B is for Tal Ben-Shahar: Happiness

Tal Ben-Shahar loves teaching and his Harvard University course on How To Be Happy attracted over 800 students.

Why teach such a course? Tal recalled his own days as a student. Even though he was an outstanding achiever, something was missing. So later he created the kind of course he was looking for as a student. This aimed:

To provide an introduction to the research in the field of happiness.

To provide practical ways the students can apply these ideas in their lives and communities.

You can discover more about his present work via the following link.



So how can people be happier? Tal says some of the messages can sound corny, but the secret is in actually translating these into action.

It is for people to do these things, rather than just think about doing them. Here are some of the messages.

Accept painful emotions.

These are part of being alive. The only people who don’t feel pain are psychopaths and those who are dead.

Spend time with people you care about.

This quality time is enjoyable and also gives us energy to do other things.

Enjoy ‘time affluence’.

Appreciate life and the specific thing you are doing. Enjoy the moments, rather than try to do several things at once.

Simplify your life.

This makes it easier to appreciate life. At the moment we are trying to cram more and more into our days.


This is equivalent to some of the most powerful drugs that deal with depression or anxiety.


Learning to breathe deeply and properly can improve our sense of well-being.

Cultivate gratitude.

Research shows that people who keep a Gratitude Journal are more positive, says Tal.

This involves spending a few minutes each night writing down five things for which they are grateful. Such a simple exercise increases their optimism and even their health.

Tal focuses on how people can continue to live fulfilling lives. Below is a long interview in which he talks about positive psychology.

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