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  • We are in crisis, left behind,

  • always harder, seldom kind.

  • Then we feel what might be missed

  • is the power of an optimist.

  • The question we always ask, worldwide,

  • when we are talking about happiness,

  • is whether the glass is half full or half empty.

  • Well, I promise you

  • that we'll give the answer to that question today.

  • But then we have to go back

  • to our personal youth

  • You have become an ambassador of creativity,

  • you are an ambassador of courage, of innovation, of organisation.

  • We all are ambassadors of some strength.

  • Where did we learn that?

  • When I was a kid of 4-5 years old,

  • my father was a salesman. He took me to small grocery shops

  • in Limburg, a small province in Belgium.

  • They turned upside down an old vegetable box.

  • I would be standing on it and recite poems.

  • And then I got an ice cream.

  • I got lots of ice cream in my youth.

  • In fact, when I'm talking today, on this thing, what did they do?

  • They turned an old vegetable box upside down,

  • I'm standing on it, reciting a poem,

  • and I hopefully get an ice cream afterwards.

  • That's the way it works.

  • We all became the people we are

  • thanks to positive strength,

  • thanks to someone who told you

  • you are good at something.

  • We learn to support through positive engagement,

  • through encouraging each other.

  • We don't learn anything through cynicism

  • or through indifference.

  • When I was travelling the world,

  • in Nepal and in India I met the word 'namaste'.

  • 'Namaste' means 'hello'.

  • But when an American says 'hello', it doesn't mean anything.

  • Namaste means three things:

  • I bow for the god in you.

  • I've seen you.

  • There is something positive in you and I bow for that, deeply.

  • Teachers tell this to students.

  • Students to teachers, all over, everyday, 100 times.

  • I've seen you. There is a positive strength in you.

  • I bow deeply for that.

  • Wouldn't we live in another world

  • if people would say that and mean it?

  • Life is not a party.

  • I'm not driving the country in a car full of balloons.

  • We are all entitled to sadness.

  • If I open the door of your heart, there is a lot of sadness

  • and trouble and sorrow in it.

  • We all have that. It's not about that.

  • I hate the song 'Don't worry, be happy'.

  • I changed the motto to 'Do worry, be happy'.

  • There is something going wrong in the world,

  • but it doesn't mean we can't be happy.

  • Everyone is looking for happiness, all over,

  • it's a universal quest.

  • I asked 100 professors in 50 countries

  • to summarize in 1000 words what we know about happiness,

  • not what we believe, but what we know about happiness.

  • We found that we have been focusing

  • on the wrong things.

  • We have been studying psychology, sociology, economics.

  • That's what's it about: not only philosophy.

  • It's not about sunflowers and balloons, it's about science.

  • We have been studying the wrong things.

  • We know quite a lot about schizophrenia, paranoia,

  • but most of the people are not schizophrenics or paranoiacs.

  • The opposite of bad is 'not bad',

  • but that's not the same as good.

  • The opposite of unhappy is 'not unhappy',

  • but that's not the same as happy.

  • So if we could study what makes people happy

  • and broaden that knowledge,

  • we could become happier citizens.

  • We know that the relationship between optimism and happiness

  • is quite important.

  • The relationship between smoking and lung cancer

  • is the same as the relationship between optimism and happiness.

  • When you smoke, you get lung cancer.

  • When you are an optimist, you become happy.

  • And when you're happier, you're healthier

  • and successful, in sports, in science, in friendship.

  • Why don't you want to become an optimist?

  • We know from science that 50 percent of optimism is about genetics.

  • It's about what we got from our parents, our grandparents and so on.

  • 10 percent is due to the circumstances,

  • that is the house we have, the job we have.

  • 40 percent is left for what is between our ears.

  • That's the mindset, the way we look at things.

  • The 50 percent of genetics, we cannot change.

  • The 10 percent of circumstances, are what we focus on all day long.

  • And the 40 percent is what we have in our own hands.

  • Don't you think that happy people experience more happy things

  • than unhappy people?

  • We all experience more or less the same things in our lives

  • but the optimists give a double weight to the positive things,

  • and the pessimists give a double weight to the negative things.

  • That's the choice we have.

  • Optimism is a combination of belief and behaviour.

  • You start believing that things will turn out

  • and you behave like that.

  • One of the professors taught me the lesson

  • that there are red buttons and green buttons in society.

  • The red buttons are the pessimists.

  • The green buttons are the optimists.

  • You notice immediately when you talk to someone,

  • in 3 minutes. I immediately know whether you are a green or a red button.

  • Shall I teach you?

  • You can know it in 3 minutes.

  • The red buttons are always talking about themselves, the past and problems.

  • The green buttons are talking about we, us, the future and solutions.

  • It's not about me, it's about us.

  • It's not about the past, it's about the future.

  • It's not about problems, it's about solutions.

  • And when you succeed in connecting the green buttons

  • in an organisation, in a school, in a street, in your family,

  • the red buttons become irrelevant.

  • A woman came to me last week. She said,

  • "Nice story about green and red buttons,

  • but I'm married to a red button. What do I have to do now?" (Laughter)

  • So we know that optimism and pessimism

  • are spreading like a virus.

  • It's the optimism as well as the pessimism.

  • You know that.

  • When an optimist enters the room,

  • you become an optimist.

  • We see in research that in regions full of optimists, they influence each other

  • Workfloors influence each other.

  • I'm not talking about stupid things.

  • Just a few weeks ago,

  • the United Nations, for the first time in history,

  • published a World Report on Happiness.

  • It's full of statistics that really prove

  • that new priorities are needed.

  • The report talks not only of gross national product,

  • but of gross national happiness.

  • This system works in Bhutan,

  • a country in the Himalayas.

  • The prime minister of Bhutan was invited to New York

  • to come and talk there.

  • We have been making fun of Bhutan,

  • but now it has become an example of good practice.

  • They are not only measuring work,

  • they are measuring harmony:

  • work and the hours of sleep.

  • They are measuring physical health and mental health.

  • In education, they are measuring knowledge and values.

  • It's about harmony and we can learn quite a lot of that.

  • When Herman Van Rompuy wrote a letter

  • to 200 leaders of the world

  • to make "happiness, hope and positive thinking, quality of life

  • in our policies and our social behaviour a priority",

  • I was glad. I was holding his hand while he was writing that letter.

  • He says, "Cynics will immediately dismiss these proposals as naive,

  • but positive thinking is no longer something for drifters and dreamers."

  • It's a science. We can measure it

  • and we can do positive interventions.

  • If we measure on a scale of 1 to 10,

  • Zimbabwe has 2.8 on happiness,

  • China 6.4, Denmark 8.3.

  • There is an influence of social policy on the numbers of people who are happy

  • and we can change that.

  • We can set these new priorities.

  • Do you know --

  • When you see the publicity of lotteries world wide,

  • it's always about sunshine and palm trees.

  • I don't know whether you know how many palm trees there are in Denmark,

  • but not that many.

  • It's not about sunshine.

  • When we compare the happiest countries

  • to the countries that are not happy at all,

  • we don't see a difference in sunshine or palm trees.

  • It is about

  • trust.

  • When people trust each other, and trust the institutions,

  • they are happier.

  • And when there is more equality in a country,

  • then people are happier, the rich and the poor,

  • the men and the women.

  • Everybody can be happier.

  • Let's go for a happier world for all

  • and not only for less misery, but for a better world.

  • The best-selling sign in the west

  • no longer is 'Welcome' but 'Beware of the dog'.

  • We have become afraid of everything.

  • There is fear of everything.

  • We are afraid of the muslims, of the Chinese,

  • of everything.

  • Locked up in our houses, we are killing ourselves.

  • We have bought our dogs and our alarm systems.

  • But the great problem in our society is not aggression or violence.

  • It's about solitude.

  • There is fear in our houses.

  • We could change that.

  • The media play an important role.

  • There was a time when magazines were called

  • 'Der Spiegel', the mirror.

  • They are not the mirror of society any more.

  • They have become the keyholes of society,

  • focusing on conflict, on measuring conflict,

  • again and again, making people afraid.

  • A lot of research states that people who see the news

  • and read the papers, become more and more afraid.

  • The reality is the same, but they become afraid

  • reading all these stories.

  • They are focusing on a message of distrust and fear.

  • Do you know the opposite of fear?

  • The opposite of fear is hope.

  • And a crisis is an opportunity.

  • The pessimists will never solve the crisis.

  • Statues are never built for pessimists.

  • There are more optimists in the world.

  • There are more.

  • But the pessimists make more noise.

  • At meetings and gatherings,

  • the pessimists always make more noise.

  • The pessimists are still living in the holes and the caves.

  • The optimistis came out of the caves and holes

  • watching the fire, and the future.

  • Publicity knows that very well:

  • watches all over, always at 10 past 10.

  • Would you buy this watch if it would be 20 past 7?

  • You wouldn't buy it. It's the smile that sells. (Laughter)

  • If they tell me that happiness doesn't sell,

  • I don't believe that.

  • Do you know what's the best-selling meal in the world?

  • Happy meals!

  • Don't tell me happiness doesn't sell! (Laughter)

  • But it is not about pleasure. We found out in positive psychology.

  • We thought that happiness was about pleasure.

  • It's not about pleasure,

  • about sex, drugs and rock 'n roll.

  • I hope you have lots of it, but you won't be happy for that.

  • It is about

  • satisfaction.

  • We are moving from a money economy to a satisfaction economy.

  • There are five elements that build up our satisfaction.

  • World wide, these 5 elements build up our satisfaction.

  • First, the quality of our relationships.

  • The most important thing:

  • our family, our friends, our colleagues, our neighbours.