TEDxNTU: The Pursuit of Happiness

Today’s theme was the pursuit of happiness. Just what I needed to hear! Here are a few take aways from the conference.

Dr Nattavudh Powdthavee

Marriage, friends, relationships, health all have an effect on happiness. However, children, money, fancy cars or the weather have been shown to have a small or no effect on happiness.

According to Nattavudh Powdthavee, friends are worth $500K a year!

Why don’t we choose things that make us happy? Actually, there are two types of happiness: absolute (pure) and relative. We spend the major part of our lives reaching for the relative happiness (getting a house, a fancy car, etc) rather than the absolute happiness. As a result, society is stuck on the “happiness treadmill” – we always want more to keep up with the Joneses and we’re never satisfied.

Nattavudh Powdthavee said that the top 5 regrets on the deathbed are:

  • I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
  • I wish I didn’t work so hard
  • I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
  • I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
  • I wish that I had let myself be happier
  • Two advice from the speaker: write down things that make you happy and do more of them!

    Dr Anna Leybina

    Anna talked about consumerism and its effect on happiness.

    To be happier, she says we have to spend on others; buy what we like rarely, buy smaller things and choose cheaper options. The secret is to spend money on experience (sports, travelling, etc) and not consumer goods.

    She also says: “let yourself get bored, stop stimulating yourself non stop”. Don’t run from unhappiness or boredom, but seek your dreams.

    Dr Neihart Maureen Frances

    Today, the time spent with friends and family is decreasing compared to past decades.

    Neihart introduces the concept of “Losada ratio”, which is a positive/negative ratio measured by counting the instances of positive feedback vs. negative feedback. Research has found that teams/companies who have a ratio above 3:1 (3 positive comments for every negative comment) will do better than teams/companies who score below 3:1.

    This concept can be extrapolated to individuals. In a couple, a Losado ratio of 1:3 predicts a divorce, whereas a 5:1 ratio predicts a healthy marriage.

    Lawyers have the highest rates of divorce and suicides than any other occupational group because they spend more time than others hearing negative comments.

    So what can we do to make our relationships better and be happier? Neihart tells us to use an active constructive approach. For example, when our neighbor tells us that his son won an award at school, we should say “that’s wonderful news, I’m very happy for you!” (active constructive) instead of “Great” (passive constructive), “And do you know what happened to me today?” (passive destructive) or “Every child gets that award at some point, it’s nothing special” (active destructive).

    The conclusion is, a ratio of 3:1 is minimal to succeed and a ratio of 5:1 is required to thrive.

    Benedict Sim

    Benedict talked to us about the myths and misconceptions about happiness in the corporate world.

    Happiness at work is an experience of joy, contentment, positive well being and a purpose. One of the myths about happiness at work is that “it will get better” or that “work is just work, I don’t need to be happy”.

    Here are some strategies to be happy at work:

  • Choosing to be happy
  • Laughing generously
  • Appreciating the blessings
  • Praising others
  • Stretching our strengths
  • Seeking to increase our skills
  • Dr William Wan

    A lot of people believe that happiness is a zero sum game but surely there has to be another approach, a win win scenario.

    And the solution is kindess. Kindness can cause happiness and vice versa and here are a few solutions to be happy:

  • Smile
  • Say thanks
  • Queue
  • Greet other people
  • Give way
  • Give to charity
  • Volunteer
  • What we want to achieve is a positive feedback loop between kindness and happiness: be kind and you’ll be happy; be happy and you’ll be kind!


    The session was very interesting. Happiness depends on genetic set points (50%), intentional activities (40%) and life circumstances (10%) so the conclusion is that whether or not we’re happy is up to us! Thanks NTU for organizing another successful TEDx!

    • Bambous

      Very humbling, happiness can not be decreed, it is the sum of small joys of each day . have to stay positive even when life is difficult to manage everyday. 
      We must find the resources to turn to others and forget our  own problems existenciels.
      Give and you shall receive.Thank you for this contribution.

    • Thank you so much for this post :) We are glad you enjoyed the show. Do keep in touch and attend future TEDxNTU events too!

      • Thanks for reading and sharing the article on FB! I’ll definitely attend future TEDxNTU events, it’s always inspiring :)


    • stephtweetie

      Thanks for the post! 

      Sincerely, the Pursuit of Happiness is a myth and a TED conference on that shows how many people looking for this feeling and don’t found it… I’m sorry to say that but world is now : sink or swim, and the ocean is deep :/ 

      We don’t have always the choice to do what we want because unfortunately people around us don’t think or act like us, or at least as we would like. I’m sorry about that but I think the “Bisounours’s World” no longer exists… 

      But keep smile, sun is shining, mwaaaaaa :) —– Movies reference : The Beach with Leo Di Caprio and The Pursuit of Happiness with Will Smith —-

      • I wish Le Monde des Bisounours was real….Thanks for your “realistic” message but I really hope that one day we can find happiness, whether it is in our workplace or outside. Otherwise what’s the point?

        I still haven’t watched the Pursuit of Happiness with Will Smith…maybe I should start by this ;)

        • stephtweetie

          Sure that you have to! By the way, I really hope too that each person could find HIS happy path of life in whatever… what’s the point? As we say in french “KIFFER” but these moments are so unique and we shouldn’t let it go… Try “The Beach” with Leo if you didn’t remember it, it’s a good start for what you have…. :)

    • Jackson

      Sounded fantastico!!!

    • Michal Podmokly

      Great initiative! Greetings from Poland! :)