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How the TAA Conference Creates Happiness in Your Professional Life

By Angelica Ribeiro, PhD

In her book The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky points out that about 40 percent of our happiness comes from intentional activities. She writes, “Our intentional, effortful activities have a powerful effect on how happy we are, over and above the effects of our set points and the circumstances in which we find ourselves” (Lyubomirsky, 2008, p. 64). That means we can create happiness by being mindful of our actions. Regarding our professional lives, one action we can take is to attend conferences related to our fields, such as the TAA conference.

After attending the TAA conference in Nashville, I realized that it goes beyond simply providing a platform for people to share knowledge. It encourages attendees to engage in what Lyubomirsky (2008) calls “happiness activities.”

The TAA conference included the following three activities that can lead to happiness:

  • Investing in social connections: Social connections are essential for people to live a happy life and have a healthier and longer life. Lyubomirsky (2008) points out that social connections are important to well-being because they serve vital needs such as social support. In The How of Happiness, she highlights three key types of social support: tangible (i.e., gives direct, concrete assistance to other people), emotional (i.e., demonstrates care and compassion for another person), and informational (i.e., provides knowledge, including advice and feedback). The TAA conference provided opportunities for attendees to engage in these three types of social support during sessions, breaks, and networking receptions. For example, organizers offered tangible support to attendees by helping them with the logistics of the conference; attendees gave emotional support to one another by generating solutions and sharing different perspectives on problems; and attendees provided informational support by sharing information and suggestions with others.
  • Practicing acts of kindness: Lyubomirsky (2008) explains why kindness makes us happy. She lists several reasons, including that being kind can (a) lead to more positive perceptions of others, (b) foster a sense of cooperation in the community, (c) positively impact self-perception, (d) highlight abilities and expertise, and (e) satisfy the need for connecting with others. An example of how the TAA conference included acts of kindness was creating opportunities for mentors to share their time and expertise with mentees. This allowed the mentees to learn from the mentors and to have both of them experience the benefits of kindness. As Lyubomirsky (2008) reminds us, “Practicing acts of kindness is not only good for the recipient but also good for the doer” (p. 126).
  • Committing to your goals: Lyubomirsky (2008) makes clear that committed goal pursuit is a happiness-inducing activity because, among other benefits, it “provides us a sense of purpose and a feeling of control over our lives” (p. 206). Pursuing goals also bolsters our self-esteem, adds structure and meaning to our everyday lives, and provides opportunities for mastering new skills and for social interactions (Lyubomirsky, 2008). By creating opportunities for attendees to present, participate, and engage in meaningful conversations, the TAA conference inspired and motivated attendees to pursue new goals and commit to their goals. As a result, the conference encouraged attendees to experience the benefits of committed goal pursuit.

Next time you have the chance to attend the TAA conference, remember that it is an excellent opportunity for you not only to learn and share knowledge but also to create happiness as you experience the benefits of investing in social connections, practicing acts of kindness, and committing to your goals.

Reference: Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want. Penguin Books.

Angelica Ribeiro

Happiness at Work bookAngelica Ribeiro is a writer, researcher, and professor. She is the author of How to Create Happiness at Work, Running into Happiness, and My Happiness Habit Journal. She holds a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction with a focus on English as a second language from Texas A&M University. She has taught English learners and preservice teachers in the United States and Brazil for over 25 years. Angelica has several publications on second language acquisition. She works as a professor in higher education and helps others benefit from her happiness research. When she was a Ph.D. student, Angelica struggled with balancing her academic commitments and personal life, which motivated her to embark on a journey to increase happiness. Her journey was so successful that now she encourages others to create happiness in their busy lives by sharing science-based strategies. Visit

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