How to Be Happy Right Now, With Dr. Laurie Santos

Picture: Mike Marsland/Yale University

Dr. Santos is a professor of psychology and head of Silliman College at Yale University. Shes an expert on human cognition and the cognitive predispositions that hinder much better choices, and her course, “Psychology and the Good Life” just recently ended up being Yales most popular course in over 300 years.

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Highlights from todays episode
From the Dr. Laurie Santos interview:
On how to identify which types of online social interaction are most advantageous to your psychological health:
So one method we can think of it is: how can we get closest to what were naturally constructed to do? Another way is simply like to mindfully reflect on what feels good. I believe this is what all of us require to do increasingly more. Its like just after you have a particular interaction, how did you feel when you scrolled through your Instagram feed for an hour? How do you feel afterwards? If youre like me, it might be like, “I feel sort of gross, a little apathetic.” How did you feel after that Zoom happy hour? Well, you understand, some days Im enriched and sensation great … If it was like an hour that I was on a Zoom delighted hour after like countless hours for work Zoom conferences, like, I feel type of nasty. I required to get up and walk around. So the answer to what feels finest is going to change. And thats OKAY, too. I think the key is to mindfully focus on what it feels like due to the fact that the stuff we anticipate is going to feel great, does not [constantly] necessarily feel excellent.

This week, we sit down with The Happiness Lab host and Yale University psychology teacher Dr. Laurie Santos to learn some of the science-backed methods we can use to help us cope, and even find some happiness. Listen to hear Dr. Santos talk about how strategies like reframing and mindfulness can help us be more durable in the face of catastrophe, and how we can get better at precisely evaluating the things that bring us pleasure.

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To hear more about the science of joy, we suggest listening to the complete episode.

Another way is simply like to mindfully reflect on what feels great. Its like simply after you have a particular interaction, how did you feel when you scrolled through your Instagram feed for an hour? How did you feel after that Zoom delighted hour? Well, you understand, some days Im enriched and feeling excellent … If it was like an hour that I was on a Zoom pleased hour after like millions of hours for work Zoom meetings, like, I feel kind of nasty. Here are the things I can control: my response to those things, you know, whether I call a friend or not, whether I pull out my yoga mat and get a great workout in, because thatll make me feel excellent.

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Episode Transcript

On the technique for emotional strength motivated by the Greek stoic philosophers:
Epictetus started his book with this idea that there are two things in the world: there are things that you can manage and there are things that you cant manage. You know, the reality that the vaccines arent rolling out as quickly as I desire, the fact that my students doubt about whether they can remain on school this term, the reality that I cant see my buddies, all those I cant control. Here are the things I can manage: my reaction to those things, you understand, whether I call a friend or not, whether I pull out my yoga mat and get a good workout in, because thatll make me feel great. Those are the things I can manage. And what the Stoics say is if you concentrate on the things you can control, nobody can require you to have a negative emotion.

On how we set about pursuing joy the incorrect method:
[T] his is the problem with this concept of chasing after happiness: its not that we should not chase after joy. Its just that when we set about chasing it, we do it wrong … if we really want to focus on what really makes us pleased, typically its things that are much easier than we believe. Its things like requiring time to be present. [T] aking time for a social connection, moving your body, getting enough sleep … When you go after that stuff it does not seem like youre chasing happiness, youre simply doing the stuff that you ought to normally do as a human. But it ends up that can come with a lot of well being at the end.

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