Can We Learn to Be Happy?

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“In Conversation with Danny Bent: Happiness of Being You” NewGen Stage @ 2:45 pm

Ask a room of strangers to stand up and play Rock, Paper, Scissors with one another, and frantic, hesitant, please-don’t-make-me-do-this glances around the room are a given.

But that’s exactly the point, or so says Danny Bent.

During Advertising Week Europe, Bent, voted both one of the happiest and most inspirational people in the UK, hosted the session, “Happiness of Being You,” which explored how to overcome barriers and use them to create positive outcomes which can lead to great achievements. And asking a group of unacquainted AWEurope attendees to play a childish game together was just the tip of the iceberg.

“Barriers keep us from doing things. While yes, some are clever and keep us from falling off a cliff, some are also ridiculous,” Bent said. “Whether it’s talking to your boss, asking for a promotion, or talking to that guy you see every day on the bus, when you step past that first barrier, the rest take on this translucent look, like maybe the others aren’t so impossible either.”

Through a series of personal tales of adventure, circumstance and misfortune, Bent outlined five ways in which he believes everyone can achieve true happiness.

The first is to face your fears, something the audience had already accomplished in overcoming the fear of the unknown by meeting and interacting with total strangers in an uncomfortable setting.

The second, Bent said, is to see through the eye of a journalist, meaning that regardless of what happens, always be able to find a little story, a little sliver of positivity every situation. Bent recalled a time he was held at gun point in the Ukraine, but was somehow able to find an unlikely solution for getting out of a sticky situation.

“I remember 95 percent of me thought, well I’m going to die and I’m not sure how I’m going to get my body back to my family,” Bent said. “But then there was this tiny percent of me thinking, ‘this is going to make an awesome blog post.’ And for some reason, that made me smile.”

It was when he began to smile that the Ukrainian stranger slowly lowered his gun and the two went on to share a drink. A smile, Bent said, can be the most disarming thing in your armory.

Also an avid fitness guru, Bent discussed how he discovered that helping others was the third secret to happiness after organising a relay race in the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. The event went on to raise $600,000 and brought thousands of people together to show support. Helping people, Bent said, reflects happiness back on you.

Finally, living in the now and finding your tribe, both rooted in the importance of living life with authenticity, served as points four and five for achieving happiness. During a lone bike ride through the Himalayas where cell service, social media, and societal pressures were out of reach and out of mind, Bent said he was able to look internally and truly discover the core value of himself. From that, he was able to identify his passions and interests, and set out in pursuit of a tribe who felt, thought and acted similarly.

“Find your tribe. It’s all humans crave,” Bent said. “Think back on your childhood; what are the things that give you a real presence of mind? Either that tribe will already exist, or people will love you even more for creating it yourself.”

Once a dyslexic, hyperactive child who “frequently came home with red pen all over his school work”, Bent today is a mentor, award-winning author and a famed happiness guru. And yet, even through all of the success, he continues to abide by the same piece of advice his father gave him during his complicated childhood – just be yourself, and quit worrying about what everyone else is doing.

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