Baby: Welcome to my Mommy’s podcast.

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This podcast is sponsored by BLUblox. That’s B-L-U-B-L-O-X, which is a sophisticated light-filtering eyewear firm. You’ve most likely seen footage of me on social media carrying orange glasses of assorted varieties at night time. And right here’s why. In nature, we aren’t uncovered to sure forms of mild after darkish, particularly, blue mild, as a result of that kind of sunshine indicators the physique that it’s daytime. That in flip suppresses melatonin and might intervene with sleep. That is the rationale {that a} actually dramatic examine discovered that tenting for seven days straight with no synthetic mild in any respect may really fully reset and heal circadian rhythm and assist a number of light-related issues, like seasonal affective dysfunction. That is additionally the rationale that I put on orange glasses after darkish to dam these kind of mild and shield my sleep, which I’m adamant about defending. I additionally put on sure forms of yellow glasses and anti-fatigue glasses throughout the day if I would like a pc to cut back eye fatigue. BLUblox has orange glasses and yellow glasses. Their orange glasses for nighttime put on are designed to dam 100% of the wavelengths between 400 nanometers and 550 nanometers, that are those which can be studied to intervene with sleep and melatonin manufacturing, and circadian rhythm. My children additionally put on these sorts of glasses at night time. And I seen a distinction of their sleep as effectively, which is a big win for a mother. That is particularly necessary once we’re watching a household film at night time or taking a look at any sort of display screen as the unreal mild, there’s a supply of blue mild and might intervene with sleep. You may study extra, they’ve a ton of academic content material and take a look at all of their modern protecting glasses by going to blublox.com/wellnessmama and utilizing the code wellnessmama to avoid wasting 15%.

Katie: Hey and welcome to The Wellness Mama Podcast. I’m Katie from wellnessmama.com and wellnesse.com. That’s wellness with an E on the top, our new private care line of fully protected and extremely efficient private care merchandise. I believe this episode is extraordinarily well timed contemplating the dynamics that every one of us are navigating proper now. I’m right here with Dr. Laurie Santos, who’s a Professor of Psychology and head of the Silliman Faculty at Yale College in addition to the host of the critically acclaimed podcast, The Happiness Lab. And after observing a disturbing degree of unhappiness and nervousness amongst her school college students, she started educating a course entitled “Psychology and the Good Life” which shortly grew to become the preferred course in Yale’s historical past with over a thousand enrollees within the first-class and has additionally reached nearly 2 million folks from all around the world by means of an internet model, which will likely be linked within the present notes at wellnessmama.fm if you need to test it out. And though she’s now finest often called a happiness professional, her analysis additionally explores the broader query of what makes the human thoughts distinctive? And infrequently contains evaluating the cognitive capabilities of nonhuman animals to people. And on this episode, we go actually deep on not simply the science of happiness and what we find out about issues that result in happiness versus those who don’t, but additionally some research-backed sensible methods that we will all implement even throughout these unsure occasions that result in extra happiness. It was a very, actually enjoyable interview, and I do know that you’ll take pleasure in it and study from it identical to I did. So, with out additional ado, let’s leap in.

Dr. Santos, welcome. Thanks for being right here.

Dr. Santos: Thanks a lot for having me on the podcast.

Katie: I’m so excited to have you ever right here. I believe your analysis is unbelievable and particularly very important proper now. I believe we now have some nice matters to dive into at the moment. However for people who find themselves not acquainted, let’s begin broad, are you able to inform us about what “The Happiness Lab” is?

Dr. Santos: So “The Happiness Lab” is a podcast that I host which is all concerning the science of happiness. And the essential premise of “The Happiness Lab” is that our thoughts sort of lies to us concerning the types of issues that make us pleased. So all of us have these hypotheses concerning the types of issues we should always do to really feel higher. , we may change our job or swap {our relationships} or, , principally change our circumstances in some sense. However the science means that these issues don’t actually have the affect on happiness that we expect. And so the podcast is all concerning the sorts of issues you are able to do to actually really feel higher in an evidence-based method.

Katie: I like that. And that sort of got here from, you educate at Yale from what I’ve learn, is that appropriate?

Dr. Santos: Sure. So I’m a professor at Yale. And a few years in the past, I began a brand new class on Yale’s campus on the science of happiness, it was known as Psychology and the Good Life. And the category emerged out of the truth that in my new function on campus as a head of school the place I dwell with college students, I began to see that college students have been, like, much more sad than I bear in mind being in school. , college students have been extremely depressed and overwhelmed and simply sort of anxious on a regular basis and that was actually irritating as a result of these have been, , college students that I cared about who’re in my residential school neighborhood.

However it was additionally irritating as a result of as scientists, we actually know that there’s evidence-based practices that we may have interaction in to really feel higher, , there are these extremely easy interventions that every one of us could be doing to enhance our wellbeing. Once more, like not extremely however with, , significance and in methods that may actually enhance our functioning. And so I made a decision to develop this new class to show my Yale college students all about these completely different interventions concerning the science of happiness and what they might do to really feel higher.

What I didn’t anticipate is that it will turn into the biggest class ever in Yale College’s historical past, over a thousand college students enrolled within the class, which was actually surreal and really stunning. However that made me notice that, , there’s an enormous demand for this sort of content material. And so the podcast was a response to that demand, it was a technique to give the content material of the category to people who won’t have time for an Ivy League course on their very own.

Katie: I like that. And you’ve got some unbelievable episodes, I’ll be sure that I hyperlink to a few of these within the present notes right here. Earlier than we leap into sort of understanding the psychology of happiness and sensible ways in which we will transfer towards that, how do you outline happiness as a time period? As a result of I really feel like possibly there’s a number of misconstrued definitions of that phrase.

Dr. Santos: So there’s, , most likely as many definitions of happiness as there are, like, sorts of happiness and issues. I believe one of many methods we give it some thought within the podcast and in my class is to take extra of a, like, nerdy social scientist definition of happiness, it’s sort of the definition that scientists use, however I believe it really works fairly effectively. And so we consider happiness as having two components. So it’s being pleased in your life and being pleased along with your life. So being pleased in your life is simply the truth that issues really feel good to you on a day-to-day foundation. You expertise numerous constructive feelings, issues like pleasure and happiness and laughter, and also you expertise, , fewer adverse feelings, so much less melancholy and nervousness and unhappiness and anger and issues like that. In order that’s sort of being pleased in your life.

However there’s a second part, too, to happiness, which is to be pleased along with your life. And by that I imply, all issues thought of, you’re sort of glad with how your life goes. And so what the analysis suggests is that maximizing these two components, sort of pleased in your life and pleased along with your life, is absolutely the way in which to advertise a very excessive subjective wellbeing. And you will get to associations between these. I believe numerous mother and father have skilled no less than one the place it’s like, , whenever you first have a new child child, I believe you’re actually pleased along with your life, , you are feeling your life is so significant and you’ve got this new youngster to handle, however in your life, , it’s a number of, like, not sleeping and coping with the actually soiled diapers. And so I believe there are occasions when these issues can break up however when you actually need to maximize happiness, one of the best ways to do it’s to ensure you’re experiencing numerous constructive emotion and feeling actually glad typically with how your life goes.

Katie: Obtained it. Okay, that is smart. And I’m guessing with this subsequent query, the reply will likely be that there’s most likely a really individualized and customized reply for every particular person. I work on the vitamin aspect of well being and increasingly, I’ve come to seek out that, whereas there are some generalities, discovering our personal very customized vitamin and well being plan requires self-experimentation and that the reply isn’t the identical for everyone. However I’m curious, so possibly the higher technique to phrase the query could be what frequent denominators have we discovered that separate individuals who have each of these sorts of happiness from individuals who don’t?

Dr. Santos: Nicely, there are many various factors they usually’re not those we anticipate, , we assume that the individuals who have numerous pleasure and happiness with their life are, like, the extremely profitable folks, , folks with tons of accolades or actually good circumstances. However the information means that our life circumstances matter quite a bit lower than we expect. , how wealthy you might be, what job you’ve got, when you’re in a relationship. All that stuff doesn’t matter as a lot as we expect.

What issues extra are some things. One is sort of precisely what you have been saying, wholesome habits. And people could be wholesome habits in regard to consuming, these could be wholesome habits in regard to sleep and particularly in regard to train. There’s work suggesting {that a} half-hour of cardio a day is about as efficient as a prescription of Zoloft, the anti-depression treatment for decreasing melancholy signs. So we neglect that, , the way in which we deal with our our bodies can matter quite a bit.

However a second factor that we actually want to enhance happiness in our life and with our life is social connection. We consider happiness as being about self-care, , this concept of “deal with your self” kind of factor. However in follow, the really pleased folks on the market are usually actually other-oriented. , they’re apprehensive about what’s occurring with different folks. , they actually need to attain out and do random acts of kindness. They’re actually grateful for the people who find themselves round them they usually specific that gratitude.

And most significantly, they actually prioritize time with the folks they care about. Each obtainable survey of pleased folks that I find out about means that pleased folks spend extra time with others, in order that they’re bodily round different folks extra typically they usually typically prioritize the folks that they care about, , in order that they find time for, , their family and friends members and family members.

And so then a last piece of happiness I might say is mostly kind of our mindset. , if we’re bringing a mindset of gratitude, of presence, of mindfulness, of noticing how we really feel each day, these sorts of habits can actually promote each the sort of the life satisfaction a part of happiness but additionally the temper a part of happiness, like feeling pleased in your life additionally.

Katie: Obtained it. And I really feel like there’s typically an inner script, no less than I do know I can say this for myself of, “If solely,” , fill within the clean, “then I might be pleased.” And for me, it was like for a really very long time scuffling with weight, like, “If solely I used to be this dimension, then I might be pleased,” or, “If solely my funds have been this, then I might be pleased.” And I believe possibly all of us have some model of that script that we sort of imagine, even when it most likely isn’t really true. And I do know for me, with the well being and the physique aspect, I really needed to fully shift that. And it was once I began loving myself and selecting to be pleased and selecting gratitude that the burden stuff really began resolving itself. However it took that eliminating that script of, “If solely this occurred, then I might be pleased,” and selecting, “I’m gonna be pleased now,” after which that ultimately resolved itself. However why do you suppose we wish these items that don’t really make us happier? What will get us in that script or that loop?

Dr. Santos: I imply, that’s the million-dollar query as a result of I’m with you on each single half that you simply talked about about like, , “After I’m skinny, I’ll be pleased,” or, , “When my podcast will get to primary, I’ll be pleased,” or no matter, proper? Like we’re continually placing our happiness on some circumstance sooner or later. And it’s mistaken for 2 causes. One is that, , we’re much less more likely to get there if we’re not pleased really.

So a number of the analysis means that our causal arrow about happiness is backwards. We expect success at reaching our targets will make us pleased however there’s additionally a number of analysis suggesting that happiness itself will help us attain our targets. So people who find themselves happier are usually more healthy. , when you’re happier at time one, you’ll be much less more likely to catch illnesses, you’ll be extra more likely to dwell longer. Pleased folks are likely to carry out higher at work, , so pleased individuals are those that get higher efficiency evaluations and so forth.

Pleased individuals are extra more likely to be in a relationship and extra more likely to be in pleased marriages afterward. And these are all research which have been achieved longitudinally. So we will take a look at happiness at time one and see if that predicts, say, when you’re in a relationship at time two. And so I believe that’s sort of a part of it’s that one of many largest errors is that we get the causal arrow mistaken. We expect, “After I get, , X, Y and Z, I’ll be pleased.” However really for lots of the issues we wish, specializing in being pleased first will assist us get the issues that we wish, the circumstances in life we wish later.

However the different drawback is that basically, our circumstances aren’t the important thing to happiness, that’s actually what the info suggests significantly with physique picture stuff. There’s numerous proof suggesting that, , individuals who obtain their weight reduction targets or individuals who get cosmetic surgery, , assuming that these sorts of issues will make you content. Like, they don’t make you as pleased as you suppose or typically for so long as you suppose. So then you’ll be able to simply sort of return to these different random patterns.

Even when you get the stuff you need, when you’re caught in that, like, unhealthy loop of pondering, what occurs is as quickly as you get what you need, you simply return to pondering that however only for one thing else. And we’ve seen this, we even have a complete episode of this on our podcast, an episode known as “The Sad Millionaire” the place we speak about this in folks’s circumstances with cash the place folks suppose, , “If solely I may make $1 million, I’d be pleased.” However then the analysis exhibits that as quickly as folks really get that million {dollars}, then they’re like, “Nicely, now I want $50 million,” , “Now I should be a billionaire,” proper? “I can’t be pleased till I’m really a billionaire.”

And all the outcomes counsel that, , when you get there, you’re nonetheless not gonna be pleased. And so I believe one of many issues the analysis exhibits is that we have to escape of these thought loops and a technique to escape of these thought loops is to comprehend the stuff that basically does matter. Form of precisely as you’ve proven in your story that after you bought out of that loop and actually targeted on the stuff that mattered, like impulsively, the issues fell into line anyway, all of the circumstances fall into line anyway.

Katie: Precisely, that is smart. And I like that you simply introduced up, that’s a fantastic episode I’ve listened to of yours, “The Sad Millionaire.” I’ll be sure that I hyperlink to that. And I believe we now have a novel time to really see that proper now with all the unusual social dynamics and isolation that’s occurring. And we now have all of those celebrities which can be caught of their multi-multi-multimillion-dollar mansions they usually’re not pleased they usually’re remoted. And we’re seeing this play out on social media and I do know there’s been a number of backlash in opposition to movie star tradition due to a few of these components.

However I believe it’s additionally a very necessary time to speak about, you talked about relationships being one of many large components in happiness. And proper now we’re sort of on this unprecedented time of isolation for lots of people. So I’m curious if, A, when you have any simply overarching methods for coping with a number of the feelings which can be occurring for lots of people proper now that most likely are interfering with happiness.

Dr. Santos: I believe it’s actually essential. I imply, I believe simply to sort of validate, like we’re in a very unbelievable, surreal, unusual, terrible time in numerous methods. And so I believe doing methods that enhance your wellbeing is extra necessary now than ever. If partially due to the sorts of issues I used to be saying and, , we get the causal arrow of happiness mistaken. And there’s proof suggesting that being happier can really present somewhat increase to your immune perform. There’s research the place you introduce, like, topics to respiratory viruses and also you differ their temper and also you take a look at who really catches the respiratory viruses and you discover that, like, having a cheerful temper or having a stance of being extra constructive really makes you much less more likely to catch viruses.

Once more, not like proof against viruses, clearly, like it is best to nonetheless be washing your arms, and socially distancing and all these items we all know we have to do throughout COVID however, , it’s one other technique to sort of shield your physique, too. So I believe it’s much more important now to be somewhat happier. However, , one of many primary issues I listed as related for happiness, social connection, is fairly arduous in a time of social distancing. , many people can’t do the social issues that we’re used to doing. , exit for brunch with buddies or, like, hang around with our members of the family in the event that they dwell far-off. Like, these are the issues that we’re not allowed to do as a result of we’re making an attempt to guard our bodily well being.

The excellent news is that social distancing doesn’t must imply social disconnection. We are able to discover methods to attach with different folks, , by means of all types of applied sciences that we in our trendy age are fortunate sufficient to have. , you and I are speaking proper now over Zoom and although you’re far-off and, , we’re socially distanced from one another, we will actually join and have this actually cool dialog. These are ways in which we ought to be connecting with different folks round us, utilizing applied sciences from simply, like, the great quaint telephone to issues like FaceTime and Zoom to speak to the folks we care about simply to see their faces, join with them, that’s gonna be extremely highly effective throughout this robust time.

However we will additionally do issues that aren’t essentially as formal as we wish to suppose with these applied sciences. I believe numerous us know that we will use these applied sciences to attach, like, say, in like a piece convention name or one thing like that or such as you and I are doing, like for a podcast interview. However we neglect that we will use these applied sciences to attach actually informally, and that’s the social connection that we’re tremendous lacking proper now. , just like the chat along with your pal on the water cooler at work or, , like having your neighbor cease by, , whilst you’re, , making dinner and she or he is available in for a few minutes or one thing. These are the sorts of casual interactions we have to replicate over applied sciences, too.

And so I’ve been making an attempt to do that myself of straightforward issues like, , “I’m gonna do a yoga class on-line,” it’s like, “Nicely, let me simply textual content my pal and see if she desires to do the identical one with me.” Or I’m like chopping up, , greens for dinner or one thing and I’m simply gonna be doing that for, like, a half-hour. And it’s like, “Oh, let me see if I can, like, Zoom name a very good pal of mine up the road so we will simply chat whereas I’m chopping greens,” or one thing. These sorts of casual makes use of of those applied sciences are gonna be actually highly effective for our wellbeing as a result of they’re making up for the casual interactions that we’re lacking throughout the day due to this disaster.

Katie: These are nice concepts. And my hope, I imply, such as you stated, that is fully unprecedented, we’ve by no means needed to face one thing like this in our technology definitely earlier than. My hope is that societally after which like as a gaggle, we will preserve among the good issues which may come from this. Like I’m listening to so many individuals gardening for the primary time, as an example, or many individuals are studying or relearning methods to prepare dinner at dwelling and spending extra time with their children. And I believe there could be good in a number of the issues which can be occurring proper now. I additionally hope that as issues begin to open up ultimately, it reminds us to have gratitude for these issues we used to take with no consideration, for these quiet moments within the espresso store or simply attending to hug a pal or simply attending to have these casual moments collectively, such as you stated. However I believe from having listened to your podcast, one other frequent theme with regards to that, even whereas we’re nonetheless remoted, is gratitude. And also you speak about gratitude in numerous completely different kinds, however how does gratitude relate to happiness?

Dr. Santos: So there’s numerous proof that gratitude is, in some methods, important for happiness, like a very free intervention you’ll be able to take proper now that can increase up your wellbeing considerably and for a very very long time. We have now a complete episode popping out in our second season of the podcast, which I don’t bear in mind whenever you’re, like, you’re launching this, however I wanna say, we now have a complete episode popping out within the second season of our podcast concerning the energy of gratitude. And the issues with the alternative of gratitude, which is a good factor, proper? Which I believe is, like, very in proper now culturally. Like everybody desires to complain and I really feel like, particularly within the context of COVID-19, there’s a number of sort of complaining going round from, , sharing sort of memes about how silly that is and complaining about socially distancing and all these items.

However the information suggests that basically taking time to expertise your blessings could be actually highly effective. There’s some work suggesting that the straightforward act of scribbling down three to 5 stuff you’re grateful for every single day can considerably begin boosting your wellbeing in as little as two weeks. And there’s additionally proof suggesting that expressing your gratitude to the folks round you may give longstanding boosts to your wellbeing. One examine by the constructive psychologist Marty Seligman and his colleagues present that the act of doing a gratitude go to the place you, say, name any individual up and kind of share what you’re grateful for about them, with them, that may really increase your wellbeing for over a month, so that you see vital will increase in wellbeing that lasts for over a month, which is sort of loopy and all we will all use proper now.

However I believe that the facility of gratitude is that it’s simply an emotion that makes you are feeling higher and it additionally builds up resilience over time. And so proper now the bottom line is simply to seek out, , blessings of our day by day life or expertise issues that we’re grateful for. And I believe sort of precisely what you stated earlier than is that this disaster has precipitated so many people to comprehend all of these items that we should always have been extremely grateful for that we have been simply actively taking with no consideration. , for me, it’s just like the weekly, , day by day, even, like going to my espresso store. Like, , I’ve my favourite espresso store right here in New Haven and I might go there and get espresso every single day.

It wasn’t like each morning once I went there, I used to be simply, like, extremely pleased and, like, savored that espresso and, like, knew that it was this enormous blessing in my life, I simply assumed it was one thing that I’d be capable to do every single day perpetually. However now within the context of this disaster, I spotted like, “Oh, my gosh, I ought to have been extremely grateful for that.” After I lastly get out of this disaster and get to go get my favourite latte once more, like, I’m gonna be ecstatic. And I believe precisely as you have been saying, there’s going to be so many issues for which that’s true. So many new habits that we will be thankful for however so many issues we took with no consideration earlier than that we’re going to actually deeply respect as soon as we get out of this.

Katie: Completely. I do know, hopefully by the point this airs, possibly that’s beginning to be in course of in a number of locations, however even when it’s not, I believe I’ve at all times thought, , it’s straightforward. I take advantage of the motto in my life quite a bit, “Amor fati,” which comes from Stoicism and it means principally “love of destiny” or “love what’s.” And I at all times suppose, , that’s a straightforward factor to comply with when life was nice and, , two months in the past when life was regular and great and I had so many issues that have been simply, it was straightforward to seek out gratitude. And I really feel like issues like that or that is the precise measure of them and the check of them for us in our lives is, can we nonetheless discover that gratitude when it’s arduous?

So in some methods, it is a sort of an ideal time to follow gratitude as a result of there are nonetheless many issues to be thankful for, such as you stated, even on this disaster. And if we begin in search of these now and develop that behavior now, it’s gonna be even simpler when issues begin to return, hopefully to extra like they have been earlier than when we now have much more to be thankful for. And in my very own life, I do know a few issues which have actually helped me is, such as you talked about, conserving a gratitude journal and I’ve a gratitude/artwork journal. So every single day I simply spend time jotting down issues I’m grateful for after which additionally simply doodling as a result of that helps me simply, like, mentally really feel pleased and I take pleasure in it and it’s sort of a remedy for me.

After which additionally with my children at dinner, we attempt to make an effort to ask them, “What are you grateful for at the moment?” Simply to maintain, even from a younger age, have them begin pondering of life by means of that lens of what are… After which they now look all through the day to have concepts of issues to be thankful for once we ask them simply to start out sort of framing their thoughts to search for the great and to search for the issues to be thankful for. And I completely can perceive, for lots of us, it’s a lot more durable than regular to do these issues proper now. However these are simply a few sensible methods which have been actually useful for me personally.

Additionally, a number of the folks listening are mother and father and I really feel like this disaster is possibly particularly arduous on mother and father who’ve children now dwelling 24/7 and who at the moment are homeschooling with no discover in anyway and who’re taking up all of those additional roles and additional obligations and remoted for thus lengthy. In order mother and father proper now and general are there ways in which we will enhance our happiness or sensible methods particularly for fogeys? As a result of I believe mothers typically get the recommendation of, “Oh, you simply must do extra self-care. You could make time for your self,” and infrequently that simply looks like one other to-do listing merchandise. So any recommendation particular to oldsters?

Dr. Santos: I imply, I believe first is validating. Like, that is an extremely difficult time typically. And it’s positively not a time once we ought to begin, , our new babysitting service or our new, like, math tutoring service for our children however many people are on this place. And so I believe one of many items of recommendation for fogeys is simply to make use of some self-compassion right here. And by that, I imply, like, don’t beat your self up, , this example is difficult sufficient as it’s with out you feeling the, like, sort of social comparability of, , “That different mother is, like, educating her children concerning the planets and I’m simply letting my child, like, play Xbox.” Like, it’s superb. Like, this isn’t the time to beat your self up.

And by way of, like, how to try this as a result of it’s one factor to say it, but it surely’s one other to, like, really do it, there’s some strategies that come from science that may be actually highly effective right here. And so a type of strategies is a type of meditation often called loving-kindness meditation. It sounds somewhat tacky but it surely’s a type of meditation the place you actually simply attempt to expertise compassion for the folks in your life. So the follow is you actually sit down and also you get in your sort of meditation seat or one thing after which suppose by means of the folks in your life and want them effectively. , so take into consideration your child or somebody who’s very easy to really feel compassion for and simply say, , “Might you be pleased, could you be effectively, could you take care of your self joyfully,” these sorts of expressions of wishing the particular person effectively.

And then you definately sort of undergo different folks in your life. However the cause this follow is related for self-compassion is that one of many folks you’re speculated to suppose these compassionate ideas about is your self. , so sooner or later within the meditation, you’re speculated to suppose, “Might I be pleased, could I be protected, could I look after myself joyfully,” and so forth. And what the analysis suggests is that the act of doing these sorts of practices can actually bump up the compassion you are feeling typically however it may possibly particularly bump up the compassion that you simply really feel for your self. It might probably make you cease beating your self up somewhat bit.

These sorts of practices, they can be actually useful in opposition to burnout as a result of burnout is absolutely about making an attempt to do an excessive amount of, both sort of not being compassionate for your self or sort of simply, like, so taking up the struggling of all people else about, like, “What’s my child gonna suppose?” or, “What’s my husband gonna suppose?” or, What’s my child’s trainer gonna suppose?” and so forth that you simply sort of don’t do the correct issues. You don’t find yourself defending your self. You tackle greater than it is advisable. And so by means of this energy of self-compassion, you notice, like, the purpose isn’t perfection, the purpose is, like, “Might I be effectively,” , “could I be pleased,” and so you find yourself placing the correct issues into place. And so it is a follow that may be actually highly effective. It, too, is a factor that you simply sort of have so as to add to the to-do listing, but it surely’s actually a part of the to-do listing that’s, like, a two-minute a part of the to-do listing.

, you are able to do a loving-kindness meditation by sitting in your meditation cushion for 5 minutes however you can even do it and suppose these constructive ideas, like, whenever you’re brushing your enamel or whenever you’re within the bathe or when you’ve got a sort of quiet second whenever you’re first waking up within the morning. I’ve been making an attempt to institute extra constructive thought meditation practices earlier than I do the, like, pick-up-the-phone factor within the morning as the very first thing. I’m like, “Wait, let me go away the telephone and let me, , like, want the folks in my life somewhat compassion earlier than I sort of choose up the telephone and begin checking electronic mail or panic-scrolling.” So, it’s one other factor you need to do, but it surely doesn’t really take that a lot time and it may possibly have enormous, enormous advantages.

Katie: I like that, that’s such nice recommendation. I believe something sensible proper now could be so useful. To sort of loop again to one thing earlier, why, I do know we talked about loops somewhat bit and that psychological loop and specializing in happiness first. However why do people, normally, need to pursue these items that don’t make us pleased within the first place?

Dr. Santos: That may be a million-dollar query. I really feel like if we may simply resolve that one scientifically, we’d be such happier critters and, like, resolve a lot struggling on the planet. One trace comes from the actual fact, I assume I’ll go along with two hints, one trace comes from the truth that, , over evolutionary time, the purpose of pure choice wasn’t essentially to make us a cheerful species, it was to make us a striving species. , that bought as many sources we may or as many reproductive companions as we may. And so, , our methods aren’t constructed to be pleased, they’re constructed to, like, get increasingly stuff and by no means really feel satiated. And in order that sort of comes somewhat bit from our evolutionary historical past.

We are able to struggle it, after all, , we could be extra aware and provide you with higher methods. However our pure behavior, until we put in some work, is likely to be to sort of, , work and try somewhat bit greater than we have to to be pleased. However a second perception really comes from the way in which our brains are arrange, which is without doubt one of the sort of annoying options of our personal minds is the truth that we now have completely different neural circuits for wanting issues. So, just like the issues we crave are the issues we hunt down versus liking issues like what we really take pleasure in on the market on the planet. And so you’ll be able to see these circuits dissociate most powerfully within the context of dependancy.

So, say, when you have a heroin dependancy and also you’ve had a heroin dependancy for a while, you’re gonna have unbelievable wanting for the drug. You’re gonna crave it like loopy and, , harm folks to get it. You’re gonna do all these items wanting this drug actually badly, however whenever you lastly get the drug, you’re so habituated to it that you simply don’t really even take pleasure in it. Prefer it sort of simply strikes you to baseline, it doesn’t have the increase that it had earlier than. And in order that’s only one instance that wanting and liking can dissociate.

However I believe that this occurs in all completely different contexts of our lives, you talked about physique picture and stuff. I skilled that myself the place I may have many factors in my life the place I used to be, like, obsessive about how my physique appeared and actually desirous to be skinnier and it will, like, my wanting system would get caught on that on a regular basis. However then at occasions once I really had misplaced weight in my life, I didn’t even actually take pleasure in it. Usually, I wasn’t even actually that aware of it, it felt superb but it surely wasn’t, , the factor I used to be actually in search of. And I believe we will get that in all these completely different behavior loops. “I actually, actually need a relationship,” or, “I actually, actually need this wage degree,” however then you definately get it and also you don’t really prefer it, there’s this disassociation.

The identical I fear is absolutely true of the alternative, I’ve skilled this with a number of wellness practices, proper? Like, I actually, actually like doing yoga. I actually, actually like train, however I don’t have the identical yearning for it that I do for, like, a very unhealthy, , sugary meals. Like although I actually prefer it, my, like, wanting system hasn’t gotten into gear. And so, , this raises a query of how one can get these two methods speaking to one another, how one can hyperlink them up higher. And the sincere reply is, like, they’re simply sort of separate and so it’s arduous to do. However a method you are able to do somewhat bit higher is to take time to be somewhat bit extra aware, is to sort of discover how practices actually make you are feeling.

So when you have one thing that you simply’re actually craving and also you lastly get it, take time to note. Like, “Did I even actually like that?” , like, I expertise this quite a bit in my day by day life with issues like social media, proper? The place I’ve this actually robust urge to, like, examine my electronic mail or, like, go on Twitter or one thing and I’ve been making an attempt to take time to note it. “How did that really really feel? Did I actually like that?” Like, “No, like I felt sort of apathetic or somewhat gross,” or no matter versus issues like, , more healthy consuming or meditation or yoga or one thing like that the place afterwards I used to be like, “Huh, like I really actually preferred that greater than I anticipated, I really feel resilient now, I really feel more healthy, I really feel simply calmer.” Taking time to note and be aware about what you want can generally allow you to replace that wanting system the place the wanting system can discover and be like, “Oh, that was fairly good. Like, possibly I ought to crave that somewhat extra sooner or later.”

Katie: I like that. And I believe you’re proper. I believe physique picture is very a sticking level for lots of ladies. Even ladies who’ve a number of the opposite areas found out and who’re actually, like, dialed in with their wellness follow or their children or their profession, I believe that one is simply, we’re most likely evolutionarily wired due to these components you talked about in copy or, and likewise now society, there’s billion-dollar industries constructed on telling us we should be and look a sure method.

And for me, I believe it was realizing over time after which consciously altering that script in my head, it wasn’t that being skinny, I assumed being skinny was gonna make me pleased, but it surely was being skinny in my thoughts was a illustration for feeling snug in my very own pores and skin and accepting my physique and accepting myself. And I spotted that was one thing I didn’t have to attend till I used to be a sure dimension to do. And so shifting towards that, it was simply superb how I assumed I used to be so laser-focused on the burden. And once I began altering the mindset, I spotted I had the selection to have happiness proper now. And that didn’t imply I wasn’t nonetheless gonna concentrate on wellness and I wasn’t nonetheless gonna attempt to drop extra pounds and be more healthy, however I used to be in a position to begin selecting happiness to a big diploma and accepting myself far more by switching the way in which that I considered that in my thoughts. And definitely it was a protracted course of. It wasn’t like I simply wakened at some point and did that. I simply suppose ladies particularly, that’s a very robust one to get by means of.

Dr. Santos: I do know, I agree fully. And I believe, I like this concept of, , change your mindset fairly than attempt to change the circumstances as a result of that may do a bunch of various issues. One is it may possibly make you grateful for what you’ve got, proper? Like it may possibly make you notice like, , “Possibly my physique just isn’t completely excellent but it surely’s really wholesome, it’s doing what I would like.” Like, , “It’s carrying me from place to put, it’s letting me handle my children.” Like it may possibly let you notice that there are such a lot of issues to understand about your physique.

After which what that does is it winds up, like, by means of the mechanism of appreciation, making you need to handle your physique, proper? , so then you definately need to eat wholesome otherwise you need to sleep extra, you need to train extra. And doing these issues is gonna wind up making you more healthy it doesn’t matter what your physique dimension. , I subscribe quite a bit to those concepts of kind of well being at any dimension which is that, , there’s a number of issues that management our physique weight which can be sort of out of our management, , your thyroid perform and all these items.

However all of us, the factor we will management is what we’re placing into our our bodies, how we’re shifting our our bodies, , how a lot sleep we’re getting and so forth. And when you’re specializing in these issues, then, like, the stuff you have been actually apprehensive about along with your physique weight, , it’ll come into line naturally. Possibly as a result of your physique weight comes extra into line with what’s wholesome for you. However even when it doesn’t, like, the stuff you actually needed to get out of a wholesome physique weight, you’re gonna get anyway when you change your mindset.

Katie: That’s a fantastic level.

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One other issue that I do know you’ve talked about in your podcast and that folks most likely can perceive results in happiness is a few sort of model of charity or serving to others. And I do know personally, like, among the occasions I felt one of the best have been once I wasn’t self-focused in any respect however targeted on different folks. And we see it definitely like in, when there’s pure disasters. We dwell in an space that bought hit by a hurricane a few years in the past and the neighborhood got here collectively and all of us targeted on serving to one another. And I do know, like, the sensation of that, although it was exhausting and it was horrible to see individuals who had misplaced a lot however I felt so extremely pleased with the ability to tangibly do one thing to assist different folks. So are you able to speak about that hyperlink between happiness and charity and the way specializing in others can typically assist us shift as effectively?

Dr. Santos: I’m glad you introduced that up as a result of I believe that is one other one of many misnomers about happiness. , we expect happiness is about, you employ the time period “self-care,” however much more issues like, “Deal with your self,” , “Do for your self,” like, “Give attention to your self,” like self, self, self. However the science means that pleased folks don’t try this, pleased folks have a tendency to offer extra to charity than not-so-happy folks managed for revenue. Pleased folks are likely to volunteer extra of their time.

And there’s analysis suggesting that when you take not-so-happy folks or simply common folks and also you make them do good issues for others, they’ll over time get happier. There’s one pretty examine by the psychologist Liz Dunn and her colleagues the place she has folks, she walks as much as folks on the road and simply offers them some cash so, , “Right here’s 5 bucks,” or, “Right here’s 20 bucks,” on the road. However she tells these topics methods to spend it, they both must spend that cash on themselves by the top of the day, so sort of deal with themselves, or they must spend the cash on another person, they must do one thing good for somebody.

And what she finds is that on the finish of the day, the individuals who did the great factor for others are pleased. And I discover this work so placing as a result of, , typically once I suppose if I’m in a foul temper or if I’m harassed and even, like, within the context of this disaster and sort of feeling panicked or no matter, typically my intuition is to do one thing good for myself. Like, “I’m gonna purchase one thing for myself.” Like, , “I’m gonna do one thing for my cash that simply advantages me selfishly.” However the information actually means that if I took that instinct once I was feeling yucky and did one thing for another person, that might be much more highly effective for my happiness.

And I believe it is a actually necessary factor to recollect within the context of COVID-19 partially as a result of, , so many people need to do stuff to sort of enhance our wellbeing and doing good issues for others is an effective route for it. But additionally as a result of many people are getting these tiny little monetary and temporal windfalls that we don’t anticipate, . So when you’re socially distancing at dwelling, you won’t be paying cash for gasoline or for that subway token to do your day by day commute, , so that you’re saving some cash that method. You won’t be shopping for that day by day espresso or that day by day, , no matter you obtain on the restaurant, , up the road from work, like, and so these are the, , $5 right here, $10 there, these are little monetary windfalls that a number of us may use to do one thing good for another person.

So may you are taking that cash that you simply’re saving in your day by day espresso and donate it to an area enterprise that you simply need to be sure that survives this disaster? Might you are taking that little bit of cash and donate it to a very good trigger? And even when you don’t have any cash as a result of realistically, a number of us are out of labor or in worse monetary conditions now than earlier than, however lots of people have additional time on their arms. They’re getting these little temporal windfalls both since you’re not at work and even when you’re simply not commuting, you’ve got these additional few hours that you simply’re sort of saving.

And so when you’re in a scenario of getting a time windfall, what may you do with that point to assist different folks? Might you name an aged neighbor who may want your assist or may you make a name to a political marketing campaign that you simply actually cared about or advocate for, say, well being care staff and ensure they get protecting tools that they want? All these little 5 minutes right here, 10 minutes there that we is likely to be saving within the context of this disaster, we will put these to good use.

And doing so, once more, doesn’t simply assist our neighborhood and do precisely what you stated within the context of the hurricane the place you’re actually serving to different folks out, it’s additionally serving to your wellbeing, , which is a number of why we need to spend our cash and need to spend our time within the first place. We need to use it in ways in which make us really feel good and doing good stuff for others is a method to try this.

Katie: That’s so nice. And particularly discovering these sensible methods, like methods you talked about, even proper now whereas we’re nonetheless sort of disconnected bodily from one another, we will nonetheless try this and use that as a technique for happiness. So that you talked about your Yale course that, it was extraordinarily in style, I imagine I really learn it was the preferred course in Yale historical past. And also you had all of those school college students who actually most likely have been scuffling with looking for happiness and there have been most likely a number of overachievers and type-A personalities.

A variety of the folks listening most likely have youthful children, so not fairly to the college-age but. However I do know that’s, I believe that’s prime of thoughts for me, which is how can I give my children a powerful basis for happiness from an early age in order that they’re not getting to varsity and discovering that they’re sad to start with. And I might guess among the identical methods that apply for adults additionally actually work for teenagers. However do you’ve got something particular that we will nurture? Such as you talked about, gratitude was a fantastic one, however with our children, even from a younger age to sort of set them up for that mindset of happiness?

Dr. Santos: Nicely, I believe the advice that you simply gave about, , having your children speak concerning the issues they’re grateful for over their dinner desk could be extremely highly effective. , constructing these habits in early, I believe, are actually important. However one other one is to sort of be sure that as a dad or mum, you’re not targeted in your children’ circumstances to ensure they’re pleased. And so by that, I imply issues like what number of accolades they get, whether or not they’re profitable their video games, whether or not they’re getting excellent grades, like all of these issues are the sort of issues that, culturally, I believe we consider as excellent.

, as a dad or mum, you need to be sure that, like, your children are setting themselves up as effectively for his or her futures as potential. However, like, the way in which you try this is likely to be to show them these methods to actually be sure that they’re prioritizing time with their buddies and time with your loved ones and constructing social connections, that they’re actually prioritizing taking time without work and taking time to be aware and savor and spot the issues round them. I typically suppose that folks who attempt to instill of their children issues like a powerful meditation follow or a powerful behavior of gratitude, like, you’re nearly doing higher to your children than getting them excellent grades. As a result of really the info means that by highschool, there’s an inverse correlation between good grades and happiness. In different phrases, the happiest college students are likely to have the worst grades or vice versa, the scholars who’ve one of the best grades will not be essentially those which can be happiest.

There’s additionally an inverse correlation between grades and optimism, so the scholars with the very best grades are the least optimistic and there’s additionally an inverse correlation between excellent grades and self-worth. So the youngsters who’ve one of the best grades really, statistically, have among the lowest self-worth. And so, once more, simply sort of getting the steadiness proper within the sorts of issues that you simply as a dad or mum prioritize and the talent units that you simply’re constructing in your children, I believe, could be extremely highly effective if giving them the following pointers early on. , I want that I had sort of taken this class and, like, realized a few of these ideas once I was a child as a result of then I wouldn’t sort of be, , taking the mistaken path for so long as I had in maturity earlier than I began to study a few of these strategies.

Katie: That’s superior. And one other space, so in researching you for this episode, you examine happiness quite a bit and also you’ve taught this at Yale, however from what I’ve learn, you additionally examine sort of what makes the human thoughts distinctive and, like, the variations between people and nonhuman animals, and it is a fascinating matter to me. So I’d love to listen to simply sort of what that examine seems like and what are some stunning issues that you simply present in that?

Dr. Santos: So this was sort of my day job earlier than I grew to become kind of a happiness professional is that I’ve at all times been a psychologist. However as a psychologist, I actually concentrate on this query of what makes the human thoughts particular. And I’ve studied that by each working with nonhuman primates who dwell out within the fields. I labored with a gaggle of rhesus monkeys on this island off the coast of Puerto Rico. However much more near dwelling, I do a bunch of research taking a look at how canines make sense of the world.

Canine are this excellent analogue for people as a result of they grew up in comparable environments to people, , they’re additionally, are round studying in the identical method as your child is studying. , they’re selecting up on language they usually’re watching you do stuff and so the query is like, , why does your child change into a human grownup and your canine sort of doesn’t determine that out, proper? And so we try this by kind of organising a bunch of research with pet canines, so folks convey their canines in from the neighborhood and we do little fast research with them that appear like canines enjoying little puzzle packing containers or enjoying video games.

However it lets us check what the canines know concerning the world. And so we’re actually occupied with whether or not canines share the identical methods by way of studying from folks as people do, whether or not they perceive among the identical issues we do, we have been actually targeted on how they socially consider. So people typically don’t simply, like, see folks on the market, however we consider whether or not any individual is sweet or imply or, , useful or not useful or, , competent or incompetent. And so we’re occupied with whether or not or not a few of these methods of viewing the world are shared with canines, too.

And there’s not that a lot overlap between the sort of research of animal pondering and the research of happiness. I believe one of many spots the place we’re seeing similarities is that we’re discovering numerous domains wherein among the biases that we now have as people, significantly the biases that we now have to, like, study from different folks, these sorts of issues is likely to be extra ingrained than we thought. , they is likely to be both, like, new in people and animals don’t present them and even some biases which can be so previous that they’re shared with monkeys.

And I believe when you see that these biases could be actually constructed into our evolution, it makes you notice that issues like, , the truth that we’re prioritizing the mistaken issues or that we now have these mistaken intuitions, in some methods, it’s not likely our fault. Like, it’s kinda evolution’s fault that they sort of constructed us kind of crappily, however by means of understanding the correct science and thru the correct interventions, we will actually overcome the restrictions that evolution offers us and we will turn into higher decision-makers in ways in which we’re utilizing our selections to guide us to much more happiness.

Katie: That’s so cool. I believe this complete space is fascinating and I do know that you’ve got many episodes on “The Happiness Lab” if folks need to preserve going deep on this and it’s actually, really a captivating matter. And I believe even simply generally studying about this, it simply sort of rewires your thoughts to search for the methods, search for gratitude, search for methods to be pleased and to shift that focus. As we begin to wrap up, what do you are feeling like are a number of of crucial takeaways? In case you needed to sort of distill the analysis on happiness proper now, and particularly possibly by means of the lens of the present disaster, what could be a number of of crucial takeaways that you’d go away with the listeners?

Dr. Santos: I believe we’ve talked about a few of these however I believe one takeaway is simply that happiness is absolutely necessary. , we expect that happiness is the end result however happiness could make it simpler to have good relationships, it may possibly make it simpler to be productive in your life, it may possibly even make it simpler to guard your immune system. So specializing in happiness first is necessary. The second large tip, and possibly an enormous false impression is that happiness isn’t what we frequently suppose. , it’s not constructed into our circumstances, it’s not constructed into how a lot cash we now have or the stuff we frequently assume. We have to do one thing completely different if we need to be happier.

After which I believe the third takeaway is that these issues that we will do to be happier are inside our attain however they actually take some work. , it’s simply so simple as taking time for gratitude or taking time to get your meditation in and eat, , eat somewhat more healthy, train. However these issues, if we put the work in, can reap enormous advantages. So it takes some work however the advantages are enormous.

Katie: I like it. And lastly, I at all times like to ask if there’s a e-book or numerous books which have had a dramatic affect in your life that you simply’d wish to share and in that case, what they’re and why?

Dr. Santos: So many books. I believe I’ll choose up, simply to select one e-book, I’ll choose up in your Stoic quote from earlier earlier than, I’ll give a nod to Epictetus who is without doubt one of the well-known Stoics and his previous e-book, “The Enchiridion,” which is, it sort of loosely interprets to the handbook, however Epictetus begins his e-book with one of many necessary premises of Stoic philosophy, which is that there are sort of two issues in life. The issues we will management like, , our ideas and our emotions and so forth, after which the issues we will’t management, which is our circumstances. And Epictetus notes that, , when you attempt to management these items you could’t management, you’re gonna be depressing otherwise you’re gonna endure, all the pieces’s gonna suck. However when you simply concentrate on the stuff you could management, which is your feelings, your mindset, and so forth, nobody can ever hurt you, you’ll at all times be pleased.

So I actually, I believe that, , there’s a number of trendy science on happiness and that’s principally what we speak about in our podcast. However I believe the Stoics and a number of the ancients bought it proper and that’s simply one of many great manuals for methods to, like, sort of flip your thoughts right into a thoughts that’s actually good at specializing in the stuff that makes you content.

Katie: I like that. Laurie, this has been such an superior interview, I believe extraordinarily well timed and necessary proper now as all of us navigate this sort of worldwide disaster collectively. And I actually respect you taking the time to be right here and to share all these years of analysis with us at the moment.

Dr. Santos: Thanks a lot. It was nice to speak.

Katie: And thanks as at all times to all of you for listening and in echoing among the themes of this episode, we’re very grateful that you simply did and that you simply have been right here. And I hope that you’ll be a part of me once more on the subsequent episode of “The Wellness Mama Podcast.”

In case you’re having fun with these interviews, would you please take two minutes to depart a score or overview on iTunes for me? Doing this helps extra folks to seek out the podcast, which implies much more mothers and households may benefit from the knowledge. I actually respect your time, and thanks as at all times for listening.



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