Happiness and Plum Sauce
How could I not go to a talk entitled, “What Makes Humans Happy?” This talk was presented in Ketchum, Idaho a few weeks ago by Laurie Santos, Yale University Professor of Psychology. Her course called “Psychology and the Good Life” is apparently the most popular class at Yale in over 316 years. About 1200 students signed up. Sounded good to me!
As you can imagine, a 45-minute talk could not do justice to a semester-long twice-weekly lecture class. Nonetheless, there were still many nuggets that provoked thinking and talking among the very crowded, mainly post-college age audience.
Here are some of my takeaways from Dr. Santos’ talk:
We have to practice happiness; it takes work, everyday, to get happy, stay happy.
Sometimes our mind lies to us about what will make us happy. For example, having a lot, having more, materialism do not necessarily correlate with happiness. However, having “time affluence” might.
It is important to make time for social connection.
Helping others can make us happy.
Expressing gratitude everyday promotes happiness.
Good daily exercise helps one’s mood.
Savoring–being in the moment, enjoying something wonderful– is an upper.
Audience comments suggested two additional means to happiness:
establishing meaning and purpose in one’s life
being in a faith community
As a result of this lecture, I was inspired to take a Coursera course presented by Professor Santos called “The Science of Happiness.” I have just started it and so far I am liking it.
For the course notes, I just had to buy the folders pictured above. I know, I know–material possessions don’t necessarily correlate with happiness but if you have to buy file folders anyway, why not go with happy, fun ones.
And for this week’s homework assignment– savoring and gratitude–I made plum sauce from our very own plums that have been growing on our tree right outside our window; I savored every step of the process. Picking the fruit, washing and cutting it, simmering it, and then having a few dollops of it on my morning yogurt. What a gift from the earth! Thank you. I’m happy!