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

June 20, 2024 23 mins

Everyday activities, such as cleaning and gardening, can be sources of joy and opportunities for mindfulness. This week, our guest shares his experience practicing mindful sweeping on the temple stairs in Kyoto, Japan with Shoukei Matsumoto, a Buddhist monk.

Link to episode transcript: https://tinyurl.com/3r6ju2wh

The Science of Happiness is now Instagram, and we'd love for you to follow us! You can find us at @Scien...

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Last week on The Science of Happiness, we discussed the scientifically proven health benefits of the ancient Chinese practice of qigong with Harvard psychologist Peter Wayne. This week, we practice a standing meditation, with qigong master Sherry Zhang. 

Link to episode transcript: https://tinyurl.com/3t5wdexe

How to Do This Practice:

  1. Take a moment to stand upright with your feet together and take a few deep breaths.
  2. Hav...
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Studies show qigong can strengthen your body and mind, and reduce cortisol levels. We explore this Chinese meditative movement practice that dates back over 4,000 years.

Link to episode transcript: https://tinyurl.com/2ywsck4e

Episode summary: Finding calm in your day to day life can be stressful, especially in a world that seems to be moving at such a rapid pace. Your life can change in an instant– and it can be really diff...

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Here's a favorite of ours: visualize your best possible self and tap into your inherent enough-ness with this guided meditation by Justin Michael Williams.

Link to episode transcript: https://tinyurl.com/ytakaaep

How to Do This Practice:

  1. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and visualize your ideal future self, the person of your dreams you’ve always wanted to be. Try noticing as many details as you can: What color ...
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She's the world's leading animal behaviorist and an autism advocacy leader. Guest Temple Grandin shares what kind of support systems led her to success, and we hear about how community, and lack thereof, affects our health and ability to succeed.


Link to episode transcript: https://tinyurl.com/y82vw4dv


Episode summary:
Having strong relationships is vital to our well-being. We tend to be ha...

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Experiencing awe can help us slow down and connect to the world around us. So how can we harness the power of this feeling? Host Dacher Keltner leads us in a colorful meditation to bring about awe. 

Link to episode transcript: https://tinyurl.com/3e9cyky5

Practice:

  1. Please find a space, either inside or outside, where you can take a moment and pause and look slowly at a scene in front of you. 
  2. Settle into a pattern of dee...
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Hearing birdsong can help us feel less anxious, recover from stress faster, and even reduce muscle tension ... but can it help us fall asleep? Drew Ackerman of Sleep With Me podcast listens to recordings of birdsongs to see if it'll help with insomnia.

Link to episode transcript: https://tinyurl.com/5n7sxjtb


Episode summary:

Drew Ackerman, aka Scooter of Sleep With Me Podcast, has always struggled to get to sleep....

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Pilina is an indigenous Hawaiian word, or concept, that describes our deep interconnectedness. Harvard Clinical Psychology Fellow Jo Qina'au guides us through a contemplation of our profound interrelationships.

Link to Episode Transcript: https://shorturl.at/npAM9

How to Do This Practice:

Pilina comes from the indigenous Hawaiian language and culture. Pilina means connection, or interconnectedness.

  1. Settle into a c...

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April 25, 2024 19 mins

Thinking about happy memories activates reward centers in our brains, and can help us feel more connected and accepted. Palestinian-American poet Naomi Shihab Nye discovers the joy-bringing power of recalling her good childhood memories.

Link to Transcript: https://tinyurl.com/2r63e6tn


Episode summary: Whether it’s news notifications or work emails, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the stresses of our time every mo...

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A walking meditation led by 10% Happier Host Dan Harris

How to Do This Practice:

  1. Begin walking.
  2. Bring your awareness to the present moment, noticing sights and sounds around you. When your mind wanders to worries or other thoughts, gently bring yourself back to what you notice around you.
  3. See if you can notice the sensations in your leg as you take each step.
  4. Continue walking this way as long as you wish.

Transcrip...

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April 11, 2024 15 mins

Finding ways to bend tasks toward your strengths and passions can make you happier, more productive and find more meaning in your life — no matter your job.

Link to episode transcript: https://tinyurl.com/4ky325rs


Episode summary:

When the poet and former professor Susan Glass first retired, she stacked her days with so many volunteer gigs and passion projects, she felt like she was working harder than ever before...

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Accepting difficult feelings like anger or irritation can help us keep our cool, feel better overall, and find calm on the other side.

Link to episode transcript: https://tinyurl.com/n6hm5yhz

How to Do This Practice:

  1. Begin the practice by settling your mind and body. Notice your breath and any sensations that arise in your body,

  2. Shift your attention away from your body, recalling an instance where you felt mildly i...

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March 28, 2024 17 mins

We learn techniques for working across the aisle without compromising our values from a Democratic politician in one of the most conservative states, Oklahoma.

Link to episode transcript: https://tinyurl.com/w2a9a42p


Episode summary:

Trying to have a conversation with someone who has an opposing view can be exhausting. This week, we explore what it means to have productive discussions when we disagree. Democratic ...

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Beyond just feeling good, studies show experiencing other people's joy makes us more compassionate and satisfied with life.

Link to episode transcript: https://tinyurl.com/kycnk4ca

How to Do This Practice:

  1. Find a comfortable position to begin this practice, focusing on your breath.
  2. Visualize a person or situation that brings you a sense of joy or happiness. It might be a child laughing, the success of a friend, or even a...
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March 14, 2024 16 mins

When we remember the times someone had our back, it changes the way we view ourselves and the world. Our guest explores what happens when trying a practice to feel more supported.

Link to episode transcript: https://tinyurl.com/yc2kpzmy

Episode summary:

Ever since he was a young child, José Valladares has spent his life caring for others and has taken pride in supporting his family and community, For our show, he tried a prac...

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Indigenous artist Lyla June leads a 5-minute freewriting exercise about our personal journeys. Autobiographical writing has been shown to help do better in relationships and feel more satisfied in life.

Link to episode transcript: https://tinyurl.com/3622n5s6

How to Do This Practice:

You will need writing utensils for this practice.

  1. Find a comfortable place to start this writing practice, taking a few moments to g...

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February 29, 2024 19 mins

Playfulness can improve your relationships, help you excel at work, and reduce stress. We explore a strategy shown to help you become more playful.

Link to episode transcript: http://tinyurl.com/b5xc78r3


Episode summary:

Patricia Mebrahtu used to have so much fun as a child. Now, as a medical assistant and mother of two young children, she found herself feeling burnt out and irritable. For our show, Patricia tried...

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We all have a playful side, and research shows acting on it can help us when we need to move through challenging emotions, manage conflict, and be more creative.

Link to episode transcript: http://tinyurl.com/4bxtn9ek

How to Do This Practice:

  1. Find a comfortable position to begin the practice. Focus on breathing deeply.

  2. Think back to a moment of play during your childhood. Recall specific details like your age, what...

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February 15, 2024 15 mins

When we devote a little time to the other people in our life, we actually feel like we have more of it. Our guest tried a practice to regain control of his time and schedule

Link to episode transcript: http://tinyurl.com/mr3r6jfn


Episode summary:

Like many of us, our guest Bryant Terry felt like he never had enough time in his day. And while he was eager to reconnect with his family, his schedule was spiraling out...

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When we treat ourselves with kindness and gratitude, research shows we feel more motivated and less self-critical. Meditation teacher Jack Kornfield leads in a practice where we gently turn inward.

Link to episode transcript: http://tinyurl.com/yfbz28h2

How to Do This Practice:

  1. Find a comfortable position to begin the practice. Focus on taking deep breaths, relaxing your body.

  2. As you recognize the different sensati...

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