Bella Vida Therapy

Molly Papp, MS, MPH, CSAT, LMFT #88196

Bella Vida Therapy

Molly Papp, LMFT

You deserve a beautiful life

Sex, intimacy, and relationship therapy

Ted Explains How to Be Happy

I have recently been obsessed with watching "Ted Talks." They are not just fascinating, but I feel like I'm learning a lot at the same time. I've been drawn especially to talks regarding happiness and how some people feel it easily while others chase it so diligently (and unsuccessfully). Two in particular caught my eye by their amazing titles: the first was, "My Philosophy for a Happy Life" by Sam Berns, and the other was "Three Words That Will Change Your Life," by Dr. Mark Holder. The first was by a young teenager (Sam), with progeria, a rare genetic disease that causes premature aging (aka Benjamin Button disease). His motto was basically to appreciate what you CAN do, not lament or moan about what you can't. This is a kid who was not attractive, athletic, rich, or healthy, but spent every day on this planet being ridiculously joyful for what he COULD do: play drums in the marching band, spend time with friends, inspire others to live a fuller life. I later found out that Sam died at age 17 from his disease. Honestly, that news made me realize his message was even more true because life is so precious and short. Sam didn't even get to celebrate his 18th birthday. I'm turning 30 this year. I feel immensely grateful just for that fact alone, and the simple truth that I am healthy, in love, and don't go to bed hungry every night...or ever. Millions (probably billions) of people cannot say the same.

The other Ted talk, "Three Words That Will Change Your Life," was inspiring in a different way. Dr. Holder explained that for humans, happiness is inextricably linked to their relationships. We need to be bonded to others. If not, we bond to other things to self-medicate our loneliness, especially if we have suffered trauma and need to numb ourselves from life (leading to sex, drugs, and/or food addiction). People who are genuinely happy have close, loving relationships with others. They spend time nurturing these intimate friendships. They feel understood and heard, as well as safe enough to be close to others. The aforementioned three words that will change your life are: "tell me more," because saying them to someone instantly bonds them to you. Try it with your next conversation and instead of zoning out or interrupting, really make an effort to hear what your friends are saying. That is what builds connection and that connection leads to increased happiness.

 Dr. Holder also explained that the happiness of your partner directly correlates with your own happiness. That completely makes sense to me, because I struggle with being completely happy when my husband is sad. He is such a big part of my life that I cannot imagine being care-free when he's upset. I have no doubt that many people can relate to this issue. I mean this not in a codependent, unhealthy way, but as an expression of the connection with my mate.

I wanted to share both of these talks because I think we all get caught up in the stress of our lives and the quest for what is "enough," that we forget to slow down and examine what truly make us smile. Happiness is being grateful that you are not in pain or hungry. Happiness is not what you can buy, it's appreciating who you are and who loves you. If only Sam had been so lucky to see what gifts lie beyond the teenage years! But honestly, he wouldn't see his death as "I wish I could have lived to see another birthday." Instead, he would see it as, "I'm so happy and grateful I got to celebrate 17 of them." Rest in peace buddy.