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From ABC, this is the 10 percent happier podcast. I'm Dan Harris. Hey, guys, if you've been thinking about starting a meditation habit, why not try doing so along with a friend or family member for a limited time? If you buy yourself a subscription to 10 percent happier, we'll send you a free gift subscription that you can share with whoever you like after a year like the one we have just had sharing some peace of mind, it sounds like a pretty good gift.


As we like to say on this show, though, nothing is permanent, so this offer is, of course, no exception. Get it before it ends by going now to 10 percent. Dotcom's December, that's 10 percent. One word all spelled out, dotcom, December. One more item of business. And it is an invitation for you to participate in the show for New Year's.


We here at 10 percent are going to do a whole series of episodes where we say goodbye to the dumpster fire of 2020 and kick off twenty twenty one by taking a counterintuitive approach to the whole New Year New You narrative, which strongly implies that you have to completely reinvent yourself. That line of thinking is often based on shame and self-loathing. Our line of thinking is that perhaps we can flip the script a little bit. We are going to be exploring the science based case for the rather cheesy notion of self-love.


And then we're going to take the crucial next step of helping you operationalize that idea in your life. Obviously, there are a whole lot of questions you might have. Like if you love yourself, will you slide into sloppy resignation? How do you do self love anyway? Isn't it just an empty platitude, et cetera, et cetera? Hence this invitation. We would love to hear from you and we will answer your questions during the New Year's series right here on this podcast.


So to submit a question or simply to share your reflections, dial us at six four six eight eight three eight three to six and leave us a voicemail. The deadline for submissions is Monday, December 7th. If you're outside the United States, we've put details in the show notes on how to submit a question via an alternate method. To be clear, alongside the special podcast series we're going to be launching around New Year's. We're also doing a New Year's meditation challenge on the 10 percent have your app.


So feel free to ask us lots of meditation questions as well.


All right, let's get to today's episode 20 20, as we all know, has sucked extremely hard already, but we may now be entering into even more difficult months ahead as winter sets in and the case loads appear to be rising. So we asked Professor Laurie Santos to come on the show. She is overflowing with science based strategies for navigating this difficult time. This is the second episode in our two part series that we are Semih facetiously calling Winter is Coming If You Missed.


Last week's episode was Zindel Segal, a pioneer in mindful treatment for depression and anxiety. Go back and check that one out. Lori, meanwhile, is a tenured professor at Yale where she teaches a blockbuster course on happiness. She's also now the host of a really popular podcast, a really great podcast called The Happiness Lab. And in this conversation, we talk about how to handle the holidays in a pandemic, how to have our conversations with your family combating pandemic fatigue in your own mind, the need to double down on self care these days.


Why the things we think will make us happy probably won't. And the cultivation of Jomo, the opposite of famo and Time Effluence. Here we go. Laurie Santos. Laurie Santos, thanks for coming on. Thanks so much for having me. It's a pleasure. So let me just start with your course, which there have been a bunch of articles about your coarsen in The New York Times in New York magazine. So I've been following your work for a long time.


But can you just describe how you became interested in teaching this to students and why you think it took off in such a incredible way?


Yeah, so it all started when I took on a new role at Yale. So I've been teaching E-L for over a decade now, which makes me feel very old. But in just the last couple of years, I took on this new position. I became a head of college on campus. And so, yeah, is one of these weird places like Hogwarts where they're like colleges within a college like, you know, kind of Gryffindor slithering sort of thing.


And so I'm head of Sillerman College, no relation to Slither and even though people get that confused. But what that means is that I live with students on campus, like my house is literally in the middle of their quad. I eat with them in the dining hall. I kind of hang out with them in the courtyard. And so I was seeing student life up close and personal. And honestly, I didn't like what I was seeing. I was kind of shocked at the level of mental health dysfunction that my students were dealing with.


It was something I was kind of blind to while I was like up at the front of the classroom, which is sort of embarrassing now in retrospect. But I kind of just didn't see it. But, you know, so many students reporting that they're depressed and anxious, and this caused me to like, look, is there something weird about Yale or something we're doing wrong? But it's actually just something we're seeing nationally. Like right now, the national statistics are really scary.


Over 40 percent of college students today report being too depressed to function. I shouldn't say today this is more thousand 19 sort of Grand Prix covid time. So in twenty eighteen, over 40 percent of college students were too depressed to function. Over 60 percent report they felt overwhelmingly anxious most days and more than one in ten said they'd seriously considered suicide in the last year. And so these are national statistics. But this bore out what I was seeing on campus and it just felt like, you know, honestly, we weren't meeting our educational mission.


Yeah, right. You know, we're bringing these students here. But, you know, for students in my lecture and 40 percent of the kids out there too depressed to function, most days like they're not learning computer science or Chaucer or whatever we're trying to teach them at Yale. Right. They're just kind of missing it. And so I thought it was sort of part of my educational mission to sort of fix this. And as a psychologist, I thought, you know, there's lots of work on the kinds of practices you can engage with to improve your mental health.


It doesn't have to be this way. And so I thought, I know I'll just develop this whole new class about living a good life and all these evidence based practices students could use. I had no idea. I thought it was going to be, you know, 30 or so students, because that's what's typical for a new class. And I remember, you know, Yale students don't register ahead of time. So it's like once the classes offered, you kind of watch this little graph of how many students are interested in your course.


And the first noticed something weird was happening was that the graph in most classes went from zero to 100 students, but mine had an order of magnitude difference. It went from zero to a thousand students. And then it went over that. And I was like, this is strange. And that was because over a quarter of the students at Yale wanted to take the class the first time it was offered. So over a thousand students. And so that created lots of logistical hurdles, like finding a concert hall that was big enough to fit everyone.


You know, we joked about putting it in the football stadium, but that would be a little cold. And yeah, I mean, what it showed me was that students, you know, they don't like this culture of feeling stressed and anxious. They're really like searching for solutions. And I was sort of proud of them because they were really looking for evidence based solutions, like they didn't want platitudes or just kind of self-help. But they wanted to know what did the science say about how you could live healthier?


What were you say, some of the core lessons you were imparting in that course? Yeah, well, one of the biggest lessons is just how bad we are at this, like the misconceptions that we have about what makes for a happy life. You know, I start with this idea that our minds are lying to us about what makes us happy. And I feel like this is the crux of the problem. It's not like, you know, smart Yale students aren't looking for happiness.


It's not like they're not trying. They're just going about it the wrong way. You know, they're focused on grades and, you know, building their resume skills so they can get the perfect job and the perfect relationship. Like they're really focused on switching their circumstances. And the data suggests that, you know, for most people, switching your circumstances doesn't matter. Not for everyone. You know, you have to be careful if you don't have enough money to put a roof over your head or if you're like a refugee or you're in really awful circumstances.


Yes, changing your circumstances will improve well-being. But for most of my Yale students, that's just simply not going to be the case. And so students are really worried about grades and next steps at the cost of things like forming solid social connections, you know, things like sleep, things like being present during the four years of your life when you're in college and noticing all the fun things that were going on. That's what they were missing out on.


So I think that's the biggest message I try to teach students is just how much we're going for the wrong stuff. We're going after things that are just not going to work.


Did building this curriculum change your life and your happiness level? Oh, yeah, like 100 percent. And I even admitted that in the first lecture. You know, one of the reasons I decided to teach the class was that I saw a little bit of the students in myself, you know, like I was criticizing them for, you know, oh, my gosh, you're so worried about grades and accolades. And, you know, I had just come out of getting tenure at an Ivy League institution.


You know, I was watching myself prioritize some of the wrong stuff. And so I figured if I was teaching this class, it meant that I was going to have to practice what I preach. I couldn't get up there and tell them, hey, you got to prioritize sleep and social connection and being present if I wasn't doing it myself. And so I really committed that by teaching the class, I was going to do these practices. And as the science suggests, perhaps not surprisingly, it meant that I got happier myself.


I feel like, you know, just I do take these kind of little one off, like self report happiness quizzes now and then. And in general, my happiness has gone up on a ten point scale from a whole point to two points. Again, not like a huge bump. I didn't have that. You know, I wasn't super depressed. I didn't have that that much higher to go, but a really reliable bump up. And I think it's because it's not because I know what to do.


It's because I'm actively doing the things that I'm telling my students to do. Funny how that works. Yeah, like actually doing it, it's really boring. Exactly. So let's talk about advice for the rest of us. I'm sure there are some college kids listening to this, but let's talk about some topical issues that are universal. We're heading into the holidays. It's highly likely that we'll be interacting with family members with whom we disagree politically. There's just baseline family stress.


There's the fact that holidays can be a time when depression and anxiety spike.


What are your overall insights based on the science about how we can gird ourselves for this season?


Well, I think the good news is the science gives us lots of insights about how we can gird ourselves normally for the holidays, because, as you said, the holidays is normally going to be a tough time, but especially right now in the year that is twenty twenty. I feel like I want to go back and sort of with my past self every time I complained about the holidays in like twenty eighteen or twenty sixteen, I'm like, what did you think?


You know, like oh you had one too many Christmas party like for you, like try to get in through twenty twenty and rolling up to kind of Christmas Eve. Right. So I think, you know, this is a special year and I think we have to recognize it as such. Right. You know, we really need to kind of be building in the things that are going to improve well-being. And so some quick things I'm thinking about as I navigate my own holiday season is first and foremost like giving myself time to recognize, like, how crappy this year has been and how different the holidays are going to be.


You know, I think sometimes when we plow into like, oh, the advice to make it better is X, Y and Z. We miss like, it's actually good to take some time to recognize how much this sucks and recognize that there's some grieving to come with this. And, you know, some of us are happy that some of these holiday traditions got moved around a bit. But some of us are in deep mourning about it. And I think it's good to honor that mourning and to try to engage with practices that allow you to kind of be there with that sadness or that anger or whatever it is and not get, like, destroyed by it.


I like that a lot because there's a phrase that my friend, Dr. Mark Epstein, who's a psychiatrist, uses, which is that we often engage in a rush to normal without sort of taking stock of what has happened to us.


And I feel like, you know, with the holidays, I kind of felt it early. So this is sort of, you know, maybe it overshare kind of embarrassing, but I'm really obsessed with Halloween. My students know this about me. We have all these events at Halloween and a haunted house and parties and all these things. I've never been much of a winter holiday fan. You know, Christmas and Thanksgiving have never really been my thing, but Halloween was it.


And so now when we're recording this a couple of weeks afterwards, I went through that incredible grieving period. You know, my students were like, well, can we try, you know, carving pumpkins and all that stuff? And I was watching myself not schedule things and being really annoyed and kind of just being frustrated in ways. And I realized, like, wait a minute, this is, you know, it seems kind of dorky, but like, I need some time to grieve that this is not going to look the same and that, you know, whatever things I put in its place might be fine, but it's not going to be kind of what I expected.


And so I actually scheduled some time to do some meditations. I kind of stole a page from Tara Brock, who I know you've had on the show recently and did some rain meditations where I worked through and recognized my frustration about missing Halloween in my sadness and the fact that I was grieving. And I think it helped a lot, but it made me realize how many people, you know, I'm a Halloween fan, but I know disproportionately if we did kind of a quiz, there'd be more of the, like, winter holiday fans out there.


And I feel like people are cruising into what I just went through, which is just this kind of free floating sense that something's not right and something big is missing. And as you said, in this rush to normalcy, we can kind of try to deny that or try to patch it up and pretend it's perfect. And I think we just all need to take a collective like and like. This sucks. And it's cool to admit it. It's important to admit it.


Just to say for the uninitiated, Tara has been on the show recently and go back and listen to it, but this idea of a rain meditation, it's an acronym I think actually invented by another teacher named Michelle McDonald. But the four steps are recognized except to allow I is investigate and can be either non identification or nurturing. And that's actually it's if you don't mind, the cheesiness of acronyms, it can be quite a useful technique. Speaking of useful techniques, any other thoughts about ways to survive a highly unusual holiday season?


Yeah, I think, you know, once you've kind of done the act of recognizing and allowing it to be the way it is right now, you can engage with the practices I think can make it better. And I think there are a couple that we forget about. You know, one is just doubling down on healthy habits, right? Just the dumb stuff like sleep exercise, you know, not like drinking way too much or eating way too many cookies.


Right. Like, we know that's important for our physical health, but we forget what a huge effect it has on our mental health. Like take exercise. Right. There's evidence that a half hour of cardio a day can be as effective for reducing symptoms of depression as some of the leading anti depression medications. Right. But holidays, when things get busy or when things get cold out and it's a wintery like, that's one of the first things to go.


But this is like when we need it the most, we need to be intentional about scheduling that stuff. Same thing with sleep. You know, we're just coming out of the election cycle. Right. And I feel like this was one of the things I was watching in so many of my friends who are obsessed with watching the election statistics. You know, they thought it was just the election statistics, which admittedly was bad. Right. That's provoking anxiety and so on.


But it was also the fact that they, you know, nightly would stay up till like 3:00 in the morning trying to figure out, well, what's you know, they're on East Coast, what's happening on the West Coast and the waiting to see the latest statistics. And it's like it might just be that you're not sleeping as much that's causing this anxiety. And, you know, some of the data bear the stuff out that, you know, for every hour you mix of sleep, you're jumping up significantly, your potential increases for things like depression and anxiety.


So, you know, this is the time to double down. And in some ways, it's great, right. You know, winter's a good time to, like, get cozy and add the extra hour. And if you can, you know, many of us aren't commuting in the same way we were to work, you know, like double down on a few extra 15 minute blocks of sleep. And that can be quite powerful.


Just to say we had a guest on last week. Zindel Sehgal is an expert in depression. He made this exact same point about the importance of routine. It really rings true to me.


What about dealing with family, whether we're going to be with them or not? They're can it can be complex in a normal year dealing with your family now. It's complex for innumerable reasons. Do you see them?


If you do, what are the rules that you're all agreeing on? Does everybody play by those rules? And if you decide not to see them, what kind of stress does that create? And how can you recreate some sort of intimacy over Zoome? There's so much to worry about here. Do you have any thoughts in the middle of this particular dumpster fire?


I think a couple. I mean, one is we're getting good evidence about, you know, if you're not on the same page about kind of covid norms, how to navigate that. Some lovely work by Ashley Willins, who's a professor at Harvard Business School and her colleagues. She's been looking at this and we can often, like, predict that this is going to be an enormous source of tension. Right. Like, if I'm a little bit more on the covid scared side and, you know, I don't want to see you or I don't want to see you except with masks or whatever, it can be hard to tell those family members that we think are a little less covid scared.


Right. It can be good to do so. Right. I think we're all going to have to make these hard choices if we want to not have the country wind up in, like, the worst possible pandemic situation we could imagine come January. But those conversations are hard, right? But one of the reasons that Ashley's work shows that it's hard is that we kind of mis predict how people are going to react. We assume people are going to flip out.


You know, they're really not going to get it. But by and large, you know, people care about us, right? If you express like, look, I'm really scared about this. I'm worried about your health. I'm worried about my health. And I really think we should do this so that we can have future, you know, holidays together. Oftentimes what she finds is that people react better than we expect. So this is another domain in which our prediction about how badly it's going to go sometimes makes it worse.


Right. It makes us not say anything till the very last minute, which obviously, you know, people are going to be more annoyed if we cancel plans really late. It means we're like really nervous when we're about to have this conversation, which doesn't help. Right. You know, we're kind of not at our best negotiating when we're incredibly anxious. Right. There's all these things that that Miss Prediction does, but the data suggests it's probably going to go better than you expect.


So breaking the bad news to my family already, I've sort of used that. It's like let me just jump into this early and use when you're talking about especially if you're canceling plans, use information about how you're feeling and the worries that you have and people's health and people's safety. You know, like I want to come back and make sure I have another Christmas with your mom. And this is why I'm making this hard decision now. Right. You know, it's about love.


It's about the fact that you feel connected. And then the data suggests you want to suggest an alternative, you know, bad news is really good. You know, I can't go out with you right now, but how about take a rain check sort of thing? And so I think you really want to give a mechanism to have a rain check, whether that's, you know, in perpetuity when things are safe again in twenty, twenty one, you know, I'll go out and visit the family or a rain check that involves all the technology we have now.


You know, you and I are far away, but we're able to talk and have a nice touching conversation, hopefully. Right. And other family members can do that. And we forget that sometimes that's just as good in terms of bonding.


It's not perfect, obviously, for all the reasons we know, but it can be better than we actually expect the talking to other people who may have different covid norms. I just want to. Hang a lantern on one aspect of that, you emphasized it well, but just to go a step further, it seems to me like you're liable to be more successful in having these conversations.


If you talk in as is this is this is the term that is often used in sort of the touchy feely aspects of corners of our society. But if you use I language, the letter I language and talk about how you feel as opposed to lecturing somebody about what they should do or what they feel like telling them what they feel or talking down to them, it seems like that's going to be a more solution.


Exactly. I am worried that if I make this decision, you know, it will come back to haunt me. You know, I care about you a lot and I want to make this holiday the best it can possibly be. And I am you know, I'm concerned that someone might get sick. Right. Using the eye language is very powerful and talking about how you're making this decision out of compassion and care and concern for the other people in your family that are involved, other people in your community that are involved, you know, that kind of thing.


You know, people really get, you know, first, it's hard to kind of argue with the language. It's not a lecture. You're not telling people what they should do. You're just saying, look, hey, I feel this thing. But beyond that, you know, it's hard to argue with the compassion motive. You know, if you're a Thanksgiving dinner is more important than like, you know, grandma's life. That's kind of hard to argue with.


And so I think that can be a powerful way to connect people because everybody has the goal of keeping people safe and happy over this holiday season. You know, no one wants their family members to catch covid, right? If we start from those sort of shared ideals, then we can really get somewhere, even if, you know, people may have different ideas for how to do that.


What if you're dealing with somebody who thinks COVA is a hoax?


Well, that's a little trickier. But I think, you know, we get from the evidence ways to really navigate those big belief differences, too. There's lots of work on kind of getting around, like people who think very differently than you. Lots of work on trying to convince people and sort of get them to see things from your point of view. But yet again, this is a spot where the act of doing so does often work in the way we think.


There's lots of evidence from this political process that's called deep canvassing. This is some work by my colleague Josh Colla here at Yale. And the way this works is a little different, normal canvassing as somebody shows up at your door and they're like, hey, I care about immigration. Let me tell you why immigration is so important or something like that. Or, you know, I think it's really scary. Let me lecture at you and tell you why it's so important.


Deep canvassing takes a different approach. A canvasser will show up at the door and ask the person they're canvassing to tell them a narrative story. So what's the time when you were really scared for a member of your family? And what's a time when you were really worried about something that might happen? And, you know, people usually respond. People like talking about themselves and they say, well, you know, there's one time know my wife, you know, I was worried she had breast cancer, blah, blah, blah, whatever.


And then you say, you know, that fear that you have right now, that's what I have based on the evidence from covid like this is something that I'm really worried about. You know, this is something that I've really seen myself. And I actually think it would be better if people do X, Y and Z. Now, you're not going to always you know, somebody is like a true covid denier. There's like, you know, you're not going to get really extreme viewpoints here, but you can often soften people when they realize that your view isn't about lecturing them or telling them they're stupid.


Your view is about some shared kind of connection that you have together, some feelings that you shared. It kind of puts you on the same page narratively. And it can sometimes allow people to hear things that they didn't like to hear before. In fact, in Josh Kollars work, he finds that when doing deep canvassing about, you know, really touchy issues. So things like trans rights or even things relative to immigration and immigration policies, sort of talking about these kinds of things where you first ask someone their opinion, what's a time when they went through something and pointing out, hey, this issue that I'm thinking about, it's a lot like that.


In some ways it can get people to soften a lot more. And so I think this is a technique we can use for those in our family who might not, you know, see eye to eye on how much of a risk that covid is, but also for even bigger issues. One of the family members I had to have conversations with were my husband's extended family in Iowa, you know, where we're kind of a polarized family in terms of like who people were voting for and things like that.


And I think this year, more than ever, those are going to be very hard conversations to have, whether they're over zoom or over a dinner table. But this deep canvassing approach can give you a little bit of traction. At least that's what the evidence suggests.


I hadn't planned on asking you this, but I've been following I'll just pick it up on this notion of having conversations across the political divide. And I've been following a conversation about conversation that's happening on Twitter and elsewhere, but I'm seeing it on Twitter where I'm seeing some people who are sort of center left.


Saying, hey, we should do a better job of reaching out to and empathizing with the 70 million people who voted for Trump, and then I'm seeing people who are further left saying, no, don't ask me to do that. These people that's a privileged call you're making.


But for me, these stakes are existential. I'll give you a specific example. I saw Sewell Chan, who's Asian-American male, I believe he's the editor of the L.A. Times opinion section, tweeted out that he they dedicated the entire page to letters to the editor from people who voted for Trump.


And I saw him get a lot of pushback from his former New York Times colleagues. People who I respect Kerswill used to I don't know him just for the record, but he used to work at The New York Times. And I was just following the he got a lot of really sharp comments from his former colleagues in New York Times saying, why are you doing this? We've heard enough from these people.


So I'm just curious, do you have a view on is empathy inappropriate in this situation? Are you is it privileged to even raise the prospect?


I mean, I think it really depends on the view you're dealing with, right? I think there are certain groups who are marginalized enough to say I don't really want to engage with a view that doesn't endorse my humanity, like my ability to live and be alive. And I think that that is reasonable. Right. Like we don't owe anyone empathy, especially if they have such extreme views that they wouldn't even endorse our own humanity. That said, there's lots of evidence that we often think people's views are stronger than they are.


Sometimes the polarization isn't people's actual views. It's how they're either portrayed on things like social media and in 140 characters or just in our minds, we blow it up, you know, Nina Chikara, a professor at Harvard Psychology Department, has some data on the fact that what we think about other people's polarization is often much more extreme than what their actual polarization is. So the view that we have that we think people have might not be as extreme as we think.


And I think that that means that, you know, for those of us who are privileged enough to not have our humanity being doubted, like, you know, then we can kind of engage in some of this work. And I think, you know, this is another lesson that I think we get from the deep canvassing work. Often it's not the person who is marginalized by the view they're trying to, like, canvass for that's doing the canvassing.


You know, it's someone with a little bit more privilege. So it's not necessarily a person who's trans themselves doing the canvassing. You know, it might be someone who can say, well, you know, my friend who's trans or something like that. Right. You know, then we can do it with a little bit less emotion. And I think this is a way that we you know, if you're not from those marginalized group, right. You can be a real ally here, you know, because that sort of connecting across the divide, it takes work.


You know, it is exhausting. And, you know, let's not have that exhausting work fall to the people who are hurt most by some of these views. Yeah, no, I totally agree that we shouldn't be asking the people who are the most aggrieved and oppressed to be doing this work in the main, we occupy the same country and we need to be talking to each other if we have the resources to do it.


And I think we just need better skill sets for how to do that talking, right? I mean, I think some of the things that have helped us in the past honestly have eroded. I mean, one of the things, you know, as you know well, is that we're honestly across the political divide, just not dealing with the same facts. Right. You know, I simply don't know the kinds of information that are going to my supporting relatives on the other side.


I just simply don't know what they've seen. You know, it might have been that if I saw the same stuff, you know, I would feel the same way or I'd be outraged in a different way. Right. You know, so that's I think one of the issues is that the divide across just the content is really, really huge. The second thing is, in addition to the divide across the content, we know that mentally we create our own divides to, you know, like in nineteen four, the idea was like, you know, the government is going to tell you how to see things.


There's going to shape the way you perceive stuff and so on. We don't need a government getting us to do that. We have minds that do it ourselves. There's a lot of evidence suggesting that if you just feed people exactly the same facts, but they have a different motivation to see those facts differently, they will. There's a very famous psychology study where you showed football fans from two different schools, I believe it was Princeton and Dartmouth, but now I'm forgetting exactly which schools.


But you show Princeton and Dartmouth fans the same football game where there are a few controversial calls called in the game and they just will see exactly the same footage and say, oh, it's obvious that they should have called on Dartmouth or it's obvious that that player was like, you know, Princeton. Right. Exactly. The same facts in our minds see a different way. And this is like college football in the Ivy League where nobody really cares about college football.


Right. You know, when the stakes are high, when things are about the right to choose, when things are about Supreme Court, you know, like votes that might affect all kinds of things we care about in years to come. You know, when it's about things that people really care deeply about, you know, those kinds of motivated reasoning skills are going to get even more entrenched. And we like to think that the other side is motivated and their reasoning in a bad way.


But the evidence suggests that both sides are. We recently had an interview on my podcast with Jay Van Beeble, who's a professor at NYU who studies how the brain polarizes. And what he finds is that that kind of motivated reasoning where you're ignoring facts that don't really fit in, whatever that happens on both sides, you know, and so and it gets even worse if we don't have the same facts, like we're going to see the same facts differently.


And these days we don't even see the same facts. And so, you know, I think when you realize that, you know, I come to the same conclusion that you do. Right, which is like we're all like in some sense good people. We're all trying our best. We're all using the facts we have. And it's reasonable that we're coming to different conclusions, you know, but again, that work of going across the divide is hard.


You know, I'm not sure if my African-American colleague who's like, you know, dealing with the next, you know, police death that they're dealing with has to have the hard conversation. Or, you know, one of my trans students who really feels like, you know, the person she's talking to, like denies her very existence. So I think that's when the allies need to step up and kind of recognize and do that hard work. If you're feeling only a marginally exhausted at all this stuff, you probably still have some room to do some of that work.


I completely agree.


Let's just go back to this issue of our biases I've been doing in my own and of one laboratory. Some work around my own biases for the last couple of years and just no real instruction, but really trying to do it.


I mean, I'm a journalist, so I've always read quite widely, but I've been really trying to marinate in a much broader variety of views right, left and center further left that I would have ever looked before and further right.


And then also just sort of folks who are there are a whole bunch of sort of centrist provocateurs out there who are interesting, too, and reading and listening to podcasts. And what I found is that it's very confusing.


So you can listen to some and I do this on Twitter, too. You know, you can read a bunch of hot takes on the latest news or listen to a bunch of podcasts where they're having a deeper take on whatever is just happened in the news. And I will be done with the first podcast and think I know what I think and then listen to the second podcast and not know what I think anymore. And there are times where I feel like I'm gaslighting myself and I've worried of my coming unmoored from core values, but I'm actually landing on is that my core values are reasonably unshakable.


But the my opinion on any given on the latest, you know, sort of donnybrook du jour, it's actually quite useful to end up in what the Buddhists call it, don't know mind or a beginner's mind.


And again, I have no idea what the science says on any of this, but does any of the what I've just said to you makes sense?


Yeah. I mean, I think, you know, in a couple of ways. One is, you know, I think one goal. I think of empathy. I mean, first of all, one thing to recognize that the science says that empathy is good. You know, one of the reasons we're all so stressed out in twenty twenty, it's laid bare these kinds of divides that we're seeing in society. Right. It's laid bare this political partisan divide in the United States.


Right. It's laid bare. You know, the fact that. If you're a black American right now, you feel like there's a lot of the country that hates you and doesn't even realize they hate you in the way that, you know, you might be able to articulate really cleanly. Right. So these divides have been shown really cleanly. And it feels awful, right. It sucks to not experience empathy for the other side. It sucks to kind of experience hatred.


We're much happier if we feel deeply connected to the rest of the people around us and feel like we have a common humanity. And so I think finding ways to work towards that is just going to be a plus for well-being, right? I mean, I think it's going to be a plus, you know, for the values I care about, you know, justice in these kinds of things, too. But it's also going to be a plus for well-being.


And I think, you know, that really fits with the Buddhist ideals. Right. One of the things we're trying to do is to recognize that the core core core values, most of us share the same thing. You know, we want joy. We want to be safe. We want the people we care about to have joy and be safe. You know, we want to wish people the stuff that, you know, you do in the context of a good, loving kindness, meditation.


Right. And we all want that for everybody. So at the basic basic level, there is this shared common humanity. You know, it's like when you really look at it, it's around the nuances that we kind of get it wrong. And once you realize that, you know, I think that that is two things. One is it's really freeing, right? It means, you know, at the core, I really do think that, you know, somebody who supports a different political candidate than me might be a good person and a person I can relate to deep down if we do some work.


The second thing is it makes you realize that we're kind of all in this together. There might be some hope. Right. And I think the act of recognizing that common humanity gives us something else we've been missing a lot of in 2020, which is hope and some optimism for how things are going to work out for our country and in the future. There's a lot of wisdom in everything you just said, and in particular the notion that, you know, hatred, anger, it just feels bad.


I'll talk about a challenging practice that my meditation teacher, Joseph Goldstein, talks about. And again, I think this is only for the people who feel like they're resourced enough to do it. I think you very usefully pointed out that you can't expect the most vulnerable to take this on. It's really for I think it's true. You know, you have to have a certain amount of privilege to do this. So I say this gingerly.


But Joseph has this little he likes coming up with these little phrases, these little mantras that you can drop into your mind as a reminder. And one of them is love no matter what.


It's a little grandiose little movie love, blah, blah, blah. But just set that aside for a second. Love, no matter what, even when he's used this and he's had it, some, believe it or not, there are disagreements occasionally in the meditation world and he's gotten in some. He found himself in a disagreement not long ago and was really sort of ruminating on it and then used this phrase love no matter what, to make sure there was no back door.


There was no but that he was no matter what was going on with the other person, he could see through to the good parts of them. And I don't know that I can do that 99 percent of the time, but I find it interesting, aspirational, and I find that the one percent of the time that I can operationalize it, it does relieve me of a burden.


Yeah, and I think there's two senses of that burden. Right. One is just that there are whole groups, whole identities that you kind of have this anger towards, this hatred for. It's exhausting. Right. But that's true. I think even at the individual level, you know, one of the things coming out of the positive psychology work is, you know, again, all these practices that we think, you know, shouldn't possibly work for improving well-being and they really do.


And one of those practices is forgiveness. You look at these people who've had a horrible harm committed against them, like an awful atrocity. You think that you'd be kind of angry with that person and it would be just to be angry with that person. You'd be the right thing to do. And these people embrace forgiveness. And what you find is they have these psychological effects. They're less depressed, they're less angry. You know, they have higher well-being.


They have higher optimism. They have physical effects. Right. You know, you get like immune function improves, cardiac stress improves. Right. In some ways, you know, again, it kind of gets back to this sort of, you know, Buddhist notion of the second arrow. Right. You know, that horrible harm that was committed against you. That's the first arrow. And it's soft because it's a huge, huge arrow. Right. But there might be a second arrow that you are stabbing yourself with, which is your reaction to it.


And it's not to say that it's easy. I think it takes an incredible amount of work, but there's ways that we could come around it and ways in forgiveness. It's important to recognize. It doesn't mean justifying an act in most cases doesn't even mean being nice to that person or engaging with them ever again. You could like, you know, shun them and keep them out of your life. That might be the healthy thing to do, but you drop your own personal anger that goes with it because you realize it's counterproductive.


It's your arrow that you are using to stab yourself and you have some control over that.


I've mentioned this before on the show, but I've spent time just as a journalist with a couple of people who are wrongly convicted and spent decades behind bars. And the folks that I've met who've been in the situation, they've always talked about the need to drop the anger because otherwise it would kill them. And I just think about, you know, I'm carrying around anger from, you know, some perceived tortious acts. A sixth grade Nerf football game, and these people are able to let it go, and I think I think there's a lot to learn there.


Much more of my conversation with Laura Santos coming up after this, 10 percent happier is supported by better help online counseling. We're in extraordinary times. And if you're struggling with stress, anxiety or depression, you're not alone. Better Help offers online licensed professional counselors who are trained to listen and help simply fill out a questionnaire and get matched with a counselor in under 48 hours. Join more than a million people taking charge of their mental health with better help.


Better help is an affordable option. And our listeners get 10 percent off your first month with a discount code happier. Get started today at better help. Dotcom slash happier. That's better. H e l.p dotcom shapir. So we've talked about the holidays, but it's going to last past the holidays. I am worried about twenty, twenty one. Everybody keeps talking about can't wait for 2020 to end, but I'm not convinced that twenty twenty one is going to be, you know.


Super green pastures, I think, is going to be tough going at least at the beginning and maybe significantly longer than that, and I notice in my own mind I was very diligent at the beginning, really careful.


And then over the summer when you were in Connecticut, the transmission rates became sort of really sort of asymptotically close to zero. And I could see people outside. I became less. Vigilent now, the numbers are living in a red zone right now, and Thanksgiving's coming up and we're not going to do anything. Christmas is coming up. We're not going to do anything. We're not going to see anybody outside of our people we live with in the same house with.


But I do notice a fatigue setting in. And I sometimes worry about even with me and I live with a pulmonologist that, you know, I could see a desire to break the rules or to not take him that seriously. What do you recommend for those of us who are seeing this kind of, I don't know, rebelliousness crop up in our own minds now?


Well, first, I mean, I'm with you, right? You know, I've kind of gone through the same thing. You know, in March, it was like, oh, my gosh, this is great. I'm going to bake bread and do indoor yoga and this is great. And then you kind of habituated the summer. You could see people outside. And now I'm watching all the safe options like going away. Right. You know, we could meet outside in the freezing snow like sounds awesome, you know, like no.


Right. And so I think we all need to kind of remind ourselves, you know, what this virus really does to people. Right. You know, I think there was a reason we were scared in March and that reason is still there, if not worse. Right now. I think this is one of in some ways, you know, there's things that journalism has to do to be sort of just and fair that have some negative consequences. And one of these is to not really tell the detailed stories of how awful covid is.


Right. You know, my readers, like journalists, are in there interviewing patients as they're being intubated and like, how awful is this to know that you're going to die alone or like talking to family members who are grieving this? I mean, there's a good reason for that, right? Obviously, we don't want to exploit people who are going through that. But that means unless you've been through it yourself, I think you don't know how awful it is.


And I feel like this is where we can see things through the eyes of people who are ICU nurses and doctors who are going through this. Ed Yong, who writes for The Atlantic, has been doing a harrowing series talking about how burnt out ICU nurses are, and he's just giving quotes from them about how awful, awful their experiences are and how, you know, when they leave work, you know, in tears because they've just had their 14th death that day.


And they walk out and they see, you know, people partying in the street. What a horrible moment that is for them. And I feel like, again, you know, it's really hard to see it through the eyes of the people who are grieving. But hearing those ICU nurse stories is powerful. And so, you know, every time I'm like, you know, we could squeeze in a tiny Thanksgiving celebration. I find myself literally going to Ed's tweets and reading through them and be like, no, that's not cool.


That's not you know, even if there's a teeny tiny percentage chance that that's my mom, I can't risk that. Right. And so I think, you know, reminding ourselves what the real risk is can be quite powerful. I think a second thing is, on the one hand, I'm with you. I think twenty twenty one is at least the beginning of twenty. Twenty one is going to be a lot rougher than we thought for sure. But I also think that there are little like glimmers of hope and the light at the end of the tunnel in the way there wasn't before.


You know, you and I are talking in the week that two different vaccine companies have announced that they have 90 percent plus effective vaccines that are going to be coming out soon. Right. You know, that means that, yeah, January and February might suck. But like, there's really the hope that in March and April we won't go through this again. And I think that hopeful moment can be incredibly powerful. You know, I watch that happening with my own students where I'm like, look, you know, if we can just hold it together and make sure that we don't get sick right now, like, then we might have a chance at having a normal spring or at least a normal, you know, fall of twenty, twenty one.


And that idea that we might go back to normal or at least lots of the same parts of normal can be powerful. It's like, you know, when I tell my mom, like, you know, we're not going to see you for Christmas and we don't ever know when it's going to be over, that feels sucky. And people want to kind of push and rebel and break the rules. But when I say, hey, mom, look, it's just this one Christmas next year, we're guaranteed to be back to normal.


You know, even if we're not 100 percent, that sentiment can give you a hug like a breath of fresh air. Even when I say I can even feel it in my body about how my muscles tense up less and so on. And so I think harnessing that hope that this isn't going to be forever, there's a light at the end of the tunnel that can also help us get through some of the worst of it and be good actors and not contribute as much to the problem.


Ed Young is and is done really compelling and incredible work for the Atlantic. You should check out his Twitter feed and his articles in The Atlantic. I agree with that and everything else you just said in reviewing the prep notes that the indefatigable Samuel Johns is the lead producer on the show, put together for me and talking to you about sort of mental health survival techniques for covid. There were a couple of other bullet points that might be worth dwelling on.


One of them is gratitude. We recently did an episode about gratitude, but I think it's almost like you can't say enough about this and we didn't do it. From a scientific perspective, what does the science tell us about how gratitude could be useful in the context of covid? And do you get the pushback that this feels a little Pollyanna esque? Oh, totally.


I mean, gratitude feels Pollyanna generally, but like especially in twenty twenty. I mean, I think my favorite 20 20 meme is like the sort of fake Yelp review of 20/20 words like 20/20, you know, half a star would not recommend. And I think that is our sentiment. Right. We are so mad at twenty 20. We have a lot of reasonable things to complain about and in very humorous ways. Right. Our griping has been taken to the next level in twenty twenty and we have the sense that that's good and we have the sense that that's bonding.


But those two data points just seem not to be the case. When you look at the science. Right. The griping in some ways the research shows is an opportunity cost about something else we could be doing to bond with other people, which is sharing gratitude. Right. Which is just counting your blessings. Just finding the joy. Right. And I admit, you know, first, gratitude does not come naturally to me, even though I've sort of embraced it as a technique that empirically.


But like, it's hard, right. It's hard to find stuff in 2020 that feels good. But even in the midst of all this awful stuff, there are good things like I'm feeling this in the holiday season where right about now is we're talking kind of in the middle of November would be in normal times the time when I'd start to feel incredibly time famished and poor. Right. These holiday parties are creeping up and there's all this stuff to do and there's all these gifts.


And I'd be just kind of watching my body get tense over how like time strapped I was going to be. And like, that's much better this year, right. Know I'm going to miss in a certain way, like, you know, work party number 94, but like not that much. I'm going to really value having those three hours back. Right. And that means I can be grateful for the time that I'm spending doing this stuff. I can be more present.


Right. And that's just one example. But the idea is when you look even in the context of this kind of crappy time, you can find stuff that you're really grateful for. Right. So we can do it. And then the question is, what benefit does it have? And honestly, the answer is almost like what benefit does it not have? A right like gratitude seems to increase our well-being. If you scribble down three to five things you're grateful for and as little as two weeks, you'll show significant improvements in your life satisfaction.


What else could you do for two weeks and show significant improvements in your life satisfaction? Like that's huge. But in addition, gratitude has all these other components because of how it works that are like these huge benefits. So gratitude is this interesting emotion because it's a prosocial emotion. When you feel grateful, you're almost like I am winning in this cooperative bargain and I should give back. It gives you this kind of internal motivation to do nice stuff for others.


And that means people who are more grateful are more likely to kind of reach out and have social connections. They're more likely to do random acts of kindness. And we know those things are the kinds of things that can boost wellbeing. But there's also evidence that people who are grateful show bumps up in willpower. So people who experience more gratitude are more likely to save for retirement. They're more likely to make healthier eating choices because you kind of feel like you already won.


You're not giving yourself that reward because you feel like you already got it. And, man, do we need some willpower, you know, in twenty to get through this crisis, you know, to not, like, eat really terrible things in our fridges that were around all the time. Right. All of us need this willpower to make it through this tough time. So gratitude is like really, really powerful for our well-being, for our ability to problem solve.


Like, it's almost a panacea, empirically speaking, and it's totally free. That's what I have to remind people. Right. Like it's not like you have to sign up for some expensive program that I tell you about, like literally scribble down three things that you like about your life tonight and you'll get the benefit of this. Related to that you kind of alluded to, it is the opposite of Flomo, Jomo, the joy of missing out, how is that useful right now?


Oh, I think it's huge. And I think we're prone to notice the stuff that is going badly. Right. You know, we do have naturally this negativity bias. In fact, there's evidence from one of my colleagues, Paul Bloom, that even babies show a negativity bias from as young as three to six months of age. They notice bad actors over good actors and things like that. So it's built in and it's deep. And that means that we notice the foma.


All right. We've noticed the fear of missing out the stuff that we're not doing that we're really kind of sad about. And there's going to obviously be some of that in twenty twenty. But what we forget is that we can often take things off our plate to get more joy. I think a bias of our mind is we think about how can we be happy? We want to put new stuff in, we want to put in more money or buy something.


We don't think, what can I take away? But the research shows that taking stuff away can be incredibly powerful. You know, the biggest effect is on what social scientists call time affluence. This idea that you just have a little bit of free time, it's the opposite of what a typical holiday would be like where we're in, as I was talking about before, we're experiencing a lot of time famine. The research shows that if you self report being time finished, that has as big a hit on your wellbeing as if you self report being unemployed.


Right. You know, we know unemployment is like super bad, but just feeling time's drop can be just as bad. And so I think we're all going to get a little while the benefit that we don't realize from missing out on a lot of stuff. You know, as I said, I'm going to miss work party number one. And number two, I love those. But three or four or five, six, you know, to forty four.


I didn't need those in my life. Right. And I just feel guilty not going to them. But now, you know, there's no guilt to be had because they're just not there. And then I think that means we can do something else, which is when we have a little bit of time affluence, when we have some space, then we can be present for the stuff that matters right now. We can enjoy the stuff we're supposed to enjoy about the holidays.


And I think in a normal year we don't. I remember so distinctly last year, whereas prepping a big meal for my family and, you know, it was too much. Right. And it was like these many entrees and these many desserts. And I was on like dessert number three and kind of angrily doing it. And I was like, this wasn't you know, this is not how I was supposed to make Christmas cookies. Right. You're supposed to be kind of flailing the angry and trying to move on to the next thing.


I supposed to be present and noticing and savoring the smells and what this feels like and what it's for and so on. Oftentimes, we just can't do that during the holidays because we're too strapped. But by taking stuff away, we give ourselves space to really be there and enjoy the stuff we do get to do this holiday season. It's reminding me of the massive dopamine hit I get, seemingly disproportionate dopamine hit I get when a meeting is canceled, just like, oh, that's awesome.


We did this.


This was an exercise I did for my students in my Yale class when I was teaching. We had a whole lecture on time afterwards because there's just a ton of really great science on this. But then I was reflecting on how ironic this was going to be. I was going to bring Yale students in who are so time famish. Another national statistic is that over 80 percent of college students report feeling time pressured, feeling overwhelmed by all they have to do.


And I was like, this is ironic that I'm going to take up an hour and a half of their time to tell them how important time influences. I should just give them this time back. And so what I did was I you know, students came to class, as they normally would that day. And I had my teaching assistants handing out a flyer and the flier said today's lecture is about time, affluence. And to teach you what that is, I'm going to give you some no class today.


So I didn't announce it ahead of time because they would have just filled their time with whatever. But now they've walked into class. And it was one of these unseasonably warm spring days in April, you know, in Connecticut. And so students went outside and they laid in the grass. Some of them went for a hike at a local state park. A couple of them got together and went to one of the recording studios and made like a little mini music video, like they did fun, social things that weren't work.


Actually, one of the students, in fact, when we were handing out the fliers and she got the flyer, she burst into tears and she said this was the first free hour and a half she's had all semester. And I think, you know, so many of us can feel like that. We forget we can take stuff off our plate to be happier, too, sometimes. And, you know, it sucks when that is forced on us, but sometimes that still has some benefits.


You know, this is one of if not the major sources of my suffering, I mean, because I you were talking about all the things we need to do to stay happy as a happiness bully myself. I do a lot of those things. You know, I am very genuinely grateful for the enormous good luck I've had. And I do quite a bit of meditation and exercise and try to get enough sleep and blah, blah, blah, blah, social connection, all of that stuff.


It's high priority. But the time management thing is really I mean, I work seven days a week. Me too.


Me too. I think it's one of the things that I'm trying to work on the most. I'm not sure if you're a producer, Samuel saw, but when you email me, you get this auto reply that says, I'd love to do the thing you just asked me to do, but I have to protect my time affluence. I'm probably going to say no. And it's actually going to you should feel good because going to break my heart that I'm going to say no, I feel really bad about it, but I'm just trying to protect it.


I actually think that this is another domain where we're seeing, you know, some really strange benefits during covid that we didn't expect. I'm seeing this a lot on the college campus. So as I mentioned, college students right now, self report being incredibly time famish. This is super true of Yale students who sign up for like a million classes and a million extracurriculars and a million social events and clubs. And of course, one of the things that's happening in covid is a lot of that is happening.


Right. We can't have literally any performances on campus because it's too dangerous. A cappella, which is a big thing on campus, is too dangerous because singing, you know, obviously is a way to emit the virus and things not as many social events. So they're basically way less extracurricular things happening on campus than before. And my first reaction when I heard this is like, my gosh, what are students going to do? They're going to be so lonely.


They're going to be so sad. And oddly, what I'm seeing in the trenches is despite all the bad stuff of twenty twenty, despite the election, I'm seeing way less mental health issues on campus that I saw last year. And I think it's because they're actually way less time for, you know, like when the midterm stress comes. They don't, on top of that, have the stress of their first play production. And then there's this big party they don't want to miss out on and they feel, you know, so it's partly time pressure is off, but it's also partly the like famo is off.


You know, even when you have 100 extracurriculars on Yale's campus, you feel bad because you don't have the extra hundred that your friend has to. Right. So there's always this kind of social comparison of who's doing more. And that's all just gone because there's like nothing to do. And so I don't know what the solution is. You know, the logical solution would be like get rid of all sports and all extracurriculars at Yale University, which we're not going to do.


But I think it's really telling that when we're forced to take stuff off our plate, even stuff we love, I mean, all these cases are, you know, like my football players who just adore their sport or a cappella students who, like, live to sing. You know, they're in some ways very sad that they can't do that. But even taking a thing you adore off your play can lead to a well-being benefit. If you're really time famished.


What else do you do about sex? You admitted that you suffer from this sort of time, famine being over strapped. What does the science tell us about how to manage this issue? Yeah, well, there's two other tips that I use, and I should give credit where credit's due.


These are tips from the wonderful Ashley Williams, who's a professor at Harvard Business School. She's this fantastic new book called Time Smart that I just encourage everyone who's feeling time strapped to read because it's awesome. But she gives these two tips that I found quite powerful. So one is this idea that there's often things we're doing around the edges to save time, but we don't frame them that way. And that means we don't get the mental benefit from them. One weird thing about time affluence is that it's not the objective amount of free time you have.


It's just the subjective sense that you have some time so you don't have to open up actual time to feel like you have lots of free time. You know, you mentioned this probably when you're meeting gets canceled, but the meeting could be twenty minutes long. That's not opening up like a whole world of time and like Dan Harris's life. Right. But like in practice, it can feel like. So, you know, you feel like I could learn a new language or go skiing like.


But it's just twenty minutes. Right. And so our brain responds subjectively, not objectively. And that means we can hack it. We can give these what feel like big windows just by framing things that way. And one of the tips actually gives us to frame the time saving purchases you are making as giving you time. So the next time you get like curbside pickup, hopefully people aren't going to restaurants right now. If the covid stats are as bad as they are in Connecticut where you're listening to this, hopefully you're not going to restaurants in person, but you could get, you know, the takeout, right?


That's a huge timesaving. Last week, my husband and I got burgers and fries from our favorite burger and fry place here in New Haven. And, you know, I didn't have to go to the grocery store to get the potatoes. I didn't have to chop the potatoes or fry them or clean the pan and all the greasy goo that went everywhere. Like, what did that save me? You know, those probably two hours, three hours. If I did it myself.


When you frame the takeout like that, you get the same kind of release of pressure in your body that you do in a meeting cancelled. You're like, I just got two and a half hours. And then you can ask yourself, what did I do with that two and a half hours? Did I spend it? Well, right. And so this happens all the time. You know, if you hire the neighbor's kids and mow the lawn or, you know, if you have like a cleaning service.


Right. You know, sometimes these things can sound privileged to let you have to be like, you know, a rich Yale professor. To do them, but there's all these tiny things we do along the edges to save ourselves time, but we rarely frame it that way. So just reframe the things you did every day to save yourself some time and then ask yourself what you did with that. So that's a tough one that I use a lot.


Tip number two is to make good use of what Ashley and others call time confetti. So one of the most shocking social science findings is that at least like, say, twenty, eighteen and covid times. But the last time these data were collected, it turns out people actually had more free time in 2013 than they did five, ten years ago, which is shocking to me. It is right. But it's a special kind of free time where it's not like big chunks of open time.


It's like five minutes here and there. You know, about five minutes before a zoom video or the ten minutes after your kid goes to sleep because they fall asleep really quickly. Right. It's broken up into what she and others call time confetti. These like little pieces of time that are floating around. And so subjectively, that never feels like a lot. Right. You know, if you see a big pile of confetti you don't think of like what big sheet of paper that came from.


But the idea is you can make it more valuable by using it in a particular way. You know, usually we have it you know, I don't know about you, like these days after the election, I just go on Twitter and get mad or like just do something dumb with it, you know, try to take something else off my to do list. But what can you do to use that time? Confetti productively actually recommends making a time confetti wish list.


So you literally have a list, like if a meeting ends early, it's like, oh, what do I want to do on the list? But again, not like check your email. Like this is a time for a five minute meditation that I might not have squeezed in before. I'm going to text a friend and set up that time, you know, to hang out later, you know, gratitude list, whatever. So time confetti. This has been a game changer for me.


I have my little time confetti wish list. And I admit because it's often hard for me to practice what I preach, that it's hard. Like I'm about to check my email and I'm like I go on Twitter and I'm like, no, let me look. And I'm like, oh, I'll text a friend. That was what I was supposed to do. But it's game changing. When you put these things into effect, they can really make you feel happier, but also just feel like you used your time well.


I love that, and I definitely personally use my little scraps of confetti to meditate, and I recommend to everybody else listening to the show do that. I mean, just as an example, our time together, we'll probably be able to wrap up early. But our time was supposed to end at three thirty. I was the beginning of the day. I was supposed to have a meeting with Samuel Jones, our lead producer, from three three to four thirty.


He sent out a note saying, actually, that meeting is now just going to be four to four thirty. I will meditate during that time and it will vastly improve. Odds are, I don't know if it actually will, but odds are vastly improved my mood and the complexion of the day generally. So that's very, very good advice.


And honestly, even if it doesn't, like, improve your mood, it's probably better than the opportunity cost of like, oh, I have twenty minutes free. I'll just go on Twitter and get like super angry about everything going on. Like again we forget that it's not, it's not necessarily even using your time confetti. Well it might be just using your time confetti neutrally and not like getting deeper in the anxiety hole.


Yes. And for example, I mean I'm not super anti Twitter, somewhat anti Twitter, but what I am pro, which is and not without some caveats, but if you use twenty minutes to watch some television that you really genuinely enjoy.


Yeah, if you're watching the Queen's Gambit on Netflix or, you know, I should probably name something from Hulu since I work for Disney a teacher on Hulu, then great.


And you know, you're really watching something like of cultural value go for it. Or if it's completely junk, but you actually enjoy it, then that's who I endorse.




And the problem is this is another domain that I think we get wrong in that a lot of us have been messing up during covid is that, you know, the science suggests we get our leisure all wrong, you know, especially when we're time for when we're time for. What we want is something with a really low startup cost. Right. We just want to like, you know, have the leisure immediately. And that's sometimes where we get time.


Confetti wrong, too. It's like, oh, I only have five minutes. I'd have to do something quick. What's quick? Oh, I'll hop on Reddit and just look at something or I'll go on social media. I'll check my email. Right. But even though something is like fast to do, if it's a really low startup, cost doesn't mean it's great for you. And so having queued up like what you really want to do is just kind of a reminder of like, oh, yeah, I could go watch that show on Netflix or Hulu that I really wanted to watch, even if I only get ten minutes into it, you know, I'll enjoy that more than, you know, this low startup cost thing that, you know, it's probably just not going to make me as happy as I think.


Final question for me, and then we'll then we can talk about anything else that you feel we've I've, you know, committed malpractice by not bringing up but social connection. You made a few references to it, especially early on, to state the blazingly obvious. It's more challenging to connect socially right now. Any recommendations for how we can get the oxytocin hits that we need in order to be happy under these suboptimal circumstances?


Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, this is a spot where I'm taking a page right out of the, like, 10 percent happier playbook. I think the tip for a social connection now is that we have to be much more mindful about what works right. Not mindful about what's easy start up costs, mindful about what's going to make us feel happier. Right. There's certain social events that you engage in that afterwards. You feel energized, you feel happier, you're in a better mood.


And there's ones that just make you feel depleted and a little bit more exhausted. And those things change. I remember, you know, in the beginning of Zoome when I started doing like Zoome Spa Nights with my college roommates, I was like, this is the best. This is awesome. But, you know, just last week I was about to do one on a Friday eve at the end of a whole day on Zoome. And I was like, I cannot sit in front of a screen even if it's with my favorite people on the planet.


This is just not going to feel nutritious right now. And so my advice is to kind of pay attention to what social connection feels nutritious. And it's often afterwards not what we think, because, again, we get the sort of start up costs idea confused. Right. If I have to, like, set a time to make a call with a friend that I haven't talked to in a long time, and then we have this call at the beginning that feels like a pain in the butt, especially if I'm time famish.


I'm like, I don't even have the time for this. But then afterwards I was like, that was great. You often use this analogy of like food nutrition with my students. But, you know, it's kind of the same thing, right? Sometimes, you know, when I'm tired, I'm like craving the burger and fries that I mentioned from the takeout before. But is that going to make me feel great afterwards? No, right. What I need to do is like put in a little bit more cost and maybe get the salad and, you know, like like do something that's nutritious, that takes a little bit more work.


But the after effects are really powerful. And so my instinct is to really actively pay attention afterwards to what feels good and what feels does it and try to diagnose, OK, why did that work and why didn't it work? And then to build more of that stuff in knowingly. Right. Because the stuff I think is going to work often isn't the stuff that's going to make me feel good afterwards. Well, this, for me, has been extremely nutritious, this time with you.


Are there areas where I should have steered us that I failed to? No, no, this was great. This, like, went through stuff I wasn't planning to talk about, but that was really fun. And I think there's awesome. Well, thank you and just actually one last thing, can you please plug everything you do?


Obviously, you have a podcast to tell us about that. Any other areas where we can access your materials?


Yes, you can check my podcast out on the happiness lab. Where have you get your podcast? You can probably find it. And we're doing a whole special two bonus season series of episodes about happiness during the holidays. So if you didn't get enough tips here, check that out. That'll be out in early December. And, you know, if you're jealous of all those Yale students who got to take such a cool class, you can take it to no SATs, no Yale tuition.


You can check it out for free on Coursera, dawg. It's called the science of Well-Being. Six weeks to a happier you.


How about are you on social media? Where can we find you? Oh, yeah, you can find me on Twitter at Laury Santo's, but don't stay on too long. Although I try to post stuff, I try to balance any of my doom posting without posting as well. So hopefully it will be a benefit. Well, this has been a benefit for sure, and I really appreciate your time, especially as somebody whose time starved. Thank you.


Thanks so much. Really appreciate Laurie's time. Thank you, Laura. And before I go, big thanks to the folks who worked so hard to make this show a 2.5 week reality. Samuel Johns's is our senior producer.


Marisa Shneiderman and D.J. Kashmir are our producers. Jules Dodson is our A.P. Our sound designer is Matt Boynton of Ultraviolet Audio. And Maria Wartell is our production coordinator. We get a ton of wisdom and guidance and oversight from our colleagues, including Ben Rubin, Nate Tobey, Jen Point and Liz Levin. And finally, a big thank you to my ABC News comrade's Ryan Kessler and Josh Cohan. We'll see you on Friday for a bonus. Streaming on Disney plus, I don't see how you can break a horse like that.


She'll come around from the beloved classic Black Beauty really are comes an inspiring new vision. The rescues have a time limit here.


You can't, Salviati. Our Greatest Journeys, A Brave Horse Bring US Home, featuring Academy Award winner Kate Winslet as the voice of beauty. Mustang spirit can never be broken. Black Beauty now streaming only on Disney. Plus.