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.


June 17, 2024 37 mins

Dr Laurie is stressed, and it's harming her health. Constant worry and stress is bad for our bodies and our minds, but how can we break the cycle and relax? It turns out scientists have learned a lot from one of America's most stressed-out communities - caregivers.  

Hollywood star Steve Guttenberg talks about the toughest chapter of his life - caring for his dying dad - and Dr Elissa Epel explains why some caregivers suffer badly ...

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Dr Laurie HATES boredom! Since childhood she's found it so painful that she'll do anything to avoid being bored. She'll watch crappy TV. She'll find extra work to do. She'll snack. But boredom is actually an incredibly useful tool to boost our happiness and creativity.  

With the help of leading boredom experts, Dr Laurie learns how to embrace doing nothing and finds that in the midst of tedium our brains can come up with the most ...

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June 3, 2024 29 mins

Holding yourself to impossibly high standards is self-defeating and makes for a miserable life. Can Dr Laurie Santos find ways to tackle her constant perfectionism so she can perform better and have more fun? 

She hears from researcher Thomas Curran about a worrying growth in perfectionism in society, and asks "recovering perfectionist" Jordana Confino how to tackle the nagging voice in your head telling you to always push yourself...

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Sometimes the happiness teacher flunks her own class. In a deeply personal new season, Dr Laurie Santos opens up about the things she really, really struggles with. Things like crippling perfectionism, chronic stress and a paralyzing fear of death. 

With the help of world-class experts, a Hollywood star and a host of normal people who grapple with the same issues, Dr Laurie will face up to her own happiness demons and try to defeat...

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Liz Dunn is a regular guest on The Happiness Lab, but in this extended interview with TED's Chris Anderson she take us on a deep dive into her research. It shows that by increasing our generosity and by giving to others we can significantly boost our own happiness. 

Listen to more episodes of The TED Interview wherever you get your podcasts.  

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A chance to hear a recent episode of A Slight Change of Plans in which Maya Shankar asks psychologist Adam Grant about his new book "Hidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things". They talk about how to filter out unhelpful feedback, the benefits of imperfectionism, and why we need to give soft skills more respect. 

Listen to more episodes of A Slight Change of Plans  wherever you get your podcasts. 


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Work is a worry. Are we paid enough? Should we be getting promoted quicker? Is artificial intelligence about to replace us all? 

Speaking at SXSW 2024, Dr Laurie Santos argues that because of all our career woes we often neglect our happiness. She walks through her top five tips for improving our workplace wellbeing - which will not only make us feel better, but might even cause our salaries to rise!  

Suggested reading from this e...

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Technology is amazing! We can make video calls, find facts in an instant and watch movies on our phones. We take all this for granted, but have we let our screens and devices take over too much of our lives? 

To mark Digital Wellness Day on May 3, we hear from Amy Blankson (author and "chief evangelist" at the Digital Wellness Institute) about her ten tips to tame our devices at home and in the workplace. 


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April 22, 2024 40 mins

Karen Guggenheim was devastated by the death of her husband, Ricardo. She was alive, but dead to the world around her. Slowly she put her life back together and found growing happiness. To share her insights with others in need, Karen started the World Happiness Summit

Karen's campaign to spread global happiness is just one example of "post traumatic growth". Clinical psychologist Dr Edith Shiro (author of The Unexpected Gift of ...

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Medical doctors are waking up to the importance of happiness, partly prompted by the work of people like Rangan Chatterjee. Dr Chatterjee is Professor of Health Education and Communication, the host of the hit podcast 'Feel Better, Live More' and author of five best-selling books including Happy Mind, Happy Life: 10 Simple Ways to Feel Great Every Day.

Rangan sat down with Dr Laurie Santos at the 2024 World Happiness Summit to disc...

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The US is sliding down the world happiness rankings - but it's the unhappiness of young people that's really dragging down the average. What has happened to make Gen Z so sad? And what can be done to turn the situation around?

Jan-Emmanuel De Neve (director of Oxford University’s Wellbeing Research Centre) has been analyzing the figures for the World Happiness Report. He offers advice to young people and parents, and looks at what ...

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April 1, 2024 35 mins

Age is the main risk factor for cognitive decline. So with more people around the world living longer, cases of dementia are set to rise. There's currently no cure - but research suggests that happiness can reduce the impact of this awful illness. 

Psychologist Emily Willroth helped write a chapter on this topic for the 2024 World Happiness Report - and explains how making friends, helping others and engaging in fun physical activi...

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There are certain nations which always top the rankings in the World Happiness Report. What are they doing right, that other countries are getting wrong? And what can you do to make your home country happier?

John Helliwell of the World Happiness Report explains how things like wealth, freedom and friendship combine to make a happy society - and how tiny changes in your home, neighborhood or workplace can have a huge national impac...

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The Happiness Lab’s Dr. Laurie Santos brings together other Pushkin hosts to mark the International Day of Happiness. Revisionist History’s Malcolm Gladwell talks about the benefits of the misery of running in a Canadian winter. Dr. Maya Shankar from A Slight Change of Plans talks about quieting her mental chatter. And Cautionary Tales host Tim Harford surprises everyone with the happiness lessons to be learned from a colonoscopy.


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March 11, 2024 35 mins

We often think adding more things to our lives will make us happier - more trips, more activities, more possessions. Sadly our minds find it hard to comprehend that having less and doing less is usually a better option. 

Dr Laurie Santos teams up with economist Tim Harford (host of Cautionary Tales) to examine why we find subtraction so very hard, and share tips for finding happiness by cutting down on our commitments. 

See omnystud...

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Fairy tales and Hollywood rom coms have taught us to expect perfection from a soul mate, but sex and relationships therapist Todd Baratz says we need to be more comfortable with the idea that a "good enough" partner will do. 

Todd once bought into this perfection myth - wanting a boyfriend to meet all his needs without even being told. These expectations helped end the relationship. Now Todd (author of How to Love Someone Without L...

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Some people ask searching questions and then really listen to the replies. These so-called supercommunicators make great romantic partners, so can anyone learn to be more like them?  

Journalist Charles Duhigg (author of Supercommunicators: How to Unlock the Secret Language of Connection) was unhappy with how he and his wife were talking, so he studied his mistakes and adopted the habits of supercommunicators. He explains to Dr Lau...

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February 19, 2024 34 mins

No matter how much you love your partner, your relationship will never be totally free from disagreement. And nor should it be, say researchers Dr John Gottman and Dr Julie Schwartz Gottman. We actually just need to learn to argue better.

The Gottmans join Dr Laurie Santos to talk us through how to raise complaints with our partners and how to react when they complain about us. 

Further reading: Fight Right: How Successful Couples ...

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Some people are just good at building and maintaining healthy partnerships. In their 'Love Lab", the married researchers Dr John Gottman and Dr Julie Schwartz Gottman have seen how certain couples interact in ways that mean they'll happily stick together for decades. 

The Gottmans join Dr Laurie Santos to explain what we can learn from these "Masters of Relationships" - so that the stresses and strains of life don't destroy our int...

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February 5, 2024 51 mins

Does happiness have a scent? Dr Laurie has been trying to remove the bad smells in her life and bring in more fragrances that enhance her wellbeing. But she's noticed that some of the smells that bring her joy can be a little weird - like musty books and rotting seaweed. 

So what's going on in our noses and brains? Laurie turned to neuroscientist Dr Rachel Herz (author of The Scent of Desire) to explain why we respond to certain sm...

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