We were born happy.

Oh, maybe we were crying, kicking, and filling our lungs with the first breath of fresh air as we emerged from our mother’s womb. That’s just part of the grand entrance!

Still…we were happy. Maybe not right when the cold air hit us in the face…but shortly thereafter.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could experience the same kind of curiosity, joy, and carefree playfulness which we experienced as children? Not just once in a while….but most of the time?

With our sharing-centric online social culture, sometimes I wonder how many people are happy…and how many are just playing at it like on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and all the other socially competitive sites.

Externally everything seems to be going well for so many people, right? But that sort of flies in the face of the statistics that reveal an increasing level of anxiety, depression and unhappiness.

Our internal world doesn’t always match our external world.

This is an amazing concept, especially in today’s social media climate. Everybody posts pictures and videos and quotes which have been called the “highlight reel” of their real life, or the life they wished they were living.

In many cases, this “faux” life, these pretend expressions of happiness are thin veils to what’s really going on in that person’s life.

Scratch the surface, and you don’t have to dig too deep to realize that every single person you meet has concerns or worries in their life or in the life of someone they love.

But does that mean they aren’t happy? Is it fair to accuse them of being delusional in their level of happiness? Wanting to be happy and project happiness while still experiencing painful moment is just….life.

That’s part of being human, right?

And, I really think that’s okay. Afterall, we are thinking, feeling human beings who have the wonderful capacity to have sympathy and empathy for everything around us.

That’s something to celebrate…especially when you consider what the opposite of those traits would really mean….

It’s no wonder, then, in our modern age of socially sharing and comparing, the students at Harvard flock to Tal Ben-Shahar’s class. It’s the largest class at the prestigious college.

Are they looking to learn business or money making skills so they can buy the dressings and furnishings of an outwardly happy life?

Not even close!

Tal Ben-Shahar holds a Ph.D and teaches a course on positive psychology, fittingly named “Happiness 101.”

Tune in and absorb what he shares about the very simple ways we can embrace the happiness that is all around us and within us. The greatest part about the whole thing is the cost of happiness is very low; however, the cost of the absence of happiness…well…you’ll have to see for yourself.

Enjoy the video!

Positive Psychology: Happiness 101

5:00 – pick up where Tal talks about looking at the message of happiness…rather than simply focusing on the external…the messenger.

It’s interesting to think about the evolution of happiness. As pointed out by the speaker, the idea of “happiness” has been the realm of the self-help movement. More recently, with our many scientific advances especially as they deal with our brain, nutrition, and psychology, happiness has now found a ‘proper’ place in the halls of science.

But let’s go back further. Before science. Before the self-help gurus. Where in our lives did the happiness movement live and breathe and grow?

Remember that baby emerging from the womb? The same little human embraced by a loving mother, a father, and other important people in their young lives. The child, as well as many of the adults, spent countless hours and energy simply doing things to bring happiness into that close circle.

7:09 – “The objective of positive psychology is to unite the rigor of academic research with the accessibility of the self-help movement.”

Are your ready for “The Greatest Hits of the Positive Psychology Movement”

Hmm…I wonder what music should be playing in the background as each point is covered?

7:32 – The Permission to be Human

You will and you should experience a full range of emotions, from happiness to sadness. The only people who don’t are psychopaths…or dead. Find out what happens when you don’t allow yourself to experience a full range of emotions.

10:30 – Where is your place of unconditional acceptance?

13:30 – What really happens when you try to suppress your emotions or thoughts? When you try to always stay positive, happy, and bright even when there is worry or a painful emotion in your life? Does the advice of “just ignore it” or “don’t think about it” really work?

16:15 – The benefits of accepting a painful emotion and then choosing the best course of action. Active acceptance.

17:00 – The question is asked: Do we give ourselves and others – our family, students, friends, and colleagues – permission to be human?

17:30 – Dealing With Stress

20:00 – The costs of stress. Psychologically, physically, and creatively. Can you imagine that today, the average age when someone first experiences stress is 14!

21:25 – What do we need to do in order to reduce the stress in your life. Hint…it’s all much simpler than you can possible imagine!

21:50 – The emotional experiences of women…wow – mom’s this may be an eye opener for you! I have my own experience with this point, which I’ll share a little later in this article.

24:00 – Quantity affects quality

24:30 – Do you leave your email open at work? See if that’s a good thing…or not. The answer may surprise you.

26:00 – The relationship between money and happiness…and the concept of ‘Time Affluence’

28:40 – Your most important source of happiness is…

29:00 – Stress is NOT the problem…really?

30:50 – What do we need to effectively recover from stress? Find out here.

33:20 – The Mind-Body Connection – How credible, really, is exercise when it comes to depression, happiness and overall well-being?

42:45 – What about Mindful Meditation?

52:00 – If you’re not ready to meditate…can you experience positive results with deep breathing? Learn about the power of 3 Deep Breaths.

55:55 – The Final Pilar of Happiness: Focusing on the Positive

Wonderful explanation of a simple word: Appreciate

One definition is to say “thank you” for something, being grateful for something.

The other definition of Appreciate is to increase in value.

When you appreciate the good in your life; the good appreciates.


57:54 – Ask yourself “Must something external and extraordinary happen before we learn to appreciate the ordinary?”

Great question!


After watching this video…what will you do differently in your life?

“On Monday, don’t tell me how great the experience was…tell me what you’re doing differently. Real change comes only with action…”

Remember, the steps are simple; it only takes your commitment to seek out happiness in everything big and small:

  • Gives permission to be human
  • Take time to recover
  • Exercise
  • Breathe
  • Savor what’s around you; what’s within you…Express Gratitude


Now, as promised, my somewhat embarrassing (and eye-opening) bad mom makes good moment…

When my kids were younger, they were very good at letting me know when I was too stressed out or too focused on work. How? Well, they would “misbehave.”

In other words, they would suddenly try to turn the house upside down because, it seemed at the time, they were hell-bent on making me late or interfere with whatever I was trying to do. The little monsters…didn’t they understand I had to [fill in the blank]?!

But a crazy thing happened.

One time when I was working on a deadline, my daughter just could not and would not entertain herself while I finished up. I was at my wits end. Nothing I tried worked. So, because I realized I wasn’t going to get different results by continuing to do the same thing over and over, and I was tired of fighting my 3-foot tall tyrant…I stopped working.

For the next 30 minutes, I got down on the floor with my daughter and we played. No distractions, no multi-tasking, no nothing except me and her playing.

And guess what? After that, for the next 3 hours she entertained herself while I got back to work – more focused and less stressed – and completed what I was working on. On time.

This early lesson was something that stuck with me for the rest of my life. My kids, it turned out, were not really little monsters trying to make my life difficult. They were, if I allowed them to be, the parental canary in the coalmine who would warn me when I was losing oxygen, losing steam, and allowing too much stress and work to creep into my life.

The little darlings…they were just looking out for someone they loved…me! J