Science-Backed Strategies for Happiness (From The Happiness Lab)

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Katie: Hello and welcome to Valence Mama Podcast. I’m from and At the same time it is a healthy, completely safe and highly effective personal care product line with our new personal care line. I think this incident is a very timely consideration of the dynamics of the time that we are all going to visit now. I’m here with Dr. Lori Santos, Professor of Psychology and Head of Yale University’s Solomon College, as well as host of the critically acclaimed podcast, The Happyness Lab. And after observing anxiety and anxiety in his college students, he began teaching a course entitled “Psychology and the Good Life”, the first class in Yale’s history with more than a thousand enrolled students. I quickly became popular and it also reached 200,000 people from all over the world through an online version. If you want to check it out, it will be linked to’s show notes. And although he is now known as an expert on happiness, his research also explores the broader question of what makes the human mind unique. And it often involves comparing the cognitive abilities of non-human animals to humans. And in this case, we really enjoy not only the science of happiness and the things we know about it, but also some practical research-driven strategies that we all use to address these uncertainties. Let’s talk about it really deeply. The times that lead to more happiness. It was a really, really fun interview, and I know you’ll enjoy it and learn as much as I did. So, without further ado, let’s jump.

Dr. Santos, welcome. Thanks for coming here

Dr. Santos: Thank you so much for putting me on the podcast.

Katie: I’m so excited to have you here. I think your research right now is incredible and especially important. I think we have some great headlines today. But for those who aren’t familiar, let’s get started, can you tell us about the “Lab of Happiness”?

Dr. Santos: So “Happiness Lab” is a podcast I host that is about the science of happiness. And the basic premise of the “happiness lab” is that our minds lie to us about all sorts of things that make us happy. So we all have these myths about all sorts of things that we should do to make us feel better. You know, we can change our jobs or our relationships or, you know, fundamentally change our circumstances in some way. But science suggests that the things we think about do not really affect happiness. And so the podcast is about all sorts of things you can do to feel better in an evidence-based way.

Katie: I like it. And so it came, you teach in Yale what I read, is that correct?

Dr. Santos: Yes. So I’m a professor at Yale. And a few years ago, I started a new class on the science of happiness at Yale’s campus, called Psychology and the Good Life. And the class came out of the fact that in my new role on campus as a college head where I live with the students, I began to see that the students, like me, were very unhappy to be in college. Were You know, the students were incredibly depressed and overwhelmed all the time and there was only one kind of restlessness and it was really frustrating because you know, the students I cared about that my Who is in the residential college community?

But it was also frustrating because as scientists, we really know that there is evidence-based behavior in which we can engage to feel better, you know, these are surprisingly easy interventions. What we can all do to improve our health. Again, not incredibly, but like, you know, the importance and the ways in which we can really improve our work. And so I decided to create this new class to teach my Yale students all about these different interventions in the science of happiness and what they can do to make them feel better.

What I didn’t expect was that it would become the largest class ever in the history of Yale University, with over a thousand students entering the classroom, which was really unrealistic and extremely amazing. ۔ But it made me realize that you know this kind of material is in great demand. And so the podcast was a response to that demand, a way to give people class material that probably didn’t have time for the Ivy League course itself.

Katie: I like it. And you have some incredible episodes, I make sure I link to some of the show notes here. How do you define happiness as a term before we jump into understanding the psychology of happiness and the practical ways in which we can move towards it? Because I think there are probably a lot of misunderstandings with that word.

Dr. Santos: So, you know, there are as many definitions of happiness as there are fortunes and things. I think one of the ways we think about it in the podcast and in our class is to get the most out of a social scientist, to the extent of happiness, that’s the kind of definition that scientists use. , But I think it really works a lot better. . And so we think of happiness as having two parts. So it is happy in your life and happy in your life. So being happy in your life is just the fact that you like things on a daily basis. You experience a lot of things like positive emotions, happiness and joy and laughter, and you know, less negative emotions, less depression and anxiety and sadness and anger and things like that. This is how to be happy in your life.

But there is another element of happiness, which is to be happy with your life. And that means, everything is considered, you will be satisfied with how your life is going. And so the research suggests that maximizing these two parts, being lucky in your life and being happy in your life, is really a way to promote high psychological well-being. And you can go to the association between them. I think a lot of parents have experienced at least one where this happens, you know, when you have a newborn baby, I think you’re really happy with your life, you know. You think your life is so meaningful and you have to take care of a new baby, but in your life, you know, there are a lot of things, like, sleep. There is no need to deal with really dirty diapers. And so I think there are times when those things can be shared but if you really want to maximize happiness, the best way to do that is to make sure you have a lot of positives. Facing emotions and generally feeling satisfied with how your life is going. .

Katie: Got it, that’s fine. And I’m guessing from this next question, the answer would be that there is probably a very individual and personal answer for each person. I work on the health and maximal nutrition aspect, I know this, while there are some commonalities, we have to experiment with our own personal nutrition and health plan and the answer is the same. do not have. Everyone but I am curious, so perhaps the best way to ask the question would be, what ordinary people have we found that are different from those who have such happiness?

Dr. Santos: Well, there are a lot of different factors and they are not what we expect, you know, we assume that people who have a lot of joy and happiness in their lives, like, incredibly Successful people, you know, a lot of people or people in very good condition. But statistics show that our living conditions are less important than we think. If you are in a relationship, you know how rich you are, what your job is. It doesn’t matter as much as we think.

The important things are some things. One is exactly what you were saying, healthy habits. And they can be healthy eating habits, they can be healthy sleep habits and especially exercise. Work is underway, which states that half an hour a day of cardio is as effective as a Zoloft prescription, an anti-depressant medication to reduce the symptoms of depression. So we forget, you know, the way we treat our bodies makes a huge difference.

But another thing we really need to do to improve our lives and happiness with our lives is social interaction. We think of happiness as self-care, you know, such an idea is to “treat yourself.” But in practice, really successful people out there are really dependent on others. You know, they’re worried about what’s going on with other people. You know, they really want to get the finishing touches. They are really grateful to the people around them and they express that gratitude.

And most importantly, they really prioritize spending time with the people they care about. Every available survey of happy people I know of shows that happy people spend more and more time with others, so they are often physically around other people and they often Prefer those who care, you know, so they make time for it, you know, their friends and family members and loved ones.

And then one last piece of happiness I would say is usually like our mindset. You know, if we have the mindset of feeling deprived, present, mindful and mindful on a daily basis, then such habits can promote both happiness and mood. Part of happiness, like feeling happy in your life.

Katie: Got it and I think there’s a lot of internal script here, at least I know I can say to myself, “If only you know, fill in the blanks,” then I It will be a pleasure. ” And to me, it was like struggling with weight for a long time, like, “I would be happy if I were just that size,” or, “I would be happy if it were just my finances.” And I think maybe we all have some version of this script that we somehow believe in, even if it’s not really true. And I know for myself, with the health and physical aspect, I really had to move it completely. And that’s when I started to love myself and start to be happy and thankful that weight things actually started to resolve themselves. But getting rid of his script, “I’d be happy if it just happened,” and choosing, “I’ll be happy now,” and then the result was resolved by itself. But why do you think we want things that don’t really make us happy? What do we get in this script or this loop?

Dr. Santos: I mean, it’s a multi-million dollar question because I’m with you on every single part you mentioned, you know, “I’m happy when I’m thin. Will, “or, you know,” when my podcast comes in at number one, I’ll be happy, “or whatever, right? It’s as if we’re constantly celebrating our future in one way or another. And this is wrong for two reasons. One, you know, if we’re not really happy, we’re less likely to get there.

So a lot of research shows that our sarcasm about happiness is backwards. We believe that success in reaching our goals will make us happy, but a lot of research also shows that happiness itself can help us reach our goals. So people who are happier are healthier. You know, the happier you are at a time, the less likely you are to get sick, the more likely you are to live longer. You know that happy people do better at work, happier people are the ones who get better performance reviews and so on.

Happy people are more likely to be in a relationship and later in happy marriages. And these are all studies that have been done in the long run. So we can look at happiness at a time and see if it is predicted, say, if you are in a relationship at two times. And so I think one of the types is that one of the biggest mistakes is that we misunderstand the corn arrow. We think, “When I come, you know, X, Y and Z, I’ll be happy.” But for the most part, focusing on being happy first will help us get what we want, the living conditions we want later.

But the other problem is that, in fact, our circumstances are not the key to happiness, which is exactly what the statistics suggest, especially with physical objects. There is a lot of evidence that you know, people who achieve their weight loss goals or people who get plastic surgery, you know that things like this make you happy. Like, they don’t make you as happy as you think or often as long as you think. Then you can just go back to these other random patterns of sorts.

Even if you get things you like, if you get stuck in it, like, bad things to think about, what happens as soon as you get what you want, you just think and go back. That is something else. And we’ve seen it, we really have a whole episode of it on our podcast, an episode called “The Unhappy Crorepati” where we talk about it in people’s situations where money You think, you know, “I wish I could make a million, I’d be happy.” But then this research shows that as soon as people really get that one million dollars, that’s how they would be. There are, “Well, now I need 50 million,” you know, “Now I need to be a billionaire,” right? “I can’t be happy unless I’m actually a billionaire.”

اور تمام نتائج تجویز کرتے ہیں کہ ، آپ جانتے ہیں ، ایک بار جب آپ وہاں پہنچ گئے تو ، آپ پھر بھی خوش نہیں ہوں گے۔ اور اس ل I میں سوچتا ہوں کہ تحقیق سے ظاہر ہوتا ہے کہ ان چیزوں میں سے ایک یہ ہے کہ ہمیں ان خیالوں کو ختم کرنے کی ضرورت ہے اور ان سوچوں کو ختم کرنے کا ایک طریقہ یہ ہے کہ اس چیز کا ادراک کریں جو واقعی اہمیت رکھتا ہے۔ بالکل ٹھیک اسی طرح کے جو آپ نے اپنی کہانی میں دکھایا ہے کہ ایک بار جب آپ اس لوپ سے باہر ہو گئے اور واقعی اس چیز پر توجہ مرکوز کی کہ اچھ .ی طرح ، چیزیں بہرحال لائن میں پڑ گئیں ، ویسے بھی تمام حالات لائن میں آجاتے ہیں۔

کیٹی: بالکل ، یہ سمجھ میں آتا ہے۔ اور مجھے پیار ہے کہ آپ نے پالا ، یہ ایک زبردست واقعہ ہے جو میں نے آپ کے بارے میں سنا ہے ، “ناخوش ارب پتی”۔ میں اس بات کو یقینی بنائے گا کہ میں اس سے منسلک ہوں۔ اور مجھے لگتا ہے کہ واقعتا unique تمام عجیب و غریب حرکیات اور الگ تھلگوں کے ساتھ واقعتا see یہ دیکھنے کے ل we ہمارے پاس ایک انوکھا وقت ہے۔ اور ہمارے پاس یہ ساری مشہور شخصیات ہیں جو اپنے ملٹی ملٹی ملین ڈالر کی حویلیوں میں پھنس گئیں ہیں اور وہ خوش نہیں ہیں اور وہ الگ تھلگ ہیں۔ اور ہم یہ کھیل سوشل میڈیا پر دیکھ رہے ہیں اور میں جانتا ہوں کہ ان میں سے کچھ عوامل کی وجہ سے مشہور شخصیت کی ثقافت کے خلاف بہت زیادہ رد عمل ہوا ہے۔

لیکن میرے خیال میں بات کرنے کا یہ واقعی ایک اہم وقت بھی ہے ، آپ نے خوشی میں رشتوں کو ایک بہت بڑا عنصر ہونے کا ذکر کیا۔ اور ابھی ہم بہت سارے لوگوں کے لئے تنہائی کے اس بے مثال وقت میں قسم کے ہیں۔ لہذا میں جانتا ہوں کہ ، اگر ، اگر آپ کے پاس بہت سارے جذبات جو اب بہت سارے لوگوں کے لئے رونما ہورہے ہیں جو شاید خوشی میں مداخلت کررہے ہیں ان سے نمٹنے کے لئے اگر آپ کے پاس کوئی عمدہ حکمت عملی ہے۔

ڈاکٹر سینٹوس: میرے خیال میں یہ واقعی اہم ہے۔ میرا مطلب ہے ، میں صرف اس طرح کی توثیق کرنے کے لئے سوچتا ہوں ، جیسے ہم بہت سارے طریقوں سے واقعی ناقابل یقین ، غیر حقیقی ، عجیب ، خوفناک وقت میں ہیں۔ اور اس ل I میں سمجھتا ہوں کہ حکمت عملی بنانا جو آپ کی فلاح و بہبود کو بہتر بنائے اب پہلے سے کہیں زیادہ اہم ہے۔ اگر کسی حد تک اس قسم کی چیزوں کی وجہ سے جو میں کہہ رہا تھا اور ، آپ جانتے ہو ، ہمیں خوشی کا سبب تیر غلط لگتا ہے۔ اور ایسے شواہد موجود ہیں جو بتاتے ہیں کہ خوش رہنا دراصل آپ کے مدافعتی فنکشن کو تھوڑا سا فروغ دے سکتا ہے۔ اس میں مطالعات موجود ہیں جہاں آپ سانس وائرس کے تابع ہوتے ہیں ، اور آپ ان کے مزاج کو مختلف کرتے ہیں اور آپ دیکھتے ہیں کہ واقعتا سانس کے وائرس کون پکڑتا ہے اور آپ کو یہ معلوم ہوتا ہے کہ ، خوش مزاج ہونا یا زیادہ مثبت ہونے کا موقف رکھنا حقیقت میں آپ کو کم بناتا ہے۔ وائرس پکڑنے کا امکان

ایک بار پھر ، وائرس سے بچاؤ کی طرح نہیں ، ظاہر ہے ، جیسے آپ ابھی بھی اپنے ہاتھ دھو رہے ہوں ، اور معاشرتی طور پر فاصلہ طے کرنا چاہئے اور یہ ساری چیزیں جو ہم جانتے ہیں ہمیں CoVID کے دوران کرنے کی ضرورت ہے لیکن ، آپ جانتے ہو ، یہ آپ کے جسم کی حفاظت کا ایک اور طریقہ ہے ، . تو مجھے لگتا ہے کہ ابھی تھوڑا خوشی ہونا زیادہ ضروری ہے۔ لیکن ، آپ جانتے ہو ، خوشی ، معاشرتی روابط کے ل relevant میں نے جن اہم چیزوں کو فہرست میں قرار دیا ہے ، ان میں سے ایک معاشرتی دوری کے وقت بہت مشکل ہے۔ آپ جانتے ہیں ، ہم میں سے بہت سے معاشرتی کام نہیں کرسکتے ہیں جو ہم کرنے کے عادی ہیں۔ آپ جانتے ہو ، دوستوں کے ساتھ ظہرانہ کے لئے باہر جائیں یا ، جیسے ، اگر ہمارے گھر والے بہت دور رہتے ہیں تو ان کے ساتھ ملیں۔ جیسے ، یہ وہ چیزیں ہیں جن کی ہمیں اجازت نہیں ہے کیونکہ ہم اپنی جسمانی صحت کو بچانے کی کوشش کر رہے ہیں۔

اچھی خبر یہ ہے کہ معاشرتی دوری کا مطلب سماجی منقطع ہونے کا مطلب نہیں ہے۔ آپ جانتے ہو کہ ہم دوسرے لوگوں سے رابطہ کرنے کے ل ways ہر طرح کی ٹکنالوجی کے ذریعہ ڈھونڈ سکتے ہیں جو ہمارے جدید دور میں ہم خوش قسمت ہیں۔ آپ جانتے ہو ، آپ اور میں ابھی زوم پر بات کر رہے ہیں اور اس کے باوجود کہ آپ بہت دور ہیں اور ، آپ جانتے ہو ، ہم معاشرتی طور پر ایک دوسرے سے دور ہیں ، ہم واقعی رابطہ کرسکتے ہیں اور یہ واقعی اچھی گفتگو کر سکتے ہیں۔ یہ وہ طریقے ہیں جنہیں ہم اپنے آس پاس کے دوسرے لوگوں کے ساتھ جڑتے رہنا چاہئے ، جیسے کہ اچھ oldے پرانے زمانے والے فون سے فیس ٹائم اور زوم جیسی چیزوں سے لوگوں کو بات کرنے کے ل we جن کا ہم خیال رکھتے ہیں صرف ان کے چہروں کو دیکھنے ، ان سے متصل ہونے ، اس مشکل وقت کے دوران یہ ناقابل یقین حد تک طاقتور بننے والا ہے۔

لیکن ہم وہ کام بھی کرسکتے ہیں جو ضروری طور پر اتنے ہی رسمی نہیں ہیں جتنا کہ ہم ان ٹیکنالوجیز کے ساتھ سوچنا پسند کرتے ہیں۔ میرا خیال ہے کہ ہم میں سے بہت سارے جانتے ہیں کہ ہم ان ٹکنالوجیوں کو ورک کانفرس کال کی طرح ، جیسا کہ کہنا ، کسی طرح کا رابطہ کال یا اس طرح یا آپ جیسے کچھ کرنے کے لئے استعمال کرسکتے ہیں ، جیسے پوڈ کاسٹ انٹرویو کیلئے۔ لیکن ہم یہ بھول جاتے ہیں کہ ہم واقعی غیر رسمی طور پر رابطہ قائم کرنے کے لئے ان ٹکنالوجیوں کا استعمال کرسکتے ہیں ، اور یہی وہ معاشرتی کنکشن ہے جو ہم ابھی بہت کم محسوس کررہے ہیں۔ آپ جانتے ہو جیسے کام پر واٹر کولر پر اپنے دوست کے ساتھ چیٹ کرتے ہو یا ، آپ جانتے ہو جیسے اپنے پڑوسی کے پاس رک جاتے ہیں ، آپ جانتے ہیں ، جبکہ آپ جانتے ہو ، رات کا کھانا بناتے ہیں اور وہ چند منٹ کے لئے اندر آتی ہے یا کچھ یہ وہ قسم کی غیر رسمی بات چیت ہے جو ہمیں بھی ٹکنالوجی پر نقل تیار کرنے کی ضرورت ہے۔

اور اس ل I’ve میں یہ کام خود ہی کرنے کی کوشش کر رہا ہوں جیسے کہ آپ خود بھی جانتے ہو کہ ، “میں آن لائن یوگا کلاس کروں گا ،” یہ اس طرح ہے ، “ٹھیک ہے ، مجھے صرف اپنے دوست کو متن بھیجنے دیں اور دیکھیں کہ وہ کرنا چاہتی ہے یا نہیں۔ میرے ساتھ وہی ایک یا میں کاٹنا پسند کرتا ہوں ، آپ جانتے ہو ، رات کے کھانے کے لئے سبزیاں یا کچھ اور اور میں صرف آدھے گھنٹے کے لئے ایسا ہی کروں گا۔ اور یہ اس طرح ہے ، “اوہ ، مجھے یہ دیکھنے دو کہ میں ، میں زوم کو اپنے ایک اچھے دوست کو گلی میں جا سکتا ہوں ، تاکہ ہم سبزیوں کو کاٹتے ہوئے ہی گفتگو کرسکیں۔” یا کچھ اور۔ ان ٹکنالوجیوں کے اس قسم کے غیر رسمی استعمال ہماری فلاح و بہبود کے لئے واقعی طاقتور ثابت ہوں گے کیونکہ وہ اس غیر رسمی بات چیت کو تیار کر رہے ہیں جو ہم اس بحران کی وجہ سے دن میں کھو رہے ہیں۔

کیٹی: یہ عظیم خیالات ہیں۔ اور میری امید ، میرا مطلب ہے ، جیسا کہ آپ نے کہا ، یہ بالکل بے مثال ہے ، ہمیں اپنی نسل میں اس سے پہلے کبھی اس طرح کا سامنا نہیں کرنا پڑا تھا۔ میری امید ہے کہ معاشرتی طور پر اور پھر بحیثیت گروپ ہم اس میں سے اچھ keepی اچھی چیزیں رکھ سکتے ہیں۔ جیسے میں نے بہت سارے لوگوں کو پہلی بار باغبانی کرتے ہوئے سنا ہے ، مثال کے طور پر ، یا بہت سے لوگ گھر میں کھانا پکانا سیکھ رہے ہیں یا اس سے انکار کر رہے ہیں اور اپنے بچوں کے ساتھ زیادہ وقت گزار رہے ہیں۔ اور مجھے لگتا ہے کہ ابھی جو کچھ ہو رہا ہے اس میں بہت کچھ ہوسکتا ہے۔ میں یہ بھی امید کرتا ہوں کہ جب چیزیں بالآخر کھلنا شروع ہوجاتی ہیں تو ، اس سے ہمیں ان چیزوں کا شکریہ ادا کرنے کی یاد آجاتی ہے جو ہم کافی شاپ میں خاموش لمحوں میں ، یا کسی دوست سے گلے ملتے ہیں یا صرف ان غیر رسمی چیزوں کو حاصل کرنے کے ل granted ، ان چیزوں کا شکریہ ادا کرتے ہیں جو ہم استعمال کرتے تھے۔ لمحات ایک ساتھ ، جیسے آپ نے کہا۔ لیکن مجھے لگتا ہے کہ آپ کا پوڈ کاسٹ سننے سے ، ایک اور عام موضوع جب اس کی بات آتی ہے ، یہاں تک کہ جب ہم ابھی تک الگ تھلگ رہ چکے ہیں ، شکر ہے۔ اور آپ بہت ساری شکلوں میں شکرگزار کے بارے میں بات کرتے ہیں ، لیکن شکریہ خوشی سے کیسے تعلق رکھتا ہے؟

ڈاکٹر سانتوس: لہذا بہت سارے شواہد موجود ہیں کہ خوشی کے ل grat ، شکرانہ ضروری ہے ، بالکل مفت مداخلت کی طرح جو آپ ابھی اٹھاسکتے ہیں جو آپ کی فلاح و بہبود کو نمایاں طور پر اور بہت طویل عرصے تک فروغ دے گا۔ ہمارے پاس پوڈ کاسٹ کے ہمارے دوسرے سیزن میں ایک پوری قسط سامنے آرہی ہے ، جو مجھے یاد نہیں جب آپ ، جیسے ، آپ اس کا آغاز کر رہے ہو ، لیکن میں یہ کہنا چاہتا ہوں ، ہمارے پاس دوسرے سیزن میں ایک پوری قسط سامنے آرہی ہے۔ شکریہ کی طاقت کے بارے میں ہمارے پوڈ کاسٹ کی. اور شکریہ کے برعکس مسائل ، جو ایک بڑی بات ہے ، ٹھیک ہے؟ جو میرے خیال میں ابھی کلچرل طور پر بہت پسند ہے۔ جیسا کہ ہر کوئی شکایت کرنا چاہتا ہے اور مجھے ایسا محسوس ہوتا ہے ، خاص طور پر COVID-19 کے تناظر میں ، یہاں سے بہت سی قسم کی شکایات آرہی ہیں ، آپ جانتے ہو ، یہ کہ یہ کتنا احمق ہے اور معاشرتی دوری کے بارے میں شکایت کرنا اور اس سب کے بارے میں شکایت کرنا۔ چیزیں۔

لیکن اعداد و شمار سے پتہ چلتا ہے کہ واقعی میں آپ کی برکتوں کا تجربہ کرنے میں وقت لگانا واقعی طاقتور ثابت ہوسکتا ہے۔ کچھ کام تجویز کرتے ہیں کہ ہر دن جس کے لئے آپ ان کا مشکور ہوں تین سے پانچ چیزوں کو تحریری طور پر لکھنے کا آسان کام دو ہفتوں میں کم سے کم عرصے میں اپنی فلاح و بہبود کو نمایاں طور پر بڑھانا شروع کر سکتے ہیں۔ اور یہ بھی ثبوت موجود ہیں کہ آپ اپنے آس پاس کے لوگوں سے اظہار تشکر آپ کی فلاح و بہبود کو دیرینہ فروغ دے سکتے ہیں۔ مثبت ماہر نفسیات مارٹی سیلگیمن اور ان کے ساتھیوں کے ایک مطالعے سے پتہ چلتا ہے کہ جہاں آپ ، کہتے ہیں ، کسی کو فون کریں اور ان کے ساتھ ، جس کے بارے میں آپ ان کے لئے شکرگزار ہوں ، اس کا شکریہ ادا کرنے کا عمل ، حقیقت میں آپ کی خیریت کو فروغ دے سکتا ہے۔ ایک مہینے سے زیادہ عرصے تک ، لہذا آپ کو اچھی طرح دیکھ بھال کرنے میں نمایاں اضافہ دیکھا گیا جو ایک مہینے سے زیادہ عرصہ تک جاری رہتا ہے ، جو ایک طرح کا پاگل پن ہے اور ہم سب ابھی استعمال کرسکتے ہیں۔

لیکن مجھے لگتا ہے کہ شکرگزاری کی طاقت یہ ہے کہ یہ صرف ایک جذبات ہے جو آپ کو بہتر محسوس کرتا ہے اور وقت کے ساتھ ساتھ اس میں لچک پیدا ہوتی ہے۔ اور اسی طرح کی کلید صرف یہ ہے کہ آپ جانتے ہو ، ہماری روزمرہ کی زندگی کی برکات یا ایسی چیزوں کا تجربہ کرنا ہے جس کے لئے ہم ان کے مشکور ہیں۔ اور میں سمجھتا ہوں کہ اس سے پہلے آپ نے جو کچھ کہا تھا وہ یہ ہے کہ اس بحران نے ہم میں سے بہت ساریوں کو ان ساری چیزوں کا ادراک کرنے کا باعث بنا ہے جس کی وجہ سے ہمیں ناقابل یقین حد تک شکرگزار ہونا چاہئے تھا کہ ہم محض سرگرمی سے کام لے رہے تھے۔ آپ جانتے ہو ، میرے لئے ، یہ ہفتہ وار کی طرح ہے ، آپ جانتے ہو ، روزانہ ، یہاں تک کہ ، میری کافی شاپ پر جانا ہے۔ جیسے ، آپ جانتے ہو ، میں یہاں نیو ہیون میں اپنی پسندیدہ کافی شاپ رکھتا ہوں اور میں وہاں جاکر ہر روز کافی پاتا۔

یہ ہر صبح کی طرح نہیں تھا جب میں وہاں گیا تھا ، میں بالکل ہی ، بالکل ، حیرت انگیز طور پر خوش تھا ، اور ، اس کافی سے نجات پایا تھا اور ، جیسے ، جانتا تھا کہ یہ میری زندگی کی یہ بہت بڑی نعمت ہے ، میں نے صرف یہ سمجھا کہ یہ ایسی چیز ہے جس میں ہر دن ہمیشہ کے لئے کر سکیں گے۔ لیکن اب اس بحران کے تناظر میں ، مجھے اس طرح احساس ہوا ، “اوہ ، میری بات ، مجھے اس کے لئے ناقابل یقین حد تک شکرگزار ہونا چاہئے تھا۔” جب میں آخر کار اس بحران سے نکل جاتا ہوں اور دوبارہ اپنی پسندیدہ لیٹ حاصل کروں گا ، جیسے ، میں پرجوش ہوں۔ اور میں بالکل وہی سوچتا ہوں جیسے آپ کہہ رہے تھے ، بہت ساری چیزیں ایسی ہوں گی جن کے لئے یہ سچ ہے۔ بہت ساری نئی عادات جن کے لئے ہم ان کے مشکور ہوسکتے ہیں لیکن اس سے قبل ہم نے بہت ساری چیزوں کو قبول کرلیا ہے جب ہم اس سے نکل جانے کے بعد واقعی دل کی گہرائیوں سے تعریف کریں گے۔

کیٹی: بالکل۔ مجھے معلوم ہے ، امید ہے کہ اس وقت کے ساتھ ہی ، یہ بہت ساری جگہوں پر شروع ہونا شروع ہو گیا ہے ، لیکن اگر ایسا نہیں بھی ہے تو ، مجھے لگتا ہے کہ میں نے ہمیشہ سوچا ہے ، آپ کو معلوم ہے ، یہ آسان ہے۔ میں اپنی زندگی میں اس مقصد کو کافی حد تک استعمال کرتا ہوں ، “امور فاطی” ، جو اسٹوکزم سے آتا ہے اور اس کا مطلب بنیادی طور پر “تقدیر سے پیار” یا “جو کچھ ہے اس سے پیار ہے۔” اور میں ہمیشہ سوچتا ہوں ، آپ جانتے ہو ، زندگی کے بہترین ہونے پر یہ عمل کرنا ایک آسان چیز ہے اور ، آپ جانتے ہو ، جب دو ماہ قبل جب زندگی معمول اور حیرت انگیز تھی اور میرے پاس بہت سی چیزیں تھیں جو صرف تھیں ، تو اس کا شکریہ ادا کرنا آسان تھا۔ اور مجھے اس جیسی چیزوں کی طرح محسوس ہوتا ہے یا یہ ان کی اصل پیمائش ہے اور ہماری زندگی میں ان کے لئے ہماری آزمائش ہے ، جب ہم مشکل ہو تو کیا ہم اس شکر کو حاصل کرسکتے ہیں؟

لہذا کچھ طریقوں سے ، یہ ایک طرح کا ایک مناسب وقت ہے کہ وہ شکریہ ادا کریں کیونکہ اس بحران میں بھی ، جیسا کہ آپ نے کہا ہے ، ابھی بھی بہت ساری چیزوں کا شکر گذار ہونا باقی ہے۔ اور اگر ہم ابھی ان لوگوں کی تلاش شروع کردیں اور اب اس عادت کو فروغ دیں تو ، جب چیزیں واپس آنا شروع کردیں گی تو یہ اور بھی آسان ہوجائے گا ، امید ہے کہ اس سے پہلے وہ پہلے تھے جب ہمارے پاس اس کے لئے بھی شکر گزار ہونا پڑے گا۔ اور میری اپنی زندگی میں ، میں ایک دو چیزوں کو جانتا ہوں جنہوں نے واقعی میری مدد کی ہے ، جیسا کہ آپ نے ذکر کیا ہے ، ایک شکریہ جریدہ رکھنا اور میرے پاس شکریہ / آرٹ جریدہ ہے۔ لہذا میں ہر دن صرف ان چیزوں کو بیان کرنے میں صرف کرتا ہوں جن کے لئے میں ان کا مشکور ہوں اور پھر صرف ڈوڈلنگ کرتا ہوں کیوں کہ اس سے میری مدد ملتی ہے ، جیسے ، ذہنی طور پر خوشی محسوس ہوتی ہے اور میں اس سے لطف اندوز ہوتا ہوں اور یہ میرے لئے ایک قسم کی تھراپی ہے۔

اور پھر رات کے کھانے میں بھی اپنے بچوں کے ساتھ ، ہم ان سے یہ پوچھنے کی کوشش کرتے ہیں کہ ، “آج آپ کس چیز کے شکر گزار ہیں؟” صرف چھوٹی عمر سے ہی ، انھیں زندگی کے بارے میں سوچنا شروع کردیں کہ وہ کیا ہیں… اور پھر وہ اب دن بھر دیکھتے ہیں کہ ان چیزوں کے خیالات کے لئے ان کا مشکور ہوں جب ہم ان سے صرف ان قسم کا فریمنگ شروع کرنے کو کہتے ہیں۔ ان کا دماغ اچھ forی چیزوں کی تلاش کرنے اور ان چیزوں کو تلاش کرنے کا جس پر ان کا مشکور ہوں۔ اور میں بالکل سمجھ سکتا ہوں ، ہم میں سے بہت سارے کے لئے ، ابھی ان چیزوں کو کرنا معمول سے زیادہ مشکل ہے۔ لیکن یہ عملی حکمت عملی کے صرف ایک جوڑے ہیں جو ذاتی طور پر میرے لئے واقعتا helpful مددگار ثابت ہوئے ہیں۔

نیز ، سننے والے بہت سارے والدین ہیں اور مجھے لگتا ہے کہ یہ بحران خاص طور پر والدین کے لئے مشکل ہے جن کے اب گھر 24/7 ہیں اور جو اب گھر کی تعلیم حاصل کررہے ہیں جس کی کوئی اطلاع نہیں ہے اور جو ان تمام اضافی کرداروں کو لے رہے ہیں اور اضافی ذمہ داریوں اور اتنی دیر کے لئے الگ تھلگ. تو بطور والدین ابھی اور مجموعی طور پر ایسے طریقے ہیں کہ ہم خاص طور پر والدین کے لئے اپنی خوشی یا عملی حکمت عملی کو بہتر بناسکیں؟ کیونکہ میرے خیال میں ماں اکثر مشورہ دیتے ہیں ، “اوہ ، آپ کو زیادہ سے زیادہ خود نگہداشت کرنے کی ضرورت ہے۔ آپ کو اپنے لئے وقت تلاش کرنے کی ضرورت ہے ، “اور اکثر ایسا ہی محسوس ہوتا ہے کہ ایسا کرنے سے پہلے کوئی اور فہرست فہرست ہے۔ تو والدین کے لئے مخصوص کوئی مشورہ؟

ڈاکٹر سینٹوس: میرا مطلب ہے ، میرا خیال ہے کہ پہلے توثیق کر رہا ہے۔ جیسے ، یہ عام طور پر ایک حیرت انگیز طور پر چیلنج کرنے والا وقت ہوتا ہے۔ اور یہ یقینی طور پر وہ وقت نہیں ہے جب ہمیں شروع کرنا چاہئے ، آپ جانتے ہو ، ہماری نئی نرسنگ سروس یا ہماری نئی ، جیسے ہمارے بچوں کے لئے ریاضی کی ٹیوشننگ سروس ہے لیکن ہم میں سے بہت سے لوگ اس پوزیشن میں ہیں۔ اور اس ل I میں سمجھتا ہوں کہ والدین کے لئے مشورے کا ایک ٹکڑا صرف یہ ہے کہ یہاں کچھ خود ہی ہمدردی پیدا کی جا.۔ اور اس سے ، میرا مطلب ہے ، جیسے ، اپنے آپ کو شکست نہ دو ، آپ جانتے ہو ، یہ صورتحال اتنی مشکل ہے جتنا کہ آپ کو ، جیسے ، معاشرتی موازنہ کی طرح محسوس ہونے کے بغیر ، آپ کو معلوم ہے ، “یہ دوسری ماں ہے ، جیسے ، اپنے سیاروں کے بارے میں اپنے بچوں کو تعلیم دے رہا ہوں اور میں صرف اپنے بچے کو ، جیسے ، ایکس بکس کھیلنے دے رہا ہوں۔ جیسے ، یہ ٹھیک ہے۔ جیسے ، یہ خود کو مارنے کا وقت نہیں ہے۔

اور ، جیسے ، یہ کیسے کرنا ہے کے لحاظ سے ، کیوں کہ یہ کہنا ایک چیز ہے ، لیکن اس کی بات اور ہے ، جیسے ، حقیقت میں یہ کرنا ہے ، کچھ ایسی تکنیکیں ہیں جو سائنس سے آئیں جو یہاں واقعی طاقتور ہوسکتی ہیں۔ اور اسی طرح ان تکنیکوں میں سے ایک تدابیر کی ایک قسم ہے جسے شفقت مراقبہ کے نام سے جانا جاتا ہے۔ یہ تھوڑا سا پیچیدہ لگتا ہے لیکن یہ مراقبہ کی ایک شکل ہے جہاں آپ واقعی اپنی زندگی کے لوگوں کے لئے ہمدردی کا تجربہ کرنے کی کوشش کرتے ہیں۔ تو عملی طور پر یہ ہے کہ آپ لفظی طور پر بیٹھ جائیں اور آپ اپنی طرح کی مراقبہ کی نشست یا کسی اور چیز پر سوار ہوجائیں اور پھر اپنی زندگی میں لوگوں کے ذریعے سوچیں اور ان کی خواہش کریں۔ You know, so think about your kid or someone who’s really easy to feel compassion for and just say, you know, “May you be happy, may you be well, may you care for yourself joyfully,” these kinds of expressions of wishing the person well.

And then you kind of go through other people in your life. But the reason this practice is relevant for self-compassion is that one of the people you’re supposed to think those compassionate thoughts about is yourself. You know, so at some point in the meditation, you’re supposed to think, “May I be happy, may I be safe, may I care for myself joyfully,” and so on. And what the research suggests is that the act of doing these kinds of practices can really bump up the compassion you feel generally but it can especially bump up the compassion that you feel for yourself. It can make you stop beating yourself up a little bit.

These kinds of practices, they can also be really helpful against burnout because burnout is really about trying to do too much, either kind of not being compassionate for yourself or kind of just, like, so taking on the suffering of everybody else about, like, “What’s my kid gonna think?” or, “What’s my husband gonna think?” or, What’s my kid’s teacher gonna think?” and so on that you kind of don’t do the right things. You don’t end up protecting yourself. You take on more than you need to. And so through this power of self-compassion, you realize, like, the goal isn’t perfection, the goal is, like, “May I be well,” you know, “may I be happy,” and so you end up putting the right things into place. And so this is a practice that can be really powerful. It, too, is a thing that you kind of have to add to the to-do list, but it’s really part of the to-do list that is, like, a two-minute part of the to-do list.

You know, you can do a loving-kindness meditation by sitting on your meditation cushion for five minutes but you can also do it and think those positive thoughts, like, when you’re brushing your teeth or when you’re in the shower or when you have a kind of quiet moment when you’re first waking up in the morning. I’ve been trying to institute more positive thought meditation practices before I do the, like, pick-up-the-phone thing in the morning as the first thing. I’m like, “Wait, let me leave the phone and let me, you know, like, wish the people in my life a little compassion before I kind of pick up the phone and start checking email or panic-scrolling.” So, it is another thing you have to do, but it doesn’t actually take that much time and it can have huge, huge benefits.

Katie: I love that, that’s such great advice. I think anything practical right now is so helpful. To kind of loop back to something earlier, why, I know we talked about loops a little bit and that mental loop and focusing on happiness first. But why do humans, in general, want to pursue these things that don’t make us happy in the first place?

Dr. Santos: That is a million-dollar question. I feel like if we could just solve that one scientifically, we’d be such happier critters and, like, solve so much suffering in the world. One hint comes from the fact, I guess I’ll go with two hints, one hint comes from the fact that, you know, over evolutionary time, the goal of natural selection wasn’t necessarily to make us a happy species, it was to make us a striving species. You know, that got as many resources we could or as many reproductive partners as we could. And so, you know, our systems aren’t built to be happy, they’re built to, like, get more and more stuff and never feel satiated. And so that kind of comes a little bit from our evolutionary history.

We can fight it, of course, you know, we can be more mindful and come up with better strategies. But our natural habit, unless we put in some work, might be to kind of, you know, work and strive a little bit more than we need to to be happy. But a second insight actually comes from the way our brains are set up, which is one of the kind of annoying features of our own minds is the fact that we have different neural circuits for wanting things. So, like the things we crave are the things we seek out versus liking things like what we actually enjoy out there in the world. And so you can see these circuits dissociate most powerfully in the context of addiction.

So, say, if you have a heroin addiction and you’ve had a heroin addiction for some time, you’re gonna have incredible wanting for the drug. You’re gonna crave it like crazy and, you know, hurt people to get it. You’re gonna do all this stuff wanting this drug really badly, but when you finally get the drug, you’re so habituated to it that you don’t actually even enjoy it. Like it kind of just moves you to baseline, it doesn’t have the boost that it had before. And so that’s just one example that wanting and liking can dissociate.

But I think that this happens in all different contexts of our lives, you talked about body image and stuff. I experienced that myself where I could have many points in my life where I was, like, obsessed with how my body looked and really wanting to be skinnier and it would, like, my wanting system would get stuck on that all the time. But then at times when I actually had lost weight in my life, I didn’t even really enjoy it. Often, I wasn’t even really that mindful of it, it felt fine but it wasn’t, you know, the thing I was really looking for. And I think we can get that in all these different habit loops. “I really, really want a relationship,” or, “I really, really want this salary level,” but then you get it and you don’t actually like it, there’s this disassociation.

The same I worry is really true of the opposite, I’ve experienced this with a lot of wellness practices, right? Like, I really, really like doing yoga. I really, really like exercise, but I don’t have the same craving for it that I do for, like, a really unhealthy, you know, sugary food. Like even though I really like it, my, like, wanting system hasn’t gotten into gear. And so, you know, this raises a question of how you can get those two systems talking to each other, how you can link them up better. And the honest answer is, like, they’re just kind of separate and so it’s hard to do. But one way you can do a little bit better is to take time to be a little bit more mindful, is to kind of notice how practices really make you feel.

So if you have something that you’re really craving and you finally get it, take time to notice. Like, “Did I even really like that?” You know, like, I experience this a lot in my daily life with things like social media, right? Where I have this really strong urge to, like, check my email or, like, go on Twitter or something and I’ve been trying to take time to notice it. “How did that actually feel? Did I really like that?” Like, “No, like I felt kind of apathetic or a little gross,” or whatever versus things like, you know, healthier eating or meditation or yoga or something like that where afterwards I was like, “Huh, like I actually really liked that more than I expected, I feel resilient now, I feel healthier, I feel just calmer.” Taking time to notice and be mindful about what you like can sometimes help you update that wanting system where the wanting system can notice and be like, “Oh, that was pretty good. Like, maybe I should crave that a little more in the future.”

Katie: I love that. And I think you’re right. I think body image is especially a sticking point for a lot of women. Even women who have a lot of the other areas figured out and who are really, like, dialed in with their wellness practice or their kids or their career, I think that one is just, we’re probably evolutionarily wired because of those factors you mentioned in reproduction or, and also now society, there’s billion-dollar industries built on telling us we need to be and look a certain way.

And for me, I think it was realizing over time and then consciously changing that script in my head, it wasn’t that being skinny, I thought being skinny was gonna make me happy, but it was being skinny in my mind was a representation for feeling comfortable in my own skin and accepting my body and accepting myself. And I realized that was something I didn’t have to wait until I was a certain size to do. And so moving toward that, it was just amazing how I thought I was so laser-focused on the weight. And when I started changing the mindset, I realized I had the choice to have happiness right now. And that didn’t mean I wasn’t still gonna focus on wellness and I wasn’t still gonna try to lose weight and be healthier, but I was able to start choosing happiness to a large degree and accepting myself much more by switching the way that I thought of that in my mind. And certainly it was a long process. It wasn’t like I just woke up one day and did that. I just think women especially, that’s a really tough one to get through.

Dr. Santos: I know, I agree completely. And I think, I love this idea of, you know, change your mindset rather than try to change the circumstances because that can do a bunch of different things. One is it can make you grateful for what you have, right? Like it can make you realize like, you know, “Maybe my body is not totally perfect but it’s actually healthy, it’s doing what I want.” Like, you know, “It’s carrying me from place to place, it’s letting me take care of my kids.” Like it can allow you to realize that there are so many things to appreciate about your body.

And then what that does is it winds up, like, through the mechanism of appreciation, making you want to take care of your body, right? You know, so then you want to eat healthy or you want to sleep more, you want to exercise more. And doing those things is gonna wind up making you healthier no matter what your body size. You know, I subscribe a lot to these ideas of sort of health at any size which is that, you know, there’s a lot of things that control our body weight that are kind of out of our control, you know, your thyroid function and all this stuff.

But all of us, the thing we can control is what we’re putting into our bodies, how we’re moving our bodies, you know, how much sleep we’re getting and so on. And if you’re focusing on those things, then, like, the stuff you were really worried about with your body weight, you know, it’ll come into line naturally. Maybe because your body weight comes more into line with what’s healthy for you. But even if it doesn’t, like, the things you really wanted to get out of a healthy body weight, you’re gonna get anyway if you change your mindset.

Katie: That’s a great point.

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Another factor that I know you’ve talked about in your podcast and that people probably can understand leads to happiness is some kind of version of charity or helping others. And I know personally, like, some of the times I felt the best have been when I wasn’t self-focused at all but focused on other people. And we see it certainly like in, when there’s natural disasters. We live in an area that got hit by a hurricane a couple of years ago and the community came together and we all focused on helping each other. And I know, like, the feeling of that, even though it was exhausting and it was horrible to see people who had lost so much but I felt so incredibly happy being able to tangibly do something to help other people. So can you talk about that link between happiness and charity and how focusing on others can often help us shift as well?

Dr. Santos: I’m glad you brought that up because I think this is another one of the misnomers about happiness. You know, we think happiness is about, you use the term “self-care,” but even more things like, “Treat yourself,” you know, “Do for yourself,” like, “Focus on yourself,” like self, self, self. But the science suggests that happy people don’t do that, happy people tend to give more to charity than not-so-happy people controlled for income. Happy people tend to volunteer more of their time.

And there’s research suggesting that if you take not-so-happy people or just average people and you make them do nice things for others, they will over time get happier. There’s one lovely study by the psychologist Liz Dunn and her colleagues where she has people, she walks up to people on the street and just gives them some money so, you know, “Here’s 5 bucks,” or, “Here’s 20 bucks,” on the street. But she tells those subjects how to spend it, they either have to spend that money on themselves by the end of the day, so kind of treat themselves, or they have to spend the money on someone else, they have to do something nice for someone.

And what she finds is that at the end of the day, the people who did the nice thing for others are happy. And I find this work so striking because, you know, often when I think if I’m in a bad mood or if I’m stressed or even, like, in the context of this crisis and kind of feeling panicked or whatever, often my instinct is to do something nice for myself. Like, “I’m gonna buy something for myself.” Like, you know, “I’m gonna do something for my money that just benefits me selfishly.” But the data really suggests that if I took that intuition when I was feeling yucky and did something for someone else, that would be even more powerful for my happiness.

And I think this is a really important thing to remember in the context of COVID-19 in part because, you know, so many of us want to do stuff to kind of improve our wellbeing and doing nice things for others is a good route for it. But also because many of us are getting these tiny little financial and temporal windfalls that we don’t expect, you know. So if you’re socially distancing at home, you might not be paying money for gas or for that subway token to do your daily commute, you know, so you’re saving some money that way. You might not be buying that daily coffee or that daily, you know, whatever you bought at the restaurant, you know, up the street from work, like, and so those are the, you know, $5 here, $10 there, those are little financial windfalls that a lot of us could use to do something nice for someone else.

So could you take that money that you’re saving on your daily coffee and donate it to a local business that you want to make sure survives this crisis? Could you take that little bit of money and donate it to a good cause? Or even if you don’t have any money because realistically, a lot of us are out of work or in worse financial situations now than before, but a lot of people have extra time on their hands. They’re getting these little temporal windfalls either because you’re not at work or even if you’re just not commuting, you have those extra few hours that you’re kind of saving.

And so if you’re in a situation of having a time windfall, what could you do with that time to help other people? Could you call an elderly neighbor who might need your help or could you make a call to a political campaign that you really cared about or advocate for, say, health care workers and make sure they get protective equipment that they need? All those little 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there that we might be saving in the context of this crisis, we can put those to good use.

And doing so, again, doesn’t just help our community and do exactly what you said in the context of the hurricane where you’re really helping other people out, it’s also helping your wellbeing, you know, which is a lot of why we want to spend our money and want to spend our time in the first place. We want to use it in ways that make us feel good and doing nice stuff for others is one way to do that.

Katie: That’s so great. And especially finding those practical ways, like strategies you mentioned, even right now while we’re still kind of disconnected physically from each other, we can still do that and use that as a strategy for happiness. So you mentioned your Yale course that, it was extremely popular, I believe I actually read it was the most popular course in Yale history. And you had all of these college students who really probably were struggling with trying to find happiness and there were probably a lot of overachievers and type-A personalities.

A lot of the people listening probably have younger kids, so not quite to the college-age yet. But I know that’s, I think that’s top of mind for me, which is how can I give my kids a strong foundation for happiness from an early age so that they’re not getting to college and finding that they’re unhappy to begin with. And I would guess some of the same strategies that apply for adults also really work for kids. But do you have anything specific that we can nurture? Like you mentioned, gratitude was a great one, but with our kids, even from a young age to kind of set them up for that mindset of happiness?

Dr. Santos: Well, I think the recommendation that you gave about, you know, having your kids talk about the things they’re grateful for over their dinner table can be incredibly powerful. You know, building these habits in early, I think, are really essential. But another one is to kind of make sure that as a parent, you’re not focused on your kids’ circumstances to make sure they’re happy. And so by that, I mean things like how many accolades they get, whether they’re winning their games, whether they’re getting perfect grades, like all of those things are the kind of things that, culturally, I think we think of as perfect.

You know, as a parent, you have to make sure, like, your kids are setting themselves up as well for their futures as possible. But, like, the way you do that might be to teach them these strategies to really make sure they’re prioritizing time with their friends and time with your family and building social connections, that they’re really prioritizing taking time off and taking time to be mindful and savor and notice the things around them. I often think that parents who try to instill in their kids things like a strong meditation practice or a strong habit of gratitude, like, you’re almost doing better for your kids than getting them perfect grades. Because actually the data suggests that by high school, there’s an inverse correlation between good grades and happiness. In other words, the happiest students tend to have the worst grades or vice versa, the students who have the best grades are not necessarily the ones that are happiest.

There’s also an inverse correlation between grades and optimism, so the students with the highest grades are the least optimistic and there’s also an inverse correlation between perfect grades and self-worth. So the kids who have the best grades actually, statistically, have some of the lowest self-worth. And so, again, just kind of getting the balance right in the kinds of things that you as a parent prioritize and the skill sets that you’re building in your kids, I think, can be incredibly powerful if giving them these tips early on. You know, I wish that I had kind of taken this class and, like, learned some of these tips when I was a kid because then I wouldn’t kind of be, you know, taking the wrong path for as long as I had in adulthood before I started to learn some of these techniques.

Katie: That’s awesome. And another area, so in researching you for this episode, you study happiness a lot and you’ve taught this at Yale, but from what I’ve read, you also study kind of what makes the human mind unique and, like, the differences between humans and nonhuman animals, and this is a fascinating topic to me. So I’d love to hear just kind of what that study looks like and what are some surprising things that you found in that?

Dr. Santos: So this was kind of my day job before I became sort of a happiness expert is that I’ve always been a psychologist. But as a psychologist, I really focus on this question of what makes the human mind special. And I’ve studied that by both working with nonhuman primates who live out in the fields. I worked with a group of rhesus monkeys on this island off the coast of Puerto Rico. But even more close to home, I do a bunch of studies looking at how dogs make sense of the world.

Dogs are this wonderful analogue for humans because they grew up in similar environments to humans, you know, they’re also, are around learning in the same way as your kid is learning. You know, they’re picking up on language and they’re watching you do stuff and so the question is like, you know, why does your kid turn out to be a human adult and your dog kind of doesn’t figure that out, right? And so we do that by sort of setting up a bunch of studies with pet dogs, so people bring their dogs in from the community and we do little quick studies with them that look like dogs playing little puzzle boxes or playing games.

But it lets us test what the dogs know about the world. And so we’re really interested in whether dogs share the same strategies in terms of learning from people as humans do, whether they understand some of the same things we do, we were really focused on how they socially evaluate. So humans often don’t just, like, see people out there, but we evaluate whether somebody is nice or mean or, you know, helpful or not helpful or, you know, competent or incompetent. And so we’re interested in whether or not some of those ways of viewing the world are shared with dogs, too.

And there’s not that much overlap between the kind of studies of animal thinking and the studies of happiness. I think one of the spots where we’re seeing similarities is that we’re finding lots of domains in which some of the biases that we have as humans, particularly the biases that we have to, like, learn from other people, those kinds of things might be more ingrained than we thought. You know, they might be either, like, new in humans and animals don’t show them or even some biases that are so old that they’re shared with monkeys.

And I think once you see that these biases can be really built into our evolution, it makes you realize that things like, you know, the fact that we’re prioritizing the wrong things or that we have these wrong intuitions, in some ways, it’s not really our fault. Like, it’s kinda evolution’s fault that they kind of built us sort of crappily, but through understanding the right science and through the right interventions, we can really overcome the limitations that evolution gives us and we can become better decision-makers in ways that we’re using our decisions to lead us to even more happiness.

Katie: That’s so cool. I think this whole area is fascinating and I know that you have many episodes on “The Happiness Lab” if people want to keep going deep on this and it’s really, truly a fascinating topic. And I think even just sometimes learning about this, it just kind of rewires your mind to look for the ways, look for gratitude, look for ways to be happy and to shift that focus. As we start to wrap up, what do you feel like are a few of the most important takeaways? If you had to kind of distill the research on happiness right now, and especially maybe through the lens of the current crisis, what would be a few of the most important takeaways that you would leave with the listeners?

Dr. Santos: I think we’ve talked about some of these but I think one takeaway is just that happiness is really important. You know, we think that happiness is the outcome but happiness can make it easier to have good relationships, it can make it easier to be productive in your life, it can even make it easier to protect your immune system. So focusing on happiness first is important. The second big tip, and maybe a big misconception is that happiness isn’t what we often think. You know, it’s not built into our circumstances, it’s not built into how much money we have or the stuff we often assume. We need to do something different if we want to be happier.

And then I think the third takeaway is that those things that we can do to be happier are within our reach but they really take some work. You know, it’s just as simple as taking time for gratitude or taking time to get your meditation in and eat, you know, eat a little healthier, exercise. But those things, if we put the work in, can reap huge benefits. So it takes some work but the benefits are huge.

Katie: I love it. And lastly, I always love to ask if there is a book or a number of books that have had a dramatic impact on your life that you’d like to share and if so, what they are and why?

Dr. Santos: So many books. I think I’ll pick up, just to pick one book, I’ll pick up on your Stoic quote from earlier before, I’ll give a nod to Epictetus who is one of the famous Stoics and his old book, “The Enchiridion,” which is, it kind of loosely translates to the manual, but Epictetus starts his book with one of the important premises of Stoic philosophy, which is that there are kind of two things in life. The things we can control like, you know, our thoughts and our feelings and so on, and then the things we can’t control, which is our circumstances. And Epictetus notes that, you know, if you try to control this stuff that you can’t control, you’re gonna be miserable or you’re gonna suffer, everything’s gonna suck. But if you just focus on the stuff that you can control, which is your emotions, your mindset, and so on, no one can ever harm you, you’ll always be happy.

So I really, I think that, you know, there’s a lot of modern science on happiness and that’s mostly what we talk about in our podcast. But I think the Stoics and a lot of the ancients got it right and that’s just one of the wonderful manuals for how to, like, kind of turn your mind into a mind that is really good at focusing on the stuff that makes you happy.

Katie: I love that. Laurie, this has been such an awesome interview, I think extremely timely and important right now as we all navigate this kind of worldwide crisis together. And I really appreciate you taking the time to be here and to share all these years of research with us today.

Dr. Santos: Thanks so much. It was great to chat.

Katie: And thanks as always to all of you for listening and in echoing some of the themes of this episode, we’re very grateful that you did and that you were here. And I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of “The Wellness Mama Podcast.”

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.

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