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Almost nobody understands how to attain happiness. Most people say: "I'll be happy if I'm successful". This could be by being rich or famous, by attaining a certain professional or personal goal, by a woman or man agreeing to go on a date with you, or by achieving your aims. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like this. That's why we often see really successful people, who have a lot of money and who have achieved a great deal, but who are really unhappy. Because they think that if they achieve a certain goal or milestone, then they'll be happy. Yet, when they've achieved this goal and made a pile of money, they're still unhappy. And not only are they not happy, they also feel lost because they are disillusioned. Up to that moment, they thought that when they reached this point they'd be happy, but now they're there, they're still not happy and can no longer sustain the illusion. Reaching a goal does not make you happy in the long term. It's true that you'll experience an increase in well-being, but it won't last long. This idea has been researched using lottery winners. When people win millions of dollars, they think all their dreams have come true. They think they'll be happy for the rest of their life. However, after three months they're back where they started, but even more disillusioned. You also see it with university professors who have worked hard all their lives to gain tenure. When they achieve it, they think they'll be content forever, but this only lasts one month, or six at most. Reaching a certain point results in a temporary feeling of well-being, not a permanent increase in a person's level of happiness.
The things that the science of happiness tells us are common sense. Much of it is to do with things your grandmother might have told you. Now, science can explain them. For example, relationships are the foundations of a happy life. The father of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, and his colleagues did some research into the world's happiest people. What makes them different? And they discovered that one of the two things that sets them apart is that they have solid close relationships. This means romantic relationships, but also friendships and family, etc. Their relationships aren't perfect, because there are always disagreements and disputes in close relationships. However, they see these relationships as a priority in their lives. In today's world, we're surrounded by technology (and will soon be connected to it internally), which means that actual relationships have been overshadowed by virtual ones. Unfortunately, this is having a negative impact on people's happiness. Relationships are crucial to living a happy life.
Another key to happiness is gratitude, recognition. Oprah talked about this in 1999 when the science of happiness did not exist. Now it does exist. What's more, it has proved that people who express gratitude regularly, do not take what they have for granted, do not ignore their problems and are able to acknowledge what they have are happier, more optimistic, more successful, more likely to achieve their goals and also physically healthier. We actually make our immune system stronger when we focus on being thankful. My favorite word is “appreciate”. “Appreciate” means to be grateful for something. However, the word “appreciate” also has another meaning, which is to increase in value. If you deposit money in a bank, it will hopefully increase in value and then you will have more money. The two meanings of the word “appreciate” are connected. Because when you appreciate the good things in your life, they will increase in value and you will end up with more. The connection here is not purely etymological, as there is scientific proof that if I appreciate my partner, work or life, the positive aspects of my life increase in value and I have more of them.