The Science of Happiness

Shuka Kalantari

Learn research-tested strategies for a happier, more meaningful life, drawing on the science of compassion, gratitude, mindfulness, and awe. Hosted by award-winning psychologist Dacher Keltner. Co-produced by PRX and UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center.

  • 5 minutes 44 seconds
    Happiness Break: How to Relax Your Body Through A Standing Meditation, With Sherry Zhang

    Last week on The Science of Happiness, we discussed the scientifically proven health benefits of the ancient Chinese practice of qigong with Harvard psychologist Peter Wayne. This week, we practice a standing meditation, with qigong master Sherry Zhang. 

    Link to episode transcript: https://tinyurl.com/3t5wdexe

    How to Do This Practice:

    1. Take a moment to stand upright with your feet together and take a few deep breaths.
    2. Have your eyes looking forward.
    3. Soften your knee.
    4. Gently shift your weight onto your left leg and step your right foot aside.
    5. Face your palms inward, with your fingers relaxed and pointing down. 
    6. With your chin slightly in, relax both shoulders, and tuck in your tailbone.
    7. Ground your feet and relax your knees, armpits, and fingers.
    8. Take a deep breath and exhale. 
    9. Spend a few moments focused on your natural breathing and relaxed body.
    10. Now, bring your right foot back, so both feet are together.
    11. Lengthen your spine. 
    12. Take a moment to observe how your body feels, until your breathing slows. 
    13. Next, bring your hands together and rub them together vigorously, creating heat in between your palms.
    14. Now "wash" your face with your hands.
    15. "Wash" the side of your ears, to the back of your ears, the back of your neck.
    16. Now relax both hands at the front of your chest.
    17. Repeat this practice for one to five minutes.

    Today’s Happiness Break host:

    Sherry Zhang is the founder of Tai Chi Solutions and a Master Teacher of Qigong. She is faculty at Pacific College of Health and Sciences in New York City. 

    If you enjoyed this Happiness Break, you may also like these ones:

    Walk Your Way to Calm (Guided Meditation), with Dacher: https://tinyurl.com/4w37zwpy
    A Walking Meditation With Dan Harris of 10% Happier: https://tinyurl.com/4dv4ckzc

    Check out these episodes of The Science of Happiness about movement-based practices: 

    How Qigong Can Calm Your Mind and Body: https://tinyurl.com/2ywsck4e
    Episode 5: Walk Outside with Inside Out’s Pete Docter: https://tinyurl.com/2nfc94zb

    We love hearing from you! Tell us what movement based practice you’ve tried!

    Email us at [email protected] or use the hashtag #happinesspod.
    Find us on Spotify: https://tinyurl.com/6s39rzus

    Share this Happiness Break!

    13 June 2024, 10:00 am
  • 22 minutes 37 seconds
    How Qigong Can Calm Your Mind and Body

    Studies show qigong can strengthen your body and mind, and reduce cortisol levels. We explore this Chinese meditative movement practice that dates back over 4,000 years.

    Link to episode transcript: https://tinyurl.com/2ywsck4e

    Episode summary: Finding calm in your day to day life can be stressful, especially in a world that seems to be moving at such a rapid pace. Your life can change in an instant– and it can be really difficult to get yourself on your feet again. On this episode of The Science of Happiness, Ace Boral, an Oakland-based chef, joins us to try Qigong. Ace talks about his health struggles over the past four years, and how incorporating Qigong into his life over the past few weeks has helped him find mental clarity, emotional balance, and confidence in himself. Then we hear from Harvard psychologist Peter Wayne who has practiced and studied the benefits of Xigong. 

    Today’s guests: Ace Boral is an Oakland-based chef.

    Peter Wayne is an Associate Professor of Medicine, and serves as the Director for the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, jointly based at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

    • Learn more about Peter’s work: https://tinyurl.com/342xndna

    More episodes like this one:

    • Moving Through Space, with Dacher Keltner: https://tinyurl.com/3u844n4d
    • The Science of Synchronized Movement: https://tinyurl.com/n4bcrb5j

    Tell us about your experiences with Qigong. Email us at [email protected] 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

    6 June 2024, 10:00 am
  • 7 minutes 47 seconds
    Happiness Break: A Meditation on How To Be Your Best Self, with Justin Michael Williams

    Here's a favorite of ours: visualize your best possible self and tap into your inherent enough-ness with this guided meditation by Justin Michael Williams.

    Link to episode transcript: https://tinyurl.com/ytakaaep

    How to Do This Practice:

    1. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and visualize your ideal future self, the person of your dreams you’ve always wanted to be. Try noticing as many details as you can: What color are you wearing, how do you feel, what are you doing, is anyone with you?
    2. Answer this question in your mind with 1-3 words: As you look at this future version of you, what energy do you need to cultivate more of in your life now, today, to become closer to being that person you see in your vision? 
    3. Breathe in deeply, and as you do imagine yourself breathing in that energy. As you exhale, imagine that energy spreading throughout your body and energy field.
    4. Open your eyes. ​​Remember, you have what you need to become that which you want to become. We are enough to start stepping into the life of our dreams.

    Today’s Happiness Break host:

    Justin Michael Williams works at the intersection of social justice, mindfulness, and personal growth — with a touch of music that brings it all to life.

    More episodes like this one

    How to Find Your Best Possible Self
    https://tinyurl.com/6t3uws8d

    Happiness Break: Visualizing Your Best Self in Relationships,  With Dacher Keltner
    https://tinyurl.com/5cx6cd5z

    Happiness Break: Visualizing Your Purpose, With Dacher
    https://tinyurl.com/39apt7tb

    We love hearing from you! Tell us what brings you feelings of awe. Email us at [email protected] or use the hashtag #happinesspod.

    Find us on Spotify: https://tinyurl.com/6s39rzus

    Help us share Happiness Break! 

    30 May 2024, 10:00 am
  • 17 minutes 20 seconds
    Encore: Why We Need Friends With Shared Interests

    She's the world's leading animal behaviorist and an autism advocacy leader. Guest Temple Grandin shares what kind of support systems led her to success, and we hear about how community, and lack thereof, affects our health and ability to succeed.


    Link to episode transcript: https://tinyurl.com/y82vw4dv


    Episode summary:
    Having strong relationships is vital to our well-being. We tend to be happier and healthier when we’re involved with community. Today’s guest is the world-famous scientist Temple Grandin. She was born with autism, which led her to be socially isolated from her peers. Join us on this episode of The Science of Happiness to hear about how Grandin credits her support networks for her success and making her into the person she is today. We’ll also look at the science behind the health repercussions of not having strong social networks. Feeling socially disconnected can lead to a higher risk of dementia, cardiovascular disease, cancer and more.


    Today’s guests:
    Temple Grandin is a leading scientist, prominent author and speaker on autism and animal behaviors. Today, she teaches courses at Colorado State University. Her latest book is Visual Thinking: The Hidden Gifts of People Who Think in Pictures, Patterns, and Abstractions.
    Temple’s Website: https://www.templegrandin.com
    Follow Temple on Twitter: https://twitter.com/drtemplegrandin?lang=en
    Check out Temple’s Latest Book: https://tinyurl.com/3tftxpck

    Tegan Cruwyis is a clinical psychologist at The National Australian University who studies social connection and how loneliness and chronic isolation are literally toxic.
    Learn more about Cruwyis and her work: https://tinyurl.com/3etuvket
    Follow Cruwyis on Google Scholar: https://tinyurl.com/yc5ujhaj

    Resources from The Greater Good Science Center:

    Four Ways Social Support Makes You More Resilient https://tinyurl.com/34ntce8u
    What is Social Connection? https://tinyurl.com/nk8crbbz
    Is Social Connection the Best Path to Happiness? https://tinyurl.com/4wxc66tn
    Why are We so Wired to Connect? https://tinyurl.com/uttppd3p

    Tell us about your experiences with building social connections. Email us at [email protected] 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

    Transcript to come.

    23 May 2024, 10:00 am
  • 6 minutes 21 seconds
    Happiness Break: A Meditation on Cultivating Awe Through Colors

    Experiencing awe can help us slow down and connect to the world around us. So how can we harness the power of this feeling? Host Dacher Keltner leads us in a colorful meditation to bring about awe. 

    Link to episode transcript: https://tinyurl.com/3e9cyky5

    Practice:

    1. Please find a space, either inside or outside, where you can take a moment and pause and look slowly at a scene in front of you. 
    2. Settle into a pattern of deep breathing and ease. Really focusing on how that pattern of inhalation and exhalation relaxes your body and slows your heart rate down.
    3. Now cast your gaze over the space around you. Take in what you see in the scene in front of you.
    4. You may shift your attention to colors present in the things around you or step back and get a sense of the scene in a more holistic way.
    5. Notice the variations and differences in the various colors in your visual field. 
    6. What feelings do the colors evoke in you? 
    7. Now, gently close and then open your eyes and notice how you feel. 

    Today’s guests:
    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.

    More episodes like this one:

    How Awe Brings Us Together

    https://tinyurl.com/bdhy4sj5

    How Music Evokes Awe

    https://tinyurl.com/mpkww4j9

    Happiness Break: Awe for Others, With Dacher

    https://tinyurl.com/3ptwh66j

    Feeling the Awe of Nature from Anywhere, with Dacher Keltner

    https://tinyurl.com/4r7rjaxf

    We love hearing from you! Tell us what brings you feelings of awe. Email us at [email protected] or use the hashtag #happinesspod.

    Find us on Spotify: https://tinyurl.com/6s39rzus

    Help us share Happiness Break!
    Leave us a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts and share this link with someone who might like the show: https://tinyurl.com/2p9h5aap

    Rate us on Spotify: https://tinyurl.com/6s39rzus

    16 May 2024, 10:00 am
  • 18 minutes 33 seconds
    How Birdsong Can Help Your Mental Health

    Hearing birdsong can help us feel less anxious, recover from stress faster, and even reduce muscle tension ... but can it help us fall asleep? Drew Ackerman of Sleep With Me podcast listens to recordings of birdsongs to see if it'll help with insomnia.

    Link to episode transcript: https://tinyurl.com/5n7sxjtb

    Episode summary:

    Drew Ackerman, aka Scooter of Sleep With Me Podcast, has always struggled to get to sleep. Even as an anxious kid, worries would keep his mind churning as the night wore on. For our show, he tried a science-backed practice for easing stress: listening to the twitter of birds. He discovered the recordings reminded him of easeful summer afternoons, transporting him to another time and place. The research bears this out: different sounds affect us in different ways. For many, birdsong lowers our body’s stress responses. And for Drew, that helped him get a little sleepier.

    Practice:

    1. Listen to a recording of birdsong that appeals to you.

    Today’s guests:

    Drew Ackerman You might know Drew as his alias, “Dearest Scooter,” the host of Sleep with Me podcast. Drew struggles with bedtime worries and has a history of insomnia himself, but he’s great at helping others sleep. Sleep with Me is one of the most listened-to sleep podcasts. On each episode, “Scooter” lulls listeners off to dreamland with meandering bedtime stories intended to lose your interest.

    Listen to Sleep With Me Podcast: https://pod.link/sleep-with-me

    Emil Stobbe is a post-doctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Germany.

    Jesper Alvarsson is a professor of Psychology at Södertörn University in Sweden.

    Eleanor Ratcliffe is a professor of Environmental Psychology at the University of Surrey in the UK.

    More episodes like this one:

    The Science of a Good Night's Sleep (Sleep Tips, With Drew Ackerman) - https://tinyurl.com/3wrwzrxy

    Why You Should Snap Pictures of Nature (Appreciating The Outdoors, With Tejal Rao) - https://tinyurl.com/erwdvwrw

    Related Happiness Breaks (a short, guided practice by The Science of Happiness)

    Restore Through Silence, With Tricia Hersey - https://tinyurl.com/4h8ww8ub

    Feeling the Awe of Nature from Anywhere, With Dacher Keltner - https://tinyurl.com/43v74ryn

    Tell us what sounds relax you! You can even send us a recording, we’d love to hear it. Email us at [email protected] or use the hashtag #happinesspod.

    Help us share The Science of Happiness!

    Leave us a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts and share this link with someone who might like the show: https://tinyurl.com/2p9h5aap

    9 May 2024, 10:00 am
  • 10 minutes 9 seconds
    Happiness Break: A Meditation on Pilina: Our Deep Interconnectedness, With Jo Qina'au

    Pilina is an indigenous Hawaiian word, or concept, that describes our deep interconnectedness. Harvard Clinical Psychology Fellow Jo Qina'au guides us through a contemplation of our profound interrelationships.

    Link to Episode Transcript: https://shorturl.at/npAM9

    How to Do This Practice:

    Pilina comes from the indigenous Hawaiian language and culture. Pilina means connection, or interconnectedness.

    1. Settle into a comfortable position and observe your breath.

    2. Visualize someone to whom you feel meaningfully connected and acknowledge the feeling of Pilina, or deep interconnectedness, between you two.

    3. Reflect on what it is that connects you, what impact that connection has had on your life, and what it may have had on theirs.

    4. Notice how it feels to acknowledge these things.

    5. Repeat steps 2-4 with as many people as you wish.

    Today’s Happiness Break host:

    Jo Qina’au is an indigenous Hawaiian meditation teacher and a Clinical Psychology Fellow at Harvard Medical School.

    If you enjoyed this Happiness Break, you may also like these Happiness Breaks:

    Check out these episodes of The Science of Happiness about connection:

    We love hearing from you! Tell us who you feel Pilina with, and what it means to you to reflect on it. Email us at [email protected] or use the hashtag #happinesspod.

    Find us on Spotify: https://tinyurl.com/6s39rzus

    Help us share Happiness Break! Rate us and copy and share this link: https://tinyurl.com/6s39rzus

    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 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.

    2 May 2024, 10:00 am
  • 19 minutes 42 seconds
    Are You Remembering The Good Times?

    Thinking about happy memories activates reward centers in our brains, and can help us feel more connected and accepted. Palestinian-American poet Naomi Shihab Nye discovers the joy-bringing power of recalling her good childhood memories.

    Link to Transcript: https://tinyurl.com/2r63e6tn

    Episode summary: Whether it’s news notifications or work emails, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the stresses of our time every moment of every day. But what if there was something we could do to rekindle the greatest joys of our pasts? How might that shift how we feel in the present moment? Simply reflecting on happy memories has been shown in a lab to reduce stress, activate the reward center in our brain, and uplift our mood. This week, Palestinian-American poet and author Naomi Shihab Nye reminisces on happy memories from her youth and finds the practice soothes her and sparks joyfulness. We also hear from neuroscientist Mauricio Delgado about how the practice changes the way we think and feel, and which types of happy memories serve us best.

    Practice: For one week or more, spend 5-10 minutes each day writing in response to the following prompt:

    Think about good memories you have from your past. Write a few paragraphs describing them and one event that you still remember to this date. Please provide as many details as possible, including who was there, so that another person reading what you wrote could understand how you felt at that time.

    Today’s guests: Naomi Shihab Nye is a Palestinian-American poet and author. Her new book of poetry, Grace Notes, will be available May 7.

    Order Grace Notes: https://tinyurl.com/st3w6n8t

    Check out Naomi’s children’s book about a child visiting her Palestinian grandmother, Sitti’s Secrets: https://tinyurl.com/5embjxuj

    Follow Naomi on Instagram: https://tinyurl.com/5hddcf8k

    Mauricio Delgado is a psychology professor at Rutgers University who studies social and cognitive neuroscience.

    Learn more about Mauricio’s work: https://tinyurl.com/4tt7bp2d

    Follow Mauricio on Twitter: https://tinyurl.com/27kvv6j7

    More episodes like this one:

    Why We Should Look Up at the Sky - https://tinyurl.com/4xs88sye

    Why We Need Friends with Shared Interests - https://tinyurl.com/bdesh3he

    Related Happiness Breaks:

    A Meditation to Connect to Your Roots, With Yuria Celidwen - https://tinyurl.com/3ae3w3z3

    Where Did You Come From? Guided Writing, With Lyla June - https://tinyurl.com/ytypxn5t

    Tell us about your happiest childhood memories, and what they bring to you now. Email us at [email protected] or use the hashtag #happinesspod.

    Help us share The Science of Happiness!

    Leave us a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts and share this link with someone who might like the show: https://tinyurl.com/2p9h5aap

    25 April 2024, 10:00 am
  • 7 minutes
    Happiness Break: A Walking Meditation with Dan Harris of 10% Happier

    A walking meditation led by 10% Happier Host Dan Harris

    How to Do This Practice:

    1. Begin walking.
    2. Bring your awareness to the present moment, noticing sights and sounds around you. When your mind wanders to worries or other thoughts, gently bring yourself back to what you notice around you.
    3. See if you can notice the sensations in your leg as you take each step.
    4. Continue walking this way as long as you wish.

    Transcript: https://tinyurl.com/yc2kpzmy

    Today’s Happiness Break host:

    Dan Harris the host of 10% Happier, a podcast about mindfulness and other practices and thoughts that can support our well-being.

    Check out Dan’s podcast, 10% Happier:  https://tinyurl.com/48cxcbjm\

    Order his most recent book, Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: A 10% Happier How-to Book: https://tinyurl.com/44cmjuvd

    Follow Dan on Twitter: https://twitter.com/danbharris

    Follow Dan on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/danharris/

    If you enjoyed this Happiness Break, you may also like:

    Moving Through Space, With Dacher Keltner - https://tinyurl.com/5n8dj5v6

    Check out these episodes of The Science of Happiness about walking and mind-body awareness.

    How To Do Good For The Environment (And Yourself) (Walking, With Diana Gameros) - https://tinyurl.com/3zfhhpus

    How To Focus Under Pressure (Mindful Body Scan, With Amy Schneider) - https://tinyurl.com/5fkdre2v

    We love hearing from you! Tell us about your experiences with mindful walking. Email us at [email protected] or use the hashtag #happinesspod.

    Find us on Spotify: https://tinyurl.com/6s39rzus

    Help us share Happiness Break! Rate us and copy and share this link: https://tinyurl.com/6s39rzus

    18 April 2024, 10:00 am
  • 15 minutes 59 seconds
    How To Make Work More Satisfying

    Finding ways to bend tasks toward your strengths and passions can make you happier, more productive and find more meaning in your life — no matter your job.

    Link to episode transcript: https://tinyurl.com/4ky325rs

    Episode summary:

    When the poet and former professor Susan Glass first retired, she stacked her days with so many volunteer gigs and passion projects, she felt like she was working harder than ever before. Now, she wants to prioritize living a life of meaning and enjoyment. Susan tried a lab-tested practice called Job Crafting, where you take stock of the tasks that fill your day, how much time and energy they require, what really lights you up, and what changes you can make to better align your efforts at work (or in your free time) with your genuine strengths and passions. Then we hear from researcher Maria Tims about how Job Crafting doesn’t just benefit your own well-being and help to guard against burnout, it can also boost your whole team’s productivity and morale.

    Practice:

    1. Create a “before” sketch: List all your regular tasks, and note each one as low, medium, or high in terms of the time and energy you actually devote to them.

    2. Reflect on and write down what motivates you, what your strengths are, and what you’re passionate about.

    3. Create a more ideal (but still realistic) "after" diagram, shifting draining tasks from “high” to “low” or “medium” if possible, and boosting energizing and enjoyable tasks where you can.

    4. Create an action plan: What are some concrete changes that are in your power to make? Are there places where you need to ask for the support of a colleague or supervisor to make a change?

    Learn more about this practice at Greater Good In Action:

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

    Today’s guests:

    Susan Glass is a retired English professor and visually impaired, Bay Area-based poet. She’s the author of the poetry book “The Wild Language of Deer.”

    Read Susan’s book: https://pod.link/sleep-with-me

    Learn more about Susan’s life and work: https://tinyurl.com/j3pcjn6r

    Maria Tims is a professor of Management and Organization at the University of Amsterdam School of Business and Economics.

    Learn more about her work: https://tinyurl.com/mtp7tpy3

    Resources from The Greater Good Science Center:

    How to Make Life More Meaningful (The Science of Happiness Podcast) https://tinyurl.com/39pth57f

    How to Be More Engaged at Work: https://tinyurl.com/2s3t5x2c

    How Oxytocin Can Make Your Job More Meaningful: https://tinyurl.com/mrx8458h

    Four Keys to a Healthy Workplace Hierarchy: https://tinyurl.com/788m6tme

    More Resources for Improving the Job You Have:

    HBR - What Job Crafting Looks Like: https://tinyurl.com/453yamac

    LSE - Can workers really craft their own happiness in the job? https://tinyurl.com/yjavhda9

    TED - The Power of Personalising Our Work: https://tinyurl.com/4cvznn8v

    Tell us about your experiences finding meaning in your day-to-day tasks. Email us at [email protected] or use the hashtag #happinesspod.

    Help us share The Science of Happiness!

    Leave us a 5-star review and share this link with someone who might like the show: https://tinyurl.com/2p9h5aap

    11 April 2024, 10:00 am
  • 7 minutes 25 seconds
    Happiness Break: A Meditation To Move Through Anger, With Eve Ekman

    Accepting difficult feelings like anger or irritation can help us keep our cool, feel better overall, and find calm on the other side.

    Link to episode transcript: https://tinyurl.com/n6hm5yhz

    How to Do This Practice:

    1. Begin the practice by settling your mind and body. Notice your breath and any sensations that arise in your body,

    2. Shift your attention away from your body, recalling an instance where you felt mildly irritated or frustrated. Give yourself a few moments to fully feel this emotion. 

    3. Notice any physical sensations that arise. Then, release that memory, refocusing your attention on the body. 

    4. Allow these sensations to shift and move, giving them the space to change and observing them with a sense of curiosity and kindness.

    5. Consider shaking hands with the emotion the next time it arises in your daily life.

    Today’s Happiness Break host:

    Eve Ekman is a contemplative social scientist and meditation teacher from San Francisco, California.

    Learn more about Eve’s work: https://tinyurl.com/2vhuarh8

    Find out about Eve’s Emotional trainings with Cultivating Emotional Balance: https://tinyurl.com/5n95m7yx

    Explore Eve’s Project, The Atlas of Emotions: https://tinyurl.com/mt75ytm3

    Follow Eve on Facebook: https://tinyurl.com/3txahape

    More resources from The Greater Good Science Center:

    How to Regulate Your Emotions Without Suppressing Them: https://tinyurl.com/4x29denx

    What to Do When You Feel Stuck in Negative Emotions: https://tinyurl.com/mwczxfya

    How to Turn Your Brain from Anger to Compassion: https://tinyurl.com/57upkcfa

    How to Overcome Destructive Anger: https://tinyurl.com/49zu6whw

    We love hearing from you! How do you manage your emotions? Email us at [email protected] or use the hashtag #happinesspod.

    Find us on Spotify: https://tinyurl.com/6s39rzus

    Help us share Happiness Break! Rate us and copy and share this link: https://tinyurl.com/6s39rzus

    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.

    4 April 2024, 10:00 am
  • More Episodes? Get the App
© MoonFM 2024. All rights reserved.