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Home » Robert Waldinger on The Good Life at TEDxBeaconStreet (Full Transcript)

Robert Waldinger on The Good Life at TEDxBeaconStreet (Full Transcript)

Robert Waldinger

Here is the full text and summary of psychiatrist Robert Waldinger’s talk: The Good Life at TEDxBeaconStreet conference.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here:


What keeps us healthy and happy as we go through life? If you were going to invest now in your future best self, where would you put your time and your energy?

There are lots of answers out there. We’re bombarded with images of what’s most important in life. The media are filled with stories of people who are rich and famous and building empires at work. And we believe those stories.

There was a recent survey of millennials asking them what their most important life goals were, and over 80% said that a major life goal for them was to get rich. And another 50% of those same young adults said that another major life goal was to become famous.

And we’re constantly told to lean in to work, to push harder and achieve more. We’re given the impression that these are the things that we need to go after in order to have a good life.

But is that true? Is that really what keeps people happy as they go through life? Pictures of entire lives, of the choices that people make and how those choices work out for them, those pictures are almost impossible to get. Most of what we know about human life we know from asking people to remember the past, and as we know, hindsight is anything but 20:20.

We forget vast amounts of what happens to us in life, and sometimes memory is downright creative. Mark Twain understood this. He’s quoted as saying, “Some of the worst things in my life never happened.”

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