TED Radio Hour podcast: The Brain, happiness, choice, and regrets

If you have checked out my archives at all, you’ll see I’m a fan of podcasts. I’ve written a guide to podcasts, and I’ve recommended several podcasts for daily listening, technology lovers, and food lovers, too. I like to listen to podcasts almost as much as I like to listen to music, and I often listen while I’m running or taking public transportation.

I’m also a big fan of TED conferences (their slogan, ‘ideas worth spreading’ is given tribute in the title of this post) and the conference videos which they make available for the entire public. I included Sheryl Sandberg’s TED video in my post, Stop Sabotaging Your Own Success, but I’ve been watching, sharing, and processing those videos for a long time now.

So it’s no surprise that I would instantly fall in love with TED’s new venture, the TED Radio Hour, an audio podcast produced with NPR which focuses on a single theme. Each episode brings together both the TED presentations and new, follow-up interviews with the presenters and other experts on the chosen topic.

The best of both worlds.

I really enjoy the TED videos, and a great way to discover other great TED videos is by clicking on one of the tags like happiness, creativity, or business, and watching all the videos associated with that theme.

But the TED Radio Hour takes it one step further and curates that content into a single theme per hour, with about 3 segments, and includes a dialogue with the speakers (and other experts) that is lacking in the original TED presentations.

So far they’ve only done two episodes, but they’ve both been great, and I can’t wait to see what else they come up with.

I thought I’d pull out two points from the first two episodes that I think will resonate with all of you.

Episode 1, Our Buggy Brain, delves into how our brain perceives value, makes us happy, sad, and even justify cheating. Especially worth listening to is segment 3 on Episode 1, when Dan Gilbert about our “psychological immune system,” which talks about synthetic happiness vs. natural happiness, and how we have the capacity to generate synthetic happiness even when we don’t get what we originally wanted.

“We have a belief that synthetic happiness is not as real as natural happiness…I want to suggest to you that synthetic happiness is every bit as real and enduring as the kind of happiness you stumble upon when you get exactly what you were aiming for.”  – Dan Gilbert

He delves in further about how constantly questioning your decisions when there’s still opportunity to change them can also lead to more dissatisfaction, rather than making a decision and moving forward as if it were unchangeable. Your mind reacts to and will rationalize the outcome towards acceptance / optimism, rather than agonizing and doubting yourself before the decision has been made or while it can still be changed.

Sound familiar? Do you agonize over making a decision, or doing or not doing something, rather than making the decision and figuring out the next step? As a procrastinator, I can say that I use deadlines to help push me towards these decisions which then I live with, but I also hate to have ambiguity – I will force myself to a position, even one that could later be wrong, so I don’t continue to second-guess myself. Gather enough information / put in enough effort to do something decently, then make that step. Send in your application. Turn down the job offer. Ask for something you’re afraid to ask for.

Episode 2, The Pursuit of Happiness, delves further into happiness and the impact of choices and regrets on our happiness. The segment on regrets is especially interesting, and comes back to episode 1 on how we deal with not getting what we want. Kathryn Schulz talks about why we should embrace regret:

“…if there’s something to alleviate the sadness (of regret)…failures of self-knowledge are so important…these gaps in our self-knowledge are what enable us ultimately to learn, to change, to become new people…to have new self-knowledge available to us.” – Kathryn Schulz

The content of TED presentations is often ideas which apply across industries, careers, and interests. It’s often inspirational,  and it always makes you think.

Check out the TED Radio Hour’s website, or subscribe directly in iTunes.

Disclosure: I get a comment or two that sometimes these posts seem like paid content because I’m so praising. The comments & opinions are my own. If it’s paid, I’ll definitely let you know, as I state on my contact page re: disclosure. For the record, this post is not sponsored. :)

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8 replies »

  1. I Love Podcasts, although most of mine tend to come via the BBC. My favourite is probably “The Infinite Monkey Cage” which is a scientific comedy panel show (It is actually funnier than it sounds!)

  2. I am in Sales and I love Podcast’s via Itunes. I was a bit of a junkie for a while downloading everything I could on sales or my industry and now I have cooled off. The best thing about a podcast once you grab the information you need you can decide to keep em coming or get something else it works great if you have A.D.D. As far as TED goes, I love the content I have learned a bunch in 2yrs. I forgot I was in college when I was there so I just continue educating myself with the great content on the web. By the way watch Dan Pink it is great http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/dan_pink_on_motivation.html Thanks for the Great Post.

  3. Thanks for sharing about this podcast, Sara! Downloading the Pursuit of Happiness episode this very moment to iTunes. Plan on enjoying during the train ride from Salerno to Rome this weekend. Podcasts are perfect while traveling, and this one sounds like it will be fabulous. Looking forward to meeting you in person at the Expat Book & App Fair in Rome on Saturday!

      • I used to listen to music and podcasts back in grad school when I was exercising in the gym. Now that I do most of my exercising out walking on the crazy Amalfi Coast roads, I don’t listen to music anymore. It’s heart attack worthy enough when a bus unexpectedly honk its horn coming around the corner! :-) But watering the garden has become a great podcast or audio book listening time during the summer. See you Saturday!

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