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.


September 25, 2023 29 mins

You don't need to be 8 feet tall like Big Bird to have big, big feelings. We all experience emotions of excitement, frustration and sadness that feel overwhelming. 

But when Big Bird's fun plans are ruined by rain clouds - Dr Laurie teaches him that there are ways to manage and be prepared for big disappointments and realise that the sun will return soon enough.  

(Sesame Workshop is a non-profit organization with a mission to he...

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It's never too early or too late to learn how to be happier. Whether you're aged 3, 23 or 103, we've teamed up with our furry friends from Sesame Street to bring you fun and fact-based tips to improve the wellbeing of you and the people around you.   

We begin with Abby Cadabby - a fairy who isn't having such a great day. Her usual spells can't rid her of her "grumpies", so Dr Laurie teaches her the magical effect that being grate...

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Oprah Winfrey and Arthur Brooks want you to be happier - so the TV megastar and the Harvard academic teamed up to write a book setting out the steps you can take to be a little happier each day. 

Over the summer, Dr Laurie Santos read Build the Life You Want, the Art and Science of Getting Happier and loved it. So she recorded a conversation with Arthur touching on how his son found meaning in the marine corps; why you should remo...

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August 7, 2023 31 mins

Am I a fun person? That was the question listener Natalie Robinson was asking herself. The answer was sobering. Natalie felt fun was being squeezed out of her busy life... but she found inspiration in the two episodes of The Happiness Lab dedicated to Dr Laurie Santos's own quest to regain the fun and playfulness of her youth. 

So here's another opportunity to listen to the concluding part of that story again.   


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August 7, 2023 37 mins

Listener Natalie Robinson was worried she and her fellow running club members weren't having enough fun - life was just getting in the way. But what could she and her friends do? They found inspiration in the two episodes of The Happiness Lab dedicated to Dr Laurie Santos's own quest to regain the fun and playfulness of her youth. 

So here's another opportunity to listen to part one of that story again.   


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Natalie Robinson used to have fun - taking her kids to the zoo or the waterpark - but recently life started getting in the way of her being playful and goofy. Then she heard two episodes of The Happiness Lab in which Dr Laurie Santos wrestled with exactly the same dilemma. 

Inspired, Natalie got together with the friends in her running club to throw themselves into fun interventions - funterventions. 

See fo...

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July 24, 2023 40 mins

Recovering from a car crash that smashed her face, listener Rebecca Kaduru stumbled across an episode of The Happiness Lab in which we interviewed wounded Iraq veteran JR Martinez. His story brought Rebecca great solace in her own painful journey to recovery.

Following our recent show talking to Rebecca, we wanted to give you a chance to hear the episode which so touched her - The Unhappy Millionaire - in which we examine the "psy...

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Rebecca Kaduru was driving home... then woke up in an ambulance. She'd been in involved in an accident and her face was smashed. Living in Uganda, she struggled to receive appropriate care for her injuries - making her healing process dishearteningly slow and painful. 

It was then that Rebecca stumbled across an episode of The Happiness Lab about JR Martinez - an army veteran badly burned in Iraq. His story brought her comfort and...

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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. 

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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 disc...

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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 Univer...

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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 mo...

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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 optimis...

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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 F...

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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 ...

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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. 

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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...

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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 G...

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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 -...

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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...

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