Mental health podcast teaches happiness as a skill

The podcast, “The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos,” is one of the best informative mental health podcasts in the market. Santos brought on a special guest, Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, a brilliant author, professor, and host, among other titles, elaborates on some core ideas of his book, “Happy Mind, Happy Life: 10 Simple Ways to Feel Great Everyday.” 

Our modern world is facing uncertain times and various daily challenges that lead to massive populations battling depression and other mental health issues. Chatterjee starts by explaining how he believes that medical doctors need to pay more attention to their patient’s happiness.

He mentions a recent study that explains that 80% to 90% of medical issues that providers treat are in some way related to our modern lifestyles.

The question is, “How can we holistically intertwine happiness and Western medicine?” There seems to be this link between happiness and health that goes beyond lifestyle behaviors. By educating patients about small changes they can make in what Chatterjee calls “the four pillars of health,” which are their food consumption, movement, sleep and stress reduction, they can greatly improve their happiness and, in turn, their health.

Those who manage their stress, discontent and loneliness will naturally have higher rates of happiness, which in turn will influence them to make better lifestyle choices. This explains Chatterjee’s belief that one’s immune system, accompanied by lifestyle choices, directly affects one’s happiness and overall mental well-being. 

The podcast mentioned a study of a group of people who purposefully injected the Rhinovirus, commonly known as the common cold, into their bodies via their nostrils. It was found that those who were generally less happy or suffering from mental illnesses became sick three times more than those who were happier or had a better mindset.

Happiness is a skill set that can be improved. Chatterjee suggests three main components of happiness that one can focus on and improve individually, but without all three, not one alone is enough. The three legs that make up the core happiness stool are alignment, contentment and control.

Alignment, in this case, is when the person you are on the inside and the person you are out in the world are the same when your inner values and external actions align. Finding a state of contentment is another key element. This is when one figures out what gives them a sense or feeling of calmness and peace and then implements these factors into everyday life.

The last leg of the stool to a solid foundation of happiness is that of control. Control in the sense of giving yourself a sense of control, not controlling the world. People who have a good sense of control over their lives tend to be happier and healthier, do better at work or in school, earn more money, have better social relationships and more. 

Working on the three legs individually is much more doable than working on one happiness, which seems very overwhelming and leaves people in the dark, not knowing where to start. Even if you do just one thing each day or week, the side effect is that you will feel happier more often, which boosts both your mental and physical health. I think Chatterjee is onto something here, and I think more people need to talk about this topic and implement educational courses or lectures about the link between your health and happiness. 


5/5 stars


Featured photo courtesy of @lauriesantosofficial, Instagram