The quest for happiness is one of the oldest and most quixotic tasks human beings have set themselves. It spurs us on to amass great fortunes, paint timeless pictures, and summit Mt. Everest. But happiness often remains, even for the abundantly successful, elusive. Tal Ben-Shahar, a leading positive psychologist, a best-selling author, and a former Israeli squash champion, has been trying to figure out why this is. His theories — which center around the idea that happiness is in many ways a choice, not a condition entered passively — were the subject of what was for many years the most popular class at Harvard University. Here, he explains how and why we can all become, if not perfectly blissful, significantly happier.
Octavian Report: How did you first become interested in positive psychology? What was it that drew you to the discipline?
Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar is the best-selling author of Happier, Perfect, and many other books, the teacher of two of the largest classes in Harvard University’s history, and Israel’s former national champion in squash.