Head of Silliman College Laurie Santos’ new podcast, “The Happiness Lab,” launched Tuesday with an episode on the impact of happiness on wellbeing.
Santos, who is a psychology professor, previously taught Yale’s largest-ever lecture “Psychology and the Good Life,” which centered on teaching students to live happier, more fulfilling lives. In an email to the News, Santos said the new podcast will explore various aspects of wellbeing on a weekly basis.
“The main theme of the podcast is that our minds lie to us about what makes us happy. We have these strong intuitions that certain things will bring us joy (more money, better grades, even more options and choices) but by and large these intuitions are just wrong,” Santos wrote. “Each podcast episode picks one ‘lie of the mind’ and explains where we go wrong and how we can do better.”
Future episodes will focus on the relationship between money and happiness, the importance of reference points when assessing one’s life situation and how solitude and socializing impact happiness.
Santos started the podcast in response to the amount of press attention her class garnered from around the world. The widespread interest showed her that people outside of New Haven were also interested in the science of how to live a happier life. She first created an online course on Coursera — which has since been taken by 400,000 people across 200 countries — to spread the insights of the class beyond Yale’s campus.
But since not everyone can afford the 16 hours necessary to take the class, a podcast is an easier, shorter and less intensive way for people to learn the insights she teaches, Santos said. She added that the podcast does not require people to sit and spend time focusing on the course. Instead, people can learn how to view the world more positively in leisure time, including during their daily commute, so the information is much more accessible.
“My more specific hope is that listeners will be people that don’t have the time to take a full online class but want to learn some bite-size tips about how to live better,” she said.
Santos noted that beyond its accessibility, the podcast also allows her to delve deeper with special guests. She has invited many different guest speakers, including scientists studying happiness such as Liz Dunn, Sonja Lyubomirsky and Dan Gilbert — psychology professors at the University of British Columbia, the University of California, Riverside and Harvard, respectively. Santos added that she will also interview some famous guests about their experiences implementing the science of happiness into their own lives, including Dancing with the Stars champion J.R. Martinez, figure skating legend Michelle Kwan, trans rights activist and former Navy SEAL Kristin Beck and even Grammy-winning musician David Byrne.
The podcast can be found for free on the Happiness Lab website, Apple, Spotify, Stitcher and other podcast providers. As of now, the podcast will run for two seasons, each with 10 episodes between 45 minutes and an hour.
Saket Malhotra | firstname.lastname@example.org