148 episodes

Learn research-tested strategies for a happier, more meaningful life, drawing on the science of compassion, gratitude, mindfulness, and awe. Hosted by award-winning professor Dacher Keltner. Co-produced by PRX and UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center.

The Science of Happiness PRX and Greater Good Science Center

    • Science
    • 4.4 • 50 Ratings

Learn research-tested strategies for a happier, more meaningful life, drawing on the science of compassion, gratitude, mindfulness, and awe. Hosted by award-winning professor Dacher Keltner. Co-produced by PRX and UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center.

    Happiness Break: Tune Into Your Body

    Happiness Break: Tune Into Your Body

    Happiness isn't only in your head — your body is important, too. This week, we're led in a short Japanese calisthenics practice called Radio Taiso.



    Check out Radha’s video guide to this practice: https://dose.daybreaker.com/videos/microdose-oxytocin-healthy-spine



    Today’s Happiness Break guide:

    Radha Agrawal is Japanese-Indian author and a founder of Daybreaker, a company that throws sober dance parties at sunrise all around the world.
    Learn more about Daybreaker: https://www.daybreaker.com/

    The Science of Happiness listeners get 100% off their first month of Daybreaker’s Dose, using code GGSC at check out:  http://dose.daybreaker.com?code=ggsc

    Follow Radha on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/love.radha/

    Follow Radha on Twitter: https://twitter.com/radhatwin

    Learn more about Radha and her book, Belong: https://belongbook.com/



    More resources from The Greater Good Science Center:


    Moving Your Body Is Like a Tune-Up for Your Mind: https://tinyurl.com/2f64na8b
    Five Surprising Ways Exercise Changes Your Brain: https://tinyurl.com/4pbx3rua
    How Tuning In to Your Body Can Make You More Resilient: https://tinyurl.com/328scfjj
    Four Ways Dancing Makes You Happier: https://tinyurl.com/yxp6mxdw




    We love hearing from you! Tell us about your experience of trying radio calisthenics. Email us at happinesspod@berkeley.edu or use the hashtag #happinesspod.

    Find us on Apple Podcasts: https://tinyurl.com/2p9h5aap

    Help us share Happiness Break! Leave us a 5-star review and copy and share this link: https://tinyurl.com/2p9h5aap



    We're living through a mental health crisis. Between the stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, burnout — we all could use a break to feel better. That's where Happiness Break comes in. In each biweekly podcast episode, instructors guide you through research-backed practices and meditations that you can do in real-time. These relaxing and uplifting practices have been shown in a lab to help you cultivate calm, compassion, connection, mindfulness, and more — what the latest science says will directly support your well-being. All in less than ten minutes. A little break in your day.

    • 7 min
    How to Practice Gratitude When You're Not Feeling Thankful

    How to Practice Gratitude When You're Not Feeling Thankful

    One way to feel more thankful for things is to imagine life without them. Our guest tries a practice for seeing the bright side, even when you feel down.



    Episode summary:

    We know that gratitude is good for us. But what can we do when we’re struggling to actually feel thankful? Our guest this week is author and podcast producer Stephanie Foo. Foo built a network of close friends around her in California, where she grew up. As a survivor of child abuse and Complex PTSD, her friends in California became her chosen family. And since she’s moved to New York City, she finds herself often pining for the Golden State and the people she loves there. This week, Foo tries a practice in mental subtraction, which gratitude researcher Ernst Bohlmeijer describes as an antidote to taking things for granted. Imagining her life if she didn’t live in New York helps Foo tap into gratitude even in the depths of winter – when she misses California the most. She even discovers her particular skill in getting the benefits of this practice by leaning into one of her PTSD symptoms. Later in the show, Ernst Bohlmeijer breaks down how keeping a gratitude practice can alter the emotions you’re likely to experience in a given day, and maybe even change you as a person.



    Practice:


    Take a moment to think about a positive event in your life. It could be a career or educational achievement or a special trip you took.
    Imagine yourself back in the time of this event. Think about the circumstances that made it possible. Ponder on the ways in which this event may never have happened and write them down. For example, if you hadn’t learned about a certain job opening at the right moment.
    Imagine what your life would be like now if you had not experienced this positive event and all the fruits that came from it.
    Remind yourself that this positive event did happen and reflect upon the benefits it has brought you. Allow yourself to feel grateful that things happened as they did.


    Find the full Mental Subtraction of Positive Events practice at our Greater Good in Action website: https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/mental_subtraction_positive_events



    Today’s guests:

    Stephanie Foo is a radio producer and author of the book What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma.

    Learn more about Stephanie and her book: https://www.stephaniefoo.me/

    Follow Stephanie on Twitter: https://twitter.com/imontheradio

    Follow Stephanie on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/foofoofoo/

    Follow Stephanie on Facebook: https://tinyurl.com/yx6pwdnf

    Ernst Bohlmeijer is a psychology professor who studies gratitude at the University of Twente in The Netherlands.

    Learn more about Ernst and his work: https://tinyurl.com/2p92p6vn



    Resources from The Greater Good Science Center:


    Four Great Gratitude Strategies: https://tinyurl.com/2p9buvkd
    Tips for Keeping a Gratitude Journal: https://tinyurl.com/3jdbe52u
    How to Increase the Love in Your Life: https://tinyurl.com/3k4ayj4n
    Why Cynicism Can Hold You Back: https://tinyurl.com/bd4ussjt




    More Resources for Mental Subtraction of Positive Events:


    New York Times - Five Ways to Exercise Your Thankfulness Muscles: https://tinyurl.com/t29ukucc
    NPR - A.J. Jacobs: How Can We Thank Those We Take for Granted?: https://tinyurl.com/56x48u99
    TED - Your 5-day gratitude challenge: 5 exercises to increase your gratefulness: https://tinyurl.com/mt8j3x65


    Tell us your thoughts about this episode. Email us at happinesspod@berkeley.edu or use the hashtag #happinesspod.

    Help us share The Science of Happiness!

    Leave us a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts or share this link with someone who might like the show: https://tinyurl.com/2p9h5aap

    • 16 min
    Happiness Break: 5 Minutes of Gratitude

    Happiness Break: 5 Minutes of Gratitude

    Not sure how to start practicing gratitude? Psychologist Dacher Keltner guides you through a practice that can help you see the good things in your life that you might otherwise overlook.



    How to Do This Practice:


    Sit or lay down somewhere comfortable. You may close your eyes if you wish, and take a slow, deep breath in to ground into the present moment. Then, scan your body from head to toe, noticing how you’re feeling in this moment. Let worries and plans clear from your mind.
    Start by thinking about all the things that make your life comfortable: Clean water on tap, light at the flip of a switch, a roof over your head to protect you from the weather, warmth, and comfort when it gets windy, rainy, or cold.
    Let your mind wander to all the millions of people who have worked hard to make your life more comfortable: Those who plant and harvest the food you eat, who bring it to markets, people who ensure the water we drink is clean, delivery drivers, teachers, all the people who create art and music and books and films and all the things that can bring us so much meaning, and so on.
    Think about the acquaintances who bring richness to your life, like a colleague, neighbor, or someone you often see at the gym or a coffee shop.
    Take a moment to think about what you’re really grateful for today, right now.
    Notice how you’re feeling now, compared to when you started, and then start to bring movement back to your body, wiggling fingers and toes, maybe slowly standing up.
    If you have the time, spend a few minutes journaling about what you thought about.




    Today’s Happiness Break host:

    Dacher Keltner is the host of The Science of Happiness podcast and is a co-instructor of the Greater Good Science Center’s popular online course of the same name. He's also a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.

    This practice was created by Dr. Kathy Kemper, who's the director of the Center for Integrative Health and Wellness at the Ohio State University. Learn more about some of her work here: https://mind-bodyhealth.osu.edu/



    More resources from The Greater Good Science Center:

    Try GGSC’s online Gratitude Journal, Thnx4: https://tinyurl.com/2s4e4bx6

    Take our Gratitude Quiz: https://tinyurl.com/yhbz6cwv

    Four Great Gratitude Strategies: https://tinyurl.com/2muyff64

    Is Gratitude Good for You?: https://tinyurl.com/ycknm2ru

    Three Surprising Ways Gratitude Works at Work: https://tinyurl.com/yc2c8y4n

    How Gratitude Motivates Us to Become Better People: https://tinyurl.com/5n6ejpdy



    We love hearing from you! Tell us about your experience with practicing gratitude. Email us at happinesspod@berkeley.edu or use the hashtag #happinesspod.

    Find us on Apple Podcasts: https://tinyurl.com/2p9h5aap

    Help us share Happiness Break! Leave us a 5-star review and copy and share this link: https://tinyurl.com/2p9h5aap



    We're living through a mental health crisis. Between the stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, burnout — we all could use a break to feel better. That's where Happiness Break comes in. In each biweekly podcast episode, instructors guide you through research-backed practices and meditations that you can do in real-time. These relaxing and uplifting practices have been shown in a lab to help you cultivate calm, compassion, connection, mindfulness, and more — what the latest science says will directly support your well-being. All in less than ten minutes. A little break in your day.

    • 7 min
    The Emerging Science of ASMR (Encore)

    The Emerging Science of ASMR (Encore)

    There are millions of YouTube videos with people crinkling bubble wrap or whispering about folding laundry. Our guest talks about why autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) makes her, and many others, feel more calm and happy.



    Episode summary:

    Melinda still remembers the tingling feeling she felt when she first listened to the close-up sound of someone drawing on a TV show at the age of ten. She learned later that the subtle sounds that create soothing sensations for her are called autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR. Now, she creates ASMR experiences on her YouTube channel and through her live production company, Whisperlodge — from delicately handling a plastic package to gently stroking a microphone with a makeup brush. In today's show, Melinda demystifies the world of ASMR and how it brings both calm and delight to her and her participants. Later, we hear about the emerging science behind ASMR from Dr. Giulia Poerio, who studies it in her lab at the University of Essex. As it turns out, those tingles might actually benefit our mental health.



    Today’s Science of Happiness Guests:

    Melinda Lauw, is the co-creator of Whisperlodge, an immersive ASMR theater experience.

    Check out some ASMR videos from Whisperlodge's YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/Whisperlodge

    Learn more about Whisperlodge: https://whisperlodge.nyc/

    Follow Melinda on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/melinda.lauw/

    Follow Melinda on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/melindalauw



    Giulia Poerio is a psychology professor at the University of Essex who studies the effects of ASMR on the mind and body.

    Learn more about her work: https://www.essex.ac.uk/people/poeri14804/giulia-poerio



    Resources from The Greater Good Science Center:


    Listen to our Happiness Break on silence: https://tinyurl.com/2hny7pcd
    Just One Thing: Pay Attention!: https://tinyurl.com/cm2xb86j
    What Music Looks Like in the Brain: https://tinyurl.com/2k9t3sjz
    Does Your Voice Reveal More Emotion Than Your Face?: https://tinyurl.com/ympr4brk




    More Resources for ASMR:


    TED - The brain science (and benefits) of ASMR: https://tinyurl.com/y8a89xv3
    Vox - ASMR, explained: why millions of people are watching YouTube videos of someone whispering: https://tinyurl.com/4j4kn7dh
    New York Times - How A.S.M.R. Became a Sensation: https://tinyurl.com/2jke45k5
    NPR - Some People Get 'Brain Tingles' From These Slime Videos. What's Behind The Feeling?: https://tinyurl.com/2p8p4u7d
    National Geographic - ASMR or not? Unpicking the science behind a sensory phenomenon: https://tinyurl.com/yvnvuzk5




    Tell us your thoughts about ASMR. Do you get tingly sensations?  Email us at happinesspod@berkeley.edu or use the hashtag #happinesspod.

    Help us share The Science of Happiness!

    Leave us a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts or share this link with someone who might like the show: https://tinyurl.com/2p9h5aap

    • 18 min
    Happiness Break: Making Space for You

    Happiness Break: Making Space for You

    Consider what you want to make space for in your life in this 6-minute contemplation guided by Alex Elle.



    How to Do This Practice:


    Take a few deep breaths. File up your belly on each inhale. Drop your shoulder and soften your body on each exhale.
    Say these eight phrases to yourself, or your own variation of it. Consider which resonates with you the most:


    a. “In the presence of fear, I will make space for courage.”

    b. “In the presence of self-doubt, I will make space for self-belief.”

    c. “In the presence of hurriedness, I will make space for slowing down.”

    d. “In the presence of overwhelm, I will make space for rest.”

    e. “In the presence of overthinking, I will make space for letting go.”

    f. “In the presence of chaos, I will make space for inner peace.”

    g. “In the presence of confusion, I will make space for clarity.”

    h. “In the presence of pain, I will make space for self-compassion.”


    Bring your attention to the line from this meditation that resonates with you the most. Think about all the ways you wish to make space so you can bloom into the best version of yourself.
    Write it down, perhaps on a sticky note, and keep it somewhere you can see it.




    Today’s Happiness Break host:

    Alex Elle is a breathwork coach, author and restorative writing teacher. Her new book, How We Heal, will be published this November. Keep an eye on our Instagram page, @greatergoodmag for a chance to win a copy.

    Learn more about Alex and her new book: https://www.alexelle.com/about

    Follow Alex on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alex/

    Follow Alex on TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@easewithalexl

    Follow Alex on Twitter: https://twitter.com/alex__elle

    Follow Alex on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlexElleFB



    More resources from The Greater Good Science Center:


    Listen to another Happiness Break podcast hosted by Alex: A Note to Self on Forgiveness
    Being Kinder to Yourself: https://tinyurl.com/yxu64duk
    Can Self-Awareness Help You Be More Empathic?: https://tinyurl.com/bjue72bn
    How to Bring Self-Compassion to Work with You: https://tinyurl.com/2xn4f3pk
    Can Self-Compassion Overcome Procrastination?: https://tinyurl.com/ytvxmp5d
    Does Self-Compassion Make You Selfish?: https://tinyurl.com/528h6h6x




    We love hearing from you! Tell us about your experience of making space for yourself. Email us at happinesspod@berkeley.edu or use the hashtag #happinesspod.

    Find us on Apple Podcast: https://tinyurl.com/2p9h5aap

    Help us share Happiness Break!

    Leave us a 5-star review and copy and share this link: https://tinyurl.com/2p9h5aap

    We're living through a mental health crisis. Between the stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, burnout — we all could use a break to feel better. That's where Happiness Break comes in. In each biweekly podcast episode, instructors guide you through research-backed practices and meditations that you can do in real-time. These relaxing and uplifting practices have been shown in a lab to help you cultivate calm, compassion, connection, mindfulness, and more — what the latest science says will directly support your well-being. All in less than ten minutes. A little break in your day

    • 6 min
    How Humor Helps us Cope

    How Humor Helps us Cope

    Hardships in life are a given, but what if we found a way to laugh about it? Our guest shares how he's used humor to cope with the deepest pains in his life.



    Episode summary:

    When we go through hardships and struggles, finding the humor in them can help us relieve stress and change our perspective. This week on The Science of Happiness, our guest shares how he’s used humor to triumph over hardship in his life. Kerry Rudd is a former member of the Bay Area Freedom Collective, a re-entry home where formerly incarcerated people can find community and connections. He started performing comedy based on his personal experiences during the 12 years he spent in and out of the prison. Kerry shares with us how processing his experiences by writing jokes about them changes his perspective on his traumatic past and helps him cope. Later, we hear from psychologist Andrea Samson about how humor can help us  face down  some difficult situations.



    How to Do This Practice:


    Every day for one week, spend 10 minutes thinking about the things you found really funny that day.
    Write them down in as much detail as possible and describe how each of those things made you feel. It’s important to write it out, as opposed to only doing it in your head.
    Write down the reason why these things were funny. You can also answer the question, “Why did this funny event happen?”


    Find the full Three Fun Things practice at our Greater Good in Action website: https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/three_funny_things



    Today’s Science of Happiness Guests:

    Kerry Rudd is a former member of the Bay Area Freedom Collective, a home by and for formerly incarcerated people, which provides resources and support for their re-entry.

    To learn more about Bay Area Freedom House: https://www.collectivefreedom.org/

    or: https://www.facebook.com/bayareafreedom/

    To financially support the Bay Area Freedom Collective: https://givedirect.org/freedomcollective/



    Andrea Samson is director of the chEERSLab at UniDistance Suisse and the University of Fribourg. She studies how humor helps us deal with one difficult situation and emotions

    Learn more about Andrea’s research: https://tinyurl.com/3t42rp93



    More resources on humor from The Greater Good Science Center:


    Listen to The Science of Happiness episode on how humor can strengthen a relationship: https://tinyurl.com/4jem5r25
    How a Little Humor Can Improve Your Work Life: https://tinyurl.com/4u2949mk
    How Laughter Brings Us Together: https://tinyurl.com/2s3zfp7h
    Why Do We Laugh?: https://tinyurl.com/4rr4d7ch


    More resources on humor:


    New York Times - Is It OK to Laugh During Dark Times?: https://tinyurl.com/4c22uekj
    Guardian - You’ve got to laugh: why a sense of humor helps in dark times: https://tinyurl.com/3xpvkcm2
    ABC - Why Pain Makes Us Laugh: https://tinyurl.com/4fa6snj5
    The Atlantic - The Link Between Happiness and a Sense of Humor: https://tinyurl.com/3mke3wpc
    Mayo Clinic - Stress relief from laughter? It's no joke: https://tinyurl.com/4w8f4rwx
    Scientific American - Laugh so you don't cry: how laughing kills the pain: https://tinyurl.com/3sysuwyf


    Tell us what you think about using humor as a coping strategy by emailing us at happinesspod@berkeley.edu or using the hashtag #happinesspod.

    Help us share The Science of Happiness! Leave us a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts or copy and share this link with someone who might like the show: https://tinyurl.com/2p9h5aap

    • 15 min

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