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:

47 Episodes
The Buddha was born to a royal family... and it shocked him when he found out that no amount of money or power could keep suffering and loss at bay forever. The quest to accept that life brings us pain was key to the development of Buddhism as a major religion. Dr Laurie Santos is joined by Liz Angowski and Robert Wright (author of 'Why Buddhism is True') to explore The Buddha's teachings about unhappiness and how mindfulness meditation can help us come to terms with the negative feelings we all experience from time to time. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Epictetus was born into slavery and beaten until he was lame... but he became one of Ancient Rome's greatest thinkers by accepting every setback as an opportunity to learn and grow. Philosophy professor Bill Irvine joins Dr Laurie Santos to delve into Stoicism - an ancient school of thought which urges us to reframe how we view the problems we all face and defuse the negative emotions of anger and envy that can be so harmful to our happiness. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Plato likened us all to charioteers trying to control two wayward horses. The steeds represent the competing wants and desires that constantly pull us off course and away from a happier life. Yale professor Tamar Gendler joins Dr Laurie Santos to examine how the ancient Greek philosopher didn't only diagnose the internal tensions we all face, but also offered a cure. The horses can be made to pull in the direction you command... but each must be coaxed in the right way. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
He gave us biology, physics and drama... but Greek philosopher Aristotle also thought deeply about how humans can flourish and live happy lives of virtue. Yale professor Tamar Gendler tells Dr Laurie Santos about Aristotle's wellbeing insights and how he recommended taking daily "baby steps" towards becoming the sort of happy, moderate person we aspire to be. A kind of ancient "fake it, 'til you make it" ethos. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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
Comments (138)

Amber Weekley

this is one of my Top 5 favorite podcasts! Self Help podcasts are my favorite. Thanks for such an awesome thing to make a part of my morning routine.

Nov 25th

Carrie Tucker

Wow. Seriously gross.

Nov 14th


Some of this advice felt off-base in this context! "How am I going to feel about this in a year?" is a great distancing practice for many things but I 100% guarantee I will still care very much who won the election in a year. Kind of glad I didn't listen to this until after it was called.

Nov 10th


I love the content but the recording is iffy and makes me have a headache. it's not smooth.

Nov 10th

Sarah Lung


Oct 26th

Robert Jones

Love this show and Laura

Oct 18th

Trina Bruner

I enjoy the new questions I walk away from this podcast pondering.Is the amygdala of generous folks bigger at birth,or does the extra 8% or so come from usage? I'm sure science will know some day,but for now it's fun to ponder

Oct 17th

Ali Watts

I want to thank you for bringing light to how important it is to study the past literary minds to being light into the darkness of 2020. The episodes with Plato and Aristotle have really given me some tools to help compartmentalize this, sometimes, overwhelming time we are in.

Oct 16th

Finny Callahan

the meditation made me tear up because I truly and worried for people amd sending out that love to them really helped.

Oct 12th


My enemy is a Buddha who has been sent to teach me about my ego. That’s kind of discussed. Interesting.

Oct 5th

Jodi Traver

What a beautiful thing to stumble upon!

Oct 3rd


I just found this podcast and with each episode that i listen to i start to love it more and more Thanks for the awesome job you're doing

Sep 21st

Yael Gabi

I've never been a podcast person I'll listen with friends and such but this podcast gets me excited to learning something every morning.

Sep 14th

Emily Haywood

He summed up the mindfulness meditation really well

Aug 24th

Trina Bruner

The mere presence of phones being a negative was obvious to me before I had a smartphone myself. I remember how much I resented my husband's first device.

Aug 8th

Victoria Muchiri

Great content. I'd really love to transcribe your podcast. Transcription helps to reach a wider audience. The deaf would also be able to consume and enjoy your content. My email is Thank you.

Aug 6th
Reply (1)

Finny Callahan

what about when you taking a picture thinking of only sharing it with people important to you who are not with you? is that different than taking a picture for Instagram?

Jul 30th

Jovani Haro

31:48 there's a gap... please fix curious what was cut out

Jul 19th

Henry Suryawirawan

Great episode! A slightly different angle to describe Stoicism and how it can help us during this challenging time.

Jul 19th

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
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