DiscoverThe Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos
The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos
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The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos

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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.
122 Episodes
What do you do when you enter "survival mode"? How can you become better at forging social connections? Can you be happy in a sad world? Happiness experts Dr Laurie Santos and Gretchen Rubin came together at Toronto's Hot Docs Festival to answer these and other questions from a live audience. See for privacy information.
Not matter if you're aged three or 103, you can learn to be happier using pretty much the same strategies. Sesame Workshop and its furry friends have been teaching "emotional ABCs" alongside literacy and numeracy for decades. So in collaboration with The Happiness Lab, Elmo and his friends will be helping us present fun and accessible happiness hacks for listeners of all ages.  To kick things off, Dr Laurie Santos sat down to discuss why it's never too early to learn about wellbeing with Sesame Workshop's CEO, Steve Youngwood; the Chief Production and Creative Development Officer, Kay Wilson Stallings… and everyone’s favorite furry, red monster, Elmo.  (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 mission to improve children’s emotional well-being, then visit: for privacy information.
More than a third of us admit to having had a spiritual experience. We might have been profoundly moved by a sunset or a painting; or felt that we've connected with our god or with the entire world around us. Such events can be transformative - bringing positive change to our lives and increasing our happiness - but some experiences aren't so great.  In front of a live audience in Washington DC, David Yaden of Johns Hopkins University tells Dr Laurie Santos about his work examining what effect spiritual experiences have on us and how things like meditation and psychedelic drugs can bring about these powerful transformational episodes.   David Yaden is the author of: The Varieties of Spiritual Experience: 21st Century Research and Perspectives.See for privacy information.
Who do we volunteer to run a gruelling half-marathon? Who do we expect to give up sugar, or quit drinking? Who do we demand clears out the garage in the middle of summer? Ourselves. Mean, right? Turns out we make demands on our future selves that our present selves would think are unrealistic or unreasonable. And the reason we do it is because our minds are really bad at anticipating the wants and needs we'll have in a week, a month, or a year from now. And that harms our happiness.  Talking before a live audience in Somerville, MA, Dr Laurie Santos and Harvard professor Jason Mitchell explore how we can be kinder to both our present and future selves.     See for privacy information.
When Marty Seligman started his long scientific career, psychologists concentrated on studying "misery and suffering" and what made people sad. But Marty wanted to discover what made happy people, well, happy. His research laid the foundations of "positive psychology" and the happiness science you hear week after week in this podcast.  Dr Laurie Santos talks to Professor Seligman about his decades of research; the power of optimism; and how he became less of a "grouch" to improve his own personal happiness.   Marty's latest book, TOMORROWMIND: Thriving At Work – Now and in an Uncertain Future, is OUT NOW. See for privacy information.
Happiness expert Gretchen Rubin was warned that her eyesight was in peril. It shocked her into realising she'd taken all of her five senses for granted - and so she resolved to wring every ounce of joy from the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures around her.   Concluding her conversation with Dr Laurie Santos, Gretchen explains how to be more alive to smell, taste and touch - building on the ideas in her new book Life in Five Senses: How Exploring the Senses Got Me Out of My Head and Into the World.See for privacy information.
Are you seeing what you look at? Or tuning in to the noises all around you? We take our senses for granted - particularly when it comes to the sights and sounds of our everyday lives. Exploring your senses can be a great way to experience more fun and happiness right now.   Happiness expert Gretchen Rubin was warned that her eyesight was in peril - which spurred her to rethink her relationship with her senses. In the first of two interviews, Gretchen joins Dr Laurie Santos to discuss her journey of discovery and her new book - Life in Five Senses: How Exploring the Senses Got Me Out of My Head and Into the World.See for privacy information.
Laurie swaps seats in the studio to be interviewed by none other than Katie Couric. In this episode of Next Question with Katie Couric, Laurie's asked to define happiness; outline the best steps to reach it; and give an honest appraisal of her own struggles to flourish each and every day.  Listen to more episodes of Next Question with Katie Couric wherever you get your podcasts. See for privacy information.
Following 9/11, Simran Jeet Singh's Sikh family in Texas was subjected to extreme racist abuse. And yet, Simran's father chose to look on the bright side and offer thanks instead for the acts of kindness friends and neighbors showed them. How was such optimism possible? Simran - author of The Light We Give: How Sikh Wisdom Can Transform Your Life - explains how practicing positive habits and living by our values as often as we can will really help when a crisis arises.  See for privacy information.
Educator and author Simran Jeet Singh is Sikh. Most of his fellow Americans have no idea what Sikhism is - causing some to treat Simran with suspicion and hostility. But one of the key teachings of his religion is that all things and all people are connected - something that offers Simran comfort and hope in even the darkest moments.  In the first of a two-part show, Dr Laurie Santos talks to Simran about his book - The Light We Give: How Sikh Wisdom Can Transform Your Life - and finds that the centuries-old traditions of Sikhism map surprisingly well over the latest happiness science.  See for privacy information.
We often think of yoga as a physical exercise - but a centuries-old Sanskrit text, The Yoga Sutras, share teachings intended to improve both the body and mind. The author, Patanjali, makes clear that the poses and stretches are only part of picture - we also need to be kind, contemplative and grounded.   Jessamyn Stanley (yoga teacher and author of Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance) takes Dr Laurie Santos through Patanjali's text - saying its lessons "can be applied in every circumstance, no matter who you are or where you are".See for privacy information.
In Virgil's epic poem, The Aeneid, few Trojans survive the destruction of their city at the hands of their Greek enemies. A prince, Aeneas, leads a band of those fleeing Troy - but the journey is fraught with deadly storms and hungry monsters.   But Aeneas takes a positive view of the struggles he and the other Trojans face, telling them to be proud of their resilience and courage. With the help of MIT classics professor Stephanie Frampton, Dr Laurie Santos explores how The Aeneid can be read as a tale of post-traumatic growth and how we can sometimes emerge happier and stronger from tragic events.  See for privacy information.
Achilles has anger issues. The great Greek warrior sits out most of the Trojan War because he's angrily sulking. When he finally enters battle, he does so in a fit of rage that causes him to commit atrocities and bring dishonor on himself.   So what can we learn from this angry character in Homer's epic poem, The Iliad? With the help of Harvard classics expert Greg Nagy and anger counsellor Dr Faith Harper, we look at how anger can creep up on us and what we can do to defuse this sometimes explosive emotion.      See for privacy information.
The Greek thinker Socrates was put to death for encouraging his students to question everything - from their own beliefs to the laws and customs of Athenian society. But his ideas didn't die with him.  Here's a chance to hear two episodes from our archive examining the legacy of Socrates, and how he influenced the thinking of Plato and Aristotle. Turns out the Ancient Greeks had a lot to say about how to live a happier life. See for privacy information.
Question everything... that's a key insight from the great Greek philosopher Socrates. We may think we know ourselves and what makes us happy... but that's not always true.  Yale professor Tamar Gendler says that by harnessing our "inner Socrates" we can ask ourselves why we think or feel certain things. We might then find that deeply-held convictions that money or status or accolades are a reliable route to happiness aren't correct, and can then start to pursue the things that might really make us happier.  See for privacy information.
The Happiness of Silence

The Happiness of Silence


We're surrounded by noise. That "noise" can be actual sounds - but also other annoyances and distractions that make it hard for us to concentrate or think clearly. And it's only getting worse - we're all being bombarded with more sirens, more pings, more chatter, more information. And then there are our internal monologues. Silence is just harder to come by.  Leigh Marz and Justin Zorn (co-authors of Golden: The Power of Silence in a World of Noise) join Dr Laurie Santos to discuss the benefits of silence and how we can all seek out more moments of quiet and recognise their value.  See for privacy information.
We can put huge amounts of physical and emotional energy into our jobs - even basing our self-worth on our achievements at work and letting ourselves be defined by what we do. So have our careers taken over too much of our lives?  Simone Stolzoff (author of The Good Enough Job: Reclaiming Life from Work) argues that we should stop hunting for the "perfect" job - that idealized career that will prove to others how smart, industrious or virtuous we are - and instead find an occupation that allows to us live happier and more rounded lives that don't revolve only around work. See for privacy information.
Lots of us hit the gym in January to get fit - but should we also be exercising our minds in preparation for tough times? A daily "self-talk workout" might be just as beneficial as squats and push-ups, says Seattle University psychology professor Rachel Turow.  By practicing simple self-compassion exercises each day - such as breathing techniques - we can prepare for future challenges when we'll need those tools to help us tackle crippling self-criticism or paralyzing sorrow.  Further reading: The Self Talk Workout by Rachel Turow See for privacy information.
How to Eat Intuitively

How to Eat Intuitively


Everyone has a view about what you should eat and how much. We're so bombarded with fad diets, fasting plans and nutritional advice that we can bounce from one way of eating to another without stopping to think: "What do I want to eat?" Psychotherapist Andrea Wachter endured years of disordered eating and obsessing about her weight, until she decided to heed her inner voice and what her body wanted to consume. She explains to Dr Laurie Santos how so-called intuitive eating can free us from both diets and overeating.  See for privacy information.
Here's a preview of another podcast we love, Ten Percent Happier. Host Dan Harris flies to Dharamsala, India to spend two weeks in the orbit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This is the first installment of a five-part audio documentary series. Over the course of the episodes, Dan talks to His Holiness about practical strategies for thorny dilemmas, including: how to get along with difficult people; whether compassion can cut it in an often brutal world; why there is a self-interested case for not being a jerk; and how to create social connection in an era of disconnection. He also gets rare insights from the Dalai Lama into everything from the mechanics of reincarnation to His Holiness’s own personal meditation practice. In this first installment, Dan watches as a young activist directly challenges His Holiness: In a world plagued by climate change, terrorism, and other existential threats, is the Dalai Lama’s message of compassion practical — or even relevant? Want more of The Dalai Lama’s Guide to Happiness? Listen to the Ten Percent Happier podcast here.See for privacy information.
Comments (196)


about music for mood, I read somewhere that if you are sad and you want to change your mood by listening to peppy songs, it won't work. rather it will cause more upset as it will be incoherent to your mood.

Apr 22nd

Sepideh Nezhadi

thanks for sharing !

Apr 13th

Donna Armand

Laurie / what did you do??! This interview was inane.

Apr 10th
Reply (1)

Dana Pellegrino

start at 32:38 than go back to the beginning. for some reason the beginning is in the middle of the episode

Mar 16th

Kedar Paranjape


Mar 2nd

Widzhit W

Sound quality is really bad :(

Feb 23rd

Farid Rezaei

not that the rest of episodes are not great, yes they are, but comparing all of the episodes I have listened to this one is the greatest by far the best episode you have had. Maybe I can say that this one is the one which I listen over and over cause it has helped me A LOT. The fact that these techniques negate my negative thoughts is so fascinating to me. it's not the first time nor the last te I will listen to it. Right now I am on vacation worrying about shitty potential events at work and with a bit of distancing and coaching myself I am back to enjoy the vacation. thanks happiness podcast. A big shout out to you guys whom we never hear your voice but your contents are making us feel happier. Kudos to all of you guys.

Dec 13th

Seema James

why is it thesame as part 1?

Nov 19th

Farid Rezaei

can you please share the full speech in this episode?

Oct 24th

Dave Taheri

great episode, made me change my thoughts about some of things i do💭👌

Jul 29th

nahid daneshvar

Normally I don't leave comments on podcasts or anywhere. But I must confess that waiting for the new episodes is killing me🤣🤣🤣. I am just so addicted to this show that I check it time to time to make sure that I didn't miss the notification of the new episod. So please fasten the process cause there are fans out there waiting too long to hear their favorite podcast show. By the way thanks a lot for making this awesome show! it helped me out to know more about myself as a human.

Jul 6th

Andrew H.

The idea of personifying the fixed mindset made me think of the Pixar movie Luca. "Silenzio Bruno" The kids give a nickname to the negative voice in their head, and use that tagline to confront negative self talk.

May 4th

Galina Ursachii

This is my favorite episode so far. Wow! So much to think about. The beginning of this really reminded me of the Unbreakable. M Night was onto something with his superheroes and antiheroes idea. If we could increase our amygdala as adults, I wonder if that would also hold true for psychopaths. Imagine having a cure or a treatment for that! I wish we could know more about those selfless donors and what other kind of life choices they made that set them apart. What kind of childhood did they have? What kind of life factors might have contributed to them being how they are? So fascinating! We need a whole podcast on Psychopaths and Superheroes. Imagine how much we could learn if we explored those groups closely even more.

Mar 19th

Mariann Davis Maene

what do you do when your sadness extends over a long period of time (I'm going through a divorce) and you've tired out your friends and Whirpool man?

Feb 26th

Mitra Aghadadashfam

learning how to say No is really helpful

Feb 25th

Ricardo da Cruz de Carvalho

Talk about hitting the spot... 😔

Feb 22nd


is script of your podcasts available anywhere?

Feb 2nd

Lavender Pixie

Extremely helpful! 😊

Jan 19th

N Yangzom

Thank you for this episode. It was so helpful for me

Jan 19th

David Yang

Why make up new terms all the time when what you really mean is mindfulness...

Jan 12th
Reply (1)
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