Show cover of The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos

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.


Happiness Through Generosity : Liz Dunn on The TED Interview
Liz Dunn is a regular guest on The Happiness Lab, but in this extended interview with TED's Chris Anderson she take us on a deep dive into her research. It shows that by increasing our generosity and by giving to others we can significantly boost our own happiness.  Listen to more episodes of The TED Interview wherever you get your podcasts.  See for privacy information.
53:14 5/20/24
Unlock Your Hidden Potential with Adam Grant and Maya Shankar
A chance to hear a recent episode of A Slight Change of Plans in which Maya Shankar asks psychologist Adam Grant about his new book "Hidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things". They talk about how to filter out unhelpful feedback, the benefits of imperfectionism, and why we need to give soft skills more respect.  Listen to more episodes of A Slight Change of Plans  wherever you get your podcasts. See for privacy information.
42:28 5/13/24
Five Tips to be Happier at Work (Dr Laurie at SXSW)
Work is a worry. Are we paid enough? Should we be getting promoted quicker? Is artificial intelligence about to replace us all?  Speaking at SXSW 2024, Dr Laurie Santos argues that because of all our career woes we often neglect our happiness. She walks through her top five tips for improving our workplace wellbeing - which will not only make us feel better, but might even cause our salaries to rise!   Suggested reading from this episode: Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of RAIN by Tara Brach Slow Productivity: The Lost Art of Accomplishment Without Burnout by Cal Newport Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff The Truth About Burnout: How Organizations Cause Personal Stress and What to Do About It by Christina Maslach The Business of Friendship by Shasta NelsonSee for privacy information.
56:12 5/6/24
Tame Those Devices: 10 Tips to Achieve Digital Balance
Technology is amazing! We can make video calls, find facts in an instant and watch movies on our phones. We take all this for granted, but have we let our screens and devices take over too much of our lives?  To mark Digital Wellness Day on May 3, we hear from Amy Blankson (author and "chief evangelist" at the Digital Wellness Institute) about her ten tips to tame our devices at home and in the workplace. See for privacy information.
39:24 4/29/24
How to Grow After Adversity
Karen Guggenheim was devastated by the death of her husband, Ricardo. She was alive, but dead to the world around her. Slowly she put her life back together and found growing happiness. To share her insights with others in need, Karen started the World Happiness Summit.  Karen's campaign to spread global happiness is just one example of "post traumatic growth". Clinical psychologist Dr Edith Shiro (author of The Unexpected Gift of Trauma) has worked with many people who have recovered from trauma and grown as a result. She explains how we can give ourselves the best possible chance to experience post traumatic growth.See for privacy information.
40:42 4/22/24
Simple Ways to Feel Great Every Day - with Dr Rangan Chatterjee
Medical doctors are waking up to the importance of happiness, partly prompted by the work of people like Rangan Chatterjee. Dr Chatterjee is Professor of Health Education and Communication, the host of the hit podcast 'Feel Better, Live More' and author of five best-selling books including Happy Mind, Happy Life: 10 Simple Ways to Feel Great Every Day. Rangan sat down with Dr Laurie Santos at the 2024 World Happiness Summit to discuss his life and work - and explain why physicians like him are joining the fight to make happiness a health priority.See for privacy information.
52:00 4/15/24
How to Make America's Young People Happier Again
The US is sliding down the world happiness rankings - but it's the unhappiness of young people that's really dragging down the average. What has happened to make Gen Z so sad? And what can be done to turn the situation around? Jan-Emmanuel De Neve (director of Oxford University’s Wellbeing Research Centre) has been analyzing the figures for the World Happiness Report. He offers advice to young people and parents, and looks at what happy young Lithuanians can teach the rest of the world.See for privacy information.
37:25 4/8/24
Can Happiness Ward Off Dementia?
Age is the main risk factor for cognitive decline. So with more people around the world living longer, cases of dementia are set to rise. There's currently no cure - but research suggests that happiness can reduce the impact of this awful illness.  Psychologist Emily Willroth helped write a chapter on this topic for the 2024 World Happiness Report - and explains how making friends, helping others and engaging in fun physical activities can slow cognitive decline, even when the disease has taken hold.  See for privacy information.
35:00 4/1/24
What Can We Learn From the Happiest Country on Earth?
There are certain nations which always top the rankings in the World Happiness Report. What are they doing right, that other countries are getting wrong? And what can you do to make your home country happier? John Helliwell of the World Happiness Report explains how things like wealth, freedom and friendship combine to make a happy society - and how tiny changes in your home, neighborhood or workplace can have a huge national impact. See for privacy information.
37:57 3/25/24
Pushkin Hosts Celebrate World Happiness Day
The Happiness Lab’s Dr. Laurie Santos brings together other Pushkin hosts to mark the International Day of Happiness. Revisionist History’s Malcolm Gladwell talks about the benefits of the misery of running in a Canadian winter. Dr. Maya Shankar from A Slight Change of Plans talks about quieting her mental chatter. And Cautionary Tales host Tim Harford surprises everyone with the happiness lessons to be learned from a colonoscopy. Hear more of The Happiness Lab HERE.See for privacy information.
48:05 3/20/24
The Happiness of Subtraction
We often think adding more things to our lives will make us happier - more trips, more activities, more possessions. Sadly our minds find it hard to comprehend that having less and doing less is usually a better option.  Dr Laurie Santos teams up with economist Tim Harford (host of Cautionary Tales) to examine why we find subtraction so very hard, and share tips for finding happiness by cutting down on our commitments. See for privacy information.
35:55 3/11/24
Why the "Good Enough" Relationship Beats the "Perfect Partner"
Fairy tales and Hollywood rom coms have taught us to expect perfection from a soul mate, but sex and relationships therapist Todd Baratz says we need to be more comfortable with the idea that a "good enough" partner will do.  Todd once bought into this perfection myth - wanting a boyfriend to meet all his needs without even being told. These expectations helped end the relationship. Now Todd (author of How to Love Someone Without Losing Your Mind) says we need to accept that our loved ones will be just as flawed and human as we are. See for privacy information.
39:55 3/4/24
A Supercommunicator's Guide to Love and Dating
Some people ask searching questions and then really listen to the replies. These so-called supercommunicators make great romantic partners, so can anyone learn to be more like them?   Journalist Charles Duhigg (author of Supercommunicators: How to Unlock the Secret Language of Connection) was unhappy with how he and his wife were talking, so he studied his mistakes and adopted the habits of supercommunicators. He explains to Dr Laurie Santos how we can all make small changes that will improve our dating and romantic lives. See for privacy information.
51:02 2/26/24
Can Couples Learn to Argue Better?
No matter how much you love your partner, your relationship will never be totally free from disagreement. And nor should it be, say researchers Dr John Gottman and Dr Julie Schwartz Gottman. We actually just need to learn to argue better. The Gottmans join Dr Laurie Santos to talk us through how to raise complaints with our partners and how to react when they complain about us.  Further reading: Fight Right: How Successful Couples Turn Conflict into Connection by Dr John Gottman and Dr Julie Schwartz Gottman. See for privacy information.
34:41 2/19/24
Love Lessons from the "Masters of Relationships"
Some people are just good at building and maintaining healthy partnerships. In their 'Love Lab", the married researchers Dr John Gottman and Dr Julie Schwartz Gottman have seen how certain couples interact in ways that mean they'll happily stick together for decades.  The Gottmans join Dr Laurie Santos to explain what we can learn from these "Masters of Relationships" - so that the stresses and strains of life don't destroy our intimate partnerships.  Further reading: Fight Right: How Successful Couples Turn Conflict into Connection by Dr John Gottman and Dr Julie Schwartz Gottman. See for privacy information.
45:29 2/12/24
The Sweet Smell of Happiness
Does happiness have a scent? Dr Laurie has been trying to remove the bad smells in her life and bring in more fragrances that enhance her wellbeing. But she's noticed that some of the smells that bring her joy can be a little weird - like musty books and rotting seaweed.  So what's going on in our noses and brains? Laurie turned to neuroscientist Dr Rachel Herz (author of The Scent of Desire) to explain why we respond to certain smells and how we can use scent to reduce stress, boost our happiness, make us perform better and even to find the perfect mate.  See for privacy information.
51:54 2/5/24
How Getting Active Can Make You Happier
Busy scientist Adam Aron had too much on his plate to think deeply about climate change - until he read a scary report about what lay in store for the planet if no one acted to cut greenhouse gases.  So Adam did more and more to fight climate change, until activism became his full time occupation. And the move made him happier and more content. We can't all give up our normal lives to stop global heating - but even making small contributions to the cause can make us feel more connected, more fulfilled and happier. See for privacy information.
20:04 1/15/24
Being Green Doesn't Mean Sacrificing Fun... or Cutting Out Meat
We often think of fighting climate change as a drain on our happiness - it'll mean sacrificing the things we love, like air travel or eating hamburgers. But researchers Jiaying Zhao and Liz Dunn have pioneered the idea of "Happy Climate" that shows us ways in which doing good for the planet can make us feel great.    Changing how we fly, drive, shop and eat in very small ways can make us enjoy our travel, our friends, our wardrobes and, yes, even our steaks, more than ever before.  See for privacy information.
27:21 1/8/24
Why our Brains Don't Fear Climate Change Enough
Humans are great at reacting to mortal danger... but only sometimes. Unfortunately, some risks to our safety and wellbeing don't set off alarm bells in our brains. Climate change falls into that category. Why is that? Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert explains how some dangers trigger us, and some don't. In discussion with Dr Laurie Santos, he also outlines ways in which we can be made to care more about threats to the planet and maybe react to them in more positive, happiness-inducing ways.   See for privacy information.
37:05 1/2/24
When Stalin Killed the Weekend - A Happiness Lab/Cautionary Tales Crossover
Time off work is vital for your happiness. So what would you do if you couldn't take the same rest day as your family and friends? Would you quit your job? What if it was the murderous dictator Stalin giving you the order? The Soviet Union wanted its factories to run every day, so workers were stopped from taking the same day off - killing the weekend as we know it. In a crossover between The Happiness Lab and Cautionary Tales, Dr Laurie Santos and Tim Harford discuss the pros and cons of everyone downing tools together and why holidays matter so very much. See for privacy information.
36:41 12/18/23
Build The Life You Want from Oprah's Super Soul
Enjoy this episode of another show you might like: the Build the Life You Want Super Soul Podcast. Oprah and Arthur Brooks offer listeners a better understanding of the science behind happiness and why Arthur says, “Happiness is not a destination, happiness is a direction.” Together, they take questions from people across the country who have read Build the Life You Want and are curious how to apply topics from the book to their own lives. They discuss the “The Four Pillars of Happiness: Faith, Family, Friends and Work that Serves” as well as the power of metacognition which Oprah calls “one of the biggest contributions to people getting happier.” Arthur Brooks explains how using “emotional caffeine” can lead to greater happiness and how having “a better storage of emotions” can block anxiety and depression.See for privacy information.
54:28 12/15/23
Is There a Gen Z Happiness Crisis? Dr Laurie Meets the US Surgeon General
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 for privacy information.
35:40 12/11/23
How Eating Got Complicated
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 for privacy information.
43:10 12/4/23
Awe and Psychedelics with Michael Pollan
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 for privacy information.
37:57 12/1/23
Giving Away Cash Makes You Happy... and Transforms Lives
YOU can boost your happiness and transform the lives of people in one African village with a cash gift by going to 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   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 for privacy information.
27:45 11/27/23
Make America Happy Again
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 for privacy information.
31:29 11/20/23
Where Everybody Knows Your Name
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 for privacy information.
30:08 11/13/23
Don't Make Friends Where You Make Your Money?
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 for privacy information.
33:36 11/6/23
Ask for Help... and Spread Happiness
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 for privacy information.
25:03 10/30/23
The Introvert's Guide to Extroversion
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"  ( for privacy information.
29:29 10/23/23

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