10 Must-Watch TED Talks on Positive Psychology

Many leading experts in the field of positive psychology have spoken at TED Talk events about aspects of positive psychology, including happiness, flow, mindset, and optimism.

Here is a list of positive psychology TED Talks you should check out. Which one most inspired you or made you question something?

We would love to see your thoughts in our comments section.


1) The New Era of Positive Psychology

Martin Seligman

It’s impossible to understand positive psychology without knowing about its founder Martin Seligman. In this talk, Seligman tells us that the current state of psychology isn’t good enough. He explains why we should move away from the “disease model” that’s been common practice in psychology for almost a century.


2) Flow, the Secret to Happiness

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

The people of ancient Greek, Chinese, Hindu, Egyptian, and Mayan civilizations all shared a sense of ecstasy in nearly every activity they did. This sensation still happens today and after much research, Csikszentmihalyi coined the term “flow” to describe that state. In this talk, he explains the roots of happiness and teaches how to find a meaningful life. He also explains that people feel happiest when in a flow state.


3) The Surprising Science of Happiness

Dan Gilbert

Have you worked hard on becoming happier only to see your happiness level becoming stagnant? Dan Gilbert, the author of Stumbling on Happiness, explains his scientific research about predicting happiness. Through this hilarious talk, Gilbert demonstrates how the brain plays a crucial role in perceiving happiness—and how it can trick us.


4) The Happy Secret to Better Work

Shawn Achor

If you want to hear about unicorns, fake graphs, weirdos—and their relation to happiness—this TED Talk is for you. Author Shawn Achor gives a funny and popular talk, which has more than 19 million views and counting, Achor tells us how to increase the happiness levels of organizations and ourselves.


5) The Power of Believing That You Can Improve

Carol Dweck

No matter what field you’re in, if you find yourself feeling stuck, this video might help you. Dweck will show you how you can change your mindset, with a little help from scientific findings. You might find yourself agreeing that instead of giving struggling students failing grades, giving a ‘Not Yet’ grade is better for long-term development.


6) The Key to Success? Grit

Angela Duckworth

While working as a math teacher, Angela Duckworth noticed that IQ was not a factor determining her best and worst students. In this talk, she discusses what “doing well in school” really requires besides an ability to learn quickly and easily. Through her research, Duckworth found one characteristic that successful people in all kinds of fields have in common: grit.


7) Warning: Being Positive is not for the Faint Hearted!

Lea Waters

There is a reason why we are called “humankind,” argues Lea Waters, director of the Positive Psychology Centre at the University of Melbourne. In this talk, she argues that news and media corporations have negatively affected our identities, and explains why we need to hear more good news.


8) Playful Inquiry — Try This Anywhere

Robyn Stratton-Berkessel

Robyn Stratton-Berkessel is a positivity strategist who specializes in change methodologies within human and organizational development.

Her focus is on facilitating strength-based change to develop high-impact, positive change for people of diverse functional, cultural, and geographical boundaries.

As a positivity strategist, Stratton-Berkessel explains how asking the question, “What’s the best thing that’s happened to you today?” could lead us to realize what gives our lives meaning. You might be astonished to find out what she learned by asking this question to many people.


9) The Paradox of Choice

Barry Schwartz

Why are so many of us disappointed and depressed? Psychologist Barry Schwartz argues that living in a world with too many choices is a major factor in our unhappiness. He suggests that the secret to happiness is living with lower expectations.


10) The Optimism Bias

Tali Sharot

Is optimism a trait we’re born with? Cognitive neurologist Tali Sharot shares research showing that when we measure our abilities, we are quite optimistic about ourselves. She points out three reasons why an optimism bias is good for us.


Bonus: 3 More Life-Changing Talks

With so many talks added every month, we could not limit ourselves to 10. If you have not watched any of the following three talks, consider it now.

You never know which talk will be the one that challenges one of your current perspectives, and for the better.


11) The Happy Planet Index

Nic Marks

Have you ever wondered why most science fiction films portray humanity as being threatened or predict the world is going to end? Happiness researcher Nic Marks argues that we are too focused on the worst-case scenario.

Marks explains why we need to stop letting fear lead us, and why we need to focus on aiming for progress instead. One method he suggests is using the Happy Planet Index to measure nations’ success, instead of the standard Gross Domestic Product.


12) The Psychology of Time

Philip Zimbardo

Are you oriented in the past, present, or future when making a decision? Psychologist Philip Zimbardo explains six time-perspective factors and how to optimally balance them. You will learn the best perspectives through which to see your past, present, and future to bring about success.


13) Measuring What Makes Life Worthwhile

Chip Conley

After addressing the psychological theory known as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Conley asks whether we are actually addressing the needs at the top of Maslow’s pyramid. In this talk, Conley shows us how to begin valuing the intangible over the tangible, which allows us better to attain a life worth living.

Did any of the talks spark a thought for you? Please share below in our comments section.

About the Author

Chompoo Chimes, B.A., Honours, is a coach in communication and Psychology for well-being. She occasionally works as a motivational speaker for educational institutions in her country. She has taken part in numerous motivational speaking conferences, laughter therapy workshops, and Changing Life with Positive Thinking project which became the best-selling book ‘Nang Yang Lang Jai’.


  1. Mike van Lammeren

    This looks like a great list, based on the fact that I have already watched about half of them. Now all I need to do is watch the other half.

    Thank you for this post!

    • Stephanie Diepering

      Hi Mikee, great to hear that you have already taken on the challenge. Please feel free to share with us any others that have been influential or inspiring. Happy watching!

  2. Fiki Firmansyah

    Chompoo, its awesome list. so many ted talks uploaded everyday, 70% useless i said.


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