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A Simple Strategy For Happiness: Ashley Whillans (Transcript)

Full text of Ashley Whillans’ talk titled “A Simple Strategy For Happiness” at TEDxCambridge conference. In this talk, she shares simple strategies to overcome time poverty and experience more fulfilling social relationships and satisfying careers.

Best quote from this talk:

The French spend more time eating and are less stressed and happier as a result. In contrast, Americans spend more time choosing their food than actually enjoying it.”


Ashley Whillans – Assistant Professor at the Harvard Business School

The people sitting in this room are some of the poorest in the world. And I can tell this without even looking at your bank account.

What I’m referring to isn’t a scarcity of money but rather a scarcity of time. Over 80% of working Americans today report feeling time poor, like they have too many things to do in a day and not enough time to do them.

These rising rates of time poverty have crushing effects on our happiness, our social relationships and our physical health. Time poverty silences our laughter, steals our joy, and depletes our personal well-being.

So where do these feelings of time poverty come from? And what can we do to overcome them?

The most obvious explanation for these rising rates of time poverty is that we simply spend more time working, or completing household chores than in previous decades.

Yet there is very little evidence for this idea. Men and women have more time for leisure than they did in the 1950s, thanks in part to a few modern miracles.

Instead time poverty today is caused by our constant connection to technology. Our iPhones, tablets, and laptops create time confetti fragmenting our leisure into small distracted minutes of time that are easily squandered and lost.

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