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

Author: Pushkin Industries

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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. For an even deeper dive into the research we talk about in the show and to sign up to our newsletter visit:

40 Episodes
How to Be a Better Ally

How to Be a Better Ally


You might detest bigotry and injustice, but have you done anything to address these problems? There are many reasons we stay silent and inactive when we know we should intervene to defend the rights of others. We look at the psychology underpinning our reluctance to act and the ways in which we can match our moral beliefs with concrete actions. Featuring James Barr and Dan Hudson, co-hosts of the podcast 'A Gay and a Non-Gay'. WARNING: This episode talks frankly about discrimination, hate crimes and sex. For an even deeper dive into the research we talk about in the show visit Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The War For Kindness

The War For Kindness


Feeling you belong to a group can be great - but it also has a darker side, leading us down an unhappy path of hatred and violence towards people with different identities and backgrounds. Dr Laurie Santos talks to Mina Cikara - whose homeland descended into a bloody civil war - and Jamil Zaki about how we can fight hatred with empathy, kindness and difficult conversations. (Deep canvassing clips courtesy of The Leadership Lab at the Los Angeles LGBT Center.) For an even deeper dive into the research we talk about in the show visit Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Demonic Possessions

Demonic Possessions


Cait Flanders went deep into debt so she could buy all the clothes, books and gadgets she thought would make her happier. It was only when she junked it all that she found that 'doing' rather than 'having' is a better way to spend your salary. Dr Laurie Santos examines why investing in experiences like concerts, vacations and dining out can give us a long-term happiness boost that buying things just can't match. For an even deeper dive into the research we talk about in the show visit Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
We all have bad habits - things we eat, drink, do or say that cause us unhappiness. We repeat these behaviours over and over again - almost as if we are on autopilot. But we can break free from them, and use the mechanics of habit formation to make doing good things feel effortless. Dr Laurie Santos meets a scientist who sleeps in her running gear and a former army doctor who went to Vietnam to fight a wave of heroin abuse in the military and discovered something startling about habits. For an even deeper dive into the research we talk about in the show visit Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dial D for Distracted

Dial D for Distracted


The world is full of people and things that can make you happy, but you have to notice them to get the full effect. Smartphones are technological marvels, but the hold they have over our limited attention is causing us to miss out on more than we realize. Dr Laurie Santos finds that even having a phone nearby can reduce how happy you feel. Laurie chats with Catherine Price, a science journalist, founder of and author of How to Break Up With Your Phone. For an even deeper dive into the research we talk about in the show visit or visit, the website for guest Catherine Price. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
'Time famine' is when you just don't feel you have a spare moment... and it can make you miserable. It's a feeling Dr Laurie Santos knows only too well, so she seeks help from her time affluence hero, Idler author Tom Hodgkinson. Tom lives life to the full, but he ensures he carves out time to wander around, think, chat with friends and even take naps. He argues that 'idling' is vital to leading a happy, creative and productive existence. Is he right? And if so, what can we all do to break free from the tyranny of time? For an even deeper dive into the research we talk about in the show visit Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Marty kills rats... but if you asked him what his job is he'd say it was "solving problems" and "helping people". How we view our work can contribute greatly to our daily levels of happiness - far more than money or status. Dr Laurie Santos examines how we all came to ignore the importance of job satisfaction and hears from Professor Amy Wrzesniewski about "job crafting" - the reframing skill that happy people like Marty use to see their careers as more than just a way to make money. For an even deeper dive into the research we talk about in the show visit Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Vlad's mom taught him a family tradition - remember grandpa when you taste the first fruits of the season. It was odd, but the boy went along with it. Only later when he faced two crushing bereavements of his own did Vlad realise the power of tiny personal rituals to ease his grief. Dr Laurie Santos examines the science behind this effect and explains how rites, ceremonies and rituals could help you deal with events that make you sad - from job rejections to divorce. For an even deeper dive into the research we talk about in the show visit Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
PJ and Alex Love to Gripe

PJ and Alex Love to Gripe


Reply All hosts PJ and Alex love to trade gripes. Their complaints about the minor annoyances of modern life make for great audio, but are the podcasters making a classic mistake? We all like to complain - thinking that venting does us good - but Dr Laurie Santos explains to PJ and Alex that they should gripe less if they want to be happier, and sets them a task to say something nice. For an even deeper dive into the research we talk about in the show visit Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
We talk a lot about psychopaths - but rarely discuss their polar opposites, super altruists. These are people who go to extreme lengths to help others - even though their acts of kindness might cost them time, money or expose them to physical danger. These folk are also happier than the rest of us. A super altruist once saved the life of psychology professor Abigail Marsh - so she devoted her career to understanding what drives these amazing and happy people and how we call all learn to be more like them. For an even deeper dive into the research we talk about in the show visit Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The pandemic has us all glued to our smartphones, tablets, laptops and TVs - they give us important information, vital social contact and much needed distraction. But Catherine Price (founder of Screen/Life Balance and author of How To Break Up With Your Phone) shares her tips on how to make sure our new screen habits improve our lockdown lives rather than exacerbate our problems and anxieties. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The heaviest burden of Covid-19 has fallen on the shoulders of medical staff, first responders and others who care for the sick and vulnerable. These people are saving lives, while putting their own health and mental wellbeing at risk. Several doctors and nurses have written asking for advice on the small ways they can make their daily lives a little easier to bear. So we asked cardiologist and wellbeing expert Dr Michael Rocha to explain the ways he's preparing for shifts on a Covid ward. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Many people seek Laurie's advice on how to be happier despite this awful pandemic. Prof Katy Milkman invited Laurie to appear on the Choiceology podcast to talk about the things she is doing personally to optimise her happiness amid the fear and stress. We thought we'd share Katy's interview with you so you can hear Laurie on the other side of the microphone for a change. (Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab. Dr Laurie Santos and The Happiness Lab are not affiliated with Schwab and the views expressed may not necessarily reflect those of The Charles Schwab Corporation or its affiliates.) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The health of our romantic relationships is in peril thanks to the many stresses and strains of the pandemic lockdown. Couples might be facing huge emotional and financial challenges at the same time as being tightly confined to their homes. But psychologist Eli Finkel (author The All-or-Nothing Marriage) says there are ways to weather the crisis without destroying your partnership - and there might even be opportunities to hit the reset button and address problems that in normal times you just let slide. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
College student Liam Elkind studied happiness in the class taught by Dr Laurie Santos. When the Covid 19 crisis hit, he knew exactly what to do to fight the negative emotions this pandemic arouses in us all - he helped set up a volunteer group called Invisible Hands to support vulnerable neighbors. Compassion expert David DeSteno explains why helping others can improve our own wellbeing while protecting us from emotional burnout. And with a guided meditation Dr Santos shows that compassion is thing we can nurture and develop. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In normal times our minds can be filled with unhelpful thoughts, but during this crisis you might be finding it even harder to calm your anxious internal monologue. Meditation could be helpful. Dan Harris (host of the Ten Percent Happier podcast) had a panic attack while reading the news live on ABC - and found that meditating brought him a calm he'd never previously known. He tells Dr Laurie Santos how we can all use simple meditations to help us and our families during the pandemic. The show includes a guided meditation from Dr Santos. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
We always face problems and setbacks - but the coronavirus has dramatically upended many of our lives in a few short weeks. Allowing sadness, anger or fear to dominate us does little to help. We should instead learn from the Greek Stoics - philosophers who embraced challenges with humor, grace and perspective. Bill Irvine (author of The Stoic Challenge: A Philosopher's Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer, and More Resilient) explains some simple ways that you can train yourself to reduce negative emotions and put on your "game face" when you find obstacles in your path. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
We all need to keep a clear head at times of crisis - but that's not always easy. So when strong emotions of fear and anxiety start to cloud your judgement, turn to an effective and reassuring voice of reason... you. Ethan Kross of the University of Michigan Emotion and Self-Control Laboratory gives us concrete strategies on how to coach yourself so you can approach upsetting problems in a calmer and more reasoned way. If you have a question you want answered on a future coronavirus bonus episode then tweet @lauriesantos or @pushkinpods using #happinesslabpod Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Many of us are being advised to stay at home and avoid social contact to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Human interaction is a vital component of happiness, so Dr Laurie Santos asks Stanford's Professor Jamil Zaki to explain his research into how we can maintain meaningful links to our loved ones, friends and colleagues even if we can't be in the same room with them. If you have a question you want answered on a future coronavirus bonus episode then tweet @lauriesantos or @pushkinpods using #happinesslabpod Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Business leader Arianna Huffington nearly died because she didn't get enough sleep. She tells Dr Laurie Santos how this wake-up call changed her attitude to getting enough sack time and shares tips on how we can all prepare ourselves mentally and physically to enjoy the amount of sleep that is vital for us to be healthy, happy and effect in our waking hours. Recorded in front of a live audience at The Wing in New York's SoHo. For an even deeper dive into the research we talk about in the show visit Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Comments (112)

Tim Yorke

Science? Really? 3 examples in this episode alone. (1) the urban myth that loneliness is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Errr no. See Tim Harford (another Pushkin stalwart) on why this is a completely bogus use of data. (2) this episode cites the "evidence" of the impact/effect on perceived happiness of introverts and extroverts despite their completely different expectations of how talking to strangers would make them feel. Go back 2 episodes. Cited as foundational to this science is the fact that your expectation about something is wrong and that both bad and good expectations are qualitatively wrong. It won't be as bad or as good as you think. So how can the different expectations of two profoundly different set of expectations generate the same result? One of these bits of alleged science is clearly nonsense. (3) David Byrne helping a fellow passenger in difficulties is cited that talking to strangers makes you happy. OK maybe, but what about the vast number of alternative possibilities? Helping someone solve a problem. Religious gratification? Etc etc. Scientifically true. I really don't think so. Perhaps it is just hippy dippy...

Jul 9th

Erik Ogaard

I really liked this show. Pretty disappointed you decided to go political now... You lost one listener.

Jul 3rd

Henry Suryawirawan

Gratitude, it really works!

Jun 26th

Mitch Hamilton

Very nice episode.

Jun 17th

Henri van Dijk

what is the name of the happiness test she mentioned at the end?

Jun 16th



Jun 15th

Erica Rouse

This podcast is one of my favorite and so inspiring! Thank you!

Jun 13th

Jerome Herr

another excellent episode

Jun 10th

Masha Grey

I cried with you guys 😢

Jun 9th

Moji M Shahvali

It would be helpful to link all upcoming episodes to the pandemic. For example this session on habit formation, it talks about how boredom and cues, can form harmful habits. How is this especially important these stay-home days? thank you.

Jun 8th
Reply (2)

ryan goble

9 OP hi pop 90 vo 9 pi e edition 9th of all ml 7 87 eep 090÷ we

Jun 6th

Sina Piruzmandan


Jun 4th

Authentictalks 2.0

I love it!

May 30th


Thank you for the brilliant podcast and social insights you've put in Professor. I'm a fan from IRAN

May 28th

Nuage Laboratoire


May 26th

diane casto

this is the base of alchoholis anonymous since1939

May 24th

rishi kesh

This was an amazing episode. It really opened my eyes on the way I see my job now. I will start working on job crafting right away.

May 19th

Dally Roman

Oh Dr. Santos! How I’ve missed your voice. Specially thankful for you. God bless

May 16th

Carrie Tucker

I'm a bit stunned by your white centering. The research around an ancient practice is just beginning. Truly constantly nauseating. That was gross.

May 12th

Beatrice Fitzpatrick

thank you

May 11th
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