156 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: Feeling the Awe of Nature from Anywhere

    Happiness Break: Feeling the Awe of Nature from Anywhere

    Host Dacher Keltner leads us through an exercise in feeling the serenity and wonder that nature brings us, no matter where we are.



    How to Do This Practice:


    Find a spot where you can sit and rest comfortably. Once you’re ready, close your eyes.
    Begin breathing slowly and deeply. Focus on your breath and unclench your muscles from head to toe.
    Think of a place in nature that is sacred or significant to you. What do you hear? What do you see? Try to create as clear of an image as you can in your mind.
    Notice what feelings arise as you think of this place; what feelings do you associate with it?
    Contemplate how this place has become a part of who you are; how it lives in your mind and how you can conjure up the feeling of it within yourself.





    Today’s Happiness Break host:

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

    His new book is Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life.



    More resources from The Greater Good Science Center:

    Secrets of the Vagus Nerve: https://tinyurl.com/yzuxtuzp

    Why We Should Look Up at the Sky (Podcast): https://tinyurl.com/fn3bttw6

    What’s the Most Common Sense of Awe? https://tinyurl.com/2p842t8r

    Happiness Break: How to Ground Yourself: https://tinyurl.com/289ph9cz

    Happiness Break: Experience Nature Wherever You Are: https://tinyurl.com/yv46xrr4

    Why You Should Snap Pictures of Nature: https://tinyurl.com/5fp7bhk6

    Could Your Life Be More Awesome? Take our Awe Quiz https://tinyurl.com/2p8mz57f



    We love hearing from you! Tell us about your experience of awe in nature. 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
    Why We Should Look Up at the Sky

    Why We Should Look Up at the Sky

    When did you last take a moment to really look up at the sky? Shifting your gaze upward can help us be more creative, it improves our capacity to focus - and it's a gateway to awe.



    Episode summary:

    Natalie didn’t spend much time finding shapes in the clouds as a small kid. And when she got older, looking up was even worse for her. Natalie spent time in jail, where she spent most of her days indoors under harsh lights. Today, she’s a student at a prestigious university. She tried a practice in looking up for our show. When we look up, our brain gets better at being playful, creative, and thinking critically. We also tend to see vast and beautiful things above our heads, like a canopy of leaves, branches and singing birds, or a starry night sky. Often, looking up is all we need to do to find moments of awe in our day-to-day lives. And that’s a wonderful thing, because feeling awe changes how our brains work in a way that’s really good for us.

    This is the second episode of The Science of Happiness in a three-part series called The Science of Awe. If you’d like to learn more about awe, our host, Dacher Keltner, has a new book out about it. It’s called Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life. Learn more here: https://tinyurl.com/3uzk8m5r \](https://tinyurl.com/3uzk8m5r)

    Practice: Look Up


    Over the course of a week or so, make it a point to look up in several different locations and at different times of the day and night. Be sure everywhere you choose is a safe place to do so, and of course, never look into the sun.
    Each time before you look up, take a moment first to notice how you feel, and then take a few deep, intentional breaths to help you get grounded into the present moment.
    Look up and let your eyes wander, noticing what inspires awe. If nothing does, that’s ok! This practice might help you cultivate awe more often, but it’s best to go into it each time with no expectations. Spend at least a few minutes looking up if it’s comfortable to do so, or as long as you like.
    When you’re done, take another moment to notice how you feel now.




    Today’s guests:

    Natalie is a student at UC Berkeley and also works with the UC Berkeley's Underground Scholars Program, which creates pathways for formerly incarcerated people to study at universities. We're not sharing Natalie's last name to protect her privacy.



    Michiel van Elk is a professor at Leiden University in The Netherlands.

    Learn more about van Elk and his work: https://tinyurl.com/4kc5tycc



    Resources from The Greater Good Science Center:

    How Nature Can Make You Kinder, Happier, and More Creative: https://tinyurl.com/yepuxd27

    Six Ways to Incorporate Awe Into Your Daily Life: https://tinyurl.com/3emucdez

    How the Science of Awe Shaped Pixar’s “Soul:” https://tinyurl.com/37z43vrz

    How a Sense of Awe Can Inspire Us to Confront Threats to Humanity: https://tinyurl.com/3k6xprau



    More Resources About Awe

    KQED - Dacher Keltner on Finding Awe: https://tinyurl.com/575v6rvf

    The Atlantic  - The Quiet Profundity of Everyday Awe: https://tinyurl.com/yz623mff

    NYT - How a Bit of Awe Can Improve Your Health: https://tinyurl.com/4zdzcusk

    Sierra Club - The Science of Awe: https://tinyurl.com/3pfn23t7



    Tell us about your experiences of awe. 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

    • 20 min
    Happiness Break: Awe for Others

    Happiness Break: Awe for Others

    The communities we create are one of the most awe-inspiring parts of our lives. Host Dacher Keltner guides us in a meditation on awe and togetherness in this week’s Happiness Break.

    How to Do This Practice:


    Find a comfortable, safe, place where you can close your eyes and relax. Notice your breathing and begin to take deep, intentional breaths.
    Think about a community you are a part of – work, recreation, spiritual, any group you’re a part of. Cultivate a sense in your mind of being with that community.
    Reflect for a few minutes on the faces of the people in this community; bring them into your mind’s eye and notice the details of their eyes, smiles, perhaps even their tones of voice or the sounds of their laughter.
    Think about this remarkable quality of communities: That all of these separate individuals create one hole.
    Think about how each person contributes to this community to create that whole.
    Contemplate how everyone in this community is connected, and how they’re mutually influencing each other.
    Think about what value unites all these people share, what they have in common.
    Imagine yourself within this network of connected individuals. Cultivate a sense of what connects you with them, think of them as threads of mutual influence. It doesn’t all have to be good; tension is a part of being a community, too.


    Today’s Happiness Break host:

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

    His new book is Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life.

    More resources from The Greater Good Science Center:

    Why Do We Feel Awe? https://tinyurl.com/3xms3dm2

    How Awe Brings People Together: https://tinyurl.com/2p8m2tyk

    Eight Reasons Why Awe Makes Your Life Better: https://tinyurl.com/2p8ccav2

    Six Ways to Incorporate Awe Into Your Daily Life: https://tinyurl.com/3emucdez

    How Music Bonds Us Together: https://tinyurl.com/329scmf6

    Can a Sense of Awe Improve Our Arguments? https://tinyurl.com/pb2eh8c6

    We love hearing from you! Tell us about your experience contemplating your communities. 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.

    • 8 min
    How Awe Brings Us Together

    How Awe Brings Us Together

    Feeling awe changes your brain. In our first episode in a series about the science awe, we explore how awe can make you a better friend, partner, and community member.

    Episode summary:

    When Mirna Valerio tried out hiking for the first time as a young kid, she discovered something she didn’t expect: Being outdoors seemed to bring strangers closer to one another. It was like it somehow fastracked forming meaningful relationships. Today we know that the feeling of awe nature often inspires has something to do with this. Awe is the feeling you get when in the presence of something vast and incomprehensible. When we feel it, our sense of self shrinks – in a good way – and we get better at connecting with others. Today on The Science of Happiness, we explore what it’s like when awe helps us create communities, and the science behind how it works.

    This episode is part of special series we’re doing on Awe. In the weeks ahead, we’ll share Happiness Breaks to help you contemplate what’s awe-inspiring in your life and explore more dimensions of awe in the stories and science we share on this podcast.

    Our host, Dacher Keltner, has a new book out about awe. It’s called Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life. Learn more here: https://tinyurl.com/3uzk8m5r

    Practice: Awe Narrative


    Think back to a time when you felt a sense of awe; when you were around something vast and incomprehensible. It could be something physically vast, like a mountain range or beautiful valley, or psychological, like a brilliant idea or inspiring person.
    Describe the experience in writing in as much detail as possible. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar, just get down as much about the experience as you can.




    Learn more about this practice at Greater Good In Action:

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



    Today’s guests:

    Mirna Valerio is an ultra-marathon athlete and author known for her body-positive presence on social media.

    Follow Mirna on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/themirnavator/?hl=en

    Follow Mirna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheMirnavator

    Follow Mirna on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheMirnavator/



    Yang Bai is a professor at Peking University in China.

    Learn more about Bai and her work: https://en.gsm.pku.edu.cn/faculty/ybai/



    Resources from The Greater Good Science Center:

    Six Ways to Incorporate Awe Into Your Daily Life: https://tinyurl.com/3emucdez

    How the Science of Awe Shaped Pixar’s “Soul:” https://tinyurl.com/37z43vrz

    How a Sense of Awe Can Inspire Us to Confront Threats to Humanity: https://tinyurl.com/3k6xprau



    More Resources About Awe

    The Atlantic  - The Quiet Profundity of Everyday Awe: https://tinyurl.com/yz623mff

    NYT - How a Bit of Awe Can Improve Your Health: https://tinyurl.com/4zdzcusk

    Sierra Club - The Science of Awe: https://tinyurl.com/3pfn23t7



    Tell us about your experiences of awe. 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

    • 19 min
    Happiness Break: An Affirmation Practice for the New Year

    Happiness Break: An Affirmation Practice for the New Year

    This New Year, affirm the wonderful qualities you already possess with this meditative writing practice called "I Am."

    How to Do This Practice:


    Take a moment to sit still and take a few deep breaths, and notice how you’re feeling right now.
    Open your eyes, and on a sheet of paper, write “I am ____,” and then fill in that blank.
    Set a timer for 1 minute, and repeat step 2 until the time is up.
    Take a moment to observe what you’ve written. Where did you begin? Where did you end? What can you glean about how you’re showing up today, from what you’ve written? Look for patterns.
    Take a few more mindful breaths. Consider how what you’ve just written might influence what you’ve just written and the rest of your day.


    Today’s Happiness Break host:

    Chris Murchison is an artist and meditation teacher.

    Check out Chris’s website: https://chrismurchison.com/

    Follow Chris on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chrismarcellmurchison/

    Follow Chris on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chris.m.murchison

    More resources from The Greater Good Science Center:

    How to Be a Remarkable Boss During Lockdown (by Chris Murchison): https://tinyurl.com/yypps3aw

    Can Self-Awareness Help You Be More Empathic? https://tinyurl.com/eefds36s

    Do You Have a True Self? https://tinyurl.com/3xasurwp

    Ten Habits of Highly Creative People https://tinyurl.com/yt83udz6

    Make Self-Compassion One of Your New Year’s Resolutions https://tinyurl.com/ymn6m5pp

    The Dark Side of Self-Help: https://tinyurl.com/4jajdfum


    We love hearing from you! Tell us about your experiences with self-insight or self-affirmations. 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.

    • 8 min
    How to Make Life More Meaningful

    How to Make Life More Meaningful

    Chris Sharma is one of the greatest rock climbers of all time, and he's taking on some of the biggest challenges in life: becoming a parent and starting his own business. Chris tries a practice shown to help us craft our own path and purpose in life.



    Episode summary:

    Chris Sharma spent his youth traveling the globe and becoming one of the greatest rock climbers of all time. His passion for climbing has filled his life with purpose, but now in middle age, he wants to also focus on other sources of meaning in life that are just as important to him. Chris joins us after trying a practice in life crafting — where you get clear on your values, imagine what your ideal life would look like, and make a plan to get closer to that vision. Later in the show, we hear from Michael Steger, a psychologist and director of the Center for Meaning and Purpose at Colorado State University, about the surprising places in our lives we can find meaning, and the different roads we can take towards living a more meaningful life.

    Try the Life Crafting Practice:


    Identify your deepest values and passions — what’s most important to you.
    Reflect on your ideal future: Write a paragraph envisioning how you’d like your social life or your career path to turn out if you had no constraints.
    Write down how you’ll attain those goals. Prioritize them, and write “if, then” plans for how you’ll overcome obstacles you’re likely to encounter.
    Make a public commitment. Tell your community about your goals.




    Learn more about this practice at Greater Good In Action:

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



    Today’s guests:

    Chris Sharma is an elite rock climber known for traveling the world to find the most beautiful and challenging places to rock climb.

    His new show The Climb premieres on HBO on January 12. Check out the trailer here: https://tinyurl.com/suz35w8y

    Follow Chris on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chris_sharma/

    Check out his website: http://www.chrissharma.com/



    Michael Steger is a professor of psychology at Colorado State University, where he is the director of the Center for Meaning and Purpose.

    Learn more about Steger’s work: http://www.michaelfsteger.com/

    Follow Steger on Twitter: https://tinyurl.com/yc79d6mb



    Resources from The Greater Good Science Center:

    Michael Steger: Why We Search for Meaning: https://tinyurl.com/2s469242

    Here’s How to Find Meaning in Your Midlife Crisis: https://tinyurl.com/4kpcnr9c

    What Our Photos Say About Us (Podcast): https://tinyurl.com/y56wvj42

    Purpose in Life Quiz: https://tinyurl.com/yz4ztenp

    Living with a Purpose Changes Everything: https://tinyurl.com/d3ea7afa



    More On Meaning and Purpose:

    The Atlantic - The Meaning of Life Is Surprisingly Simple: https://tinyurl.com/2yfucadj

    Pew - Where Americans Find Meaning in Life: https://tinyurl.com/nek5j6tk

    Scientific American - To Feel Meaningful Is To Feel Immortal: https://tinyurl.com/yuhe99m9

    NPR - What's Your Purpose? https://tinyurl.com/465aknec

    Harvard Business Review: What Is the Purpose of Your Purpose? https://tinyurl.com/43pjrc6j



    Tell us about how you find meaning in your life. 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

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
1.6K Ratings

1.6K Ratings

Ohio Vick ,

Comments on 1/19/23 podcast about looking up to the sky

I’m a new listener of the podcast and enjoying it immensely. This podcast reminded me of a habit from my childhood of looking at the shapes of clouds to find an animal or some other object. I still do it in mid-life. It’s fun. Also I can relate to finding awe and perspective by looking at a book marker of the Earth-rise from the Moon. I displayed the marker in my office to remind me how small issues can be in the grand scheme of things. Thank you & best wishes for your continued success with your podcast!

Savta's ,

I have been listening to this podcast for years and am never disappointed.

I’m interested in research-based behavioral interventions that can applied to situations in our everyday lives. The Science of Happiness consistently introduces strategies that can be implemented to improve our mood and functioning if we are willing to try them. I like the modeling of the techniques and the science behind it.

1234lkjhg6789asdf ,

Was curious what an anti-labor podcast host sounds like

Was excited to listen to this new podcast after hearing about it from a friend. I heard from another friend that Keltener has refused to stand in solidarity with UC students striking for better pay. Maybe I skip for now….

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