This Spring I had some spare time on my hands during the pandemic lockdown. With it, amongst other things, I took the popular Happiness Coursera class, “The Science of Well-Being“.
Soon after finishing the course during challenging times, I received a follow-up email from Professor Laurie Santos thru Coursera. She wanted to share some new resources to help us get over the hurdle we were all going thru at the time. Within it, she mentioned The Happiness Lab, her podcast. She and her team had created 10 new full-length 40-minute episodes. They go beyond what is taught in the course, exploring new tips relevant for improving our well-being in the time of COVID-19 and onwards.
She had received many emails from people around the world asking her to share her content in a new way. Not everyone is able to take a whole Yale class or has the time to read an entire book on the science of happiness. However, many people have a half hour or so free to listen to a podcast. Hence, they decided to create a podcast around this topic so The Happiness Lab was born!
Each podcast focuses on a single theme
Within the very first episode called “You Can Change,” Santos provides a synopsis of her work on this subject. She mentions how the Yale class came into being. Then provided us with the tale behind its popularity on the Coursera platform.
In this installment, “happiness” is defined as experiencing positive emotions and being satisfied with your life. However, happiness is subjective. Self-reporting is the answer to this. People are asked questions such as, “How happy are you from a score of 1 to 10? 1 being not at all and 10 being very happy.”
Happiness is possible. However, we go about it in the wrong way. We hope that the “perfect” person will appear in our lives, the promotion comes thru, etc. Instead gratitude, kindness, social connections, counting our blessings, etc. are what we should be concentrating on. If you think of it as a journey instead of a destination, then you are heading in the right direction.
It is pointed out that creating and sticking with change is a very hard task to continuously follow. Even the professor finds herself falling short and describes how this has happened to her. There is nothing wrong with you if you are unable to do so.
The Unhappy Millionaire focuses on how major events (both the good and bad) do not define our future happiness. We think if we have money, it will make us happy. This is not necessarily the case. In fact, science has found, it is quite the opposite. Also, when a catastrophe of epic proportions happens, you know who your friends really are! In the end, more good than bad will come out of a bad experience. We learn, grow and move on as a stronger person for it.
A Silver Lining is about having healthy reference points. Olympic Silver medalist Michelle Kwan provides some good examples of this. She reframes negatives into positives with ease. Instead of thinking that she came in second and what a letdown it was, she was just happy she had made it to the Olympic arena!
Remember not to compare yourself to others and find yourself wanting. Yes, we all know this is much easier said than done since we constantly find ourselves doing it. However, you’ll be much happier for it!
There are many other episodes for you to dive into which will bring you more insight into how to become a happier person.
Happiness can be learned, as the Coursera class, a “Science of Well-Being”, showed us. It does take constant work. However, this podcast provides some extra tips and tricks to help enhance your everyday life in more beneficial ways. You’ll develop new positive habits and live a much happier life.
There is also a recently created Happiness Lab Classroom Facebook group which you can join here. It will provide helpful tips you can use to learn more on this topic as well.
What have you been reading or listening to in order to help you get thru this unprecedented time in our world’s history? Please let us know within the “Comments” section of this article down below.