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Bruce Hood — The Science of Happiness: 7 Lessons for Living Well

Science of Happiness (book cover)

We all want to be happier, but our brains often get in the way. When we’re too stuck in our heads we obsess over our inadequacies, compare ourselves with others and fail to see the good in our lives. In The Science of Happiness, world-leading psychologist and happiness expert Bruce Hood demonstrates that the key to happiness is not self-care but connection. He presents seven simple but life-changing lessons to break negative thought patterns and re-connect with the things that really matter.

  • Alter Your Ego
  • Avoid Isolation
  • Reject Negative Comparisons
  • Become More Optimistic
  • Control Your Attention
  • Connect With Others
  • Get Out of Your Own Head

Grounded in decades of studies in neuroscience and developmental psychology, this book tells a radical new story about the roots of wellbeing and the obstacles that lie in our path. With clear, practical takeaways throughout, Professor Hood demonstrates how we can all harness the findings of this science to re-wire our thinking and transform our lives.


Dr. Bruce Hood is an award-winning Professor of Developmental Psychology at Bristol University and the author of several books including SuperSense, The Self Illusion, The Domesticated Brain, and Possessed. His course, The Science of Happiness, is the most popular course at Bristol University. He has appeared extensively on TV and radio, including co-hosting the BBC podcast The Happiness Half Hour in 2021. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Society, the Royal Institution of Great Britain and the British Psychological Society.

Shermer and Hood discuss:

  • Psychedelic drug taking of his youth
  • An operational definition of the “good life” or “happiness” or “well being”
  • Emotions and happiness
  • What are emotions and how can they be measured?
  • Love, Hate, Anger, Fear, Disgust, Pleasure/Pain
  • Hunger, Thirst, Lust, Attraction, Desires, Passions
  • Emotions in the EEA—Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness—what are they “for”?
  • Are there universal human emotions?
  • The nature and nurture of emotions
  • Happiness as an emotion and a social contagion
  • eudaimonia (the pursuit of meaning) versus hedonism (the pursuit of pleasure)
  • Genetics and heritability of happiness
  • Cultural components of happiness (individual vs. collective)
  • WEIRD people and happiness
  • The Big Five (OCEAN) and happiness
  • Marriage and happiness (mate selection)
  • Health and happiness
  • Walking, exercise, stress reduction and happiness
  • Religion, happiness, and the good life
  • Variety (as the “spice of life”), stability, and happiness (sexual variety?)
  • How to live the life you want—not necessarily the life expected of you
  • What the ancient Greeks got right about living the good life
  • How failure may actually be a key to more happiness.

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This episode was released on April 30, 2024.

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