132 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 • 1.6K 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: Walk Your Way to Calm (Guided Meditation)

    Happiness Break: Walk Your Way to Calm (Guided Meditation)

    A few slow, mindful paces can lower your cortisol and make you more at ease. Psychologist Dacher Keltner guides you through this Walking Meditation.



    How to Do This Practice:


    Find a relatively peaceful space that allows you to walk back and forth for 10-15 paces, where you won’t be disturbed or observed.
    Begin to walk forward slowly, lifting one foot first, then placing it gently on the floor or ground ahead of you, heel first. Notice your weight shift as you lift your back heel, then the whole foot, and then place it down heel first in front of your first foot. Walk 10-15 paces this way, then reverse directions.
    As you walk, try to focus your attention on one or more sensations that you would normally take for granted, like your breath, the movement of your feet and legs, or how the pressure on the bottom of each foot shifts throughout each step.
    If you notice your mind wandering, simply bring it back to noticing those sensations, without judgment.
    Repeat this practice as often as you’d like, ideally for at least 10 minutes twice a week.


    Find the full Walking Meditation practice at our Greater Good in Action website:

    https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/walking_meditation

    More resources from UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center:


    How to Cultivate Awe With a Walking Meditation: https://tinyurl.com/yckz7hu8
    How to Choose a Type of Mindfulness Meditation: https://tinyurl.com/2u6rfzhb
    Can Meditation Help You with Depression? https://tinyurl.com/3ny8jjhj
    A Walk in the Park: https://tinyurl.com/58v6d9k2
    Why You Should Take a Relaxing Lunch Break: https://tinyurl.com/8kckdhmx
    How Resting More Can Boost Your Productivity: https://tinyurl.com/2p97yfff
    Four Tips for Sticking to a Meditation Practice: https://tinyurl.com/5b22pynt


    Tell us how this walking meditation made you feel by emailing us at happinesspod@berkeley.edu or using the hashtag #happinesspod.

    Find us on Amazon Music: https://tinyurl.com/28hcdfsd

    Help us share Happiness Break!

    Leave us a 5-star review and copy and share this link: pod.link/1340505607

    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 bi-weekly 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
    36 Questions to Spark Intimacy

    36 Questions to Spark Intimacy

    What if you could fall in love, or forge deep connections in just 45 minutes? Our guests try out 36 questions with their partners to see if they can strengthen their connection.



    Episode summary:

    There are 36 questions that have been shown over and over again in lab studies to help people fall in love or form fast connections. In this week’s episode, we bring back Kristen Meinzer and Jolenta Greenberg of By the Book podcast*.* They recruit their husbands to ask and answer these questions and then fill us in on the surprising ways they helped each of their relationships. Later, we hear from psychologists Arthur and Elaine Aron, the married duo who co-created the 36 questions this practice is based on. They explain the principles behind the questions, so you can come up with your own conversation starters to foster closeness with anyone — family, friends, or your partner.



    Practice:

    36 Questions for Increasing Closeness


    Identify someone with whom you’d like to become closer. Find a time when you both have about 45 minutes to meet in person.
    Take 15 minutes answering the questions in Set I below. Each person should answer every question, but alternate who answers first. If you don’t finish the set in 15 minutes, move on to Set II.
    Repeat the steps above for sets II and III.


    Find the 36 questions at Greater Good In Action:

    https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/36_questions_for_increasing_closeness



    Today’s guests:

    Kristen Meinzer is a pop culture commentator, Royals expert, and co-host of By the Book podcast. She also co-hosts the new podcast Romance Road Test.

    Jolenta Greenberg is a comedian, pop culture commentator, and aslo co-hosts of By the Book and Romance Road Test.

    Listen to Romance Road Test: https://tinyurl.com/mr298rwr

    Listen to By the Book: https://pod.link/1217948628

    Arthur and Elaine Aron are two of the leading psychologists studying the psychology of love and close relationships, and they are a married couple. The Arons created the original 36 questions this practice is based on.



    Resources For Increasing Closeness:

    The New York Times, Smarter Living - How to Be a Better Friend: https://tinyurl.com/3bpn2bvr

    NBC News - How to build emotional intimacy with your partner: https://tinyurl.com/bdz84apz

    Where Should We Begin? with Esther Perel - Twice Married, To Each Other: https://tinyurl.com/mt4r7zw



    More resources from The Greater Good Science Center:

    Take our Compassionate Love Quiz: https://tinyurl.com/bdfuucw3

    36 Questions That Can Help Kids Make Friends: https://tinyurl.com/2bc42vvt

    Moments of Love and Connection May Help You Live Longer: https://tinyurl.com/2s3h58yw



    Tell us about your experience asking and answering these 36 questions 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: pod.link/1340505607

    • 18 min
    Happiness Break: How to Ground Yourself

    Happiness Break: How to Ground Yourself

    Connect to yourself and the land you stand on in under 10 minutes with this grounding practice led by Indigenous scholar Dr. Yuria Celidwen.

    How to Do This Practice:


    If possible, go outside and find some natural ground, like grass or dirt. If you're wearing shoes or socks, take them off and place the soles of your feet directly on the ground.
    Bring your attention to the earth beneath you. Allow it to hold you, paying attention to how it feels — soft, firm, reliable. Imagine you're starting to grow roots from the tip of your toes, digging deep into the earth.
    Visualize energy and wellness flowing through your roots to your toes, into the soles of your feet, your thighs and knees, then base of the spine and upwards into your chest, expanding the whole center of your chest. Take a full, deep breath and contemplate the  openness you feel in your chest.
    Look up towards the sky and open your eyes, allowing all of your senses to awaken to the sounds, smells, colors, and life around you. Feel their presence.


    Today’s Happiness Break host:

    Dr. Yuria Celidwen is an Indigenous studies, cultural psychology, and contemplative science scholar of Indigenous Nahua and Maya descent. She also works at the United Nations to advance the rights of Indigenous peoples and the Earth.

    Learn more about Dr. Celidwen’s work: https://www.yuriacelidwen.com/

    More resources from UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center:


    Listen to Dr. Yuria Celidwen on The Science of Happiness episode about listening to your elders: https://tinyurl.com/yr2ydk43
    Does Nature Make You More Mindful? https://tinyurl.com/4wcreu9z
    Why You Need More Nature in Your Life: ​​https://tinyurl.com/ye282e5d
    Being Around Nature Helps You Love Your Body: https://tinyurl.com/57d5ntxm
    How Modern Life Became Disconnected From Nature: https://tinyurl.com/yc6u73f9
    Listen to The Science of Happiness episode featuring podcast host Krista Tippett, on Being Grounded in Your Body: https://tinyurl.com/8t7rr4yy


    Tell us how connecting to the earth beneath you made you feel by emailing us at happinesspod@berkeley.edu or using the hashtag #happinesspod.

    Find us on Amazon Music: https://tinyurl.com/28hcdfsd

    Help us share Happiness Break!

    Leave us a 5-star review and copy and share this link: pod.link/1340505607



    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.

    • 10 min
    How to Feel Less Lonely and More Connected

    How to Feel Less Lonely and More Connected

    When we feel more connected, we're kinder and care more for others. After 21 years of being incarcerated, our guest Simon Liu, of Bay Area Freedom House Collective, tries a practice that helps him remember the profound connections he's made both inside and out of prison // throughout his life.



    Episode summary:

    When’s the last time you felt a deep connection with someone, and then really reflected on your connections? This week on The Science of Happiness, our guest tries a writing practice to feel more connected to those close to him. Simon Liu is the co-founder of the Bay Area Freedom Collective, a home where other formerly incarcerated people can find community and connections. Simon talks about the importance of the social connections he made while in prison, and outside. Psychologist David Cwir explains how finding and building connections not only supports our emotional well-being, but can also change our bodies.

    Practice:
    Feeling Connected


    Think of a time when you felt a strong bond with someone in your life. Choose a specific experience where you felt especially close and connected to them. Spend a few minutes writing about what happened during the experience. In particular, consider how the experience made you feel close and connected to the other person.


    Today’s guests:
    Simon Liu co-founded the Bay Area Freedom Collective, a home by and for formerly incarcerated people, which provides resources and support for their re-entry. Simon is also a software engineer.

    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://tinyurl.com/2p93j8x8



    David Cwir is an associate professor of psychology at Briercrest College and Seminary. His research has looked at how moments of social connection with strangers can positively affect our bodies and minds.



    Learn more about this practice at Greater Good In Action:
    https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/feeling_connected



    We’d love for you to try out this practice and share how it went for you. 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 copy and share this link with someone who might like the show: pod.link/1340505607



    Resources for Feeling Connected:

    Harvard Health — Easy daily ways to feel more connected: https://tinyurl.com/5jxykfhb

    NPR — 4 tips to stay connected when your friends live far away: https://tinyurl.com/2p82en68

    The New York Times — Need to Dust Off Your Social Skills? (featuring Dacher): https://tinyurl.com/yckwkmku

    How to Start Over (The Atlantic) — The Misgivings of Friend-Making: https://tinyurl.com/2ysn7zd2

    Invisibilia — Therapy, With Friends:https://tinyurl.com/yvmkkbrs



    More resources from The Greater Good Science Center:

    Feeling Connected Makes Us Kind: https://tinyurl.com/f5xd27ue

    Is Social Connection the Best Path to Happiness? https://tinyurl.com/2v9e9c9n

    Why You Click With Certain People: https://tinyurl.com/2p8w38rw

    Why Are We So Wired to Connect? https://tinyurl.com/bddukrxx

    Listen to our episode, “Who Makes You Feel Connected?” https://tinyurl.com/4pmj775a

    Listen to our episode, “What Are Your Strongest Reminders of Connection?” https://tinyurl.com/sbs6waha

    • 20 min
    Happiness Break: Experience Nature Wherever You Are

    Happiness Break: Experience Nature Wherever You Are

    Just a few moments of tuning into nature can make you feel more inspired, connected, and less lonely. Let us guide you through a five-minute noticing nature practice — you don't even have to leave the city.

    How to Do This Practice:


    Pause and take notice of the natural elements around you, like trees, clouds, leaves, moving water, animals, bugs and butterflies, etc. Take a moment to allow yourself to truly experience the nature around you, and notice what emotions this evokes.
    When you encounter something that moves you in some way, take a mental photo of it. In a few words or sentences, jot down a brief description of what caught your attention and how it made you feel.
    Try to repeat this every day for at least two weeks.
    Remember: The key is your experience with what you are noticing—how nature makes you feel.


    Find the full Noticing Nature practice at our Greater Good in Action website: https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/noticing_nature

    More resources from UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center:


    Four Ways Nature Can Protect Your Well-Being During a Pandemic: https://tinyurl.com/98t8p7r5
    What Happens When We Reconnect With Nature: https://tinyurl.com/4jef7r82
    How Nature Can Make You Kinder, Happier, and More Creative: https://tinyurl.com/2s95n6ps
    Six Ways Nature Helps Children Learn: https://tinyurl.com/5t2tnv3p
    Why Is Nature So Good For Your Mental Health? https://tinyurl.com/nj7kpn28
    How Nature Helps Us Heal: https://tinyurl.com/2kea52n9
    Listen to The Science of Happiness episode featuring NYT restaurant critic Tejal Rao trying the Noticing Nature practice: https://tinyurl.com/yckkte9w


    Tell us about your experiences noticing nature by emailing us at happinesspod@berkeley.edu or using the hashtag #happinesspod.

    Find us on Amazon Music: https://tinyurl.com/28hcdfsd

    Help us share Happiness Break!

    Leave us a 5-star review and copy and share this link: pod.link/1340505607



    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 Make Better Decisions (Encore)

    How to Make Better Decisions (Encore)

    Can practicing mindfulness make us wiser? Judge Jeremy Fogel explores how being present in the moment helps him keep a clear mind and stay connected to his true values.



    Episode summary:

    What do you think it takes to become wiser, more compassionate, and more open-minded? This week on The Science of Happiness, we bring you one of our most popular episodes. Former district judge Jeremy Fogel shares his insights on how being present can help us make more mindful decisions. He recounts how, after experiencing stress as a judge, his wife suggested he try an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course. After taking the course, Jeremy felt more connected to himself and his surroundings, and decided to make mindfulness a part of his everyday life. The changes Jeremy made had profound impacts on his work as a judge. We also hear from Dr. Shauna Shapiro, a clinical psychologist and professor at Santa Clara University, about how mindfulness affects our moral reasoning.

    Practice:

    Mindful Breathing


    Find a comfortable, seated position and invite your body to relax.
    Tune in to the sensations it experiences — the touch, the connection with the floor or the chair. Do your best to relax any areas of tightness or tension.
    Listen to the natural rhythm of your breath, in and out, without trying to control it. Notice where you feel your breath in your body. It might be in your abdomen, chest, throat, or nostrils. See if you can feel the sensations of breath, one breath at a time.
    As you do this, you may start thinking about other things. Try to notice that your mind has wandered, and say “thinking” or “wandering” in your head softly. Then gently redirect your attention right back to the breathing. Stay here for 5-7 minutes.
    Finally, notice your whole body seated here once more. Let yourself relax even more deeply, and thank yourself for doing this practice today.




    Learn more about this practice at Greater Good In Action:

    https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/mindful_breathing



    Today’s guests:

    Jeremy Fogel is a former district judge in Northern California. Today he’s the executive director of the Judicial Institute at UC Berkeley and is at the forefront of a movement to bring mindfulness practices into the work of judges.

    Learn more about Judge Fogel’s work: https://tinyurl.com/5yw2fwpp



    Shauna Shapiro is a professor at Santa Clara University and the author of Good Morning, I Love You, a book on how to cultivate mindfulness and self-compassion.

    Listen to Dr. Shapiro’s TED talk on the power of mindfulness: drshaunashapiro.com/videos/



    Resources for Mindful Decision-Making

    Harvard Health - Can Mindfulness Change Your Brain? https://tinyurl.com/yzj98cts

    NPR’s Life Kit - Faced With A Tough Decision? The Key To Choosing May Be Your Mindset: https://tinyurl.com/2ywhzp6m

    The Atlantic - Mindfulness Hurts. That’s Why It Works: https://tinyurl.com/2y2k2wdm

    The New York Times - How to Be More Mindful at Work: https://tinyurl.com/mcfd7cze



    More resources from The Greater Good Science Center:

    Take our Mindfulness Quiz: https://tinyurl.com/yc4747jx

    Five Ways Mindfulness Meditation is Good for Your Health: https://tinyurl.com/2fhd3mhb

    Three Ways Mindfulness Can Make You Less Biased: https://tinyurl.com/3wm69zvc

    The Mindfulness Skill That is Crucial for Stress: https://tinyurl.com/38dxzhfc

    Can Mindfulness Improve Decision Making? https://tinyurl.com/b67ae6ck

    Tell us about your experiences bringing mindfulness to your decision-making 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: pod.link/1340505607

    • 18 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
1.6K Ratings

1.6K Ratings

Love P Joy ,

Great Happiness practices

Love the Scientific evidence for so many of the practices, I really believe in. In addition I constantly learn so many more. It’s so wonderful to spread these positive ideas in a world wired for constant stress.

NoOvernightGuests ,

As someone who loves actionable, relatable science, this podcast is a must!

Such an interesting podcast. You learn a lot about human behavior and people. I’m often surprised and touched by the interviews, resources, test results etc. shared during each episode.

Bitty12345 ,

Happiness breaks

Just a little obsessed with the happiness breaks😍 Such great, useful information in a short amount of time. If you haven’t listened yet, do it now!

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