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Home » Emily Esfahani Smith: There’s More to Life than Being Happy (Transcript)

Emily Esfahani Smith: There’s More to Life than Being Happy (Transcript)

Emily Esfahani Smith

Here is the full transcript and summary of journalist and author Emily Esfahani Smith’s Talk: There’s More to Life than Being Happy at TED conference. Emily Esfahani Smith is the author of the book: The Power of Meaning.

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Emily Esfahani Smith – Journalist and author

I used to think the whole purpose of life was pursuing happiness. Everyone said the path to happiness was success, so I searched for that ideal job, that perfect boyfriend, that beautiful apartment.

But instead of ever feeling fulfilled, I felt anxious and adrift. And I wasn’t alone; my friends — they struggled with this, too. Eventually, I decided to go to graduate school for positive psychology to learn what truly makes people happy. But what I discovered there changed my life. The data showed that chasing happiness can make people unhappy.

And what really struck me was this: the suicide rate has been rising around the world, and it recently reached a 30-year high in America. Even though life is getting objectively better by nearly every conceivable standard, more people feel hopeless, depressed and alone. There’s an emptiness gnawing away at people, and you don’t have to be clinically depressed to feel it. Sooner or later, I think we all wonder: Is this all there is?

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