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. iHeartMedia is the exclusive podcast partner of Pushkin Industries.


Giving Tuesday: Why Giving Money to Others Makes us Happier
Money can buy you happiness - but not in the way we think. Giving money away - especially to help others - has been shown make us happier than spending on ourselves.  Social psychologist Lara Aknin explains the best ways to spend on loved ones, friends and even total strangers to get the biggest happiness bang for your buck.  And Harvard's s Josh Greene reveals how much money Happiness Lab listeners gave to charity via Giving Multiplier last year - and how many lives you saved.  To give to a charity of your choice and to some of the most effective charities around (and have your donation matched at a special rate) visit: The Happiness Lab will return in January 2023. See you then.See for privacy information.
31:57 11/29/2022
Happier Parents, Happier Kids Pt 2: Letting Children Try and Fail
It's tempting to tie a child's shoe lace, tidy their rooms or help with their science projects - to see that these tasks are done right - but parents are depriving their kids of the valuable experience of falling, failing, and f-ing up.  Formed Stanford dean Julie Lythcott-Haims says these "f words" are vital for children if they are to grow into happy, capable and autonomous adults. While Yale psychologist Julia Leonard warns that interfering too often in a child's life can actually teach them that trying isn't even worth the effort.       Further reading: Michaeleen Doucleff - Hunt, Gather, Parent: What Ancient Cultures Can Teach Us About the Lost Art of Raising Happy Helpful Humans.  Julie Lythcott-Haims - How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success. Marty Seligman - Authentic Happiness See for privacy information.
31:54 11/07/2022
Happier Parents, Happier Kids Pt 1: Your Child Isn't a VIP or a Fragile Vase
Rosy had a packed schedule of lunches, meet-ups and activities - and she was only three.  Mom Michaeleen Doucleff felt she couldn't waste a second of her daughter's time. Rosy needed to be constantly lectured and stimulated if she was going to reach the Ivy League.  This style of parenting was exhausting both mother and daughter, until Michaeleen found that not everyone approaches child-rearing in this way. She tells Dr Laurie Santos how she forged a happier and more relaxed relationship with Rosy - that benefited them both.   Formed Stanford dean Julie Lythcott-Haims explores how "overparenting" has taken hold in recent decades and why it needs to be challenged.    Further reading: Michaeleen Doucleff - Hunt, Gather, Parent: What Ancient Cultures Can Teach Us About the Lost Art of Raising Happy Helpful Humans.   Malcolm Harris - Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials  Julie Lythcott-Haims - How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success. See for privacy information.
29:45 10/31/2022
Hulking Out! Why You Change When You're Angry
When mild-mannered David Banner gets mad he transforms into the raging Incredible Hulk. Dr Laurie Santos loves this comic book tale - because it reflects real life. Intense things like anger, pain, even hunger, can cause us to act in extreme ways that we might not predict beforehand or forgive afterwards. When we're in so-called "hot states" we might become a total stranger to ourselves. This can have a serious impact on our happiness, by stopping us properly planning for how we'll react to strong emotions and causing us to be unfairly harsh on our inner Hulks.  See for privacy information.
31:04 10/24/2022
You Only Live Once... So Commit
YOLO seems like the perfect rock 'n' roll philosophy. You only live once... so do whatever seems right in the moment. Be spontaneous. Quit your job; find a new person to date; and always, always keep your options open.    We all fear getting stuck in the wrong occupation, relationship or home - so shun fully committing to anything. But we're misguided. The man who coined the term YOLO - the Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart - tells Dr Laurie Santos that throwing yourself fully into a life choice is the best way to live our precious life.  Further reading: Pete Davis - Dedicated: The Case for Commitment in an Age of Infinite Browsing. Dan Gilbert -  Stumbling on Happiness. Barry Schwartz - The Paradox of Choice. Further Listening: Try Mickey Hart's new album with Planet Drum “In the Groove".See for privacy information.
31:38 10/17/2022
The Fun of Eating a Pepper Hotter Than the Sun
There is nothing hotter than Puckerbutt Farm’s Carolina Reaper Hot Sauce... and author Leigh Cowart gargles it for FUN!!! Why do we sometimes get a happiness high from painful and scary things? And what if we want to experience the fun of discomfort and danger... but without the risk of coming to real harm?  With the help of Leigh, psychology professor Paul Bloom and the Yale philosopher Tamar Gendler, Dr Laurie Santos finds out how we can fool ourselves into reaping all the benefits of danger without actually being in peril.  For further reading: Leigh Cowart - Hurts So Good: The Science and Culture of Pain on Purpose. Paul Bloom - The Sweet Spot: The Pleasures of Suffering and the Search for Meaning.See for privacy information.
29:18 10/10/2022
From Revisionist History: The Starvation Experiment
We’re sharing a bonus episode from another Pushkin podcast, Revisionist History. Revisionist History is Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast about things misunderstood and overlooked. This season, Malcolm’s obsessed with experiments – natural experiments, scientific experiments, thought experiments. In this episode, Revisionist History examines the testimony of 18 men who took part in an astonishing experiment at the University of Minnesota during the Second World War. Revisionist History takes you through the tapes, and asks why people are still arguing over the Minnesota experiment 75 years later.   You can hear more from Revisionist History at for privacy information.
31:22 10/06/2022
Why Living Without Regret is a Bad Idea
Regret sucks. Thinking back on things we should have done, or should never have done, can make us feel bad. But #noregrets isn't a philosophy for a happy and healthy life.    Regrets can be a great guide and can help us live a life that's true to our authentic selves. Illustrator Liz Fosslien learned to listen to her regrets after letting down her mom during a family crisis. While writer Daniel Pink compiled a global database of regrets to help unpick what common regrets tell us about our real values.  For Further Reading: Daniel Pink - The Power of Regret. How Looking Back Moves Us Forward See for privacy information.
30:09 10/03/2022
The Handbook for Sonic Happiness - A Twenty Thousand Hertz/Happiness Lab Mash-up
Some sounds bring happy memories flooding back. Other sounds put us on edge; drive us to distraction; or cause us considerable distress. Sound matters... so why don't we pay more attention to our sonic environment?   In a mash-up with our friends at the podcast Twenty Thousand Hertz, Dr. Laurie Santos joins Dallas Taylor to create a Handbook for Sonic Happiness explaining how sound can harm our wellbeing or be a route to greater happiness. Featuring auditory psychologist David Poeppel, psychology researcher Giulia Poerio, clinical psychologist Ali Mattu, sound scholar Mac Hagood and acoustician Trevor Cox.See for privacy information.
42:59 09/26/2022
Move to Your Happy Place
People who live in some places are happier than others. But if you move to a happy country, happy city or happy district, will it make you feel better? And what can do if you can't uproot from your current home, can you make sad spaces happier?   Dan Buettner introduces us to his "Blue Zones", and explains why these places score so highly in wellbeing surveys. Helen Russell tells her story of moving to one of the happiest nations on bleak midwinter. And Texan Jason Roberts admits he had to break the city laws to make his neighborhood in Dallas a bit nicer.  For further reading:  Helen Russell - The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country. Dan Buettner - The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons From the World's Happiest People.See for privacy information.
31:32 09/19/2022
From The Loudest Girl in the World: Life as a Newly Diagnosed Autistic Person
Here's a preview from a new Pushkin podcast, The Loudest Girl in the World. For years, journalist and podcast host Lauren Ober wasn’t all that jazzed about herself. She was always getting in trouble, she had a lot of sensory issues and her anxiety felt off the charts. And then, she found out why — she was autistic. The Loudest Girl in the World tells the story of Lauren’s journey to understand what it means to be on the autism spectrum and how to live life as a newly diagnosed autistic person. You can hear the full episode, and more from The Loudest Girl in the World at for privacy information.
04:07 09/15/2022
Nerd Out! The Happiness of Being a Fan
Really love a TV show; a boyband; a sci fi movie; or a celebrity? We're often too embarrassed to admit adoring some things for fear that we'll be seen as frivolous or childish - but we may be missing out on the happiness benefits that geeking out can bring.    Dr Laurie Santos explores the joy of fandom with Benedict Cumberbatch obsessive Tabitha Carvan, YA author Jennifer Lynn Barnes and Star Trek actor (and geek-vangelist) Wil Wheaton.  For Further Reading: Tabitha Carvan - This Is Not A Book About Benedict Cumberbatch  Wil Wheaton - Still Just a GeekSee for privacy information.
32:28 09/12/2022
The Secret to Making Friends as an Adult
Loneliness is a far more common and far more serious problem than we think. It affects one in five Americans, and takes a toll on our bodies and minds. To thrive we need to several types of social interactions - both casual and more intimate.   With the help of US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy; Harvard Divinity School fellow Casper ter Kuile; and friendship expert Marisa Franco; Dr Laurie Santos looks at how loneliness might be affecting you or someone you know, and what science-back steps you can take to increase your circle of friends.  For further reading:  Vivek Murthy - Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World. Marisa Franco - Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make—and Keep—Friends as an Adult. See for privacy information.
32:19 09/06/2022
The Joy of Star Trek, The Grateful Dead and Hot Sauce: The Happiness Lab Returns September 6
Happiness can be found in unusual places. Dr Laurie Santos returns with a new season that takes us to the fun frontiers of fandom with Star Trek's Wesley Crusher; to the world's happiest country in the depths of winter; and inside the ranch that inspired The Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart to exclaim "YOLO!".   And you'll hear what it's like to chug the hottest hot sauce on the planet to get a rush of pleasure.  The Happiness Lab Returns September 6 - wherever you get your podcasts. See for privacy information.
03:02 08/22/2022
Q: "What Did the Pandemic Teach Us About Happiness?"
Covid brought disruption and despair... but it also caused many of us to think about our lives and what is most important to us. Listener Dr Amy Comander, Director of Lifestyle Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, wants to know how we can apply lessons from the pandemic to improve our happiness as we return to normalcy.   Amy helps teach cancer survivors wellbeing tips - and also happens to be an old college lab partner of Dr Laurie Santos - so we invited her to host this episode and quiz Laurie on how to lead a happier post-pandemic life. See for privacy information.
36:32 08/01/2022
Q: "How Do I Stop Negative Self-talk?"
It can speak to us in the middle of a work project, the middle of a date, or the middle of the night. The critical voice in our head telling us we're just not good enough and we're headed for failure. Listener Patricia Branigan wrote in to ask what we can do the quiet down this chatter.   To explain what damage negative self-talk does to us and explore some simple strategies to challenge our inner critic, Dr Laurie Santos is joined by "chatter" expert Ethan Kross (professor of psychology and management at the University of Michigan). You can read more in Ethan's book 'Chatter: The Voice in our Head (And How to Harness it)'.  See for privacy information.
31:29 07/25/2022
Q: "Can You Be Happy Alone?"
Since Covid hit, many of us have seen fewer people and experienced more loneliness. Listener Ivana Cole wants to know what we can do to reconnect and asks, if we can't reconnect: "Can we be happy alone?"  Dr Laurie Santos looks at social connections and how make them with Stanford's Jamil Zaki (author of the War for Kindness). See for privacy information.
39:30 07/18/2022
Malala on Burnout, Guilt and How to Disagree Better
Nobel Peace Prize winners feel burnout too. Malala Yousafzai - who survived an assassination attempted by the Taliban - works tirelessly so that more women and girls can access education. But she often feels guilty at taking time off, but knows she must to avoid burnout.  She shares her tips with Dr Laurie Santos on how to achieve work/life balance; how to deal with disappointment; and how to build bridges with people we disagree with.  (Recorded live at Yale's Silliman College.)  See for privacy information.
30:23 07/11/2022
Q: "Are We Born to Work? Or Born to Live?"
Listener Niki Walker has a question... in our busy, career-driven, money-oriented live, are we forgetting to make time for more important things?  In our first episode fielding questions from fans of The Happiness Lab, Dr Laurie Santos looks at the world of work and how we can prioritize purpose, fun and human interaction to make our daily lives better.    Laurie is joined by Professor Cassie Holmes (author of "Happier Hour: How to Beat Distraction, Expand Your Time and Focus on What Matters Most). See for privacy information.
32:04 07/11/2022
Laurie Answers Your Happiness Questions - Coming July 11
What would you ask a wellbeing expert? Dr Laurie Santos is back with a special season of The Happiness Lab fielding listener questions about work, relationships and getting back out into the world after Covid. She'll be joined by fellow scientists and listeners explaining the stories behind their queries.   Begins July 11. See for privacy information.
02:05 07/04/2022
Relax and Win from Legacy of Speed
Sharing a new Pushkin show, Legacy of Speed. When two Black sprinters raised their fists in protest at the 1968 Olympic Games, it shook the world. More than 50 years later, the ripple effects of their activism are still felt. Host Malcolm Gladwel tells the stories of the runners who took a stand, and the coaches and mentors who helped make them fast enough — and brave enough — to change the world.In this episode, we hear how coach Bud Winter took what he learned from working with fighter pilots in World War II and created a system for training sprinters at San Jose State. His “Relax and Win” methods used breathing, visualization and other unconventional coaching techniques to create a powerhouse track program. Another thing that made him unique at the time? His focus on recruiting Black athletes to a mostly white school.See for privacy information.
04:47 06/14/2022
Social Media and our Brains with CNN’s Chasing Life
“Is social media bad for our brains?” asks Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN’s Chasing Life. Dr. Gupta, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent talks about social media and how, while it can be a place for community and entertainment, it can also be harmful for our mental health. He speaks to social media researcher Prof. Dar Meshi about what social media is doing to our brains, and why we need to set healthy boundaries around our social media use.See for privacy information.
27:16 05/12/2022
Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Connection Through Community
Sharing a special preview of Pushkin's newest show, Well-Read Black Girl. Glory Edim started a book club called Well-Read Black Girl in 2015, and since then it's exploded into a passionate, worldwide reading community. She aims to amplify the voices of BIPOC writers and celebrate their literary achievements, using the power of conversation to help her members to connect with each other and grow as people. Social connection is a topic we talk about a lot on The Happiness Lab. There’s lots of evidence that community and social connections are key ingredients for our well-being. The Well-Read Black Girl community embodies this spirit perfectly— group members share their experiences about their favorite writers and express their admiration so beautifully. On the Well-Read Black Girl podcast, Glory has deep, honest conversations with authors of color about the art, craft and power of the written word. You'll hear from luminaries like Tarana Burke, Gabrielle Union, Anita Hill, and more, about how they found their voice, honed their craft, navigated the wild world of publishing, and showed up in the world. We hope listening to this clip will give you a little boost of positive emotion and community. You can listen to more episodes of Well-Read Black Girl at Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee for privacy information.
16:59 03/01/2022
Burnout and How to Avoid It
If you dread getting out of bed in the morning; if you are bad tempered with co-workers, clients or customers; if you leave work feeling an exhaustion that goes way beyond tiredness... it could be that you're burned out. Jonathan Malesic felt all these things as a successful academic, and reflected wistfully on his previous job working as a parking lot attendant. Could it be that taking a high status, high paying job was making him miserable and pushing him beyond the limits of his endurance? Jonathan shares what he learned about burnout while researching his bookThe End Of Burnout: Why Work Drains Us, And How To Build Better Lives.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee for privacy information.
33:33 02/21/2022
Fighting that "Meh" Feeling of Languishing
Psychologist and writer Adam Grant used every second of his day to the fullest... until he was struck by feelings of emptiness and stagnation. His sleep patterns changed, his productivity dipped, he found himself breaking his own rules by aimlessly watching Netflix. Adam decided this listless middle ground between depression and flourishing was "languishing" and he needed to escape it fast.The author of the #1 NYT bestselling book Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know (, and host of TED's Work Life podcast ( says we ignore this "meh" feeling at our peril and explains how he fought back against languishing...with a game of Mario Kart. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee for privacy information.
41:54 02/14/2022
When Guilt is Good... and When it's Not
If you've done something wrong, feelings of guilt can prompt us to apologise, make amends and change our ways. But many of us also feel guilty with little cause. We may think we're bad parents, lazy or incompetent workers, or unreliable partners - all without much evidence that we've done anything wrong.Life coach Valorie Burton (author of Let Go Of The Guilt: Stop Beating Yourself Up And Take Back Your Joy) felt guilty for combining her career with raising a family - until she started examining the values and assumptions that underpinned these draining feelings. She shares the strategies she developed to separate 'true' guilt from 'false' guilt with Dr Laurie Santos. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee for privacy information.
33:03 02/07/2022
Embracing Sadness in the Pursuit of Happiness
We react to sadness in a variety of unhelpful ways. We try to suppress it. We experience guilt over it and apologise to the people around us for feeling it. We assume it means we've failed. We even fear it.But sadness will touch us all - and to be happier and more resilient we need to accept the emotion and work with it to make our lives better. Journalist Helen Russell (author of How to be Sad: Everything I've Learned About Getting Happier by Being Sad Better.) joins Dr Laurie Santos to explain why our view of sadness needs to be rehabilitated.You can purchase her book, How To Be Sad at - - and follow her @MsHelenRussell on social media platforms.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee for privacy information.
35:03 01/31/2022
How to be Angry Better
Anger is a powerful signal that you or someone you value is in danger. But in our normal lives the sensations of rage we experience are false alarms - we aren't in real peril and we don't need to resort to extreme survival behaviors, such as violence.Therapist Faith Harper (author of Unfuck Your Anger) explains why our bodies evolved this anger response, and how we can ride out the initial wave of rage and reduce the negative effects of anger on us and our relationships. She also shows that anger has its place in pushing us to find constructive ways to challenge bad things in the world around us.WARNING: This episode contains some strong language.You can find Faith's books at the link below. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee for privacy information.
35:03 01/24/2022
Stepping Off the Path of Anxiety
Many of the most painful or troubling emotions we experience are reactions to events that have actually happened - but one powerful and sometimes paralyzing feeling can be provoked by things as yet to occur. Say hello to anxiety.Psychotherapist and meditation teacher Andrea Wachter spent much of her life being stalked by the physical and mental manifestations of anxiety - the brain fog and the pit of the stomach dread of something bad looming on the horizon. She's amassed a wealth of strategies to overcome the thoughts and sensations that make up anxiety and she explains them to Dr Laurie Santos.You can try her meditations and courses on, and for her books and blogs can be found at Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee for privacy information.
26:42 01/17/2022
The Eight Pillars of Grieving
Grief is a simple enough word, but the emotional journey it describes is chaotic, messy and unique to each person. Psychotherapist and bereavement expert Julia Samuel ( joins Dr Laurie Santos for the second time to describe strategies which we can all use to help us navigate grief more effectively.Julia says there is no right or wrong way to mourn a loss - there is no "normal" way to grieve - but there are very simple things we can do each day to listen to our feelings of grief and process them so that we can carry on with our changed lives. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee for privacy information.
32:57 01/10/2022