Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Can podcasts make us happy?

Alexandra Schwartz offers some comments on two positive psychology podcasts that take a quantitative view of the quest to be happy. I suggest you read the whole article in the New Yorker. Here are a few clips:
...There are well-being podcasts galore, but the ones that seemed most worthy of consideration for limited listening time are hosted by psychologists and neuroscientists who have professional purchase on the subject.
Laurie Santos, the host of “The Happiness Lab,” podcast which is produced by Pushkin, is an upbeat Yale psychologist whose course Psychology and the Good Life is the most popular class in the college’s three-hundred-year history...One reason for such popularity is obvious: like the rest of us, but more so, undergrads are under-rested and overworked, and need help making their lives more of a joy and less of a misery. Another reason becomes clear when you listen to the podcast: the class is a gut.
The Science of Happiness” is hosted by Dacher Keltner, a psychologist who runs Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, which co-produces his podcast with PRX. The show, currently in its sixth season, is straightforward about its self-help proposition; episodes have alluring titles like “Do You Want to Be More Patient?” and “How to Love People You Don’t Like.”
Listeners seem to enjoy these podcasts. Their iTunes ratings are high. They have similar strong points; both hosts are accomplished and likable, and you tend to learn a little something, even if you already knew it. (You probably understood that too much of a good thing reduces your pleasure in it; now you can call that the “hedonic treadmill.”) And they have similar flaws. The main one, I’m sorry to say, is that they are boring. An oddity of the scientific approach to happiness is that it can seem, to the laypeople among us, to be reinventing a wheel that has been turned, for thousands of years, by the world’s great religions, philosophers, novelists, and poets. Santos recognizes this; the show is currently in a “mini-season” that deals with thinkers such as Aristotle, Plato, Epictetus, and the Buddha.
Her points about becoming habituated to and bored by a particular presentation regime mirror my own experience with the two instructional apps I have reviewed on MindBlog, Waking Up, and Healthy Minds.

1 comment:

  1. Deric,

    Your posts are often the most interesting thing I come across in a day. Thank you.