Cover art for podcast The Science of Happiness

The Science of Happiness

104 EpisodesProduced by PRX and Greater Good Science CenterWebsite

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.

104 Episodes | 2018 - 2021

100 Good Things

September 16th, 2021


For our 100th episode, host Dacher Keltner sits in the guest chair and tries one of the most popular happiness practices. 

What Happens When We Play

September 2nd, 2021


When was the last time you went down a slide? Our guest tries a practice to bring more play into his life and explores what that means as a Black man in the U.S.

How to Not Take People for Granted

August 19th, 2021


What would life be like without the people you care most about? Our guest tries a practice to help appreciate loved ones.

How to Tune Out the Noise

August 5th, 2021


Our guest uses her breath to find calm in some of Los Angeles' noisiest neighborhoods.

Don't be Afraid of Your Anger

July 22nd, 2021


What happens when we suppress our anger? And what if we tried to work with it instead? Our guest tries a practice to harness her inner fierceness to care for herself.

How to Enjoy Life More with Michael Pollan

July 8th, 2021


Michael Pollan tries to get more out of life by temporarily giving up one of his pleasure.

How to Craft Your Life

June 24th, 2021


When the world around you changes, so can your goals. This week's guest tries a practice to tap into a new sense of purpose.

What Humans Can Learn From Trees

May 27th, 2021


Trees don't just compete with one another for resources, they also cooperate. Scientist and author Suzanne Simard explains the surprising science of trees.

Finding Strength through Gratitude

May 13th, 2021


A doctor who serves communities in dire need shares how gratitude helps him find light in the darkness.

Why Love Needs Laughter

April 29th, 2021


Focusing on funny things can reduce stress, anxiety, and make us feel more connected to others. Our guests, who were high school sweethearts, learn …

How Music Can Bridge Cultures

April 15th, 2021


Have you ever been moved by music sung in a language you don't understand? We speak with Gambian musician Sona Jobarteh about how music can connect …

How Music Soothes Us

April 1st, 2021


What is it about certain melodies that can relax our nerves and rock us to sleep? We explore the science of calming music with pianist Rosey Chan.

David Byrne on How Music Connects Us

March 18th, 2021


Music helped former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne come out of his shell. Hear Byrne's story and learn how music creates social bonds in part one of our series, The Science of Music and Happiness.

Scheduling Time to Feel Awe(some)

March 4th, 2021


Feeling awe can boost your mood and make you feel more connected with others. Comedian Chris Duffy learns how to tap into that sense.

Why We're Drawn to Nature

February 18th, 2021


What happens when we spend time outdoors? We explore how getting out in nature can restore peace of mind—and make us more creative.

Are You Setting the Right Goals?

February 4th, 2021


Setting goals can sometimes feel like setting ourselves up for failure. But journalist Monica Campbell finds there's something magical that happens with certain kinds of goals.

Healing Through Gratitude

January 21st, 2021


A stranger helped her through the hardest day of her life. When she expresses her gratitude, our guest encounters the power of true connection.

How to Talk with Strangers

January 7th, 2021


The way we interact with people who come in and out of our lives has changed since COVID-19. Our guest tries a practice to connect with strangers while keeping a social distance.

Happy Again: How to Connect When You Must Stay Apart (Encore)

December 24th, 2020


Are you unable to be with your friends and family during the holiday season this year? These 36 questions can bring you closer to loved ones, even if …

Are You Listening to Your Elders?

December 10th, 2020


Connecting across generations is one of the oldest happiness practices there is. We explore why to honor your elders, along with other practices from …

How to Make Better Decisions

November 26th, 2020


Can practicing mindfulness make us wiser? Judge Jeremy Fogel explores how being present in the moment helps him keep a clear mind and stay connected …

How to Give Up a Grudge

November 12th, 2020


What does it really take to forgive someone? And why should we do it? Our guest, psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman, tries a practice to let go of …

Why Voting Connects Us

October 29th, 2020


Why do we vote? We explore the science behind what drives us to the polls, and the benefits we reap for ourselves and communities when we cast our …

How to Ride With the Pain

October 22nd, 2020


It's easy to be anxious and uncertain about the future—especially if you're eight months pregnant. Our guest tries practices to help her deal with whatever life throws her way.

If You Want to Be More Productive, Cut Yourself Some Slack

October 8th, 2020


Feeling hard on yourself? Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp learns to quiet his inner critic and tap into his highest potential.

A Cure for Loneliness

September 24th, 2020


Feeling lonely? Former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy learns why focusing on the quality of our relationships, not the quantity, can be an antidote. 

24 Hours of Kindness

August 27th, 2020


Why should you be nice? Our guest explores how small, daily acts of kindness can produce meaningful life changes.

How to Switch Off Your Critics

August 13th, 2020


Do you obsess over negative feedback? Shereen Marisol Meraji, of NPR’s Code Switch, tries a better way to cope.

How to Reconnect with Your Partner

July 30th, 2020


A couple try a practice to bring more excitement and passion into their relationship, even while sheltering-in-place.

Do You Want to Be More Patient?

July 16th, 2020


We can be at our worst with the people we love best. Our guests try ways to be more calm and present with those closest to them.

How to Love People You Don't Like

July 2nd, 2020


Our guest tries a practice to help her feel compassion toward others — even those she disagrees with.

What's Your "Why" in Life?

June 18th, 2020


Adrian Michael Green asks big questions designed to help teens — and adults — find more meaning and purpose in their lives.

From Othering to Belonging

June 11th, 2020


We speak with john a. powell, director of the Othering & Belonging Institute, about racial justice, well-being, and widening our circles of human connection and concern.

Taking Small Steps Toward Big Goals

June 4th, 2020


When our world is turned upside down, how do we keep moving forward? Our guest, award-winning author Christine Day, sets a new path for herself.

How to Connect When You Must Stay Apart

May 21st, 2020


Do you want to be famous? What's a favorite memory? These 36 questions can bring you closer to loved ones, even if you're separated.

Give Yourself a Break

May 7th, 2020


Want to calm your inner critic? Our guest tries a practice to find more self-compassion during uncertain times.

Helping Kids Think About the Good

April 23rd, 2020


Sheltering-at-home with kids? These questions can help them, and us, focus on the good things in life.

Remembering to Breathe

April 9th, 2020


How a doctor stays calm and centered during times of uncertainty, one breath at a time.

Staying Close While Physical Distancing

March 26th, 2020


Our guest tries a practice to feel more connected to loved ones, and herself, while sheltering at home.

Who Would You Be Without Them?

March 12th, 2020


Think of an important person in your life. Now imagine you never met. Our guest practices counting his blessings by picturing his life without a special person from his past.

Step Away from Anxiety

February 27th, 2020


Do you have a hard time calming your nerves? Author Raina Telgemeier tries a practice to get out of her head, one step at a time.

Who Is Your Rock?

February 13th, 2020


He survived the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, two years ago and has been a student mental health advocate ever since. Now Kai Koerber finds a way to thank the person who helped him find his voice.

What Does It Take To Really Listen To Someone?

January 30th, 2020


Are you actually listening when someone is talking to you, or just waiting for your turn to talk? Our guest, a veteran of the Iraq War, practices how …

Why Shared Goals Can Bridge Divides

January 16th, 2020


How can people from different groups get on the same page? Our guest, an educator and football coach, tries a strategy for building stronger, more inclusive teams.

How To Make Time for Happiness

January 2nd, 2020


Her New Year's resolution was to have more joyful and fulfilling experiences in her daily life. Our guest tried a practice to help make that happen.

How To Get Your Senses Tingling

December 19th, 2019


There are millions of YouTube channels with people crinkling bubble wrap or whispering about folding laundry. Our guests talks about why autonomous …

How To Be Less Hard on Yourself

December 5th, 2019


Do you beat yourself up over every mistake? A high school senior tries to be kinder to himself during an especially stressful time.

Happy Again: How to Notice What You're Thankful For (Encore)

November 28th, 2019


Comedian Maz Jobrani tries to be more thankful for the good things in his life by writing them down — and encourages his kids to do the same.

Can You Find Wonder in the Ordinary?

November 21st, 2019


When was the last time you felt connected to something bigger than yourself? Award-winning cellist Yumi Kendall looks, and listens, for moments of awe.

How To Get Your Priorities Straight

November 7th, 2019


It's easy to lose sight of what matters most. Our guest finds a way to reconnect with her values during stressful times.

Does Your Doctor Listen to You?

October 24th, 2019


Doctors are often trained to be emotionally detached. But our guest finds greater meaning in his work as a physician when he tries to connect more deeply with his patients, co-workers, and family.

Finding Beauty in the Everyday

October 10th, 2019


A tree next to a bus stop, a flower poking through the sidewalk. Our guest, a veteran of the Iraq War, discovers how awe and wonder can be found anywhere —  if you just pay attention.

How to Find Your Silver Linings

September 26th, 2019


Do you fixate on what's going wrong in your life? Poet and "recovering pessimist" Maggie Smith practices looking on the bright side.

Can Margaret Cho Get Any Better?

September 12th, 2019


She's one of the most accomplished comedians of her generation. But Margaret Cho wants to find a different kind of happiness.

Can You Humanize a Zombie?

August 29th, 2019


Should we try to find common ground with the villains in our lives? Comedian Zahra Noorbahksh tries to understand a "zombie" from her past.

Making Kindness Contagious

August 15th, 2019


We gave our Happiness Guinea Pig a mission: Do five random acts of kindness in one day.

Facing Your Fears

August 1st, 2019


Heights. Public speaking. Death. Our Happiness Guinea Pig explains how she overcomes her fears, one small step at a time.

How Michael Lewis Finds the Funny

July 18th, 2019


How can you unearth humor in everyday life? Best-selling author Michael Lewis goes looking for laughs.

How to Keep Love Alive

July 4th, 2019


After more than a decade together, our Happiness Guinea Pig tries to bring the spark back into her marriage.

Who Makes You Feel Connected?

June 20th, 2019


Our Happiness Guinea Pig, the creator of Cartoon Network's We Bare Bears, finds a way to feel close to a loved one he recently lost.

Try this week’s happiness practice: Feeling Connected

A Better Way to Talk to Yourself

June 6th, 2019


Her husband has been in prison for 23 years. Our Happiness Guinea Pig tries a new approach to stay strong while working to get him released.

What to Do When You Feel Like a Failure

April 11th, 2019


The loss of a job, the pain of a breakup -- it's easy to get down on ourselves when things aren't going well. Find out how our Happiness Guinea Pig tuned down the self-critic in her head.

Delight in the Unexpected

April 4th, 2019


A high-five from a stranger, a hummingbird on a busy city street. Poet Ross Gay shares his own happiness practice: savoring the everyday delights in life.

~ Try one of UC Berkeley's Greater Good in Action happiness …

How To Let Go of Anger

March 28th, 2019


Are you still mad at someone who hurt you in the past? That can eat away at your health and well-being. Our Happiness Guinea Pig tries a new approach to giving up a grudge.

What Are Your Strongest Reminders of Connection?

March 21st, 2019


What kinds of objects, images, and words surround your home or office? Our Happiness Guinea Pig surveys her apartment for items that spark connection and kindness.

Do You Know How to Eat a Raisin?

March 14th, 2019


Do you have trouble slowing down enough to actually enjoy your life? Our Happiness Guinea Pig, comedian and radio host Luke Burbank, finds a way to …

Finding Awe in Every Step

March 7th, 2019


How can we feel connected to the world around us? Singer Diana Gameros tries to cultivate a sense of awe in the most unlikely of places.

Try this …

Finding Your Strengths

February 28th, 2019


Do you fixate on your flaws and shortcomings? Our happiness guinea pig tries the opposite: focusing on her personal strengths.

~ Try this episode’s happiness practice: Use Your Strengths

Trying Compassion on Capitol Hill

February 21st, 2019


Can you extend compassion toward a difficult person in your life? Congressman Tim Ryan tries a practice to help him reach across the aisle.

A Lesson in Thanks and Vulnerability

February 14th, 2019


A junior high school teacher spent his life defying stereotypes about how men should express their emotions. Here he takes on a new challenge: …

Notice the Good in Your Life

February 7th, 2019


Comedian Maz Jobrani tries to pay more attention to the good things in his life by writing them down -- and encourages his kids to do the same.

Try this episodes happiness practice: Three Good Things

The Power of Expressing Your Deepest Emotions

December 20th, 2018


He started Afghanistan's first post-Taliban rock band when he was 18 years old. A decade later, our Happiness Guinea Pig takes on another challenge: …

Who's Got Your Back?

December 13th, 2018


How do you build feelings of trust and security? Our Happiness Guinea Pig learns some truths about what it takes to feel supported.

Being Kinder to Yourself

December 6th, 2018


When you’re helping others cope with stress and anxiety, how do you deal with your own? Psychiatrist Elizabeth Guinto tries a practice to be kinder to herself.

W. Kamau Bell’s Thoughts on Awkward Relationships and Bridging Divides

November 29th, 2018


Comedian W. Kamau Bell discusses the challenges of finding common ground, even with people in your own family.

Find That Inner Calm

November 22nd, 2018


International megastar Daniel Wu tries a practice that brings him calm amidst the chaos. 

These Words Cause Happiness

November 15th, 2018


Did you know that you have the power to spark happiness in someone else's brain with just a few simple words? College student Eva Dickerson shares …

A Simple Recipe for Happiness

November 8th, 2018


Our Happiness Guinea Pig, children's author Joanne Rocklin, shares her happiness practice: bringing people together to share a meal. It took on a deeper meaning for her after a recent tragedy.

Can’t Relax? This Will Help

November 1st, 2018


Why does a bath or swim feel so relaxing? Our guest shares her own happiness practice--spending time in water--which science is finding can make us happier and healthier. 

How to Make a Real Apology

October 25th, 2018


"I'm sorry you feel that way."

Some apologies can actually make things worse. Our Happiness Guinea Pigs, Jolenta Greenburg and Kristin Meinzer …

How to Deal with Uncertainty

October 18th, 2018


How do you respond when you feel threatened or defensive? Our Happiness Guinea Pig, writer Wajahat Ali, discovers a way to keep himself centered amidst the challenges and chaos of life.

BONUS: The Science of Happiness at Work

October 11th, 2018


What would make you happier at work? Featuring some of our happiness guinea pigs, we share the latest insights and research on well-being and …

What if You Had Never Met?

August 9th, 2018


Do you take your partner for granted? Our Happiness Guinea Pig, cartoonist Gene Luen Yang, imagines a life in which he never met his wife.

Give Yourself Some Distance

August 2nd, 2018


Are you stuck ruminating about the past? Legendary skater Tommy Guerrero tries looking at negative events from a different perspective.

Listen Like It's Your First Date

July 26th, 2018


Do you find yourself looking at your phone when you're supposed to be paying attention to a friend? Our Happiness Guinea Pig, The Takeaway's Tanzina …

Why You Shouldn't Hate Small Talk

July 19th, 2018


Many of us avoid chatting with strangers – isn't small talk tedious and dull? Listen as our happiness guinea pig discovers its surprising benefits.

How to Change Your Mind

July 12th, 2018


Author Michael Pollan, shares his experiences on being a guinea pig for his new book, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics …

How to Find Your Purpose in Life

July 5th, 2018


Did you know what you wanted when you were in high school? Our teen guinea pig takes on the challenge of figuring out her purpose in life.

What Are You Afraid Of?

June 28th, 2018


Would you rather swim with sharks or give a speech before thousands of people? Discover how our happiness guinea pig tackled one of his many …

How to Forgive Your Father

June 21st, 2018


Holding on to a grudge? Hear how our happiness guinea pig tried to let go of deep-seated anger and resentment.

Feeling Angry? Try This

June 14th, 2018


For years, Dan Harris of ABC News was plagued by anxiety, depression, and streaks of anger. Here's how he learned to tame the voices in his head and get 10 percent happier.   

Let People Help You

June 7th, 2018


In hard times, do you seek comfort from others or turn inwards? Find out how our Happiness Guinea Pig emerged from trauma by accepting others' support. 

Thank you for your emails, calls, and letters! We think your …

Is There Someone You Need to Thank?

April 2nd, 2018


Is there someone important you've never properly thanked? Award-winning children's book author, Yuyi Morales, discovers the power of writing a "gratitude letter" to the librarian who changed her life. 

Can You Predict What Will Make You Happy?

March 26th, 2018


Do memories of your past affect your happiness today? Susannah Cahalan was young and healthy when she was stricken with a mysterious illness. Learn how writing about her “month of madness” in the bestselling book Brain …

Find Your Best Possible Self

March 19th, 2018


Does imagining your future make you more happy--or more anxious?  Our happiness guinea pig looks ahead for inspiration to improve her life now.

How Gratitude Benefits Your Brain

March 12th, 2018


Can you train your brain to be more grateful? Todd Zwillich of The Takeaway takes on the challenge.

Krista Tippett on Being Grounded in Your Body

March 5th, 2018


Are you so stressed that it wears you down physically as well as mentally? Discover how award-winning radio host Krista Tippett brought relief to her mind and body.  

Why a Walk Works Wonders

February 26th, 2018


Do you dwell on the negative and let moments of joy just pass you by? Discover how the Academy Award-winning director of Inside Out got out of his head and savored the good in his life.

3 Funny Things

February 19th, 2018


What should you do when you thought you had it all -- but learn you've had it all wrong? Discover what our happiness guinea pig did to bring more joy …

How to Fall in Love with Anyone

February 12th, 2018


Can 36 questions help you fall in love--and stay in love? Best-selling author Kelly Corrigan tries a research-proven technique to feel closer to her husband. Plus, we learn how the same technique can actually reduce …

Quieting Your Inner Critic

February 5th, 2018


Are you too hard on yourself? Our Happiness Guinea Pig spent most of his life behind bars. Discover the research-tested practice that helped him quiet his inner critic.

3 Good Things

February 5th, 2018


Do you take the good things in life for granted? You’re not alone, and studies show it's very human. But here’s a way to find more joy in the everyday. 

The Science of Happiness Trailer

January 23rd, 2018


What does it take to live a happier life? Learn research-tested strategies that you can put into practice today. Hosted by award-winning psychologist …

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