The Science of Happiness

The Science of Happiness

Learn research-tested strategies for a happier, more meaningful life, drawing on the science of compassion, gratitude, mindfulness, and awe. Hosted by award-winning psychologist Dacher Keltner. Co-produced by PRX and UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center.

Episodes

December 8, 2022 17 min


Moving in sync with someone else — even a total stranger — can change how you feel about them, and how you act, without you realizing it.

Episode summary:

When was the last time you moved in sync with someone else? Dancing, exercising, even just walking in step — for some, it comes easily, for others, it’s a challenge. But can moving to the same beat make all of us kinder to one another? This week, our guest Chris Duffy steps ...

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Happiness isn't only in your head — your body is important, too. This week, we're led in a short Japanese calisthenics practice called Radio Taiso.

Check out Radha’s video guide to this practice: https://dose.daybreaker.com/videos/microdose-oxytocin-healthy-spine

Today’s Happiness Break guide:

Radha Agrawal is Japanese-Indian author and a founder of Daybreaker, a company that throws sober dance parties at sunrise all...

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One way to feel more thankful for things is to imagine life without them. Our guest tries a practice for seeing the bright side, even when you feel down.

Episode summary:

We know that gratitude is good for us. But what can we do when we’re struggling to actually feel thankful? Our guest this week is author and podcast producer Stephanie Foo. Foo built a network of close friends around her in California, where she grew up. As a ...

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November 17, 2022 7 min

Not sure how to start practicing gratitude? Psychologist Dacher Keltner guides you through a practice that can help you see the good things in your life that you might otherwise overlook.

How to Do This Practice:

  • Sit or lay down somewhere comfortable. You may close your eyes if you wish, and take a slow, deep breath in to ground into the present moment. Then, scan your body from head to toe, noticing how you’re feeling in this ...

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    November 10, 2022 18 min

    There are millions of YouTube videos with people crinkling bubble wrap or whispering about folding laundry. Our guest talks about why autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) makes her, and many others, feel more calm and happy.

    Episode summary:

    Melinda still remembers the tingling feeling she felt when she first listened to the close-up sound of someone drawing on a TV show at the age of ten. She learned later that the subt...

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    November 3, 2022 6 min

    Consider what you want to make space for in your life in this 6-minute contemplation guided by Alex Elle.

    How to Do This Practice:

  • Take a few deep breaths. File up your belly on each inhale. Drop your shoulder and soften your body on each exhale.

  • Say these eight phrases to yourself, or your own variation of it. Consider which resonates with you the most:

  • a. “In the presence of fear, I will make space for courage.”

    b. “In the p...

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    October 27, 2022 15 min

    Hardships in life are a given, but what if we found a way to laugh about it? Our guest shares how he's used humor to cope with the deepest pains in his life.

    Episode summary:

    When we go through hardships and struggles, finding the humor in them can help us relieve stress and change our perspective. This week on The Science of Happiness, our guest shares how he’s used humor to triumph over hardship in his life. Kerry Rudd is...

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    When was the last time you spent a moment savoring silence? Tricia Hersey, aka The Nap Bishop, guides us through an appreciation of silence and its restorative powers.

    Scientists have found that spending just two minutes in silence can lower your blood pressure and heart rate, even when compared to listening to slow, relaxing music.

    How to Do This Practice:

  • Find a quiet place to rest. Set a two-minute timer and put it aside.

  • Cl...

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    October 13, 2022 18 min

    Jeopardy! champion Amy Schneider tries a body scan meditation to sharpen her focus and calm her nerves as she prepares for the Tournament of Champions.

    Episode summary:

    Amy Schneider is the most successful woman to ever compete on Jeopardy!. Part of her winning strategy was to shut down all her mental chatter and completely focus on the competition. But when the cameras are off, she struggles to find the same calm. For today’s ...

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    October 6, 2022 10 min

    Cultivate more joy in your life with this practice led by meditation teacher and author Spring Washam.

    How to Do This Practice:

  • Think about an area of your life that brings you joy, it could be anything. 

  • Imagine yourself experiencing that moment of happiness. Feel the smiles, the peace and laughter.

  • As you reflect on the moment, say to yourself, “may my joy and my happiness increase.” 

  • Next, practice “sympathetic joy.” To do this...

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    September 29, 2022 16 min

    These days, it's hard to imagine befriending people with different politics than your own. But these two men did it using a tried and true practice.

    Episode summary:

    When a graphic work of art depicting two men having sex was hung up in a busy hallway on a community college campus, it stirred up a huge controversy. Some students wanted it taken down, while others opposed the idea of censoring art. Instead of retreating to t...

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    Dedicating a little time to tune into your body fortifies you to better handle the stresses of daily life.

    How to Do This Practice:

  • Find a quiet place where you feel safe and comfortable.You can be standing, sitting, or lying down. Make sure that you feel relaxed.

  • Close your eyes, and take a few deep, long breaths.

  • Move your attention through your body slowly, part by part. Focus on your feet, then your calves, knees, and so on, ...

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    September 15, 2022 18 min

    How do you forgive someone while still holding them accountable? What if that person is yourself? This week, our guest tries a practice in forgiving herself and someone else.

    Episode summary:

    Anoosha Syed appreciates her name now, but as a kid, she struggled with feeling different from everyone else. She had friends call her “Annie” and even dyed her hair blonde in an effort to look less Pakistani. Anoosha joins us after trying a...

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    Letting go of our regrets can motivate us to improve and help us grow. Alex Elle, a certified breathwork and writing coach, guides us through a meditation to forgive and accept ourselves.

    How to Do This Practice:

  • Take a deep breath. As you exhale, remember all you have done in the past that led you to come to be where you are today.

  • Remember that you are allowed to forgive yourself and let it go. Give yourself permission to rele...

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    September 1, 2022 21 min

    When's the last time you made a good memory — intentionally? Our guest tries a practice in cultivating positive experiences and taking time to savor them.

    Episode summary:

    Life doesn't always hand us good times, but we can benefit as much or more when we create our own happy memories and take time to appreciate them. This week on The Science of Happiness, our guest tries a practice to intentionally create good experienc...

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    When was the last time you thought about your ancestors? This guided meditation by indigenous scholar Yuria Celidwen will help you connect to your heritage and reap the potent benefits of remembering your roots.

    How to Do This Practice:

  • Bring your attention to the center of your chest, allow the chest to open, and relax.

  • Notice an open space in your chest when you breathe in. Pause before exhaling, resting your awareness in the ...

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    August 18, 2022 21 min

    Comedian Aparna Nancherla has always struggled with anxiety — can a new technique help her cope?

    Episode summary:

    Comedian Aparna Nancherla has always struggled with anxiety. Starting a new task at work, writing her book, talking to a baby — you name it, she worries about it. And while she’s built a career in stand-up comedy making light of her struggles, she still suffers. Aparna joins us to share what it’s like to try a new t...

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    A few slow, mindful paces can lower your cortisol and make you more at ease. Psychologist Dacher Keltner guides you through this Walking Meditation.

    How to Do This Practice:

  • Find a relatively peaceful space that allows you to walk back and forth for 10-15 paces, where you won’t be disturbed or observed.

  • Begin to walk forward slowly, lifting one foot first, then placing it gently on the floor or ground ahead of you, heel first. N...

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    August 4, 2022 18 min

    What if you could fall in love, or forge deep connections in just 45 minutes? Our guests try out 36 questions with their partners to see if they can strengthen their connection.

    Episode summary:

    There are 36 questions that have been shown over and over again in lab studies to help people fall in love or form fast connections. In this week’s episode, we bring back Kristen Meinzer and Jolenta Greenberg of By the Book podcast*.* T...

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    Connect to yourself and the land you stand on in under 10 minutes with this grounding practice led by Indigenous scholar Dr. Yuria Celidwen.

    How to Do This Practice:

  • If possible, go outside and find some natural ground, like grass or dirt. If you're wearing shoes or socks, take them off and place the soles of your feet directly on the ground.

  • Bring your attention to the earth beneath you. Allow it to hold you, paying attention...

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