Being happy is more than just a state of mind. Being happy is more than just a state of mind. Being happy is more than just a state of mind. (Photo: Sapunkele / Shutterstock)

Nobel Prize winner reveals secret to living a happy life

Daniel Kahneman says that nurturing our relationships is the key to success.

As we close out the final days of 2018, it's a good time to take stock and ask: Are we happy? And, if not, what would make us happy? After all, the passage of time makes happiness a finite commodity. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”

So how can we ensure that we'll be happy in the new year? Well, for starters, you should take a look at our list of eight things that's guaranteed to make you happy in 2019. Then, when you're done with that, we suggest you heed the advice of Daniel Kahneman.

The 84-year-old Israeli professor and Nobel Prize winner has been called the world's most influential living psychologist. He's considered the father of "behavioral economics" – nearly every book in the "smart thinking" section of the bookstore is based on his work. (Admittedly, we may or may not have actually read Kahneman's magnum opus.) Best-selling authdor Michael Lewis ("The Blind Side," "Moneyball," "The Big Short") wrote a biography of Kahneman and his research partner, fellow Israeli psychologist Amos Tversky. "Their collaboration is all about the exploration of how the human mind actually works," Lewis explained.

Psychologist Daniel Kahneman speaks onstage during The New Yorker TechFest. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman speaks onstage during The New Yorker TechFest. (Photo: Craig Barritt / Getty Images)

In an end-of-the-year interview, Kahneman reflected back on his career's worth of research. And when asked about the secret to being happy, he revealed that it has to do with nurturing our relationships. "It's primarily spending time with people you love, and who love you back," he explained. "That's what makes people happy in the moment."

He continued: "What makes people satisfied with their lives is much more conventional. It's having the sense that your life is meaningful. If you sense is that your life is meaningless, then you are probably depressed and you're certainly very unhappy."

The Tel Aviv native made the remarks during his appearance on the TED Interview, a new podcast series which goes into deeper conversations with famous TED Talk speakers. Kahneman's original TED Talk has been viewed more than 5 million times:

Earlier this year, we chatted with a disciple of Kahneman. Tal Ben-Shahar is known as the professor of happiness and taught the most popular course in Harvard's history. He elucidated Kahneman's point by explaining that the most important determinant of our happiness is our relationship with others.

"Take, for example, Denmark," he told us. "You know that 93% of Danes are members of social clubs? I find it fascinating. It could be members of their church or of their sailing club or golf, it doesn't matter. But they are active members of social clubs. In other words, relationships, real relationships, is a priority."

He went on to explain that it could be any type of relationship. "It could be a romantic relationship, it could be friends, it could be close relationships at work. It actually doesn't matter, but you need those relationships. Now, it's very important that those relationships are real, meaning they're not virtual. Unfortunately, 1,000 friends on Facebook are no substitute for that one BFF. You need those face-to-face interactions that are so important."

You can listen to our entire conversation with Ben-Shahar here:

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Nobel Prize winner reveals secret to living a happy life
Daniel Kahneman says that nurturing our relationships is the key to success.