Have you ever heard about a happiness equation? According to researchers at University College London it looks like that:
Scary enough, isn’t it? But even if you have never seen this equation for many people for some reason it is too frightening or too difficult or too ________ (choose your own adjective) to pursue their happiness. Nevertheless happiness seems to continually come up as a topic for conversations as there is nothing we crave more. TED and TEDx are not the exception. There are a great number of TED/TEDx speakers who turn to discussions of happiness. But before getting to speak about happiness it would be good to define the term. The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines happiness as 1) a state of well-being and contentment 2) a pleasurable or satisfying experience. But if we go back in history to the etymology of the word it turns out that in many ancient languages like Greek or Irish the words for “happy” used to mean “lucky”. One exception is Welsh where the word meant “wise”. So is it luck and fate that predefines whether we are going to be happy, or were the Welsh right and it is on us and our own wisdom to built a happier life? Some scientists say that only 50% of our happiness is predefined, if that is true than it would be quite a pity not to use the other 50% to their full potential. Different TED/TEDx speakers give various pieces of advice on how to lead a happier life. Thus for example Matt Killingsworth, a happiness researcher, talks about moment-to-moment experience, reflecting on mind-wandering and staying in the moment as a key point in happiness. Another TED speaker, David Steindl-Rast links happiness to gratefulness. In 2013 TEDx Yerevan also hosted a happiness seeker.
Adam Pervez started his career extremely successfully: oil industry company, IE business school, a job in Denmark in the Siemens Wind Power – a corporate path many would dream of. But having plunged into the corporate world he learnt how distant the word success (especially in its common meaning) is from happiness. So he decided there is another plunge he needs to pursue – a happiness plunge. But to do that he needed first to identify what happiness meant to him. For Adam happiness involved travelling, meanwhile helping others and writing about their amazing stories. This was his version of happiness, that may be different from yours or people he met on his way. And he met a lot as this is how his Happy Nomad Tour began – a tour of over 40 countries to learn about happiness from people from all over the world. Ever since his journey was full of various stories and adventures: volunteering in Angeles de Medellin program that helps poor and displaced children and families in Colombia, meditating with snakes at a Thai Buddhist Temple, christmasing in Burundi, meeting a 60-year old happy nomad Bedouin in Petra and many many more stories that he describes in his blog.
In September 2014 his Happy Nomad Tour was over (it lasted 2.5 years). Some may say it was failure as it was partly over cause of lack of money, money he could have earned sitting in a comfortable office somewhere in Denmark for instance. But as Adam himself calls it, it was his best failure ever, a failure upward. After his Nomad Tour he returned as a different person – a happy person, who had experienced his dreams and lived through his passions. Now another chapter of his life begins. A chapter where he still travels and helps other people but from a bit different angle. Here is what Adam says two years after his talk in Yerevan about TEDxYerevan and his plans for the future:
How the pursuit of happiness changed your life within the past two years after the TEDxYerevan Talk?
In every sense of the word, it has taken me places I never expected. Once I finished traveling, I reflected greatly on how best to pursue my passions. I ended up applying to PhD programs where I can continue researching happiness, only this time in the context of happiness at work. Hopefully my research will lead to more smiles and better health at workplaces across the globe!
Tell us some words about your experience in TEDxYerevan, how it was different from other TEDx events?
Despite being the only person there with no connection to Armenia, it was a wonderful experience to get to know more about Armenia and its wonderful people, while also sharing with Armenia my story and the stories I’ve collected across the globe. I liked how different each talk was, and how supportive the audience was during and after the event. I perceived Armenians to be a strong community beforehand, and I got to see that in action at TEDxYerevan.
What are your plans for the upcoming years in terms of happiness entrepreneurship?
I do sincerely hope to continue traveling, but now to understand what happiness at work means to people across the world, and what we can learn from innovative workplaces across the world. I’m still pursuing my own passions, though now a bit differently from when I was traveling.
And we in our turn sincerely wish Adam luck and wisdom to continue to pursue his passions and happiness!