5 TED talks that will make you think differently about Love & Happiness

The Filling

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In my attempt to discover what makes people happy and fall in love (it is February, the month of lurrvee, after all), I thought I would turn to the TED experts. As it transpires and as you probably knew (but maybe like me needed to be reminded!), it’s not about the money, fame or being the boss – it’s about relationships, looking forward and focussing on the things you can (as opposed to can’t) do. Two of the most inspiring talks are by teens, Sam Berns and Logan Laplante – there is definitely some merit in remembering what made you happy growing up BC (before children) and BW (before work). I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

1. My Philosophy for a Happy Life – Sam Berns

An extremely brave and insightful talk by 17 year old Sam Berns who suffers from progeria, a rare disease that causes premature ageing, on how to live a happy life – lessons we should all apply if he can! Here he talks about how he keeps moving forward, focuses on what he can rather than can’t do and how sometimes it is really difficult to be brave. A truly inspiring 12 minutes.

“This mentality includes staying in a forward thinking state of mind. I try hard not to waste energy feeling badly for myself, because when I do, I get stuck in a paradox, where there’s no room for any happiness or any other emotion. Now, it’s not that I ignore when I’m feeling badly, I kind of accept it, I let it in, so that I can acknowledge it, and do what I need to do to move past it.”

2. What Makes a Good Life? Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness – Robert Waldinger

Robert Waldinger is the fourth director of a 75 year long study on happiness, following Harvard College grads and disadvantaged kids who grew up in 1930s Boston. The findings of the study really put in to perspective what matters in life – and it’s not what you might think!


“So what have we learned? What are the lessons that come from the tens of thousands of pages of information that we’ve generated on these lives? Well, the lessons aren’t about wealth or fame or working harder and harder. The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”

3. Hackschooling Makes Me Happy – Logan Laplante

Big kudos to Logan who gave this talk when he was just 13 (but speaks better than most TED speakers 3 times his age) and knows that when he wants to grow up he wants to be happy. A great way to remember what you knew was important when you were in your teens but may have forgotten (being happy and healthy) and the importance of creativity (hacks).

“But what bums me out is to know that a lot of kids today are just wishing to be happy, to be healthy, to be safe, not bullied, and be loved for who they are. So it seems to me when adults say, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” They just assume that you’ll automatically be happy and healthy. But maybe that’s not the case. Go to school. Go to college. Get a job. Get married. Boom! Then you’ll be happy, right? We don’t seem to make learning how to be happy and healthy a priority in our schools.”

4. Falling in Love is the Easy Part – Mandy Len Catron

Did you know that you can make anyone fall in love with you by asking them 36 questions and then staring into their eyes (without speaking) for 4 minutes? Mandy Len Catron tested this theory with one of her colleagues – and it worked! But falling in love is the easy part – the hard part is staying together.

“So the story that the media told about the 36 questions was that there might be a shortcut to falling in love. There might be a way to somehow mitigate some of the risk involved, and this is a very appealing story, because falling in love feels amazing, but it’s also terrifying. The moment you admit to loving someone, you admit to having a lot to lose, and it’s true that these questions do provide a mechanism for getting to know someone quickly, which is also a mechanism for being known, and I think this is the thing that most of us really want from love: to be known, to be seen, to be understood. But I think when it comes to love, we are too willing to accept the short version of the story. The version of the story that asks, “Are you still together?” and is content with a yes or no answer.”

5. The Mathematics of Love – Hannah Fry

Hannah’s very entertaining talk tells us how maths can explain why ugly people get more messages online dating, how you should find your perfect partner and how to predict divorce. Funny, educational and engaging. What’s not to love!

“Now, in my favorite paper on the subject, which is entitled, “Why I Don’t Have a Girlfriend”, Peter Backus tries to rate his chances of finding love. Now, Peter’s not a very greedy man. Of all of the available women in the U.K., all Peter’s looking for is somebody who lives near him, somebody in the right age range, somebody with a university degree, somebody he’s likely to get on well with, somebody who’s likely to be attractive, somebody who’s likely to find him attractive. And comes up with an estimate of 26 women in the whole of the UK.”