Smile, be happy and live longer?
Catherine Sanderson: Professor in Life Sciences, Amherst College
A simple smile, a friendly gesture or an offer of help and friendship, could help us all live longer, healthier lives. International Day of Happiness (March 20) is celebrated by the United Nations as a way to recognize the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world. There is scientific data that suggests people who embrace the benefits of a positive attitude, are rewarded with a greater sense of well-being. Catherine Sanderson is a psychologist and professor in Life Sciences at Amherst College in Massachusetts. In her book, The Positive Shift: Mastering Mindset to Improve Happiness, Health, and Longevity, Dr. Sanderson explores the science behind our mindset, and how, she says, anyone can learn to adopt a more positive outlook. In this LLAMA podcast interview, with Peter Bowes, Dr. Sanderson explains how kindness, gratitude and genuine friendships can help promote better physical and mental health.
NOTES & QUOTES
In this interview we explore:
- Why someone who is not “naturally happy” has written a book about happiness?
- What does it mean to be happy?
- Are we genetically programmed to be either happy or more melancholy in our demeanor?
“We pay far too little attention to happiness as a society.”
- Does having stress and adversity in life help, ultimately, promote happiness?
- What if bad things happen?
- What does MRI data showing levels of “brain activation” tell us?
- Why do our brains react differently when we’re surrounded by nature?
- How much control do we have over our mindset?
“What’s so important for people to realize is that there are people who have a head start on finding happiness. But we can all do things no matter where we naturally start, that will make us feel better.”
- Do we spend too little time thinking about and practicing happiness?
- How powerful is a smile?
- How a positive attitude can make us feel better and better tolerate adverse experiences.
- Why are so many people keeping gratitude journals?
- Bedtime rituals to help us sleep better.
- Does social media make us feel less happy?
“What’s interesting is the research really shows that putting away your phone is good for your psychological well-being (and) is good for your physical well-being.”
- Why Dr. Sanderson says “relationships are the number one best predictor of our happiness.”
- Is happiness contagious?
- Why changing our mindset is not easy.
- Scientific data that supports the idea that happier people live longer.
- Why does volunteering make up happier?
Related LLAMA podcast interview: