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    Tal Ben-Shahar: Master of Happiness.

    Tal Ben-Shahar, a professor, happiness student, and founder of the Happiness Studies Academy, reminds us that happiness is not a byproduct of success but the cause of it. 

    Tal Ben-Shahar’s journey took him from squash courts and Harvard classrooms to the realms of psychology and philosophy. His transcendent question: why wasn’t there a field of study dedicated to happiness? It became the seed of the Happiness Studies Academy, an institution that has reached every corner of the globe. Tal reminds us that success is not the path to happiness, but happiness is the driving force behind success. 

    In this exclusive interview with, this Whitney Houston enthusiast invites us to reconsider our relationship with stress. It’s not the enemy but a traveling companion that can strengthen us if we learn to recover. The lessons he offers are a roadmap for rocking happiness, learning to embrace your emotions, finding meaning and pleasure in each day, and prioritizing relationships that truly matter. Happiness, according to Tal, is the key to living a fulfilled life in the contemporary world. 

    Behind every interview at Rocking Talent, there’s a unique story. Tal, we want to get to know you from your most personal perspective. 

    “I became interested in happiness because of my own unhappiness. I spent close to 30 years of my life being unhappily successful. I was a national squash champion in Israel, graduated from Harvard, and had more money than I needed. Beyond titles and degrees, I desperately wanted to be happy, or at least happier than I had been. I used to look at my life from the outside, and it seemed great, but from the inside, it looked very different. So, I decided to switch from computer science and science to study psychology and philosophy in the hope of finding answers to two questions I had: Why wasn’t I happy? And how can I be happier?” 

    Can you tell us about your journey in the field of happiness studies and what inspired you to create the Happiness Studies Academy? 

    “In 2015, while traveling on a plane over the Atlantic Ocean between London and New York, I was too tired to read or watch a movie, but not too tired to fall asleep in my seat when a question arose. How is it possible that literature, psychology, philosophy, business, history, and dozens of other subjects have their own fields of study dedicated to them, and yet happiness does not? This question is particularly puzzling, considering the almost universal agreement on the centrality of happiness in our lives. And yet, there was no institution of higher education in the world offering a degree in happiness studies. There were some programs in positive psychology and some dedicated to the philosophy of happiness, and then there were programs that took an extremely specific and narrow approach to cultivating well-being. There was no academic discipline that, like economics, focused on micro-happiness (individuals and relationships) and macro-happiness (organizations and nations). It was on that flight that I decided to help create a field of happiness studies. That was when I founded the Happiness Studies Academy, which today has thousands of students from nearly 100 countries. Additionally, offers a certificate in happiness studies and, along with Centenary University, a master’s degree in this field.” 

    Your work highlights the connection between happiness, health, and success. Can you tell us about their relationship and importance in the modern world? 

    “A common mistake that most people make is thinking that success will lead to happiness. Their mental model is: Success (cause) → Happiness (effect). It turns out that most people are wrong. We know, thanks to a wealth of research (as well as subjective experiences), that success, at best, triggers a temporary increase in happiness levels, but this increase is fleeting, short-lived. However, success does not lead to well-being, and in fact, the opposite occurs: Success (effect) ← Happiness (cause). This finding is especially important as it reverses the cause-and-effect relationship and corrects the mistake made by so many people. Happiness contributes to success because the experience of pleasant emotions leads to higher levels of creativity, greater motivation, better relationships, and a stronger immune system. Happiness significantly and positively contributes to our personal and professional lives.” 

    The world’s major cities are known for their fast-paced and stressful environments. How can people in such demanding urban settings incorporate happiness practices into their daily lives? 

    “Today, an increasing number of people complain about rising stress levels as a barrier to happiness. They fail to realize that stress is not the problem and can be beneficial for them. Think of the following analogy. When we exercise in the gym and stress our muscles, we become stronger if we also give them time to recover between sets and workouts. Similarly, stress outside the gym can strengthen us psychologically if we have time to recover. The problem in the modern world is not stress but the lack of recovery. When we introduce regular recovery into our lives, through play, meditation, exercise, time with friends, etc., instead of exhaustion, we feel increasingly stronger.” 

    TOP 7: Lessons to Rock Happiness 

    • Allow yourself to be human. When we accept emotions such as fear, envy, sadness, or anxiety as natural, we are more likely to overcome them. Rejecting our emotions, whether pleasurable or painful, leads to frustration and unhappiness. 
    • Happiness is found at the intersection of pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in meaningful and pleasurable activities. 
    • Remember that happiness largely depends on our mental state, not our status or bank account balance. Except for extreme circumstances, our level of well-being is determined by what we choose to focus on and by our interpretation of external events. 
    • Simplify! We are too busy trying to fit more activities into less time. Quantity influences quality, and we compromise our happiness by trying to do too much. Knowing when to say “no” to others often means saying “yes” to ourselves. 
    • Remember the mind-body connection. What we do, or don’t do, with our bodies influences our minds. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habits lead to both physical and mental health. 
    • Express gratitude whenever possible. We often take our lives for granted. Learn to appreciate and enjoy the wonderful things in life, from people to food, from nature to a smile. 
    • Prioritize relationships. The number one predictor of happiness is the time we spend with people we love and who care about 

    Who is Tal?  

    Profession: Professor and student in the field of happiness. 

    Position: Co-founder  

    Age: 52 years old. 

    Children: 3 children. 

    Pets: 2 dogs and a cat. 

    Let’s Rock: 

    Favorite food: My mom’s lasagna. 

    Favorite sport: Squash, used to be a professional, and basketball. 

    Hobbies: Yoga and music. 

    Favorite clothing item: T-shirt. 

    One word to describe yourself: Human. 

    Singer or music band: Whitney Houston. 

    Who do you admire? My wife. 

    What does happiness mean to you? Happiness is about an individual’s overall well-being. 



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