think ... we don't 'need' the very things that are creating high levels of debt, huge amounts of waste (and CO2) ... so surely there is a possible pathway to a happier future - but will be take it?? that i do not know but it is there i am sure of ...
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        Jan 11 2012: I LOVE your list, Nic! I also appreciate the work of Marty Seligman, Ed Diener, and others in IPPA who continue to provide valuable research in the field of Positive Psychology. I was fascinated especially with the altruistic degree of giving of oneself or in the service to others; this usually topped the happiness charts! Thank you for the great conversation :)
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          Jan 11 2012: For me GIVING is key ... it is within our power to be generous at any time and i truly believe that what we sow we reap ... sometimes people will be ungrateful - be unpleasant but that is their problem ... if we give without expecting back - it comes back (mainly!) ... that is the lovely paradox ... unattachment ... (quite buddhist!)
      • Jan 11 2012: Yes, very good list. My challenge has been to draw the line between a healthy desire (watch a sunset) and addiction ("need" to buy a yacht to follow the sunset into some paradise where I can be alone). The list draws focus away from self and onto others. I like it.
      • Jan 11 2012: I think taking less is the ultimate form of giving.
    • Jan 11 2012: there was a time in my life where i had to sift through a family members things after their passing. at some point i knew i couldn't keep all of it...most of it was junk..there were countless pictures(which i did keep), and letters..i kept some of the letters, but realized these weren't my memories, so i burned them. Some of the furniture was divided between my siblings and I, and the rest was donated to the local thrift shops. Because of that time in my life, I am very frugal with my things..live minimally, and never buy new. There are so many resale shops now adays and am grateful for the people who give up their things for others who might not be able to afford things at retail price. I stay away from big stores like Walmart, and give my business to locals when possible. Thriftiness means watching how you spend. Do we really need 'everything' new to be happy? Well, No. thanks for reading.
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        Jan 11 2012: I too am living minimally. It's been a long process - almost 10 years now - but am down to the possessions that are truly important to me. Blogging about the whole experience connected me with so many people going through similar situations, and confirmed that wanting "less" is a valid life choice.

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