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


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Jan 11 2012: I work with a company in Canada that strives to help individuals to create balance in their lives. Since I have started to practice what I teach, I have certainly become more aware of my happiness. I will find myself smiling and glowing internally for the sheer fact that life is good, not perfect, not stress free but still good.

    My biggest breakthrough was to realise that being happy is a choice that we make over and over again throughout the day. We can suffer through our misery or we can chose to work through it and be happy regardless of it.

    The structure of the business that I am in makes us a family. We are there for each other and can be counted on whenever we need help. There is no competition, no back stabbing, no walking over people to make it to the top. I have never experienced anything like it before.

    As long as individuals have the choice to be happy there is always hope that society will follow.
    • thumb

      Meli D

      • 0
      Jan 11 2012: Thank you for sharing this! I am going to pass this on (with quotes and your name, naturally). :)
    • thumb
      Jan 11 2012: smiling is signal that i can be approached ... smiling more will for sure bring us into the realm of relationships more ... indeed there is a famous study that looked at college photos - those smiling in them were much more likely ten years later to be employed - be happy - be married etc etc (even earnign more) ... being happy CAUSES good outcomes ...
      • Jan 11 2012: I was going to say, happiness starts with a smile. Even when I don't feel like smiling, I do. It not only changes the way I feel, but also changes the way people around me act. It can't be a fake smile, though, has to be a real one.
      • thumb
        Jan 11 2012: Nic, it seems to me that saying being happy CAUSES good outcomes doesn't nail the idea on the head. I think being happy is a reflection of one's mindset, and that mindset, worldview, weltanschauung, or whatever you want to call it, is the thing that causes good outcomes. My work focuses on helping folks modify their perception. And perception is often the only thing within our capabilities to change.
        • thumb
          Jan 11 2012: yes ... happiness that is congruent - coherent with you and your circumstances will be instrumental in creating a set of actions that creates a virtous circle ... it is a complex process! (and i can't type fat enough to express all of my ideas right now!)
      • thumb
        Jan 11 2012: Yes, Nic...one of the college studies of which you speak is the case study Marty Seligman examined at Penn.

        The women were in fact, nuns, who researchers chose because they had similar lifestyles, backgrounds, (obviously- religious beliefs!), and gender orientation. The studies in this particular case study with the nuns found that the nuns who had smiled int heir yearbook photos proved to live longer, happier, healthier lives (into their 80's and 90's, as opposed to their non-smiling counterparts) and had a greater sense of positive well being throughout their adult lives.

        Although one is not able to "put on a happy face," on demand, we all have the ability to improve our overall well-being with finding relief through consciously choosing the next best thought or feeling.
    • Jan 11 2012: The realization that we have some control over our happiness is very empowering. Being aware of our choice to either be happy or not is very important!
    • Jan 11 2012: Smile to the world and see the world smiling back at you. indeed your strong relationship with your family is what drives you to happiness.
    • thumb
      Jan 11 2012: The spirit of cooperation with which we approach any activity, be it at school, work, family, clubs...helps people to see we are team players. Like Mr. Marks mentions also, a smile, something so simple, and free to all of us, can disarm even the saddest of people.

      When we have peace ourselves, because we have found purpose in our own lives, we are able to give peace to those around us. Our words are kind, our actions are in the spirit of contributing to others' well-being. There is definitely more happiness in giving than in receiving. This, for me, is a big KEY to true happiness.

      When we know we ourselves are happy, then we can be on the look out for those that are not, and we can do something about it. In turn, we will be more and more happy knowing we are helping others. This I truly truly believe to be a secret that many need to discover.

      Just my humble opinion.
    • Jan 11 2012: to Sue Liko: your job is really nice and I agree with what you wrote

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.