Tal Ben Shahar, the Happiness Professor

Tal Ben Shahar, the Happiness Professor
Adriana Díez

Written and verified by the psychologist Adriana Díez.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

You don’t need everything you think you do to be happy. Nor do you need to wait for that thing you’re waiting for to show up. Being happy is all about enjoying what you have now. It is being content and fulfilled by what you have. That is how the professor of happiness, Tal Ben Shahar, explains it.

Tal Ben Shahar is a professor at Harvard University, now famous for his classes on happiness. He defines happiness as “‘the overall feeling of pleasure and meaning.’ A happy person enjoys positive emotions while perceiving his or her life as purposeful.” In the video below, Tal Ben Shahar explains and defends his theories about how to live your life with enthusiasm and joy.

Tal Ben Shahar’s strategies for being happy

Tal Ben Shahar has a variety of theories about positive psychology and creating a happy life. Here are some of them, backed by science:

  • Face-to-face relationships: interpersonal, face-to-face relationships with other people (and not through a screen) give us pleasure that leads to happiness. When we spend time with people that we love, we are also investing time in ourselves and our well-being.
  • Simplifying your life: sometimes we focus too much on being in a hurry. We try to do so many things so we can get done sooner, or focus on what is going wrong to try to solve it. It is easy to get lost in the midst of all of that. Simplifying makes it easier. You know that problems exist, but you have the tools to fix them. You remember that things won’t always go right, but there will always be something that does. Focus on what you do, focus on one thing, and enjoy it.
  • Physical exercise: exercising helps relieve tension, improve your circulation, and produce endorphins. Endorphins, as you know, promote feelings of well-being.
  • Expressing gratitude: being grateful and appreciating what you have makes you feel happy. Being aware of everything you have and not taking it for granted puts you on the right path towards pleasure and well-being.
  • Permission to be human: we all get excited, we all have feelings, and we all react to what happens to us. You should feel free to express yourself without fear of what others will say. Emotional intelligence gives you the key to know yourself and have relationships with others.
  • Dedicate time to your hobbies: we all have responsibilities in our day-to-day lives. However, making time to do what you truly enjoy is what makes your life full and happy. That’s why spending time on things you love should be a requirement.

Can you learn to be happy?

According to Professor Tal Ben Shahar, you can learn to be happy. In fact, they should teach it in schools. Being happy doesn’t mean being fine all the time. Being happy is knowing how to tolerate unpleasant feelings. It also means not letting a bad situation or bad conditions affect your feelings of fulfillment and well-being.

learn to be happy

Tal Ben Shahar tells us that you can learn to be happy if you know how to make decisions well. From the smallest things that you might think are insignificant, to much bigger things. For example, leaving your phone behind when you go to spend time with friends, or deciding whether to study or work.

If we can teach children from a young age about emotional intelligence, resilience, relationships, and overcoming adversity, we can help program their brains to be happy. Then they will be empowered to face challenges head-on and enjoy the little things.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.