A professor of happiness explains how to deal with COVID-19

By Harry Kretchmer World Economic Forum The global lockdown is taking a toll on mental health, with a recent poll in the US showing rising…

By Harry Kretchmer World Economic Forum

The global lockdown is taking a toll on mental health, with a recent poll in the US showing rising rates of stress and worry, while quarantining has resulted in symptoms of depression for some.

Fortunately, the internet is a wealth of advice on how to stay sane, and one of its breakout stars is Yale academic, Professor Laurie Santos, who has become a media fixture in recent weeks. Santos’ online course for e-learning platform Coursera, titled The Science of Wellbeing, has become a phenomenon, with more than 2 million students enrolled to date, and more than 40 million views of the course page.

She also has a thriving podcast – the Happiness Lab. In an interview for the World Economic Forum’s podcast, Professor Santos explains how her insights can help combat feelings of isolation and low mood, and what governments and businesses can learn too.

Mental health challenge

As Santos sees it, people are looking for mental health solutions because, unlike clear advice on handwashing and social distancing, it’s less straightforward to look after how you feel.

“Everyone’s feeling anxious and uncertain and kind of scared, and people just really want things they can do to feel better,” she says.

“I think the class really gives that: evidencebased tips you can put into practice today, that the research suggests will improve your wellbeing.” There is clear evidence that something is needed to help those suffering during the pandemic lockdown.

A recent survey by US pollster, Gallup, found almost 60% of Americans reporting feeling worried, up 20% on last summer, while the percentage considering their lives to be thriving had dropped to just under 49%, the lowest level since the 2008 financial crisis.

Track record

Santos had ample opportunity to road-test her approach before COVID-19 struck. In 2018, she started a new course, Psychology and the Good Life, at Yale. It rapidly became the most successful in the university’s history, with almost a fourth of the entire undergraduate community enrolled. She thinks students were simply “looking for evidence-based ways of improving their mental health.” Three decades of work have gone into collecting the evidence on which she bases her advice, rooted in researchers asking what are happy people doing?

These are 3 lessons that work…

1. Socialise

“Research suggests that happy people tend to be relatively social,” explains Santos. “This is a hard thing to do in the time of COVID-19 because social distancing often means we can’t physically hang out with the people we care about.”

However, she explains that technology can go a long way to help. “The research suggests that the act of hanging out with folks in real time, in other words, things like Zoom or FaceTime can be a really powerful way to connect with people. “You see their facial expressions, hear the emotion in their voice, you’re really able to connect with them.”

2. Help others

“Happy people tend to be really ‘other’ oriented,” Santos explains, meaning they focus on other people’s happiness rather than their own. “This is something that culturally can be a little confusing,” she says. “We have this idea of ‘self care’, and treating yourself.

“But the research suggests if you make people do nice things for others, like donate money, that tends to boost their wellbeing. “Doing random acts of kindness, particularly in this time when we’re all really struggling, can be incredibly powerful. It has a positive effect on society as well.”

3. Be present

In other words, practice mindfulness. “Happy people tend to be more mindful – present in the moment, noticing what’s happening to them,” says Santos.

“Meditation can be an incredibly powerful tool in the midst of this crisis because it causes you to focus on what’s happening in your body at the present moment. “Your mind can’t be ruminating about where you’re going to get your next roll of toilet paper or what’s happening with your elderly relative.

Businesses and policymakers

These simple but powerful insights into wellbeing are as relevant to companies and policymakers as they are to individuals, argues Santos, especially when millions of people are uniquely vulnerable.

“I think companies are starting to realise that the act of helping others can improve their own wellbeing,” she says, citing the decision of some firms to support good causes, or to let customers allocate part of their purchase price to a charity.

But she thinks there are broader lessons too: “One of the things that’s most powerful for policymakers to realise is that our own theories about what makes us happy might be wrong. “So our theory might be, ‘I’m just going to relax and focus on my own self-care’. But actually reaching out to a friend would be more helpful.”

She ends on an upbeat note. “Historically, we have gone through losses before. We’ve come out as a society better and more ready to do the things that we need to do – to build a better society and focus more on wellbeing in our own personal lives.”

Further reading:

Comment section

1,137 thoughts on “A professor of happiness explains how to deal with COVID-19

  1. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it.

    Look advanced to more added agreeable from you! However,
    how can we communicate?

  2. You’re so awesome! I don’t believe I have read a single thing like that before. So great to find someone with some original thoughts on this topic. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This website is something that is needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!

  3. Pretty great post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to mention that I’ve truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts.
    In any case I’ll be subscribing for your rss feed and
    I’m hoping you write once more very soon!

  4. Hey would you mind stating which blog platform you’re using?
    I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m having a difficult time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your design and style seems
    different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.

    P.S My apologies for getting off-topic but I had
    to ask!

  5. This is really interesting, You’re a very professional blogger.
    I have joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your excellent post.
    Also, I’ve shared your website in my social networks

  6. Thanks for the good writeup. It in truth used to be
    a entertainment account it. Look complex to far brought agreeable from you!

    However, how can we communicate?

  7. I feel this is among the so much vital info for me. And i’m satisfied studying your article.
    However wanna statement on some basic things, The website style is great, the
    articles is in point of fact great : D. Good job, cheers

  8. An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a co-worker who has been doing
    a little research on this. And he in fact bought me breakfast simply because
    I found it for him… lol. So let me reword this….
    Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending the time to talk about this matter here
    on your web page.

    Feel free to visit my web-site birthday cake coloring page

  9. My brother recommended I may like this blog. He was totally right.

    This post truly made my day. You can not imagine just how a lot time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  10. It’s totally fine to take pleasure in somebody with a full bush!

    There’s nothing at all incorrect with it, and it’s still generally on the climb as a preferred style in the
    porn community. Thus avoid end up ashamed or shy aside from the issue if
    it comes up. If you desire data, simply acquire a seem at HAIRYFILM.COM and you’ll search for a lot of
    of video tutorials featuring people who have proudly
    flaunt their pubic locks. After you find yourself
    intending for the hairy porn considerably more than certainly not
    generally, you’ll learn that getting a full bush is definitely
    naughty. Asian pornsites happen to be a fantastic example of this, since they show people entirely adopting
    their natural mane and possessing a blast with it. It’s like they
    have a tendency also caution about getting a few
    strands caught up in their tooth – all they care
    and handling about is definitely the satisfaction of allowing it all suspend out, simply the way aspect meant.

  11. Hi there to all, for the reason that I am genuinely keen of reading this website’s post to be updated on a regular basis. It carries pleasant stuff.

  12. I have read your article carefully and I agree with you very much. So, do you allow me to do this? I want to share your article link to my website: gate io

  13. My brother suggested I might like this website. He was entirely right.
    This post truly made my day. You can not imagine simply how much time I had spent for this info!

  14. The assignment submission period was over and I was nervous, baccaratsite and I am very happy to see your post just in time and it was a great help. Thank you ! Leave your blog address below. Please visit me anytime.

  15. I have read your article carefully and I agree with you very much. This has provided a great help for my thesis writing, and I will seriously improve it. However, I don’t know much about a certain place. Can you help me?

  16. Hello there, I discovered your website by way of Google whilst searching for a comparable
    subject, your web site came up, it looks good. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

    Hello there, just become aware of your blog via Google,
    and found that it is truly informative. I am going
    to be careful for brussels. I’ll appreciate if you
    continue this in future. Numerous people will likely be
    benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  17. Yesterday, while I was at work, my cousin stole my apple ipad and
    tested to see if it can survive a 40 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation.
    My apple ipad is now destroyed and she has 83 views.
    I know this is completely off topic but I had to
    share it with someone!

  18. Thank you for some other informative blog. Where
    else could I am getting that type of information written in such a perfect way?

    I’ve a venture that I am simply now operating on, and I have been at the glance
    out for such info.

  19. I do not know if it’s just me or if perhaps
    everyone else experiencing issues with your blog. It looks like some of
    the text in your content are running off the screen.
    Can someone else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them too?
    This may be a issue with my web browser because I’ve had this happen before.
    Thank you

  20. Hi my family member! I wish to say that this post is awesome, great written and include almost all significant infos.
    I’d like to look more posts like this .

  21. I’m often to blogging and i really appreciate your content. The article has actually peaks my interest. I’m going to bookmark your web site and maintain checking for brand spanking new information.

  22. I’m often to blogging and i really appreciate your content. The article has actually peaks my interest. I’m going to bookmark your web site and maintain checking for brand spanking new information.

  23. This is very interesting, You are a very skilled blogger.

    I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your excellent post.

    Also, I’ve shared your site in my social networks!

  24. Howdy! This is my first visit to your blog!
    We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new project in a community
    in the same niche. Your blog provided us valuable information to
    work on. You have done a outstanding job!

  25. Hi! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems with hackers?
    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing many months of hard work due
    to no backup. Do you have any solutions to stop hackers?

  26. Hackdra is a cyber security company that can provide smart contract auditing, pen-testing, bug bounty, blockchain, web3, DeFi, NFT, and ARM services with AI.

  27. When someone writes an post he/she retains the plan of a user
    in his/her brain that how a user can know it. Thus that’s why this post is great.

  28. Hackdra has completed the audit of the famous giant exchange. Successfully completed bsc audit ensured decentralized applications and smart contracts were free of vulnerabilities and security loopholes.

  29. Every weekend i used to pay a visit this site, for the reason that i wish for enjoyment, since this this web page conations in fact good funny
    information too.

    Have a look at my web blog blank april calendar; Shenna,

  30. Wow, fantastic blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
    you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is
    wonderful, let alone the content!

  31. I simply could not leave your web site prior to suggesting that I actually loved the
    standard information a person provide in your visitors?
    Is gonna be again incessantly to inspect new posts

  32. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d without a doubt donate to this outstanding blog!

    I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking and
    adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to
    brand new updates and will share this website with my Facebook group.
    Talk soon!

  33. Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Many thanks, However I am experiencing difficulties
    with your RSS. I don’t know why I cannot join it.
    Is there anybody else getting identical RSS issues? Anybody who knows the answer
    can you kindly respond? Thanks!!

  34. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you
    wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is excellent blog.
    A great read. I’ll definitely be back.

  35. With havin so much written content do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright violation?
    My site has a lot of unique content I’ve either authored myself or outsourced but it seems a lot of it is popping
    it up all over the internet without my agreement.
    Do you know any techniques to help protect against content from being ripped
    off? I’d certainly appreciate it.

  36. I used to be recommended this website by means of my cousin. I am not sure whether or not this put up is written by him as no
    one else recognise such certain about my difficulty.
    You’re incredible! Thank you!

  37. Have you ever considered about adding a little bit more than just your articles?
    I mean, what you say is important and all. But just imagine if you
    added some great graphics or video clips to give your
    posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with images and videos, this blog could certainly be
    one of the greatest in its niche. Amazing

  38. Психоаналитику важно использовать в своей
    работе собственное бессознательное.
    Для этого ему необходимо осознание личных комплексов, а также избегание сопротивлений, засоряющих восприятие психоаналитика, делающих его необъективным.
    Как продавать через интернет: идеи

  39. Have you ever thought about including a little bit more than just your articles?
    I mean, what you say is important and everything. However think about
    if you added some great visuals or video clips to give your posts more, “pop”!
    Your content is excellent but with pics and clips, this site could certainly be one of the greatest
    in its field. Amazing blog!

  40. Useful info. Fortunate me I discovered your site by chance,
    and I am shocked why this coincidence did not came about in advance!
    I bookmarked it.

  41. Hi, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and
    i was just curious if you get a lot of spam feedback?
    If so how do you protect against it, any plugin or anything you can recommend?
    I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any help is
    very much appreciated.

  42. Hey there just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few
    of the images aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I think
    its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show
    the same results.

  43. Its such as you read my mind! You appear to know a lot
    approximately this, such as you wrote the e book in it or something.
    I believe that you simply could do with some % to drive the message home
    a bit, however instead of that, that is magnificent
    blog. A fantastic read. I’ll definitely be back.

  44. Wonderful website you have here but I was curious if you knew of
    any message boards that cover the same topics discussed here?
    I’d really love to be a part of group where I can get comments from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest.
    If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Thanks!

  45. Hello i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting anyplace, when i read this article
    i thought i could also create comment due to this good post.

  46. An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a co-worker who
    had been conducting a little research on this. And
    he actually bought me dinner due to the fact that I stumbled upon it for him…
    lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks
    for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to talk about this topic here
    on your site.