How to Find Happiness Within Yourself - LongevIQ Podcast with Dr. Haseltine & Dr. Gilbert

How to Find Happiness Within Yourself: LongevIQ Podcast

Dr. Chris Gilbert, MD PhD Profile picture Dr. Eric Haseltine, PhD Healthy aging doctor

How to Find Happiness Within Yourself
Dr. Chris Gilbert, MD, PhD, Dr. Eric Haseltine, PhD

In this episode

In this episode, we will talk about happiness. We all want to live a happy life, but is happiness really a choice? And if so, what can we do to cultivate happiness in our lives, especially during the challenging times?

In today’s episode, we’re incredibly fortunate to have Dr. Chris Gilbert, MD PhD, a renowned physician specializing in holistic, integrative, and mind-body medicine, along with her husband, Dr. Eric Haseltine, PhD, an expert in neuroscience and psychology.

In our discussion, we’ll bring awareness to important factors that play a huge role in our happiness but also, on the flip side, may lead to unhappiness. We’ll then go over practical tips that we can use to help our mind and body shift toward a happier state.

As we have seen in many of our other podcast episodes, we have a lot more control than we realize…and it may start with simply being aware.

Also in this episode:

  • Dr. Patti Shelton, MD, LongevIQ medical communications officer
  • Amir Ginsberg, LongevIQ founder.

Related articles, podcast notes & links

Previous podcast with Dr. Haseltine and Dr. Gilbert: The Power of Listening to your Body for Happy, Healthy, Long Life

Main topics

    • (0:00:00) Podcast and episode intro, medical disclaimer
    • (0:02:12) Happiness vs. unhappiness
    • (0:05:43) Can I be happy or unhappy and not know it?
    • (0:09:58) What does it mean if you never feel happy?
    • (0:11:58) What happens to your body when you are happy?
    • (0:13:18) The vicious cycle of unhappiness and inflammation
    • (0:15:07) Happiness and unhappiness as learned behaviors
    • (0:17:18) Exercising the happiness muscle – Tips to promote happiness
    • (0:19:50) How our view of life can lead to happiness or unhappiness
    • (0:23:29) Common social messages that can lead to unhappiness
    • (0:25:54) Notice what you notice – finding what makes you happy
    • (0:32:50) Trying to control vs. going with the flow
    • (0:34:55) Is unhappiness necessary to feel happiness?
    • (0:42:28) Toxic positivity: the difference between cultivating happiness and faking happiness
    • (0:44:21) How our body state can affect our happiness
    • (0:47:57) How our sense of control affect our happiness
    • (0:50:15) Finding the seeds in you that genuinely make you happy
    • (0:53:24) Deep-rooted cultural messages that can lead to unhappiness
    • (0:56:10) Are we born happy?
    • (0:59:48) Keep playing, keep laughing, keep being curious


This podcast episode was edited to improve readability.

Podcast and episode intro, medical disclaimer

Dr. Patti (00:00:00): This is Dr. Patti Shelton, and you are listening to the LongevIQ podcast. We discuss anti-aging and longevity science and how to benefit from it so we can all live long, healthy, happy lives.

Just before we get started, a quick medical disclaimer, this podcast is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or to provide or replace medical advice. Please use this information to educate yourself as much as possible and share this information with a qualified health practitioner that you trust.

In this episode, we will talk about happiness. We all want to live a happy life, but is happiness really a choice? And if so, what can we do to cultivate happiness in our lives, especially during the challenging times?

In today’s episode, we’re incredibly fortunate to have Dr. Chris Gilbert, MD PhD, a renowned physician specializing in holistic, integrative, and mind-body medicine, along with her husband, Dr. Eric Haseltine, PhD, an expert in neuroscience and psychology.

In our discussion, we’ll bring awareness to important factors that play a huge role in our happiness but also, on the flip side, may lead to unhappiness. We’ll then go over practical tips that we can use to help our mind and body shift toward a happier state. As we have seen in many of our other podcast episodes, we have a lot more control than we realize…and it may start with simply being aware.

Also, joining us today as always is Amir Ginsberg, the founder of LongevIQ.

Welcome, Dr. Haseltine and Dr. Gilbert. We’re so happy that you’re here with us again.

[00:01:48] Dr. Gilbert: Great to be here. Yeah, wonderful to be here again.

[00:01:51] Dr. Patti: We would love to talk about a topic that so many people out there are really interested in, really searching for, and that is how to find happiness. And I know that it’s a huge topic that people have written many books about over the centuries, but we’re going to try to kind of give people a nice overview, maybe some actionable things that they can think about.

Happiness vs. unhappiness

[00:02:11] Dr. Patti: Let’s just start by talking about what happiness is. It’s a hard question to answer, but just give us an overview. If we said, what is happiness? What are some different ways people could answer that?

[00:02:23] Dr. Gilbert: Well, it’s that feeling of being, feeling really, really good. But it’s not like pleasure; it would be just a few seconds.
It’s something that’s very deep, that we feel deep, deep inside, maybe will also is our reason of being. And it sends a lot of hormones. We feel a lot of hormones flooding our bodies.

[00:02:47] Dr. Haseltine: Well, yeah, we like to say that happiness is to pleasure what climate is to weather. The climate is a long-term sustained phenomenon, whereas weather is what happens just today or this hour.
And so happiness is an enduring, longstanding feeling of contentment and feeling settled with the world.

The other important question is, what is happiness not? This is an interesting thing. A lot of people actually aren’t aware when they’re not happy for lots of reasons. Psychological denial. Say we find ourselves in an incredible conflict, where we hate our job, but to admit we hate it is so threatening because then we’d have to risk and go out and do something new.

The same with relationships. So the best thing to do to really know when you’re not happy is to look inside at your body and what your body’s feeling. And particularly stressed. You know, if you are feeling stressed and tightness in your chest or your muscles, and that’s an ongoing, enduring thing, then that is not happiness.

[00:03:56] Dr. Gilbert: Yeah. When you check with your body inside, are you feeling bubbles of excitement about life, about being alive, about having friends, meeting with friends, and doing good deeds in your life? What is the deep, deep feeling?

Some people have that deep feeling of deep, deep contentment with life, and other people don’t have that. And if they check inside, they would feel like dull, with no real excitement about life, no real deep contentment about life. And that could mean that they could be maybe slightly depressed or on the way to being depressed. And there are very easy tricks, ways to boost our happiness, our feeling, this deep feeling of contentment.

And it’s important to know how to do that because people that are deeply happy in life tend to secrete different hormones and tend to have a stronger immune system. I’m a physician, so I’m going to talk about the immune system. And they tend to be healthier in general than the people that have to struggle every day with stress and/or family situations that go back to their partner in life. And they’re not content with their partner in life. So it’s important to know how to be happy. And very often happiness is inside. There are ways to be happy inside, even though we have stressful problems happening in everyday life. They’re tricks again, as we said.

Can I be happy or unhappy and not know it?

[00:05:43] Dr. Haseltine: And I think one of the really interesting questions is how can people either be happy and not know it or be unhappy and not know it?

And these are really critical questions because they get to the heart of what to do to be more happy or less unhappy. And it starts with awareness. Chou En-Lai, the communist party leader in China, said the most important part of solving a problem is to name it. So why would we be happy and not know that we’re happy?

I mean, sometimes we know after the fact when we leave a job, or we move, or something happens, and we go, wow, I sure missed that. I didn’t know how happy I was. Or we get elevated out of a miserable situation, and we go, oh my God. I didn’t realize how unhappy I was. How does that happen?

Well, it’s interesting in the way the brain works. There’s this thing called the Weber law or Fechner law, and it really says that our brains do not respond at all to steady-state conditions. They only respond to change. And so, in vision, that’s a change in light. In hearing, that’s a change in sound. And that change has to be above a certain threshold, what we call a just noticeable difference, for our brains to register it.

Our brains are living, breathing, change detectors, and if we’re in a steady state, we don’t acknowledge or accept it. And that’s how we can be at a pretty high level of contentment, but if we’re not changing one way or another, our brain really doesn’t register it.

And there are also more active processes that go back to really Freudian psychology of why would we repress or deny what we’re really feeling?
And the answer is it can be scary. And what humans hate, most of all, is unpredictability and a sense of being outta control. I can’t predict, and I can’t control. That causes tremendous stress. So we adjust our perceptions and our beliefs and our attitudes in such a way as to give us the illusion of control and predictability.

And so that’s where denial comes in. It would be very scary if I’m in a relationship with an abusive spouse to say, well, now I got to go out on my own. I got to get a job. What are we going to do with the kids? And rather than acknowledge and own those feelings, we push them down so that we can get by each day.
And this is why I think it all comes back to doing an inventory inside your own body. And this is what Dr. Gilbert is the world’s expert at. Mm-hmm.

[00:08:11] Dr. Gilbert: yeah. Uh, exactly. And I wanna talk more about the Weber Fechner law. That’s the one that Eric mentioned. Our brain only notices big changes that are meaningful.

An example of that law, if people might not know exactly what it means -Let’s say I’ve been given $10,000. If I’m somebody who makes $5,000 a year, and if I’m given one time, 10,000, I’m going to say, whoa, this is awesome. That’s a big change. I’m so excited, I’m so happy, I’m so happy.

Whereas if somebody is also given the same $10,000 one time but is making 1 million a year, that $10,000 will not do anything for them. It’s like, oh yeah, that’s nothing. It’s not going to be a big change. So the brain will really not notice it and will not really be happy.

So that’s what we’re talking about. The changes are important, and sometimes the changes are very gradual. Like let’s say we’re married to our partner, and little by little, the situation gets not as happy, but it’s very little each time. The brain will not notice it. And after one year, then that will be a big change from the beginning.

But it had been gradual. So the brain will not really notice it, and people will stay in that marriage. Even if they’re not happy. And they will not notice that they’re really not happy. Whereas if it’s a big change, all of a sudden, then they will notice it. So that’s an example of how people will stay married to somebody they’re not happy with because they don’t notice that things are changing very gradually.

What does it mean if you never feel happy?

[00:09:58] Dr. Haseltine: There’s one other aspect, which is sometimes people have never experienced happiness. My colleague Alan Kay said, I don’t know who discovered water, but it wasn’t a fish. So, let’s just say that you’re a fish, metaphorically, swimming in unhappiness your whole life.

You don’t know what happiness is. You’ve never been out in the air, for example. And so you don’t know that such a thing is even possible. And so that’s another reason people aren’t aware. You know, I had a kind of traumatic childhood in a very violent family, and I thought that was normal. I didn’t know that I should be unhappy with that because I didn’t know anything different. And so that’s another really important factor to be aware of.

[00:10:42] Dr. Gilbert: Yeah, some people don’t know that love is possible between two married people. Like we are very happy together. Eric and I. We’ve got a very happy marriage. And for me, I had a role model with my parents. My parents showed me what a very happy relationship can be, and I wanted to recreate the same thing.

So I knew what happiness looked like, but some people don’t know, and so they settle for a relationship with a person that they’re not happy with. Thinking, oh, I won’t be able to find, you know, the perfect person. That’s just utopia. That’s just in the movies. But no, I think it’s very important to look for that person with whom you can be happy with, and that person exists.

You just need to look for that person. And we’ve looked a long time for each other. I mean, I’ve looked a long time for Eric, and I’ve met a lot of people before Eric, looking for Eric. So, you have to know what happiness feels like, and you’ve got to look for that feeling.

[00:11:50] Dr. Patti: That’s so inspiring. That’s such a beautiful message to share with everybody. It’s really wonderful to see.

What happens to your body when you are happy?

[00:11:58] Dr. Patti: You’ve both been talking about the effects of happiness on the brain and the body. You kind of both alluded a little bit to hormones and chemicals that are a part of this process.
Maybe talk a little bit more about what happens to your system when you’re in a state of happiness.

[00:12:13] Dr. Gilbert: So my take on it is that we’re flooded with hormones when we’re happy. Flooded with serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin. That makes us feel better.
We have less pain because of the endorphins. We’ve got more feelings of attachment because of the oxytocin, and our immune system is stronger. We’re going to fight more easily against infection, against cancer possibly. People that have cancer and have treatments for cancer will have less side effects and will feel better. They’ll fight better against the cancer when they’re happy in their family.

So it’s very important for health to be happy. And a lot of people that are unhappy will have more aches and pain, more stress, and more cortisol secretion, and that will give them more inflammation. And you’ve got studies on inflammation. I’ll let you talk about that.

The vicious cycle of unhappiness and inflammation

[00:13:18] Dr. Haseltine: Yeah, I would look at it two ways. One is kind of what we call the HPA axis, the hypothalamus pituitary adrenal axis, where you get stress hormones, where you have the hypothalamus say, oh, I’m under stress, causes the pituitary to cause the adrenal gland to release adrenaline.

And that elevates blood pressure, heart rate, and so forth. Chronically, that’s a stressor on the system. It can lead to hypertension and other ailments, but just as when the immune system is healthy and fighting off disease, there’s also what we call immune dysregulation, which is the immune system starts to go into overdrive and starts attacking the body.

For example, people who are depressed and anxious have much higher levels of inflammatory proteins, cytokines, interferon, interleukin, and tumor necrosis factor. All these things that basically amount to your body attacking itself and causing inflammation. And it becomes a vicious circle because we now know that with depression and anxiety and also with heart disease, stroke, and neurodegenerative diseases, that there’s chronic over secretion or overproduction of inflammatory cytokines and things like that, that have a toxic effect on neurons in the brain.
And actually causes atrophy of certain parts of the brain, like the left orbiter, frontal cortex, the hippocampus, and other parts of the limbic system, which makes you unhappy, which sustains the unhappiness, and it gets you stuck into a vicious cycle of inflammation, depression, inflammation and so forth.
And so you’ve got to come up with a way of breaking out of that. So that’s kind of one, HPA axis description.

Happiness and unhappiness as learned behaviors

[00:15:07] Dr. Haseltine: The other has to do with learned behavior. Both of us have been studying chronic pain, and it turns out that in a lot of cases of chronic pain, the physical injury is gone, but the pain persists.
It’s what our friend Steve Schall, the physical therapist, calls the pearl of pain, where you have that irritant tissue injury that causes the initial pain. But then we develop all sorts of behaviors and beliefs and learning around that. And our brains, which are plastic and rewire themselves all the time, even in adulthood, actually can rewire themself to feel pain that’s not actually there in the sense of, physically, you know, a physical stimulus causing that injury, causing that pain.

So pain can be learned behavior, and so can unhappiness. And conversely, happiness can be a learned behavior where happiness, in one sense, can be viewed as how our brains are wired. Have we wired them up and exercised the happy muscle, or have we exercised the unhappy muscle? Because our brain is like a muscle.

[00:16:08] Dr. Gilbert: And that’s why it’s very important to exercise that muscle. Again, as a child, I was raised by my mother to exercise that muscle whenever because I was a very anxious child, very neurotic, and I was worried a lot. And she would always comfort me and say, well, look at the bright side. What are you thankful for? You’ve got so many things to be thankful for. You’ve got this, and that, and that.

So at an early age, I had that training of being happy with what you have, and whenever you are worried about something, don’t focus on it that much. Just focus on what you have instead. And I practice that to this day, every day. So I think that’s very important. And a lot of people don’t have that training, don’t exercise that muscle.
If you have children, I think it’s very important to train them at a very early age to exercise that muscle and to know how to practice the art of happiness, how to focus on what you have rather than what’s missing.

Exercising the happiness muscle – Tips to promote happiness

[00:17:18] Dr. Haseltine: Yeah, I think Dr. Chris just made a huge point, which is that happiness is not a passive experience reacting to things that happen to you. Happiness is a motor act like exercising the happiness muscle where you have agency and intent. And people don’t understand that. They kind of think of themself as a leaf blowing on the wind or, you know, as a piece of seaweed floating on the waves, and they just go wherever the world takes them. But they don’t understand that they actually do have a lot more control than they may think they have.

And in psychology, we call this the phenomenon of locus of control. Is it internal or external? And people who have an external locus of control, meaning the world is controlling me, they tend not to be happy. Where people who have an internal locus of control, where I am the captain of my own ship, the master of my own destiny, they tend to be happier.

Sleep and mood

[00:18:14] Dr. Gilbert: A very important thing is sleep, for example. If you are happy, you will have better quality sleep, more restful, the neurons are going to regenerate, and then connections and synapses will be formed and repaired. And that will be very important for health.
If you are worried, if you’re stressed out, and if you focus on whatever has made you unhappy that day, then your sleep is going to be disturbed. It’s not going to be good quality sleep. And then you’re going to wake up in the morning, and you won’t be feeling as good. Things will not be repaired, and the synapses will not work as well. And that could be a vicious cycle that’s not going to be good and could get you into depression.

So how do you get good quality sleep is to focus every night before going to bed, before going to sleep, on what has happened that day that has made you happy. Even if things have happened that have made you unhappy, don’t focus on that. Just focus on what made you happy. So choose three things every night before going to bed, before going to sleep, that made you happy.
Focus on those, and then you’ll bring happiness to your brain. You’ll bring good quality sleep to your body, and that will be the beginning of a virtuous cycle where you’ll feel better and better. And with that, we have complete control, and that’s my recipe in general for patients I talk to.

How our view of life can lead to happiness or unhappiness

[00:19:50] Dr. Haseltine: Yeah, I think what you’re talking about is so important in that none of us really in school, for example, learn what are the different tricks and techniques to be happy. Her mom taught her some where in my upbringing, I was a very anxious kid. And when I brought my anxieties to my mom, she said, yeah, the world, it sucks.
She was an existentialist. And she goes, yeah, everything is absurd. Everything happens for a reason. You can’t trust anybody. Life sucks. A very kind of Russian dark outlook. And I go, Ahhhhh! What I wasn’t given were tools, right?

And tools – If you look at movies, for example, it’s a wonderful life. It’s a great one where we’re going to rewind your life and take you out of it and see what it would be like. And that’s a great tool to say, oh, if I didn’t have this or I weren’t there, look how horrible things would’ve been. And there are some great songs, country Western, like Live Like You Were Dying. And one more day, which really actually got me through when my late wife was dying of Cancer.
This song by Diamond Rio is about a man who loses this woman. And he said he’d give anything for that one more day. And I realized that if I treated every day like that one more day. Like I had died, or someone had died, and now I’m back in time, and I have this one more day, and today is that day. And that helped me get through. That helped me be less unhappy by far.

And we don’t teach people these tools. You have to kind of stumble on them. And you know, it raises the question of what can we do to raise happier people by giving them tools that are there but very few people are told about.

[00:21:34] Dr. Gilbert: For example, one of my best friends had a motorcycle accident. And from one day to another, he was in a coma, and he had a brain bleed. And from that time, he was not the same anymore. He had multiple fractures. His brain couldn’t function anymore, and he didn’t realize how happy he was before.

And only after that accident, he said, oh my God, I wish I could be back to where I was before the accident. And he couldn’t. But if we imagine, I mean, everybody, all of us pretty much drive a car. Maybe tomorrow, we don’t know. Tomorrow there’ll be a big accident. We don’t realize how happy we are today.

Let’s appreciate what we have today. Even if people have horrible diseases, they are still alive, and it could be worse. One article that was just published in psychology today, one of my articles, is about Michelle Kephart, who is a quadriplegic nurse. I talked about her in this article. One day she fell from a tree, and she became quadriplegic.
She didn’t know how much her life was wonderful before, but even as a quadriplegic nurse, she works full-time and has managed to find love being a quadriplegic, and she’s living with her husband, and she’s very happy. She has happiness. So let’s compare our life to her life. We have our four limbs. We can walk, we can use our hands, we can smell the flowers, we can see.

The other thing is, you are the one saying that, as we say, we need to look at the glass half full instead of half empty. Well, let’s look at the glass completely full because it’s got oxygen in it.

[00:23:24] Dr. Haseltine: And we have eyes to see the glass. And we own a glass.

[00:23:27] Dr. Gilbert: Oh, we have a glass.

Common social messages that can lead to unhappiness

[00:23:28] Dr. Haseltine: But we were just talking about these tools to become happier, and we should also look at the tools that are handed to us to be unhappy.

We’re handled false tools. What does society say? Be thin and rich and famous and popular, and you’ll be happy. And none of those things are true. Because, you know, we both have been in Hollywood. I was a Hollywood executive, and she’s a Screen Actors Guild. We know the profession that’s supposed to be the most glamorous, and therefore the people there, like the movie stars, should be the most happy, and nothing could be further from the truth.

They are thin and rich and famous and beautiful, and they’re miserable because they’re so insecure, and the same is true in the music business.

So, we’re not only not handed the right tools to be happy, we are handed the wrong tools. And it’s like this whole movement now toward body positivity where people are slowly trying to be saying, well, look, you know, your body is your body, you know, celebrate it. Yeah, you don’t look like a fashion model, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be happy, but that’s not the message we get 24/7 about what should make you happy. And those things do not make you happy.

Get rid of the ‘Shoulds’

[00:24:45] Dr. Gilbert: The shoulds. You should be successful, you should be thin, you should do all those things to be happy. Let’s erase all that, and let’s check inside what makes you happy.

And what makes you really happy could be something completely different that has nothing to do with the shoulds. It could be just gardening and spending three hours with the flowers. In my case, spending a couple of hours with a dog and playing with a dog.

And everybody’s different. And that’s the beauty of life, is that everybody’s passion is going to be different than anybody else. So what is it, that unique person, what is it that makes you happy? And cultivate that and check inside. Don’t compare with anybody else. Just check inside. What is it? What is your happiness? What does it mean for you personally, the person who listens to us? Or what does it mean to you personally to be happy? And that could be something completely different than anybody else.

Notice what you notice – finding what makes you happy

[00:25:52] Dr. Haseltine: Yeah. And I’ll give a really good example of that. Going back to my family. My dad was a rocket scientist and a PhD physicist, and we were all told that to be successful, we had to also be, you know, scientists and high achievers. And my sister. Florence, who’s very famous for kind of founding the woman’s health movement, and she’s in the National Academy and everything. She’s a physician and a molecular biologist, MD PhD. And she told me a few years ago that she would’ve been much happier being a mechanical engineer. And she said: “I know that now” (cuz she’s 80).
She said: “Because I notice what I notice. I look at gears and mechanisms and structures, and I love it. And she said: “You know, you have to notice what you notice. And I notice mechanical things.”

And I, too, you know, I’m a PhD neuroscientist, but I’m really in my heart of hearts, I’m a blue-collar guy. I love working in machine shops, making things with my hands. I have a lab in the docks on the wharf by San Pedro, which is about the most blue-collar place you can. And I eat in this cafe with a bunch of longshoremen, and I love it. And being raised in this kind of snooty academic, intellectual family, we were not at all led to tune in to what we really loved to do, which is much more prosaic than lofty science.

And so, I love the idea of notice what you notice because that’s your body telling you where you can be happy.

[00:27:27] Dr. Gilbert: Yeah. And same thing, I was raised in a very intellectual family where you need to have an important job. You need to study, you need to make money where in reality, what I notice and what I love to do, I love doing like speeches.
I love speaking for you guys. Speaking to an audience. I love being on stage, and I love dogs. And if there are lots of people around me and there is just one dog, I’ll pay attention to the dog. So I love animals in general, and, you know, that’s very different from what I’ve been raised or what should make me happy. So as I get, I’m not gonna say older, but

[00:28:09] Dr. Haseltine: more mature.

[00:28:10] Dr. Gilbert: More mature,

[00:28:11] Dr. Haseltine: more experienced.

[00:28:12] Dr. Gilbert: More experienced. I pay more attention to what really makes me happy. Not the shoulds, not that you ought to not, not, not that. And that is the key to happiness. The inside, the inner happiness, the deeper happiness. The one with purpose with meaning. That’s the key.

[00:28:34] Dr. Patti: Wow, y’all shared a few really powerful things there. Things that people can actually use and do in their lives. And let’s even dive a little bit more into that. You shared being grateful for the things that made you happy during the day, acting like this was the day, your last day of having the life that you have right now, focusing on what you notice and what really makes you happy.

Are there any other kind of tips, tricks, tools, practical things that people can use to help them exercise that happiness muscle?

Making yourself and others happy

[00:29:07] Dr. Gilbert: Yeah. Studies show that people that do good deeds are happy. It makes them happy. So do things for your family, do things for friends. Doesn’t need to be big things. It could be just small things or call a family member and say I love you. Or call a friend and say, I really appreciate being with you, or bring flowers to a friend or a family member.

So do things for friends and family. Also, do things for yourself. Consider yourself as part of your family. So, today I’m going to do something for myself. So what can it be? Maybe I’ll offer myself flowers, or maybe I’ll go for a walk that I’ve always wanted to do. So do things, precise things for yourself and your family and friends.

Pay attention to your fantasy life and daydreaming

[00:29:58] Dr. Haseltine: I would say another is to pay attention to your fantasy life and your daydreaming. They’re there for a reason. And some people find themselves often drifting off and imagining that they are somewhere or with someone or doing something that they’re not doing.
And that can tell you a lot.

And again, the most important thing is everyone is different. Don’t believe when people tell you for you, this is what should make you happy. For example, in psychology, we have what we call the big five personality traits. One of them being introversion versus extroversion.
Extroverts are more happy when they’re among a group of people. Introverts tend to be more happy when they’re alone reading a book. I’m somewhat more on the introvert style, and so some of my fantasies, when I was unhappy, tended to be off somewhere in Antarctica being all alone.

I suffered from anxiety and depression my whole life. And part of that is social avoidance. When I’m really feeling very anxious and down, I just want to be completely without any humans around at all. And my fantasies would be about being off somewhere by myself, whereas someone who is lonely might have fantasies of being more connected with people.

So what we daydream about, what our fantasies are, what we imagine, we should pay a lot of attention to those because those are like kind of pressure valves that we use to let off the steam of not getting what we want and not being happy. And so I think that would be a really important little tool, to help kind of be a dashboard, if you will, of your happiness inventory.

The power of openness to what happens in your life

[00:31:36] Dr. Gilbert: Yeah, another tool is to be open and flexible. Like, if something is happening in your life, don’t push it away. Just be very flexible and adapt to it. A study shows that people that are flexible tend to be happier also. So, okay, this is a change. Let, let’s see what can I do to make it work? So that’s one.

Surround yourself with happy people

[00:32:01] Dr. Gilbert: Another tool would be to surround yourself with happy people if you have a choice. Instead of having a bunch of unhappy friends that call you and say, oh, I’m, I’ve got this. I don’t know, it’s really bad. And this other friend goes, oh, I got this. It’s really bad. Choose people that know how to be happy and try to be with them more often.

Also, surround yourself with happy pets if you can. Get a pet that has a good attitude, a good mood, and that can make you laugh.

Trying to control vs. going with the flow

[00:32:37] Dr. Haseltine: I want to go back to unhappiness. It’s hard to be happy when you’re unhappy, and it’s hard to not be unhappy when you don’t know that you’re unhappy.

Okay, and so here’s a thought. The Buddhists have a saying about suffering. And it’s that suffering is not pain. Suffering is resistance to pain. You know, you can kind of think of it as you’re out in the ocean, near the beach, and there are all these waves coming at you, and you can either get the wave to crash on you and pulverize you into the sand, or you can surf it.

And we have a little bit of an argument about this. When it comes to space sickness, it’s a very interesting paradigm of happiness. One of my friends is Story Musgrave, who has the most extravehicular excursions, you know, spacewalks of any astronaut. He repaired the space Hubble telescope.

He’s a physician, and I’m a neuroscientist, and I’ve studied motion sickness in simulators. So we had this long discussion about, well, what causes space sickness and what’s the physiology going on and so forth. And he said it isn’t physiology, it’s not any of that, it’s temperament. And I said, what do you mean by that?

He said: “Well, there are some astronauts, test pilots, and so forth who are very much control freaks, and those are the ones that get the most sick. People like me who are like a free spirit, I love this new environment. And I just went with it. And I never got space sick.”

He surfed that wave, if you will. He didn’t fight it.

And he did weird stuff. Like he had a pause while he was fixing the Hubble telescope, and he said, oh, I’m gonna have fun. So he went like Superman, you know, like I’m flying over the earth as he went. And Houston said, uh, Musgrave, what are you doing? Are you doing what we think you’re doing? And he goes, yeah, I’m Superman.

I mean, he was that kind of person. And he’d open a bottle of Coke, and he’d put it in a big glob in weightlessness and see what happened to the carbonation. You know, he was that kind of person. And so his belief is that the people who were unhappy in space were the ones who fought the new experience and tried to normalize it and didn’t just go with it.

Now Dr. Gilbert has a little different belief about that.

[00:34:48] Dr. Gilbert: No, no, no, no. But yeah.

Is unhappiness necessary to feel happiness?

[00:34:50] Dr. Gilbert: I want to talk about unhappiness because you touched something that I think is very important. Sometimes you need unhappiness to feel the happiness afterward.

And some people, only after they have something really bad happening to them and they feel really really unhappy, and then when that thing that is bad is gone, and they’re back to feeling happy, then that sense, that difference between, again, it’s the Weber Fechner effect, the difference between being unhappy before and suddenly being happy again, that makes them, that feeling of happiness being even more.

So sometimes moments of unhappiness are necessary to feel this really intense happiness. And also, I want to say something that you said. Sometimes people need to be unhappy to create innovations because the best innovations are created by unhappy people.

[00:35:53] Dr. Haseltine: Well, that’s true. We heard a great speech, a TED speech by this psychologist, it’s a TEDx. But he said something really fascinating. He said that where we care and where we hurt are the same place. And you find this in bureaucracies. People who are the most unhappy are the ones who care the most.

The ones who are quote fat, dumb, and happy, who just go along to get along and just kind of go with the flow and, you know, don’t fight city hall. Those people tend to be the happiest. Whereas the change agents, people who are not happy with the way things are, are the ones who actually change the world.

And so this is a very interesting thing when you look at people like Elon Musk and other people who’ve made the biggest impact on the world. Like Steve Jobs. We tend to think of those people as being rich and famous and successful and, therefore, happy. Well, that’s probably the opposite because what made them so successful?

My brother and I talk about this a lot. He’s even more famous than my sister for being the guy who figured out how the AIDS virus works and so forth. And he’s a zillionaire from starting Human Genome Sciences and all that. And he and I talk about the CEO syndrome, him being a CEO of a big company.

And we said that being successful at the very, very top of any field is a combination of world-class talent and world-class obsession. And that obsession comes from having a hole that cannot be filled. And this is what you see in Hollywood. You know, you look at the most successful athletes like Kobe Bryant and Wayne Gretzky, and Tony Gwynn, and all of them have the same characteristic. They would go out hours before any of their teammates in practice.

I had a roommate in college who won three Olympic gold medals and had three world records in freestyle swimming. And I asked him, you know, what goes on in your head? And he says, hate. He said, when I go to the Olympics, and I see those medals up there, those are mine, and those a-holes are trying to take my medals from me.

So he spent nine hours a day in the pool fueled by hatred, and that’s what drove him. And he won the gold medal, and he won the world record. Was he happy? He was not happy. And so, that’s a very interesting thing that the people who in some ways make our lives better and more happy are themselves typically not very happy people.

[00:38:28] Dr. Gilbert: So for the listeners, the people that are listening to us, we’ve given tips on how to be happy. But if they cannot choose those tips, if they don’t want to use those tips because they’re so unhappy, well, find a way to use your unhappiness to create something that people will use. What are you unhappy about? How can you create something to fix what you’re unhappy about? And that could be the next big innovation.

Life purpose and happiness – A few examples

[00:39:01] Dr. Haseltine: This is very personal for me because I’m an inventor, and I spend most of my time in the lab inventing stuff to fix problems. And I rarely succeed in the sense that I change the world with my inventions, and what I’ve learned is that I do have to have a purpose.

You know, they say that the two most important days in your life are the day that you’re born and the day that you learn why you were born. And I learned that mine was to use my hands and invent stuff. And so, even though I am unhappy in the sense my inventions aren’t very successful, and the businesses that I start around those inventions are not very successful, the process of inventing, getting into that flow in the lab, and working with my hands and causing something to come into creation that didn’t exist before, that makes me happy. Even though the end goal, I’d like to be more successful, but it’s OK.

And Chris and I have a great time. What makes her happy is to find flaws in my inventions. And so we’re a great partnership because she beats ’em up and finds flaws and says, well, this won’t work, and that won’t work. Ha ha ha, I got you. And that makes her happy. And so we have this kind of ecosystem where I invent stuff, and she destroys them. And together, that makes us happy.

Uncover the battle between the mind and the body with Gestalt therapy

[00:40:19] Dr. Gilbert: Yeah, and also, what makes me happy is to help people.
And as I said, I like acting. I like Hollywood, the show business aspect. I like to be on stage. I like to teach people. I like to do podcasts with you guys. So that’s what makes me happy. So how can I use my love of acting with the love of helping people?

Well, I found it in the art of the Gestalt therapy. It’s a two-chair technique. You put one chair, one way, one chair facing the other side facing the other way. And you can do the acting with yourself. One part of you will sit in one chair, the one that is not happy, or the brain. And then the other part of you will sit in another chair, your body, for example.

And we can create a dialogue between your brain and your body. Your brain will say, why are you not happy, body? What’s going on with you? Why do you have pain and aches everywhere? And then you switch chairs, and you talk as the body, and the body will say, well, you are making me exercise too much, or you’re making me eat too much.

And that’s a great way to find exactly what’s happening really within yourself. Sometimes there’s a fight between the mind and the body. And by putting that fight in the open, by acting it out, it becomes obvious of what really needs to be done to solve your personal problem, whereas people sometimes are so much caught in the every day, like you said, the tyranny of the urgent trumps the pursuit.

[00:42:04] Dr. Haseltine: Pursuit of the important,

[00:42:05] Dr. Gilbert: the important. They’re caught in their everyday business. They’re not aware of that battle between their mind and their body. So that’s a way to get to the bottom of what’s going on, and it’s immediate. It’s very quick. And that’s going to be one of my next Psychology Today articles.

Toxic positivity: the difference between cultivating happiness and faking happiness

[00:42:26] Dr. Patti: Beautiful. Oh, I did wanna make sure we touch on something. As we talk so much about cultivating happiness, is there a difference between cultivating happiness and faking happiness? Like, there’s some conversation out there about toxic positivity. So talk a little bit about that concept and the difference there.

[00:42:43] Dr. Gilbert: Yes. Studies show that people that have to fake happiness all the time in their job, that becomes very, very stressful for them, especially when they cannot have any pause or relax and get away from that environment for half an hour or one hour at the time. And the study shows that the stress gets to them and their health sufferers.

So, yes. I mean, it’s important to look for happiness, but when you have to fake it, it’s really detrimental because your genuine body doesn’t feel happy. And then when you have to do something that’s forced, it’s just so stressful that it’s really not recommended.

Like flight attendants need to do it during their flights, but then it takes a toll on them and then, yes, and then they might need… we have boxing gloves here that we use sometimes, and a punching bag so when they come back home, they might need to get boxing glove and punching bag and get their anger out because otherwise, they’re forcing themselves to be nice and without expressing their anger that stays inside that will destroy them if they don’t express it.

So, punching bag…

How our body state can affect our happiness

[00:44:07] Dr. Haseltine: On the other hand, yes, that’s all true. When we subjugate our own needs to those of others exclusively and like, hi, how can I help you today when I am feeling sucky? Yeah, that’s not healthy.

However, there is this old and quite validated theory in psychology called the James–Lange theory. Put simply, let’s take smiling and happiness.
We think we smile because we’re happy. But James Lange said it’s the other way around. We’re happy because we’re smiling, so we can do that experiment right now. If you take your finger, okay, and you put it in your mouth like this, mm-hmm. You feel happier. Because you exercise those facial muscles, and it turns out that, you know, we have our limbic primitive brain that’s in direct contact with our muscles and our viscera, and that’s where we feel things, right?

When you’re feeling anxiety, you actually say to yourself, where in my body am I feeling that anxiety. Well, for me, it’s in the pit of my stomach. For some people, it’s in their chest. For some people, it’s somewhere else. But every feeling is literally a feeling, which is why we call them feelings. And so what the psychologists have learned is that our consciousness monitors our body and interprets our emotions based on what’s going on in our body.

So if we go like this and smile, our consciousness monitors the muscles flexing like this and going, oh, I must be happy, therefore, I feel happy. And the same is true if you frown. You feel less happy. And so it’s quite complicated, and in fact, one of the treatments for depression is Botox injections here (* forehead). I’ve actually had them for this purpose when I had depression. And the theory is that you won’t frown like this, and not frowning will stop you from feeling unhappy because you’re frowning.

And so I guess what this is saying is that under some circumstances, faking it will not make it. And under other circumstances, faking it will make it. And it just goes to show how complex our brains and our bodies are.

And that’s a really important point, that there is no simple magic bullet that works in all circumstances, but the James Lange theory is a very important point because what it says is to be very aware of what your body is doing.

Sensate awareness is hugely important because, like all emotions and feelings, happiness lives in the sensation of our bodies.
This is where we experience it or don’t experience it, and the first step is awareness and being aware of what’s going on, and you can use that awareness to steer in one direction or another. And like I say, you know, you can go around, carry a pen in your mouth like this all day, and you’ll be happier.
Now, you may get arrested for being a lunatic, but you’ll be a happy jail mate.

[00:47:11] Dr. Gilbert: but again, everybody is different. So you need to find what works for you. And also everybody’s different, but also every situation is different. So what works for you in a particular setting today might not work tomorrow.

So not only do you need to find what works for you, you need to work to find what works for you at this moment and try different tools. Every day could be different depending on what the situation is. Yeah. So you need to be very flexible and explore. The main thing is to be curious. Be curious of who you are, really. Be curious of what your body is, really. Be open and explore and see what works and what doesn’t work.

How our sense of control affect our happiness

[00:47:57] Dr. Haseltine: I’d like to go back to academic research for a little bit on the subject of happiness. This has been studied, and you have to operationally define what happiness is. If you’re going to define it as a scientist, is it scores on a happiness inventory or whatever it is.

But when this is done, what they find is the one factor that you find in people who are happy is a sense of control and mastery over their life. And the quality that you see in unhappy people is the sense of being outta control and having no mastery or agency.

So, for example, they found in universities that the happiest people were full professors who were tenured, and the unhappiness people were their secretaries. So, you know, sitting right next to each other were the two happiest and unhappiest people on the planet, one who had total control.
Total predictability over their future to some degree, they were tenured, they were never going to lose their job. And then the secretary, who’s constantly being given crap to do, and they don’t know when it’s going to happen, they don’t know, you know?

And so, I think that for you out there, that’s something to pay a lot of attention to. To what degree do you have control over your fate, and to what degree do you perceive that you have that control? Because if you perceive that you don’t have it, then it’s very unlikely you’re going to be happy.

[00:49:18] Dr. Patti: And I notice you sort of bringing together all of these things when you give some of the tips. Like, cultivate happiness without faking it, actually surround yourself with happy people. Actually do the things that make you happy. Think about the happy things that happened that day. You’re not faking being happy, but you are cultivating the true, happy things that came to you.

[00:49:41] Dr. Haseltine: Yeah, it’s like I say, the Weber Fechner thing is left to ourselves. We won’t notice how happy or unhappy we are. It’s the frog boiling in water technique. But what’s the opposite of the frog boiling in water? The frog in very happy frog land won’t notice it either, you know?

And so it’s just kind of being aware of who we really are and how our brains really work. It’s like you take all these things for granted, but under the hood, there are things going on that are useful to know about. And the first step is awareness.

Finding the seeds in you that genuinely make you happy

[00:50:14] Dr. Gilbert: Yeah, again, I like acting, and so it’s like in acting. If you want to act the role of a happy person. If you fake it, if you say, okay, ha, ha ha, it’s going to look fake to the person who watches the movie. The key is to find the little seeds in you that really make you happy, feed those seeds and act from that part of you that is genuine that have really felt happiness in the past and experienced that real happiness in your acting. That will look real because people, the audience, will be able to differentiate fake happiness from real happiness. It is called method acting. Find within yourself that feeling that is a real feeling and express it. And that works.

And another thing. When you are genuinely happy, it shows. People can detect you are genuinely happy. And there is this mirror image. When you look at somebody who is genuinely happy, your brain can sometimes feel those vibes and feel those happy vibes. I mean, when I’m happy, you feel my vibes of being happy. So, those can be infectious vibes where you can make other people feel happy too, when you are really really happy.

And the other thing is when you feel inside really happy, you tend to do more for people. Once your well is filled with happiness, you can give some to other people. Whereas if your well of happiness is empty, you’ve got nothing to give.

[00:51:58] Dr. Haseltine: Yeah, it’s interesting on the faking it. There’s a bunch of research, and I’ve written on this too, where people can tell the difference between a fake smile and a real smile. And the difference is that there are different brain centers involved in creating those muscle movements when you’re genuinely happy.

And so, with getting a little technical, they say that when your basal ganglia are involved heavily, which now we now have huge emotional processing elements to them, then it looks genuine. And so people can’t tell you exactly what it is that they’re tuning into, but they see it, they feel it. And it’s, I think, as Dr. Chris says, the mirror neurons. You know how someone else is really feeling by how you’re really feeling when you’re with them.

[00:52:40] Dr. Gilbert: So even if we’re not happy, we all have seeds of happiness that we need to water and feed so that those seeds grow into beautiful plants.

Putting your happiness first isn’t selfish

[00:52:49] Dr. Patti: And an important message is that seeking your own happiness is not selfish but allows you to give to others more fully.

[00:52:58] Dr. Gilbert: Yeah, exactly. I mean, only when you have your well full can you really give freely. Otherwise, if you have no love inside of you, you can’t. It’s so difficult for you to give love. It’s so, so, so difficult. So first, take care of yourself, and once you’ve taken care of yourself, then you’ll have so much to give, and it will be so easy. Otherwise, it’s very difficult.

Deep-rooted cultural messages that can lead to unhappiness

[00:53:24] Dr. Haseltine: I think that’s a very important point about the subconscious messages of our society, particularly here in America, where we have this kind of Protestant work ethic culture that started way back in the 16 hundreds.

We’re not here on earth to be happy. We’re here on earth to work, to procreate, to serve God. And No, no, it’s not about happiness.

And this is very much part of our culture. And in fact, Chris loves to take vacations. You know, she likes to go off for a month at a time traveling. And I’m like, that’s too long. I got to be in the, I gotta work. I gotta work.

And so, we get these messages that really say being happy is being selfish. No one says that explicitly, but implicitly that is part of American culture. And I think probably in Asia also. And the Dalai Lama, a very wise person, when asked what is the purpose of life, he said to be happy. And they asked him to elaborate. And he said that’s it. It’s like, there’s no more complicated than that. That’s a very different cultural message than the one that at least here we, in America, have gotten.

[00:54:36] Dr. Gilbert: Yeah. Studies show that when we ask people what’s most important to them, is it wealth? Is it work, success, or happiness? They say it’s just happiness, being happy.

But I want to say I’m from French origin, as you can detect from my French accent when I talk. And for us, French people or people with a French background, quality of life is very important. Happiness is very important. Being able to do fun activities, being able to do physical exercise, being able to eat well. Food is very important for French people. Drink well. Love being romantic. Passion is very important for French people.

So I come from that background. And those are the important things to me. The passion that I feel for my husband, the good food, and also physical exercise. Studies show that physical exercise is very important to health in general and to happiness in general.
Regular physical exercise that gets rid of stress, that keeps the body in good shape. Diet, being able to eat the right thing and feed the body the right ingredients so that the body stays healthy is also very important.

[00:55:57] Dr. Patti: I wanna make sure Amir gets a chance to talk. I see him there thinking about questions he wants to ask. So go ahead, Amir. What do you wanna say?

Are we born happy?

[00:56:07] Amir: That’s amazing. Thank you. One question. We talked about the messages that we get from our society, from our parents, about happiness, about what needs to happen for us to be happy. But do you think we’re actually born happy, and then somewhat later, we are conditioned? Because it seems like everybody is chasing happiness, where maybe it’s just a natural state that we forgot that that’s really what we are all about?

[00:56:38] Dr. Haseltine: I would agree with that. And you can see the cultural differences, as we said. Yeah. If you look at a baby, you know, a baby just wants to be fed. It wants love. It wants attention. And you can tell a happy baby. You know, it’s not hard. It’s kind of like a dog. I mean, I don’t mean dogs and humans are the same, but you know, a baby is very dog-like, and it hasn’t learned all of the inhibitions and conventions and everything. And so I think you’re right.

I think we are, in a sense, born happy, and we are taught to kind of reign in our own need for our own happiness and balance that with the needs of others. And that’s the whole process of socialization. And it’s kind of the essence of the human condition that, on the one hand, we are individuals, and for the species to survive and thrive, we have to survive and thrive and pay attention to our own needs. And on the other hand, we’re a social species that succeeds as a species because we cooperate. And so you have these two tensions between self and other.

And you see this in storytelling that almost every story is about an outsider’s journey in or about the conflict between self and others. Like a typical adventure story is, the hero is off. They’ve got problems. And someone comes to them and says, we need help, and they say, go away. I’m dealing with my own stuff. And then something hooks ’em in, and then they help, and they cure the, you know, ill land, and so forth. But, that dynamic of self and others is a built-in contradiction of the human condition.

And so to the degree we have to subjugate our own urges, needs, and wants to those of the greater good, we start being less happy. And so I think that’s part of what you’re talking about. But I think it’s not all bad because, yes, we’re taught to push down our own needs and take into account other people’s needs, but there’s an opportunity there to get happiness from other people. And so, like all things that we’re talking about. It isn’t simple. There isn’t just one, like I say, magic bullet answer.

[00:59:00] Dr. Gilbert: Yeah. And also, we are born needy and without any control. We need our mother to survive and our parents to survive. And we have no control over what they’re going to feed us, when they’re going to feed us, how much love they’re going to give us. We’re completely, completely helpless. So depending on what’s happening right there. Right at the first few days of life here, you get an idea of what’s going to be your life or the beginning of your life. I mean, if your mother doesn’t want to feed you or doesn’t want to take you when you cry, when you need something, then you know what happens. Early on, things happen.

Keep playing, keep laughing, keep being curious

[00:59:47] Dr. Haseltine: But, you know, Amir, going back to do we get socialized out of happiness, it comes back partly to play behavior. And I’ll go back to Story Musgrave and what he was doing in outer space. He was playing.

You know, at the time, he was in his forties. He’s an engineer, he’s a physician, he’s an astronaut, he’s a test pilot. He’s a very serious person. And he’s out there in outer space playing. He refused to be a hundred percent socialized. And I think what you’ll find is some of the happiest people are the ones who retain that sense of play. I think (* George Bernard Shaw) said, we don’t stop playing because we get old. We get old because we stop playing. And so, another little arrow in the quiver of being happy is to never stop playing.

[01:00:34] Dr. Gilbert: And never stop exploring new things. Never stop being curious about new things. We do that all the time. We play all the time, and we’re curious about everything. And there are so many new discoveries at our, you know, in this century, so many new innovations.
We’re always curious about the latest thing, and we’re always excited, and it’s very important.

[01:01:01] Dr. Patti: Yeah. The two of you are such great examples of that. Both of you just continuing to play and continuing to explore and be curious.

[01:01:08] Dr. Gilbert: And a sense of humor. I mean, we do joke a lot. I think a sense of humor is very, very important. Being able to laugh. Is important for happiness and a release of stress. Just laugh.

In life, it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react to what happens to you

[01:01:24] Dr. Haseltine: Yeah. You know, that is so important, the humor element. And it illustrates, I think, maybe the most important principle of everything we’ve been talking about. In life, it’s not what happens to you. It’s how you react to what happens to you.

And I’ll give you an example from my own life. After 9/11, congress said the different intelligence agencies and the FBI weren’t talking to each other and cooperating, and they were completely fractured and nonunified, and we needed to fix that. So they created this thing called the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

And I was the first associate director of that entity in charge of science and technology. And my job was to get all the intelligence agencies and the FBI, and everything in the military to all come together around a common purpose. And so, after a couple years in that job, I had succeeded in making all the intelligence agencies hate me. Because I had the authority of money. I could say, I’m taking your money, and I’m going to give it to someone else. And everyone agreed on one thing. They all hated me. And I said to my deputy, I said, we’ve succeeded! We’ve unified them. They all hate us! Yay!

And so, you know, that was a kind of a not good situation, right? But on the other hand, seeing the humor in it really, we kinda laughed, you know, and if you don’t have that perspective and you don’t have that humor, it’s very difficult to take the stressors in life.

But there is humor in everything. Like I said, in this horrible situation where literally, you know, the head of the NRO was calling the president saying they should fire this guy Haseltine because of blah, blah blah. You know, it was pretty stressful. But there was humor in it too that we definitely did unify the intelligence community and that was our mission, you know?

And so, humor is really important. And seeing the humor in things that otherwise would be, hard and cake.

[01:03:24] Dr. Gilbert: Yeah. And we have no control over our family or who our family members are, but we have control over who our friends are. For me, I surround myself with friends that have humor with whom I can laugh. Also, genuine friends with whom I can share deep things, and it’s reciprocal where we can equally share. We don’t want a friend that will talk all the time, and you don’t have any time to say anything, or somebody who is too serious. You want somebody that can talk part of the time. You talk another part of the time, you share deep thoughts and deep feelings, and you laugh about life. That’s the kind of friends that I would recommend you pick if you can. That makes a big difference to have somebody to talk to and laugh about life with.

[01:04:17] Dr. Patti: And to be that friend to people too. Like you said earlier, doing things for others increases your own happiness, and if you can be someone people can laugh with.

[01:04:26] Dr. Haseltine: yeah. Even in the darkest circumstances. If you read Solzhenitsyn, who wrote, you know, The Gulag and the first circle and all these really dark books about the dark side of the Russian psyche. He said that he and the other zeks, the prisoners in the Gulag, would sit around in the freezing cold, joking. And they tried to come up with the best joke. And the best joke he said was, you know, in Russia, death is no joke. Life is no joke, either. And so even these, you know, prisoners in the Gulag, part of how they survived the awful conditions was to find humor in it.

[01:05:07] Dr. Patti: Do you have any more questions, Amir?

[01:05:10] Amir: I’m just super excited about the message. Happiness is a choice. So whoever listens to that, whatever situation you may have in your life, we have enough evidence to suggest that it is still a choice. And it looks like the way, keep me honest guys, is what we spoke about. The things we can do to cultivate happiness , but there’s also the other side of the spectrum, which is what may be the reasons we are unhappy.

[01:05:38] Dr. Patti: Any final words of wisdom or kind of a summing up your message you’d like to put out there to people about happiness?

Happiness is a choice. It is not a passive perception. It is an active behavior.

[01:05:48] Dr. Gilbert: Yeah. Happiness is a choice. If you compare, you always have a choice to compare with somebody that has more than you or somebody that has less than you. Choose to compare yourself with somebody that has less than you, and then you’ll be happier.

It’s always a choice, and everybody has seeds of happiness inside of them. Just cultivate those seeds. Find what makes you happy, and at the end of the day, just reflect on what has made you happy today for better sleep. And also, everybody has seeds of unhappiness. You don’t need to cultivate those. Just choose to cultivate those seeds of happiness. And if you have a lot of energy around unhappiness, use boxing gloves and a punching ball and get your anger out this way. And then you can focus on happiness.

[01:06:44] Dr. Haseltine: And my parting words would be that happiness is not a passive perception. It is an active behavior.

[01:06:51] Dr. Patti: Wow. So many powerful messages in this recording. We really really appreciate your time and all that you bring to the world, the beautiful energy that you share between the two of you, and out to everybody. So thank you.

[01:07:05] Dr. Haseltine: And you made us very happy this morning.

[01:07:07] Dr. Gilbert: Yes, very happy.

[01:07:08] Dr. Patti: Fantastic. Yes. And hopefully, all of you out there, it’s spread to you too. Have a beautiful and wonderful happy day.

[01:07:17] Dr. Haseltine: All right. Thank you.

[01:07:18] Dr. Gilbert: Thank you.

Leave a Comment