Storyblock’s photo of a laughing woman with an umbrella in the rain.
Storyblock’s photo of a laughing woman with an umbrella in the rain.

The Science of Happiness, with Laurie Santos

Photo Credit: Storyblocks.
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About This Episode

How do you know you’re happy? What can you do to be happier? Can we scientifically measure happiness? On this episode of StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Negin Farsad investigate the science of happiness with Laurie Santos, PhD, psychologist and host of The Happiness Lab.

To start, we take a look at how we measure happiness. Laurie explains why the two key questions are: how do you feel in your life? And, how do you feel with your life? We discuss if anecdotal happiness correlates with being chemically happy. We also ask, what role do other emotions play in being happy?

Then, we dive into some fan-submitted Cosmic Queries. Laurie explains the importance of social connections and even connections with animals. Neil wonders about people having emotional support robots. We explore the benefits of comedy and how that makes for stronger memories and experiences. 

We ponder whether there’s any truth to the statement, “Ignorance is bliss” and we investigate the concept of “flow.” Laurie tells us how having our phone notifications on all day can suck away our happiness. We also discuss how having too many choices can diminish happiness. Are there different kinds of happiness? We look at the science behind seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Can we fool ourselves into being happy? Lastly, you’ll learn if there are any long-term scientific methods to generating happiness. All that, plus, do we want to be happy, or, do we need to be happy?

Thanks to our Patrons Victor Sanchez, Austin Douglas, Sara George, Maxwell Freitag, Glenn Hunter Lusk, Roch Venne, Vladimir Tkachenko, Robert Gilmore, Glenn Camhi, and Albert Holk for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.

About the prints that flank Neil in this video:

“Black Swan” & “White Swan” limited edition serigraph prints by Coast Salish artist Jane Kwatleematt Marston. For more information about this artist and her work, visit Inuit Gallery of Vancouver.

In This Episode

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