Since moving a bit of a ways away from my office about six months ago, I have been filling my driving time with various things — phone calls to friends and colleagues, listening to public radio, talking to my kids if they are accompanying me for part of the journey, audio books and even quietly utilizing the extended transition time between home and work to regroup and contemplate what’s ahead. But one of my new favorite things to do while driving is to listen to podcasts, and one that I have particularly enjoyed is The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos.
You may have heard about the wildly popular Yale course taught by Santos called “The Science of Wellbeing” that was made available to the general public for free a little more than a year ago. Since that time, more than 2 million people have taken the course, which focuses on debunking myths about happiness from the perspective of science, and teaches about how to cultivate happiness and improve well-being. I came across the course myself during the early weeks of quarantine, and heard great feedback about it from several clients and friends. The podcast The Happiness Lab was borne out of this class, and over two seasons it tackles issues about the relationship between topics like wealth, achievement and positive thinking, and happiness. Santos interviews various interesting guests as well, including Michael Phelps, Dan Harris and Tara Brach.
While I still have all of Season Two to listen to (yay!) here are a few take-aways from Season One that resonated with me:
1. My instinct about the power of gratitude has been spot on. Having a regular and consistent gratitude practice is a powerful predictor of happiness, along with connection with others. So I will keep on keepin’ on with practicing being grateful for thing in my life large and small every single day.
2. Meditation is also one of the keys to unlock happiness. Through concentration and intentional attention, meditation can help us find more happiness as we find ourselves less caught up in distressing stories or emotions.
3. I am well known among friends and family to be a person who is generally friendly, even to strangers. Santos acknowledges the relationship between friendliness and happiness as well, encouraging us to take the opportunity for connection wherever and whenever we can.
I definitely will be indulging in more episodes on my morning and evening drives, and would love to hear from any of you who have listened to the podcast as well. What were your take-aways? Have you taken the course as well? Do you think Dr. Santos and I are onto something with learning strategies to cultivate happiness and joy?
As always, with so much gratitude,
Nikki and the Sacred Treehouse faculty
Nicole Davis is a licensed psychologist practicing at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches. Dr. Davis starts with the core belief that each person already has everything they need to live a life of joy and fulfillment, and that therapy is just a process of uncovering their inherent wholeness. Dr. Davis gently invites her clients to uncover their strengths in a safe and non-judgmental environment. Dr. Davis completed MBSR facilitator training through the Center for Mindfulness at UCSD. Dr. Davis is also a 200-hour trained yoga teacher registered with Yoga Alliance.