Podcast Review: “The Happiness Lab”

“The Happiness Lab” is a podcast produced by Pushkin Industries and hosted by Dr. Laurie Santos that focuses on the science of how to find genuine happiness. The first line in the podcast’s description on Apple Podcasts suggests that “you might think you know what it takes to lead a happier life… more money, a better job, or Instagram-worthy vacations. You’re dead wrong.”

With an average of 5 stars across over 12,000 ratings, Santos has managed to cover a vast variety of topics, each from a unique angle. The 30 to 60 minute episodes have touched on the importance of mindful fitness, personal rituals, how and what we eat, and lessons in happiness via the ancient philosophers. I am constantly impressed by not only the number of topics confronted by “The Happiness Lab,” but by how they are confronted as well. Every episode enlightens my view of what is generally associated with joy. 

Move More… But for the Right Reasons

“Move More… But for the Right Reasons” is an episode that significantly stood out to me. It highlights the importance of being active with good intentions, as the goal of being physically fit is one that correlates with eventual happiness for millions. Guest Jessamyn Stanley, an  unconventional yoga instructor, discusses the psychological and even spiritual effects of working out not for the goal, but for the process. People often believe that to feel true happiness, they must first alter their insecurities. I absolutely love Stanley’s message that to find that happiness, we must first accept ourselves as we are. Packed with positivity and funny, relatable, personal stories, Santos and Stanley produced a prime example of “The Happiness Lab’s” comforting yet eye-opening nature. 

The Power of a Made-Up Ritual

“The Power of a Made-Up Ritual” preaches the value of personal routines and practices to help us cope with and navigate everything from our morning routine to the loss of a loved one. I always value guests’ willingness to share personal stories, expanding and changing my perspective via others’ experiences. “Feed Yourself Like You’d Feed a Loved One” handles a touchy topic in a relatable, gentle way. The lessons that I took from this episode have stuck with me and proven to be incredibly valuable.

Happiness Lessons of the Ancients

Moving beyond topics of general wellness, one of my favorite projects by “The Happiness Lab” has been their “Happiness Lessons of the Ancients” series. Split into two sets of episodes, the first few involve Santos and two special guests going in-depth on the knowledge and teachings of ancient philosophers on happiness. This includes the Buddha, Plato, Epictetus, and Aristotle. The back half of this series covers The Torah, The Day of Rest, and Forgiveness. Happiness in 2021 is often promoted in a very goal-oriented, superficial sense. Having access to an ancient skillset regarding joy has benefited me in otherwise worn-out themes such as acceptance and friendship. Though the philosophies have existed for thousands of years, I found the series incredibly refreshing.

Verdict

Santos and her team create an admirably friendly, relatable atmosphere, and make not only being happy but the process of finding happiness seem far more simplified and enjoyable than what is often promoted in modern media. The variety of topics covered plays into the fact that there is not one true way to find joy, and that it is all about what works for the individual. Along with the 12,000 ratings on Apple Podcasts, I’d give “The Happiness Lab’ 5 stars out of 5.