Live Long and Master Aging podcast



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.


Connect with Dr. Sanderson: Website | Book: The Positive Shift | Facebook | Twitter

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:

Episode 5 – Alia Crum: How is human longevity influenced by our mindsets on aging, diet, exercise and stress?

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