article

Happiness –
a Grand Tour

Revel Gordon

Harvard’s Tal Ben-Shahar gives a grand tour of Positive Psychology, filled with simple, practical and evidence-based tips for a happier life.

His Positive Psychology class started with six students and rapidly grew to nearly 900 people, making it the most popular course at Harvard.

In this video, Ben-Shahar gives a sweeping overview of the field of positive psychology – touching on the work of luminaries like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Martin Seligman, Barbara Frederickson and Robert Emmons – and translates this into a range of simple, practical techniques we can all use to make ourselves happier and more productive, every day. It’s an hour long, but well worth the time.

Here are a few examples:

  • Take three deep breaths, right down into your belly. This counteracts the ‘fight-or-flight’ response and makes you calmer and more focused. Try it next time you’re stopped at a red light. Or before you start an important piece of work. Or when you think you might be about to start an argument with your partner!
  • Turn off your email: Having your email open while you’re doing intellectually challenging work drops your IQ by up to 10 points. To put that into context, research has shown that marijuana drops a person’s IQ by 4 points!
  • Three good things: writing down three things for which you are truly grateful before you go to bed each night has a dramatic effect on happiness. Make it a habit.
  • Exercise: Yeah, we all know exercise is good for us, but did you know it can reduce the onset of alzheimers by 50%? Thirty minutes, three times per week is all it takes.

My challenge to you: listen to his speech, then select just one technique that appeals to you, and apply it for three weeks. Then notice the difference: you’ll be happier and more productive for it!

Harvard’s Tal Ben-Shahar gives a grand tour of Positive Psychology, filled with simple, practical and evidence-based tips for a happier life.

His Positive Psychology class started with six students and rapidly grew to nearly 900 people, making it the most popular course at Harvard.

In this video, Ben-Shahar gives a sweeping overview of the field of positive psychology – touching on the work of luminaries like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Martin Seligman, Barbara Frederickson and Robert Emmons – and translates this into a range of simple, practical techniques we can all use to make ourselves happier and more productive, every day. It’s an hour long, but well worth the time.

Here are a few examples:

  • Take three deep breaths, right down into your belly. This counteracts the ‘fight-or-flight’ response and makes you calmer and more focused. Try it next time you’re stopped at a red light. Or before you start an important piece of work. Or when you think you might be about to start an argument with your partner!
  • Turn off your email: Having your email open while you’re doing intellectually challenging work drops your IQ by up to 10 points. To put that into context, research has shown that marijuana drops a person’s IQ by 4 points!
  • Three good things: writing down three things for which you are truly grateful before you go to bed each night has a dramatic effect on happiness. Make it a habit.
  • Exercise: Yeah, we all know exercise is good for us, but did you know it can reduce the onset of alzheimers by 50%? Thirty minutes, three times per week is all it takes.

My challenge to you: listen to his speech, then select just one technique that appeals to you, and apply it for three weeks. Then notice the difference: you’ll be happier and more productive for it!