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A lot of people spend huge amounts of time trying to micromanage their own lives. From trying to foresee every possible outcome of a decision to using an online calendar to schedule every minute of the day, there’s a strong draw towards believing that control is associated with happiness.
In this TEDx talk, author and psychologist Polly Young-Eisendrath challenges you to rethink your ideas about happiness, offering a conception of human flourishing that focuses more on the enjoying the present than worrying about the future.
One of the most interesting points at the heart of this video relates to self-importance—while it’s important to find enough confidence to pursue and achieve one’s goals, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Young-Eisendrath draws on her understanding of both Buddhism and Western psychology to explore the human tendency towards self-preoccupation and explain the benefits of spending more time tuning into what’s happening around us in the present moment.
While this is a familiar message that you may instantly recognize in light of the increasing popularity of practices like mindfulness, Young-Eisendrath has a unique take on how and why it tends to be so profoundly difficult to turn our focus outwards.
As well as tackling the enormous topics of happiness and self-interest, this inspiring speaker highlights a range of emotions that are unique to humans and that therefore pose unique obstacles to happiness.
If you’re ever felt that jealousy, guilt, envy or shame was standing between you and a satisfying, peaceful existence, then you’re sure to connect with the message of this talk. Young-Eisendrath calls these “self-conscious emotions” and she offers concrete advice for moving past these troubling feelings, leaving you with a promising strategy for developing a happier life.