Tal Ben-Shahar is an author and lecturer who taught the most popular course
at Harvard University on "Positive Psychology," and the university's third
most popular course on "The Psychology of Leadership"—with a total of more
than 1,400 students.
Ben-Shahar consults and lectures around the world to executives in multi-national corporations, the general public, and at-risk populations. Topics include leadership, ethics, happiness, self-esteem, resilience, goal setting, and mindfulness. His latest book is The Joy of Leadership: How Positive Psychology Can Maximize Your Impact (and Make You Happier) in a Challenging World. He is also the author of Choose the Life You Want: The Mindful Way to Happiness, Being Happy: You Don't Have to Be Perfect to Lead a Richer, Happier Life and The New York Times bestseller Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment.
Ben-Shahar is a serial entrepreneur and is the co-founder and chief learning officer of the Potentialife, Maytiv, and Happier.TV.
An avid sportsman, Ben-Shahar won the U.S. Intercollegiate and Israeli National
squash championships. He earned his Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and B.A. in Philosophy and Psychology from Harvard.
More information at: www.talbenshahar.com
Advice from Tal Ben-Shahar
Give yourself permission to be human. When we accept emotions—such as fear, sadness, or anxiety—as natural, we are more likely to overcome them. Rejecting our emotions, positive or negative, leads to frustration and unhappiness. We are a culture obsessed with pleasure and believe that the mark of a worthy life is the absence of discomfort; and when we experience pain, we take it to indicate that something must be wrong with us. In fact, there is something wrong with us if we don't experience sadness or anxiety at times--which are human emotions. The paradox is that when we accept our feelings—when we give ourselves the permission to be human and experience painful emotions—we are more likely to open ourselves up to positive emotions.
Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable. When this is not feasible, make sure you have happiness boosters, moments throughout the week that provide you with both pleasure and meaning. Research shows that an hour or two of a meaningful and pleasurable experience can affect the quality of an entire day, or even a whole week.
Keep in mind that happiness is mostly dependent on our state of mind, not on our status or the state of our bank account. Barring extreme circumstances, our level of well being is determined by what we choose to focus on and by our interpretation of external events. For example, do we focus on the empty part of the full part of the glass? Do we view failures as catastrophic, or do we see them as learning opportunities?
Simplify! We are, generally, too busy, trying to squeeze in more and more activities into less and less time. Quantity influences quality, and we compromise on our happiness by trying to do too much. Knowing when to say 'no' to others often means saying 'yes' to ourselves.
Remember the mind-body connection. What we do—or don't do—with our bodies influences our mind. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habits lead to both physical and mental health.
Express gratitude, whenever possible. We too often take our lives for granted. Learn to appreciate and savor the wonderful things in life, from people to food, from nature to a smile.
Prioritize relationships. The number one predictor of happiness is the time we spend with people we care about and who care about us. The most important source of happiness may be the person sitting next to you. Appreciate them, savor the time you spend together.