Science-Based Tools for Increasing Happiness | Huberman Lab Podcast #98


I explain the science of happiness, including the different types of happiness and how our actions, circumstances and mindset control them. While it is difficult to standardize happiness from one person to the next, I outline a structured framework of what is critical to increasing your innate “natural happiness,” including financial security, purposeful work and relationships, and I explain specific tools to increase internal happiness (so-called “synthetic happiness”). I review how specific types of human connection and attention to our choices (or lack thereof) can increase or undermine our level of happiness. I also discuss the importance of certain types of physical contact, gratitude, financial choices and volunteer contributions that research shows can maximize happiness. And I discuss how factors such as children, pets, physical well-being, substance use, prior traumas and life-phase milestones affect our quest for and depth of happiness.

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Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness:
A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind:
Eye contact marks the rise and fall of shared attention in conversation:
The Influence of Interactions with Dogs on Affect, Anxiety, and Arousal in Children:

Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence:
The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain Drives Love, Sex, and Creativity―and Will Determine the Fate of the Human Race:

00:00:00 Happiness
00:06:27 Tool: Light Exposure Timing & Brightness Timing
00:14:14 Thesis, InsideTracker, Helix Sleep
00:17:51 Imprecise Language for Happiness
00:20:26 Happiness: Neuromodulators & Neurotransmitters
00:26:32 Harvard Happiness Project
00:29:22 Income & Happiness; Social Interactions & Peer Group
00:37:20 Work, Sense of Meaning & Happiness
00:40:13 Toolkit for General Wellbeing
00:43:06 Happiness Across the Lifespan, Does Having Children Make Us Happier?
00:47:33 AG1 (Athletic Greens)
00:50:20 Birthdays & Evaluated Happiness
00:52:45 Smoking, Alcohol & Happiness
00:54:23 Trauma & Happiness, Lottery Winner vs. Paraplegic Accident
01:05:05 Synthesizing Happiness
01:09:18 Natural Happiness & Synthetic Happiness; Music
01:13:45 Tool: Synthesizing Happiness: Effort, Environment & Gratitude
01:24:50 Tool: Pro-Social Spending/Effort, Happiness
01:31:55 Tool: Focus, Wandering Mind & Meditation
01:39:40 Tool: Quality Social Connection
01:41:28 Brief Social Connection, Facial Recognition & Predictability
01:46:33 Deep Social Connection, Presence & Eye Contact
01:54:00 Physical Contact & Social Connection, Allogrooming, Pets
02:03:00 Freedom & Choice; Synthetic Happiness
02:11:57 Happiness Toolkit
02:22:00 Zero-Cost Support, YouTube Feedback, Spotify & Apple Reviews, Sponsors, Neural Network Newsletter, Social Media

Huberman Lab is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute the practice of medicine, nursing or other professional health care services, including the giving of medical advice, and no doctor/patient relationship is formed. The use of information on this podcast or materials linked from this podcast is at the user’s own risk. The content of this podcast is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should not disregard or delay in obtaining medical advice for any medical condition they may have and should seek the assistance of their health care professionals for any such conditions.

Title Card Photo Credit: Mike Blabac –

Date: June 19, 2024

34 thoughts on “Science-Based Tools for Increasing Happiness | Huberman Lab Podcast #98

  1. Have children!!!!!! It’s the best!!!!!! I love my son – he’s the greatest thing on Earth!!

    Haaaaaave them!!!!!!

    We need them – he’s 1.5 he will need a gf

  2. Absolutely excellent and compassionate in a well-educated and logical way, thanks Dr. Huberman for reminding me of the basic foundations of happiness. After so many traumas and poor sleep and physical pain, I've retained very little hope. Sound is extremely important. Creativity has vacated my life. I know that if I win the lottery, I'd like to resource the services of a team to reorganize my life and reform my thoughts during the day. Cheers and Thanks

  3. 🎯 Key Takeaways for quick navigation:

    00:27 🧠 Happiness is a complex concept that is difficult to define precisely, encompassing various emotions like joy, gratitude, and meaning.
    02:24 🛠️ Synthetic happiness, achievable through concrete steps, is as powerful as happiness derived from external achievements.
    04:48 🔄 Contradictions exist in happiness research, as pursuing certain goals like career success may conflict with factors essential for happiness like social connections and sleep.
    06:40 💡 Exposure to bright light in the morning and dim light at night significantly affects mood, focus, and sleep quality, with implications for overall happiness.
    13:19 🌞 Light exposure timing and intensity play a crucial role in regulating neurochemistry and hormones, impacting mood, sleep, and overall well-being.
    18:07 📊 Language inadequately captures emotions like happiness, highlighting the challenge of precisely defining and measuring happiness.
    20:32 🧠 Neurotransmitters and neuromodulators work in combination, impacting mood and happiness levels.
    21:29 🧪 Individuals with low baseline dopamine levels may experience lower self-reported happiness, while those with elevated levels might experience higher happiness.
    23:54 🧠 There's no singular chemical signature for happiness; it's a complex interplay of neurotransmitters and neuromodulators.
    27:40 💰 Total income doesn't directly correlate with happiness, but having enough to meet basic needs and access social interactions can buffer stress and contribute to happiness.
    37:38 ⏰ The amount of time spent working doesn't necessarily determine happiness; rather, the meaningfulness of work and its ability to provide resources for social connections can influence happiness levels.
    42:53 🔄 Future feelings are often poorly projected, but certain aspects of well-being change across lifespan, with a u-shaped curve pattern in happiness.
    44:48 💑 Parenthood doesn't universally increase happiness; those without children often report equal or higher levels of happiness, possibly due to factors like income, sleep, or personal time.
    47:05 📉 Birth rates and parental happiness are complex; factors like economic stability and personal choice play roles.
    48:03 🥤 Nutrition, particularly gut health, can influence overall well-being; products like Athletic Greens offer foundational nutritional support.
    49:02 📉 Modern shifts in life choices (e.g., later marriage, opting out of parenthood) may alter the traditional u-shaped happiness curve.
    50:29 🎂 People often report lower levels of happiness on their birthdays, reflecting comparisons to peers and a lack of reflection on life arc.
    52:51 ⚠️ Chronic smoking and alcoholism are strongly correlated with lower happiness levels, affecting not only individuals but also their family members.
    55:13 ⚡ Trauma, whether physical or emotional, can disrupt happiness, but resilience varies among individuals; major life events like winning the lottery or becoming paraplegic don't universally impact happiness the same way.
    01:05:06 🧠 Understanding happiness: We have more control over our happiness levels than we might think, thanks to insights from psychology, particularly from researchers like Dan Gilbert.
    01:06:05 🤔 Synthetic happiness: It's not about imagining happiness but understanding how our emotional and reward systems function, including concepts like hedonic set point and dopamine rewards.
    01:09:27 🌞 Two forms of happiness: Natural happiness involves acquiring things or achievements, while synthetic happiness can be self-created and is equally, if not more, potent.
    01:11:49 🎵 Environmental influence: Creating happiness involves both internal effort and external conditions, such as adjusting environmental factors like music or visual stimuli.
    01:19:26 🌿 Personalized happiness: Tailoring environments to individual preferences, such as adding plants or choosing preferred music, can significantly contribute to synthesizing happiness.
    01:23:42 🔄 Interplay of environment and emotion: Happiness and gratitude are influenced not only by internal factors but also by environmental interactions, emphasizing the importance of context in synthesizing emotions.
    01:27:26 🎁 Giving to others, known as prosocial spending, significantly increases happiness, independent of personal spending or income levels.
    01:29:17 💰 Employees who allocated more of their bonuses to prosocial spending experienced greater happiness, emphasizing the impact of giving on well-being.
    01:32:38 🧠 The ability to focus on the present activity significantly increases happiness, even during less enjoyable tasks, according to the study "A wandering mind is an unhappy mind".
    01:39:12 👫 Quality social connections, including brief interactions and shared experiences, contribute significantly to overall happiness and well-being.
    01:48:42 👁️ Mutual eye contact is not necessary for social connection; brief moments of eye contact can mark the rise and fall of shared attention in conversation.
    01:49:40 👀 Eye contact during conversation involves cycles of mutual gaze followed by looking away, indicating shifts in attention and engagement.
    01:52:27 🤝 Quality social connections, facilitated by face-to-face interaction and intermittent eye contact, contribute to increased happiness.
    01:54:19 🐶 Interactions with pets, such as stroking or grooming, can boost oxytocin levels and enhance feelings of well-being and happiness.
    02:02:25 🤔 Having freedom of choice is beneficial for happiness, but committing to choices and limiting alternatives afterward increases satisfaction with the chosen option.
    02:09:02 🧠 Evaluating choices and maintaining focus is metabolically demanding, impacting brain reward circuitry and influencing satisfaction with decisions.
    02:11:26 🤔 Focusing on our choices and investing in them as good or great ones is crucial for experiencing natural happiness, as constant evaluative decision-making prevents us from fully embracing the happiness associated with our choices.
    02:12:25 💰 While money itself may not buy happiness, it can alleviate stress and provide resources that enhance social bonds and meaning in work, underscoring the importance of financial stability.
    02:14:49 🤝 Happiness comprises meaning and connection, with tools like eye contact and presence enhancing social bonds, while understanding how actions impact others' well-being fosters pro-social connections and happiness.
    02:16:13 💼 Achieving happiness involves considering both natural and synthetic forms, where income that covers living expenses plus a buffer against anxiety is crucial, alongside efforts that lead to tangible outcomes and performance.
    02:19:31 💡 Natural and synthetic happiness both require attention and effort, with genuine social connections and being focused on present activities contributing significantly to overall happiness levels.
    02:21:26 🧘‍♂️ Building the

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  4. Kudos to Doctors Gilbert and Huberman for clarifying the study regarding the relative happiness of lottery winners and paraplegics. I have zero experience in winning large sums of money, but I do have the unfortunate experience of having been paraplegic for the past 17 years, and can attest to the wide array of negative impacts it has had on my physical and mental well being. I think, like anything, one’s personal experiences are going to play a large role in their level of happiness. For instance, I was already suffering from major depression when I was injured, and received poor health care afterward, which has lifelong implications. All I can say is that we should always strive to be kind and not judge others, for we have not walked in their shoes (or pushed their wheelchair). We’re all brothers and sisters and we’re in this together. Our physical and mental well being are dependent upon one another, and I wish you the best this life has to offer. Peace ❤

  5. I really enjoy your podcast, especially because you don’t talk way over my brain mass and I can actually learn and enjoy all that you put out in YouTube world. Thank you for sharing your talent/ knowledge/ experiences . 👍

  6. I respect A.H so much. The way he explains things with so many caveats must honestly be exhausting but he still does it. It shows his commitment to providing understanding to a huge range of people so that they they can apply this knowledge and benefit their lives. A true thinker rarely speaks in absolutes.

  7. Doctor Huberman, you had mentioned the joys of keeping freshwater aquariums and also had mentioned that you specifically keep freshwater, not salt. You had reasons for not keeping salt, but didn't get into it while in this specific topic. I was curious if you have any other podcasts where you go into hobbies and recreation and the risk to reward aspects they can have on our mind and body while putting energy, time and money into things like aquariums?
    The passion and hard work can bring an entertaining reward to see the life and energy from an aquarium in the house, especially something like a saltwater aquarium and elaborate maze for an octopus to solve.
    Saltwater definitely can be challenging to keep up.

  8. The piramide of Maslow and aknowledge the Peter Principle , praying , enjoying nature , enjoying your children and grandchildren, decluter , eat healthy , do some excercice , don't use drugs or alcohol, and be gratefull that you have no health issues, have healthy relationships, wil help you on your road to happiness. People who say money doesn't matter don't know what poverty does to you.

  9. As an avid seeker of happiness my whole life. I feel like I am an expert on this topic. I have tried my whole life to be in the state of happiness yet I was full of so much rage and anger because the people that I loved the most were not able to be happy despite the surrounding environment they created. They were full of childhood trauma which made them ultra insecure. I have been lucky enough to live my life unlike many and I have come to realize after many painful experiences that inner joy is the most special thing an individual can have. It starts from birth to about 4/5yrs then it's all programmed for life. Humans are so delicate and sensitive yet can become hardened by life and the rat race makes it so that many issues that were hidden away early on in an attempt to self heal have calloused over the years and hardened to an extreme that deep introspection is needed to get back to the point where happiness was derailed. Sadly not many people have the luxury of time to analyze themselves clearly. Unhappy people need a redo, a mulligan. They need to go to a "birth to 4year Redo seminar" retreat to get it right. We are all special and the Universe celebrated the day we were born and keeps on thinking we are the bomb but many of us don't want to believe what a higher force knows. Happiness is a state of mind that comes from inner love which is only attainable if the start was loving or if a person's inner conversation is knowing what a special being he/she is despite life's dealings. Life is most special in terms of impacting our soul in the beginning and end. If love is present during both parts happiness will thrive. People should appreciate the importance of the first four years but more crucial is the first yr I would argue, the time when our subconscious is stamped forever without us even realizing it and the next three to four years to come only add to it and how impactful it will make the in between, from start to end, all the more special. Making money, attaining material goods, feeling like ur better than others because u view urself as smarter, richer or more accomplished because of a degree or diploma is not fulfilling and most of this world is too concerned with bettering themselves materialistically and financially instead of giving back. Happiness is looking back on one's doing when no was watching and having a sense of pride because the right thing was done. So many people think buying things including ppl will make them happy or falsely better because they are special but it's anticlimactic when achieved because greed and selfishness are not worthwhile. Genuine smiles are a tell of a person's happiness just like forced smiles tell lots about what's going on with that individual and ultimately about that person intentions. So in conclusion if a being feels love mostly in the first years of life and is shown that they are great just like anyone and everyone of us is then happiness will reign and just as important if a person can see off a loved one at the end of their life's cycle it gives off so much energy that will return in form of happiness for the individuals left to go on until it's their turn. Love is intricate in happiness and most ppl have to slow down and appreciate life for how special it is. Soon we will have a chance to value what really matters, AI will help humans understand that the world's problems were a cause of human beings not being perfect and most beings being easily corruptible and selfish which only brought darkness to our world. Ironic how the happy kids grew up to be unhappy because they didn't attain financial success and how the unhappy kids grew up to be unhappy because they weren't happy kids and being accomplished adults left them feeling incomplete despite having the ability to buy anything. Happiness is one thing that is not for sale and takes lots of effort to attain. A person has to constantly sow seeds of happiness in actions of good throughout one's lifetime to be able to reap one of the most valuable things on earth…Happiness is attainable to all of us. Great news. Joy to the world. The more a person gives, the more a person feels for others, the more a person has values, honesty, truth, pride and love…the more happiness one will feel

  10. I sure hope that all of us who are benefiting tremendously from your “lectures” so immensely -take the time to tell you how helpful you have been to me. You are so incredibly knowledgeable it’s a pleasure and 😢unfortunate that ‘I didn’t know then what I know now’ ❤😊

  11. I absolutely in general agree or it doesn’t matter if i do, in anyway i find your words interesting and inspiring at least. So i have a question. Doesn’t matter if you were born or became a paraplegic, where you are born?

    In terms of social status/ wealth that can help or not?

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