Themes What Makes Us Happy?

What Makes Us Happy?

It's perhaps the most universal human yearning: to be happy. But this simplest of goals so often eludes us. We're not terribly good, we humans, at knowing what we want.

"The Pursuit of Happiness" was 2004's conference theme, but TED speakers over many years have continued this quest. Daniel Gilbert's astonishing talk shows how we're poor predictors of what will actually make us happy. Stefan Sagmeister shares how great design contributed to his happiest moments, suggesting that the secret may be attention to detail. And Malcolm Gladwell, tongue in cheek, explores what we might learn about the pursuit of happiness through one man's quest to make the perfect pasta sauce.

But suppose we understand happiness. How, then, do we find it? Carl Honore says the key is, simply, to slow down. Pastor Rick Warren appeals for a life of spiritual purpose. And Barry Schwartz thinks a little less choice might do us all a lot of good.

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