The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos
The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos
About The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos
You might think you know what it takes to lead a happier life… more money, a better job, or Instagram-worthy vacations. You’re dead wrong. Yale professor Dr. Laurie Santos has studied the science of happiness and found that many of us do the exact opposite of what will truly make our lives better. Based on the psychology course she teaches at Yale -- the most popular class in the university’s 300-year history -- Laurie will take you through the latest scientific research and share some surprising and inspiring stories that will change the way you think about happiness.
Have we created a culture where young people prioritize good grades, social media likes and constant hustling over the important wellbeing pillars of sleep, friendships and free time? Dr Laurie Santos joins the US Surgeon General on his podcast House Calls with Dr. Vivek Murthy to ask how we got here and what Gen Z can do to get out of this happiness crisis. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
For our ancient ancestors food was just another thing they needed to survive - like sleep, shelter or warmth. But in the modern world, food has become a source of anxiety. Do we eat too much, or too little? And are we feeding ourself the "wrong" things? Dr Laurie Santos has plenty of thoughts on our complicated relationship with eating and shared them on a recent episode of the PRX podcast Food, We Need to Talk. The show turned out great, so we thought we'd give you the chance to hear Laurie's chat with the hosts Juna Gjata and Dr. Eddie Phillips. Just like The Happiness Lab, Food, We Need to Talk relies on the latest science to tackle issues like body image, nutrition, exercise and addiction. You can listen to other episodes of Food, We Need to Talk wherever you get your podcasts. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
YOU can boost your happiness and transform the lives of people in one African village with a cash gift by going to givedirectly.org/happiness Giving money to others makes you happier than spending the same cash on yourself. That's been proved by science. But new research also shows that giving people in need cold hard cash is an amazing way to help them improve their lives. We explore why trusting people to help themselves is a cheaper and more effective way to solve poverty - and hear about Kibobo in Rwanda, where any money you donate will have a huge impact. Read more about Kibobo at givedirectly.org/happiness Former British politician Rory Stewart used to manage billions of dollars in aid money - and like other international donors thought poor people needed to be told what to do with charitable gifts. He was shocked how effective no-strings-attached cash turned out to be, and now promotes "giving directly". He was also surprised how good giving away even small amounts of money made him feel. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
We're distrustful, unequal and isolated. That's according to the figures showing a decline in happy community feeling since the 1960s. But can we do anything to regain the healthier communal lives enjoyed by many of our parents, grandparents or great-grandparents? We talk to a hopeful trio - an economist, a political scientist and a US senator - about how we can reduce social isolation, temper political division and prioritize the kind of mixing and meeting that makes neighbors into friends. Further reading: Robert Putnam Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community and The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again. Lord Richard Layard Can We Be Happier? Evidence and Ethics and Wellbeing: Science and Policy (co-authored by Jan-Emmanuel De Neve). See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Cheers was a sitcom hit in the 80s thanks to a theme tune promising that the fictional bar was a place "where everybody knows you name". Venues like pubs - away from our homes and workplaces - are vital for building our social networks and making our lives richer, easier and more fun. But these so-called "Third Places" are in danger. Neighborhood hangouts are closing and membership of clubs, associations and unions is falling. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam has been watching this worrying decline across a lifetime and warns that we need to act before it's too late. Robert is author of Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community and The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again. He also inspired the 2023 film Join or Die. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Work and friendship don't mix, thought Katherine Hu. A recent graduate, she found it harder to form bonds with colleagues than she'd expected. But then she concluded that not having friends at work helps you set boundaries and remain professional. After all, work is fundamentally a financial transaction, right? Well, we spend many of our waking hours at work - and the science suggests that if we decide not to use that time making meaningful friendships then our health and wellbeing could suffer. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Jia Jiang dreamed of being the next Bill Gates... but an entrepreneur needs the courage and confidence to ask for help. Jia was terrified of rejection - so couldn't fulfil his ambitions. That is, until he decided to beat his fear by seeking out rejection after rejection for a full 100 days. Many of us share Jia's nervousness about appearing vulnerable and needy, but the science suggests that we and the people around us would be happier if we asked them for help more often. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Jessica Pan hated social gatherings - she cried when her friends threw her a surprise birthday party, and was even too scared to give a speech at her own wedding. Jessica was a hardcore introvert - and it was making her sad. Extroverts find it easier to experience the joy that comes with social interactions - but that doesn't mean introverts are doomed to lives that lack such fun. Jessica read some research that suggested introverts can learn to enjoy being more outgoing - so decided to turn her social life around. You can read more of Jessica's story in her book: Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want to Come: One Introvert's Year of Saying Yes. She is posting updates from her year of extroverting at her Substack, "It'll Be Fun, They Said" (https://jesspan.substack.com/). See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
When did you last check in on a friend? Maybe the last time you did, their reply was terse or non-existent. Perhaps months or years have passed and you feel awkward about reestablishing contact? Or you might worry they're busy and you're just bothering them? Andy Salkind tells Dr Laurie Santos that you should forget your worries - and just TEXT THEM! After all, a simple message from a friend saved his life. WARNING: This episode deals with depression and suicidality. If you’re based in the US, you can call or text the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Similar services are available in pretty much every other country. So, if you need help, please, please reach out. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Connecting with people is a sure-fire way to be happier - and you can quickly build relationships with friends and strangers alike just by giving them a sincere compliment. In the first show of a season about how to be more sociable - we meet Troy Hawke, who makes a living complimenting everyone he passes on the street, and scientist Xuan Zhao - an expert on compliments who ditched her boyfriend for failing to say out loud all the nice things he thought about her. (For more on Xuan's public benefit startup Flourish Science - a company aiming to "help people discover joy, combat burnout, and cultivate deeper connections within supportive communities" - then visit www.flouriship.com.) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
It's not always easy being a podcast host. Dr Laurie is stressed, making mistakes and blaming herself. When things go wrong, we're often our own harshest critics. So how can we tame this type of unkind self-talk? Luckily for Dr Laurie, Super Grover comes to the rescue - with tips on how she can talk to herself in kind and compassionate ways that will help her manage her feelings, perform better, and feel happier. (Sesame Workshop is a non-profit organization with a mission to help kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. The work they do is funded by donations big and small - so if you want to become a part of their important work to improve children’s emotional well-being, then visit: sesameworkshop.org/support-us/) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
You don't need to be 8 feet tall like Big Bird to have big, big feelings. We all experience emotions of excitement, frustration and sadness that feel overwhelming. But when Big Bird's fun plans are ruined by rain clouds - Dr Laurie teaches him that there are ways to manage and be prepared for big disappointments and realise that the sun will return soon enough. (Sesame Workshop is a non-profit organization with a mission to help kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. The work they do is funded by donations big and small - so if you want to become a part of their important work to improve children’s emotional well-being, then visit: sesameworkshop.org/support-us/) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
It's never too early or too late to learn how to be happier. Whether you're aged 3, 23 or 103, we've teamed up with our furry friends from Sesame Street to bring you fun and fact-based tips to improve the wellbeing of you and the people around you. We begin with Abby Cadabby - a fairy who isn't having such a great day. Her usual spells can't rid her of her "grumpies", so Dr Laurie teaches her the magical effect that being grateful for who and what is around you can have on your mood. (Sesame Workshop is a non-profit organization with a mission to help kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. The work they do is funded by donations big and small - so if you want to become a part of their important work to improve children’s emotional well-being, then visit: sesameworkshop.org/support-us/) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Laurie's former student and friend, Dr. Maya Shankar, has a Pushkin podcast we love called A Slight Change of Plans. If you like The Happiness Lab, then this show is right up your alley. In this episode, Maya and author Michael Pollan discuss the fascinating science of psychedelics and how they have the power to transform our minds and improve our mental health. You’ll also get a glimpse into Michael’s personal experience with psychedelic trips and how they unlocked a singular kind of joy within him. Plus, you'll hear him try and convince scaredy-cat Maya to give them a try. You can hear more from A Slight Change of Plans wherever you get your podcasts. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Oprah Winfrey and Arthur Brooks want you to be happier - so the TV megastar and the Harvard academic teamed up to write a book setting out the steps you can take to be a little happier each day. Over the summer, Dr Laurie Santos read Build the Life You Want, the Art and Science of Getting Happier and loved it. So she recorded a conversation with Arthur touching on how his son found meaning in the marine corps; why you should remove the all mirrors from your home; and whether happiness experts can ever be happy themselves. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Am I a fun person? That was the question listener Natalie Robinson was asking herself. The answer was sobering. Natalie felt fun was being squeezed out of her busy life... but she found inspiration in the two episodes of The Happiness Lab dedicated to Dr Laurie Santos's own quest to regain the fun and playfulness of her youth. So here's another opportunity to listen to the concluding part of that story again. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Listener Natalie Robinson was worried she and her fellow running club members weren't having enough fun - life was just getting in the way. But what could she and her friends do? They found inspiration in the two episodes of The Happiness Lab dedicated to Dr Laurie Santos's own quest to regain the fun and playfulness of her youth. So here's another opportunity to listen to part one of that story again. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Natalie Robinson used to have fun - taking her kids to the zoo or the waterpark - but recently life started getting in the way of her being playful and goofy. Then she heard two episodes of The Happiness Lab in which Dr Laurie Santos wrestled with exactly the same dilemma. Inspired, Natalie got together with the friends in her running club to throw themselves into fun interventions - funterventions. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Recovering from a car crash that smashed her face, listener Rebecca Kaduru stumbled across an episode of The Happiness Lab in which we interviewed wounded Iraq veteran JR Martinez. His story brought Rebecca great solace in her own painful journey to recovery. Following our recent show talking to Rebecca, we wanted to give you a chance to hear the episode which so touched her - The Unhappy Millionaire - in which we examine the "psychological immune system" that help humans overcome even the toughest experiences. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Rebecca Kaduru was driving home... then woke up in an ambulance. She'd been in involved in an accident and her face was smashed. Living in Uganda, she struggled to receive appropriate care for her injuries - making her healing process dishearteningly slow and painful. It was then that Rebecca stumbled across an episode of The Happiness Lab about JR Martinez - an army veteran badly burned in Iraq. His story brought her comfort and the confidence to keep on her path to recovery. We hear about Rebecca's ordeal and introduce her to JR. NEXT TIME: To give you a chance to hear the episode that inspired Rebecca, we'll republish it on The Happiness Lab feed. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.