A TED Talk A Day, Day 57: Interestingly, the first two-person TED Talk I’ve seen; thought it turns out that that format really distracts from the topic quite a bit.

In any case the talk covers why it’s important to care both about psychological illness, and also psychological flourishing (i.e. positive psychology), and how we need understand both in order to “be happy”.

  1. It’s important to understand both suffering and success. We can’t have one without the other.
  2. The usual medical model is based on happiness being the absence of illness. But damage repair is negative to zero. Positive psychology looks how we can go from zero to one (or positive).
  3. Many people (half of the room?!) will develop mental illness in their lives.
  4. Positive relationships help us buffer against stress.
  5. Though many college students are young and look great… a third of students will develop some kind of alcohol problem during their college years, many will suffer from poor sleep, and some will have eating disorders.
  6. “Information does not imply transformation.” – Tal Ben-Shahar. Knowing something doesn’t mean we will digest it and use it.
  7. When we’re happy our brains function differently than when we’re not. A study of 4-year-olds showed that those who were primed to be happy performed better at various cognitive tasks.
  8. We can prime ourselves with exercise, because it causes the release of BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). BDNF stimulates brain cells to grow. Only if we exercise can we give our brain a chance to reach its potential.
  9. Traditional psychology was concerned with overcoming high amounts of stress; positive psychology is concerned with finding the optimal amount of stress. The latter is where we achieve high performance.

Suggested action step: I am now interested in finding out about their approach in combining both positive and traditional psychology.