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April 3, 2021 31 min

My guest today needs no introduction because she is one of the most influential happiness teachers in the world.

Dr. Laurie Santos is Professor of Psychology and Head of Silliman College at Yale University. Dr. Santos is an expert on human cognition and the cognitive biases that impede better choices. Her course, “Psychology and the Good Life,” teaches students what the science of psychology says about how to make wiser choices and live a life that’s happier and more fulfilling. The class is Yale’s most popular course in over 300 years and has been adapted into a free Coursera program that has been taken by over 3.3 million people to date.

Dr. Santos has been featured in numerous news outlets including the New York Times, NBC Nightly News, The Today Show, CBS This Morning, NPR, GQ Magazine, Slate, CNN and O, The Oprah Magazine. She is a winner of numerous awards both for her science and teaching from institutions such as Yale and the American Psychological Association.

She has been featured as one of Popular Science’s “Brilliant 10” young minds and was named TIME's “Leading Campus Celebrity.” Her podcast, The Happiness Lab, launched in 2019 has over 35 million downloads.

Listen as we discuss:

  • How Laurie's happiness course at Yale put "the science of happiness" on the map
  • We have misconceptions about the things that make us happy, and that's why we're unhappy.
  • We ignore the important things like social connection, doing for others, and being present to pursue false leads to happiness.
  • Why her course became so immensely popular, and how Tal Ben Shahar (see my wonderful interview with him on Slo Mo) was another pioneer
  • Why her course was so successful among extremely ambitious Yale students
  • Making her course available for free and forsaking millions of dollars in the name of educating for the greater good.
  • Hedonic Adaptation, or why you get used to things very quickly, including money
  • How quickly we get used to wealth, and how the wealthiest people worry the most about money.
  • The new mini-season of her hit podcast, The Happiness Lab, which focuses on what the ancient traditions and religions got right about what's good for our well-being.
  • Time Affluence vs. Time Famine
  • Laurie's own struggles with what she teaches, and why that validates the science.
  • How do you become time affluent?
  • Time confetti, or how to use the tiny chunks of time you have for your happiness.
  • Great advice: This is the time for self-compassion, not to beat yourself up.
  • Instagram: @mo_gawdat
    Facebook: @mo.gawdat.official
    Twitter: @mgawdat
    LinkedIn: /in/mogawdat

    Connect with Dr. Laurie Santos on Instagram @lauriesantosofficial and Twitter @lauriesantos, and her website,

    Don't forget to subscribe to Slo Mo for new episodes every Sunday and Thursday. Only with your help can we reach One Billion Happy #onebillionhappy.

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