Stories you can use to start conversation or to add interest to speeches or presentations

Resources for Speakers - Anecdotes About Happiness

Everyone's Different

Genghis Khan reckoned that having vanquished your enemies, "the greatest happiness is to chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears, to clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters."

What makes you laugh?

Is it Slapstick?

Slapstick Comedy and Happiness

America's Funniest Home Videos - a little kid on a small quad bike riding in quite a big yard - heading for ditch around yard - father chasing after him yelling "Don't go in the ditch!" - - at the last minute the kid swerves away; the ground is muddy and dad just slides into the ditch - all you see is a huge splash

Dalai Lama and Happiness

Problems arising from conjugal life could even lead to suicide or murder, the Dalai Lama warned. Moreover, he added, the "consolation" in choosing a life of celibacy is that, although "something" is missing, one can have a life with "more independence, more freedom". Considered a Buddhist Master exempt from the religion's wheel of death and reincarnation, the Dalai Lama waxed eloquent on the Buddhist credo of non-attachment. "Too much attachment towards your children, towards your partner," was "one of the obstacles or hindrances of peace of mind," he said.

Smiley Faces and Happiness

When Freud came to believe he was going to die between the ages of 61 and 62, and subsequently began seeing the two numbers everywhere he looked, which only intensifying the urgency of his superstition, he came to observe the value of selective attention in focusing the unconscious. But what if we engineered this selective attention purposefully and aligned it with our emotional and mental well-being? That’s exactly what photographer, children’s author, and educator Ruth Kaiser did in 2008, when she began seeing smiley faces everywhere she turned. For the past four years, she has been collecting and sharing photographs “found” everyday smileys in the Spontaneous Smiley Project — an exercise in self-induced feel-goodness, inviting others to upload their own photos and donating $1 for each uploaded photo to Operation Smile, which provides free surgeries to children born with cleft lip and cleft palate.

Comedy at the Supermarket - Happiness

Supermarket toilet rolls - a huge precarious stack right on the end of the aisle - Candid Camera type filming what happens as people try to get round it. Just a little knick's enough to drop whole thing.

Billy Connolly Comedy Happiness

Billy Connolly a genius at painting word pictures - in his first book he describes how a guy he knew in Glasgow used to drive round in a van with broomstick equipped with a boxing glove on its end with word "BIFF!" painted on it - he'd drive up alongside cyclists and push the stick out at them and watch them ride off the road into a hedge or ditch

Billy Connolly Comic Happiness

He also described an invite he got to go on the Sydney Mardi Gras - on a float with The Monica Lewinsky's, all (guys) in blue sequined dresses with white sequined stain

Is It Whimsy?

Happiness Is Not Taking Yourself Too Seriously

guy in NY takes photos of mass nudes 150 at a time - also Calendar Girls

Talk About Fun and Games Happiness

At the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona an animal rights group protests day before by running the same route, naked: "all humour begins with ceasing to take yourself seriously"

April Fools Day hoaxes

Pulling Your Leg Jokes and Happiness

Radio program claiming they were testing a heat carrying radio wave (put your jug up close to radio)(many called to say got warmer)
National Radio birdcall got taken out by shotgun

The Simpsons - Bart blackboard ("I must not surprise the incontinent")


What side of dog has most hair? (outside)

Taking The Piss Humour and Happiness

Bob Jones essay contest $1000 on subject of "The World would be a Better Place if B. Comm students got a daily flogging" winner argued that it would keep God amused and stop him perpetrating other practical jokes like sending killer tornadoes through churches - BJ consoled losers by announcing that all judges drunk at time

Dave Barry Humour Happiness

Dave Barry humor - male brain devoted to solving deep philosophical questions like "What size TV set do I need?(answer: a bigger one)"

Dave Barry Humour

and he suggested there were 3 sexes: males, females and .... guys: you can tell them apart by their reaction to the sight of a magnificent pristine river gorge in the middle of nowhere: a woman would stop and admire the beauty of the scene; a man would stop and think about the dam he could build there; and a guy .. would think about how far he could piss off the dam

Happiness Is A Shed

An Auckland NZ guy who built a rocket powered engine in his shed ... to cool beer. On the basis that if you were sitting in a tin shed with a rocket engine roaring away and generating a lot of heat, what you really need is... A cool beer

Happiness Is A Parade

Dave Barry described lawnmower parade where drunk guys push lawnmowers while tossing brooms in the air - rigorous selection policy ("anyone who shows up") and turns into a very moral performance, because mothers can sit on side of road warning their kids on the perils of turning out like them

Chemical Happiness - Take A Pill To Make Yourself Happy

More and more people are taking antidepressants - not just to treat clinical depression, but to banish the kind of feelings that follow a failed relationship or a lost job. But medicating sadness away might mean that we're not driven to change our lives for the better, so maybe we should be glad to be gloomy..

Talk About Happiness

One of my favorite TED speakers is a reclusive physicist, David Deutsch. I just love how his mind works. He changed my view on what optimism is. We think of optimism as this sort of hopeful feeling. He said that’s not how to think of it. Optimism is the stance that problems are there to be solved, that problems are actually solvable and that if you want an operating manual for life, you carve two tablets: One of them says problems are inevitable, and the other says problems are solvable. It’s kind of a great way to stay calm and keep moving.

Colouring as meditation: unlock childhood memories of simpler times. Tension relief of simple, repetitive task that still gives sense achievement when complete.

Barbara Ehrenreich, a veteran radical commentator, is concerned with the conclusions that are often drawn from the preoccupation with happiness. In particular she challenges the notion that Americans and others should engage in positive thinking towards all areas of life and even death. The most moving and powerful chapter in her book, Smile or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World, is the first one in which she describes her experience of being diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer. She soon discovered that the 'appropriate' attitude to the condition was to be 'upbeat and even eagerly acquisitive'. Indeed, she describes a huge industry of pink-ribbon themed cancer products and other merchandise designed to demonstrate a positive stance on the condition. Yet she could not find any scientific evidence for the frequent assertion that positive thinking is essential to recovery. On the contrary, she argues that it adds a double burden to patients as they come under intense pressure to feel positive about their condition. Understandable feelings of anger and fear are frowned upon.

What Makes You Unhappy?

Talk About UnHappiness

Bob Jones - 1980's crusaded against people who wore grey shoes; now he's after people who wear sunglasses on top of head

Talk About UnHappiness

French civic official pissed at illegal parking; painted 7 cars black

UnHappiness Neighbours

Neighbours From Hell Poms have big problems with hedges - can be sued if don't tell prospective buyer about a neighbourhood dispute

Religious UnHappiness

Jews upset with Mormons retrospectively baptising ancestors (cf Billy Connolly graveyard)

How To Make People Really Unhappy

Time mag article about how you break down prisoner resistance - torture useless bc will say anything to stop pain - main tactic is to disorient (extreme heat/cold light/dark irregular feed) bc people need to control their environment - if you can't control that you lose your personal co-ordinates

Schoolgirl who had aclicker that she pressed every time she had a happy thought. Pretty soon her peers noticed that it raised their moods every time they heard the clicker go.

Use a telescope to look at opportunities - brings it into focus and helps you find your way there. Use a microscope to look at your problems - lets you look at tiny component parts, see what they are made of, which tells you how to deal with them.

What Makes You Happy?


3 types happiness
1) 'pleasant life' the happiness we get from good sex good food etc - movies make us think this is only way to be happy
2) 'good life' which comes from enjoying something we're good at - so identify your strengths and do those things
3) 'meaningful life' most lasting happiness comes from finding something you believe in and putting your strengths at it's service - achieving 'good life' and 'meaningful life' secret of lasting happiness

Billy Connolly and Happiness

Billy Connolly: when I replaced word 'happiness' with 'contentment' I realised I was happy all along (BC basic philos: the graveyard is full of people who would just love to swap places with you)

What do you do when you are unhappy? (how do you get out of it?)


Science of depression (what makes you unhappy) but not reverse - yet impt: happy people live longer and live healthier

Therapy To Cheer Yourself Up

One therapist suggested it's perception - 9 good things happen to you in a day; 1 bad, but bad things tend to overwhelm perception of good - suggest keep happiness diary, recording all the things to be grateful about


Therapists - book called The Mummy At The Dining Room Table - author collected stories from therapists: cow fucker (man who wanted doctor to cut off his nose bc everything smelt like cow shit - turned out he didn't like paying to take girls out on dates so he was fucking the fanily cows instead - in the end he solved problem by buying bucketloads of cheap perfume; daughter who started a sexual relationship with her long lost father after she tracked him down when she was in her 40's; Catholic guy who couldn't consummate marriage until church annulled his first (hilarious stories of pre-Viagra injections for impotence)


Br magazine for therapists called "There There"

Advice Columns

Advice cols Q: "Dear Sharon (I get penetrated weekly by aliens. What should I wear?" A: "Sounds like marriage doesn't it? (Charcoal I think)

Apologise To Make Yourself Happier

Apology website - people who want catharsis of getting stuff off chest even tho other party might never see it - many move quickly from apology to self-justification "I'm sorry you felt that way" "I'm sorry I ever met you"

UnHappiness and Prozac

Christchurch NZ doctors prescribe 2 and 1/2 times as much ant-depr as next highest region (Northland) - why is Prozac City such a depressing place to live?

UnHappiness and Reality

Suggestion that the depressed actually have a more clear-sighted view of world (the non-depressed invariably over-est their control of an event, whereas the depressed get it about right)


In 60's people took acid to make world weird; now world is so weird that take prozac to make normal

Talk About UnHappiness and Visualisation Therapy

Stress control management technique - goes thru standard visualizations picture ys by a mt stream hear the birds chirping gentle waterfall trickling crystal clear water then finally "you can easily make out the face of the person you are holding underwater"


Book Extracts on Happiness

William Flew Client 1 William Flew Client 2 William Flew Client 3 William Flew Client 4 William Flew Client 5