Happiness podcast rises in popularity, success

Course by Yale professor claims to improve mood and happiness

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Happiness podcast rises in popularity, success

source: www.happinesslab.fm

source: www.happinesslab.fm

source: www.happinesslab.fm

Amanda Cassel, Managing Editor

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“Just don’t worry about it.”

“Get more sleep.”

“Take care of yourself.”

While this advice is supposed to lead to better mental health and wellness, it is easier said than done.

Yale University psychology professor Laura Santos’ podcast, “The Happiness Lab” approaches wellness with concrete advice for how people should define, understand and seek happiness in their lives and it really does bring new insights into the science of achieving happiness

In January of 2018, Santos designed and launched her course, Psychology and the Good Life, for about 30 students whom she would closely monitor throughout the semester, but her class quickly grew to be Yale’s most popular class in its more than 300-year history. The intended small class turned out to be a concert hall full of students eagerly awaiting Santos’ guide to the secret of happiness.

Today, more than 18 months later, hundreds of thousands of people have taken the class either in person or for free online, while thousands more have listened to her podcast. 

Santos speculates that the course got significant press on campus, because  much of the student body genuinely was notably unhappy and the same observation extends to the greater population.

Throughout her podcast, none of Santos’ ideas seem particularly shocking. Instead she used the latest in scientific studies to back up her advice and make it more than what she calls “hippie dippie B.S.”

The amount of positive feedback from Santos’ students is enough to prove she knows what she is talking about.

Since teaching her first section, Santos has heard back from many of her online and in-person students who have thanked her for her work which made a substantial impact on their lives.

In Episode 1, Santos describes that happiness is intentional. She characterizes it as much as it is not about chasing an ideal or a life, and she has specific actions you can take to help happiness come more easily to you.

Santos defines happiness as having two components: being happy in life (the experience of positive emotions) and being happy with life (the sense of being satisfied). Much to Santos’ chagrin, there isn’t a quick, five-minute fix to unhappiness. Nevertheless, she does say there are some simple actions people can take to slowly improve their overall happiness. Actions such as expressing gratitude and kindness, taking time to connect with people you care about, counting your blessings and being more accepting of the bad things without becoming complacent or comfortable with unhappiness are some of Santos’ ideas about how to promote a happy lifestyle.

Throughout the podcast, Santos analyzes different people who get benefits that are typically associated with happiness –– promotions, an idealized spouse, winning the lottery, medals in the Olympics and more.

Santos uses scientific studies to draw the conclusion that the things we think will make us happy actually don’t. And the things we think will make us unhappy can make us less so. Essentially, she uses her podcast to tell listeners how to reorient their goal-focused lives.

Santos describes happiness as something that doesn’t just occur and stays forever. Constant happiness, in Santos’ mind, wouldn’t mean anything.

To feel and appreciate happiness, we also need to experience other human emotions. But, to attain happiness, it takes a conscious effort and intention towards positive behavior and Santos believes, it  is possible for anyone, just a matter of the right plan and methods to achieve it.