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June 10-12, 2024
Omni Boston Hotel at the SeaportBoston
June 10-12, 2024
Omni Boston Hotel at the Seaport,
Boston

20th Anniversary Interview Series

Innovating Through the Science of Happiness

Seth Adler w/Catherine Sanderson

What is the science of happiness? The idea of happiness as a science is hinged on positive psychology, a relatively new aspect of psychology that most people seem unaware of in their daily lives. In the past, psychology as a field was mainly focused on the negatives of life like depression, phobia, dysfunction, and the like, and trying to understand and fix these mental problems. However, the last two decades have seen an advancement in a different direction – positive psychology. Positive psychology is primarily focused on understanding positive emotions like joy, fulfillment, and meaning.



Catherine Sanderson talks about the basic building blocks of happiness and how happiness seems to be more easily attainable for some than others. "Happiness is probably pre-wired to some extent within people's genes and that means that some people have a head-start on finding happiness. These are people that can always find the silver lining no matter what."

Still, people can take definitive actions and decisions to increase their happiness level irrespective of their current level of happiness or genetic lottery. These actionable steps are the secrets to happiness; the practical things that are relatively easy for people to do in their daily lives. Sanderson goes on to say that happiness doesn't mean the same for everyone and what evokes this positive feeling for one might not be the same for the other. Regardless of this, some similarities apply to everyone. 

See Catherine at FEI. Register Now.

First, being a nature lover in whatever capacity quickens this feeling of happiness. It could be camping in the great outdoors or pausing to take in the scenery from your office window. Giving is another rewarding activity that increases our happiness level. There's no standard for this. You could donate to charity or volunteer your time whenever you can. Sanderson corroborated this by saying, "Research has shown that when you just think about giving a gift to a friend, it activates a part of the brain that is the exact same part of the brain that is activated when you do rewarding experiences." 

The last most important factor of happiness is relationships. Not necessarily the number of people by our side, but the quality of people we can have real and heartfelt conversations with when it matters the most. Positive psychology also applies in the business world. If we think about it, happier people are easier coworkers and bosses as they are more productive and easier to work with and for whether in an office or on a Zoom call. Think about the grumpy boss or constantly griping coworker. If they understood the science of happiness, then working with them would finally become a pleasure. This is the future that positive psychology proposes in our workplaces.

See Catherine at FEI. Register Now.

That being said, there are still some basic components that make up happiness. One would be the pleasure that comes from engaging in something we love. Then anticipation; when we look forward to something we hope to achieve and meaning, doing something that makes us feel purposeful. That's why those who innovate experience happiness because, in one dimension or the other, they spend their time engaging in behaviors that encourage long-lasting happiness and contentment with their lives.