Laurie Santos (@lauriesantos) is a professor of psychology at Yale University, instructor of Coursera’s The Science of Well-Being course (adapted from her popular Psychology and the Good Life course at Yale), and host of The Happiness Lab podcast.
What We Discuss with Laurie Santos:
- Happiness is actually a set of skills we can learn and master as opposed to some ideal state of being.
- While there’s no denying that genetics and circumstances play a role in happiness, the good news is that we’re in control of developing the mindset and behavior to mobilize it.
- The mechanisms by which people become happy (or miserable), and some tools we can use to to hack our own happiness.
- The bad news: we outgrow the rush of the happiest days of our lives; the good news: we outgrow the anguish from the worst days of our lives.
- Why Olympic bronze medalists are often happier than silver medalists.
- And much more…
Like this show? Please leave us a review here — even one sentence helps! Consider including your Twitter handle so we can thank you personally!
What does it mean to be happy? Is it a blissful state of being, or can we learn and master the mindset, skills, and behavior to make it occur more naturally and more often in our lives? Today’s guest demonstrates that happiness is really the latter, and shares practical advice to make us more happiness prone for the benefit of ourselves and others.
Dr. Laurie Santos is a professor of psychology at Yale University whose expertise is human cognition and the cognitive biases that impede better choices. She’s best known for her course, Psychology and the Good Life, which teaches students what science says about how to make wiser choices and live a life that is more fulfilling. This has been Yale’s most popular class in over 300 years, and has been adapted into a free Coursera course, The Science of Well-Being, that has been taken by 3.5 million people. Her podcast, The Happiness Lab, launched in 2019 and has over 44 million downloads. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
Please note that some of the links on this page (books, movies, music, etc.) lead to affiliate programs for which The Jordan Harbinger Show receives compensation. It’s just one of the ways we keep the lights on around here. Thank you for your support!
Sign up for Six-Minute Networking — our free networking and relationship development mini course — at jordanharbinger.com/course!
This Episode Is Sponsored By:
- Cuts Clothing: Get 15% off at cutsclothing.com/jordan
- Peloton: Learn more at onepeloton.com
- Blue Nile: Learn more at bluenile.com
- Boll & Branch: Get 15% off your first set of sheets with code JORDAN
- Nuun: Get 25% off your first order with code JORDAN
Miss our show with Silicon Valley royalty Jason Calacanis? Make sure to check out episode 100: Jason Calacanis | Advice from the Most Successful Angel Investor!
Thanks, Laurie Santos!
If you enjoyed this session with Laurie Santos, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- The Happiness Lab | Pushkin Industries
- The Science of Well-Being | Coursera
- The Comparative Cognition Laboratory | Yale University
- Laurie Santos | Website
- Laurie Santos | Instagram
- Laurie Santos | Twitter
- Laurie Santos | YouTube
- The Stoic Art of Negative Visualization | Daily Stoic
- Why Olympic Bronze Medalists Are Happier than Silver Medalists | Boing Boing
- A Silver Lining | The Happiness Lab
- Deep Dive | How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People | Jordan Harbinger
- Why We Suffer and How to Manage It | Deep Dive | Jordan Harbinger
- The Unhappy Millionaire | The Happiness Lab
- Full of Heart: My Story of Survival, Strength, and Spirit by J.R. Martinez and Alexandra Rockey Fleming | Amazon
- Focalism | IResearchNet
- The Impact Bias: How to be Happy When Everything Goes Wrong | James Clear
- Immune Neglect: A Source of Durability Bias in Affective Forecasting | Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
- Daniel Gilbert | Twitter
- Managing Yourself: Turn the Job You Have into the Job You Want by Amy Wrzesniewski, Justin M. Berg, and Jane E. Dutton | Harvard Business Review
- At What Price Happiness? $75,000 | Inc.com
- Clay Cockrell | Walk and Talk Counseling
- Don’t Accentuate the Positive | The Happiness Lab
- The Book of Delights: Essays by Ross Gay | Amazon
554: Laurie Santos | Practical Lessons from The Happiness Lab
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:02] Laurie Santos: It's not that, circumstances matter zero. If you're in truly traumatic circumstances, yeah, changing your circumstances is probably going to help a lot. But for most of us, we're not in those dire circumstances, right, you know? Like not being able to get the newest PlayStation is not like the Yemeni trauma you're talking about. And so I think we want to be careful. It's not that circumstances don't matter at all. It's that 99.999 percent of the people listening to this podcast right now are probably in circumstances where changing them drastically isn't going to matter for their happiness as much as they think.
[00:00:39] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with people at the top of their game, spies and psychologists, astronauts, and entrepreneurs, even the occasional former Jihadi, rocket scientist, or extreme athletes. And each episode turns our guests' wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better critical thinker.
[00:01:05] If you're new to this show, or you're looking for a way to tell your friends about it, we have episode starter packs. Now, these are collections of your favorite episodes organized by popular topics and that'll help new listeners get a taste of everything that we do here on the show. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start to get started or to help somebody else get started. And I always appreciate it when you share the show with others. That's what keeps the lights on. Keeps my kid in fresh diapers.
[00:01:30] Today, Dr. Laurie Santos, professor of psychology at Yale University, her expertise is human cognition and the cognitive biases that impede better choices. So right up our alley for the show here. She's best known for her course, Psychology and The Good Life, which teaches students what science says about how to make wiser choices and live a life that is more fulfilling. It's actually Yale's most popular course in over 300 years. Which kind of makes me wonder what the last most popular course was. It's probably like bloodletting or something like that. Anyway, she's also the host of The Happiness Lab. Many of you also listened to that from what I understand. Today, we'll learn that happiness is actually a set of skills, as opposed to some ideal state of being. We'll explore the mechanisms by which people become happy or miserable and gain some tools to hack our own happiness. Of course, I also wanted to challenge some of the feel good crap that we constantly hear about when it comes to happiness, how to become and stay happy. So you can expect some of that in here as well. Nobody's getting too happy on my watch.
[00:02:26] And if you're wondering how I managed to book these great authors, thinkers, creators, teachers, every single week, it is because of my network. And I'm teaching you how to build your network for free. And by the way, being social and having a wide range of social connections helps make you happier, just saying. The course is free. It's at jordanharbinger.com/course. And most of the guests on the show, they subscribe to the course and contribute to the course. So come join us, you'll be in smart company where you belong.
[00:02:49] Now, here's Dr. Laurie Santos.
[00:02:54] You teach a course on happiness at Yale. And the first thing that comes to mind is, is it actually possible to teach happiness? Because it sounds too many, and I sort of put myself in that camp a few years ago, it sounds so many, like this is something you are, or you're not, it's not a skill set, right?
[00:03:09] Laurie Santos: Yeah. I mean, this is something that so many people think. In fact, so many people think that people had to do research on this, right? Is it just the case that some people are just genetically predetermined as happy or unhappy? And it turns out that if you ask whether happiness is heritable, in other words, there's some part of your genes that's coding for it. The answer seems to be both, yes and no. Yes, there is some part of happiness. That's heritable. If you came from parents who were super happy and grandparents who were super happy, you're more likely to be a little bit happier. But it's not as heritable as most traits, it's probably less heritable than something like your height or even your weight. And we know that that has obviously a huge influence based on what you're eating and stuff. And that's really good news, right? Because it would suck if happiness was just built in and you knew you were kind of screwed.
[00:03:53] Jordan Harbinger: Well, yeah.
[00:03:53] Laurie Santos: So that's kind of one piece of good news. The other piece of good news. It doesn't seem like happiness also comes from our circumstances. Because maybe you might have some flexibility in terms of your genes, but you're born into poverty or you're born into some yucky circumstance. And so the good news is that happiness doesn't seem to be just in our genes. And it doesn't seem to be just in our circumstances. There seems to be a lot of wiggle room based on our behavior and our mindset. And that's great because it means we can teach it. We can get better. It's good news.
[00:04:19] Jordan Harbinger: Right. It means if we don't have it, then we can change it, which is great. Especially, look, my heritage is Jewish. Nobody in my family's happy. Even the happy ones aren't happy, right? Okay. Like my grandma and grandpa, if you're happy, they're like, "Hey, don't do that. You got to knock it off." Like that's part of our culture. Don't get too happy because something's going to go. It's a joke, but it's also kind of not a joke because when your whole family is kind of like, "Hey, don't celebrate now." It's like you learn. I feel like, especially in a lot of these old families, not just Jewish people, but like old sort of old world families, they kind of — I don't know where, what your heritage is. I can sort of assume, but there's something with older folks that come from Europe and other places like that, they're kind of like, "Hey, calm down." That's like the whole vibe when you're a kid it's like, "Calm down. You never know what's going to happen." And Asians have the same thing, there are Chinese Proverbs that are like a man fell off his horse and broke his leg. And they said, "Oh, it's so terrible. Your son broke his leg." And it's like, "Not yet." And then the army comes by and is recruiting — so it's like, all these Chinese Proverbs are like, "Don't get happy about anything, but also don't get sad about anything. Just stay as vanilla as you can.
[00:05:19] Laurie Santos: Yeah. Well, I grew up, I grew up Catholic and they filled in the guilt, you know? "Oh, you're feeling happy." Like now there's a guilt set—
[00:05:24] Jordan Harbinger: You're going to hell. You're happy? Well, you're screwed now. Yeah. It's from the devil.
[00:05:28] You also think like, look, achievements, very apropos, the Olympics are just wrapping up here. The achievements that people have in life can make you happy. Right? I remember when I was young, I was like, "If I just had a girlfriend, I'd be so much happier." And if when you're broke and you're unemployed, you're like, "I just need this job. I need this raise. I need this promotion," and the Olympics, right? The gold medal, you see these, and you mentioned this in your work — we'll get to it in a bit — but like the silver medalist, they're just crushed. Their life is over even though they're the second best in the entire world by one-tenth of a second and whatever they've been training for their whole lives, and they're just like, "My life is done. I hate it."
[00:06:03] Laurie Santos: Yeah.
[00:06:03] Jordan Harbinger: The achievement thing is weird because it's like, you should get happy from that. And then you don't. You win the lottery and you're depressed.
[00:06:10] Laurie Santos: Yeah. It's pretty messed up. I mean, this is the weird thing about happiness. It's not that we don't have any theories about how it works. We definitely think there are things that could happen in our lives that would make us really happy. I think if I won the lottery today and I had $800 billion, definitely be happier. Maybe if I was a gold medalist, definitely be happier, right? It turns out if you go out and you study people who have had those good things happen, right? We can bring lottery winners into the laboratory and test their happiness. We can study different Olympic medalists. What you find is that the happiness that you predict you're going to get, it's never as high as you think, but also more importantly, you're never as happy for as long as you think.
[00:06:49] I mean, this is a big misconception. We think happiness is like happily ever after. You know, I'll get a girlfriend, I'll be happy forever, or I'll win the lottery and be happy forever. And most of the time, people just go back to their baseline after circumstantial changes. So you win the lottery, the Tuesday you win the lottery is a freaking awesome day, right? When you win $150 million on that Tuesday, that day is an awesome day, but it turns out — the research has studied this. If you go back six months later to people who've had that happen a year later, their happiness is basically back at baseline. Like it goes back really much more quickly than you think.
[00:07:22] That's kind of the bad news, but the good news is that the same thing happens for bad stuff. You know, you might predict, I found out I had lung cancer, like that would suck. If I lost my job, that would suck in. If I lost my relationship, that would suck. But it turns out when you study people for whom those bad events really happen, what you find is that they too go back to baseline, it might suck that afternoon you find out you have lung cancer, that's a crappy afternoon, but then, you know, six months later, one year later, you're often happier than you think. And the crazy thing with the bad events is that sometimes those bad events really convince you what's meaningful in your life. What your purpose is?
[00:07:59] I mean, you think some of us are going through this in the pandemic where we're thinking, I've learned something about what I want out of life. I've learned something about—
[00:08:06] Jordan Harbinger: Oh yeah.
[00:08:06] Laurie Santos: —how much I really want to be spending time commuting or things like that. You know, people are making these changes that ultimately will make their life better, but those changes came out of something that we all would describe as traumatic that we wouldn't wish on the society.
[00:08:18] Jordan Harbinger: I got to be honest. My lessons from the pandemic are probably pretty pedestrian. Like, "I've never taken travel for granted again," but also I am going to enjoy the sh*t out of the next trip that I'm able to take. That is fact.
[00:08:30] Laurie Santos: Totally.
[00:08:30] Jordan Harbinger: And I think every time I'm on my way to the airport for the next 20 years, I'm going to be like, "Remember, when we just couldn't do this." We'll all be stuck at a gate or on the tarmac, and they'll be like, "You can't pee for 10 hours," and I'll be like, "I'm going on a trip." I'm going to be so ready for that. Of course, I'll also, what is it? hedonically adapt and go back to baseline and be like, "This food sucks on the airplane," but still I'd like to think that I'm just going to be so ready to get the hell out of my kitchen after all this, that I'm never going to forget it.
[00:08:59] Laurie Santos: And I think that this is, you know, I feel the same way about like concerts and movies, right? You know the next movie I can go to without worrying that I'm like breathing in some sort of horrible thing that's going to kill me. Like that's going to feel amazing. And I think this is the power of something that really can change our happiness, not the circumstance. It's not that you're getting this new event where you're going on a trip or you're kind of being in a movie theater. What's changing is the fact that you're experiencing a different mindset about that event. You are grateful for it in a way that you never ever were before. And I think that that's another strange thing that the pandemic is going to do. At least the first time we get these things, we're going to experience so much more joy than we ever had before.
[00:09:37] Even during the process of this pandemic, as you get to a point where things are feeling safer, people are vaccinated and things, like the first time I gave my mom a hug, I could see her in person and give her a hug, that felt amazing. The first time I went back to my coffee shop that I love so much and just like walked in. I mean, I'd gotten there thousands of times and taken it for granted, but that first time back felt so.
[00:09:58] And there are techniques we can use to do that more often, right? One technique, that's actually an ancient technique that the ancient Stoics used to suggest that we do this.
[00:10:07] Jordan Harbinger: They're trending right now. Funnily enough.
[00:10:08] Laurie Santos: Yeah. They're big. They're big. Yeah. And they're smart, right? They suggested this process called a negative visualization. I mean, this is what the Stoics thought you should do when you wake up in the morning, you should think, "You know, my partner is going to leave me. I'm going to lose my job. I'm going to lose my house. I'm going to like break some part of my body that I really need. You know, I'm going to get isolated and kicked out of all of society." And then you open your eyes and you're like, "Wait, that hasn't happened. That's amazing." And so the idea of negative visualization is like, maybe we don't need to go through an 18-month global pandemic to appreciate going to the airport and going to the movies.
[00:10:41] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:10:42] Laurie Santos: You can kind of imagine it and simulate it and just remember what you really miss in life. You know, just kind of remember what you should be grateful for, but sometimes aren't as much as you should be.
[00:10:51] Jordan Harbinger: Now, we know where the Catholics and the Jews and all the other folks got their visualization techniques, their self-talk, from the Stoics.
[00:10:59] Let's talk about the silver medalist. Right? I kind of touched on this before. I thought this was really interesting that silver medalists are extremely unhappy, on the hold extremely, unhappy that they didn't get gold, but bronze medalists seemed to be super happy and that silver medalist years later, they even die younger, which is so sad somehow. Right? Usually you're not totally wrecked by getting a silver, you're behind by like a fraction of it. You slipped slightly when you were diving into the pool, and that was the end of it. You never had a chance, but you've beaten that time a million other times during practice, right? You're basically number one, you just weren't that one particular day. The entire trajectory of your life is totally screwed from thereon.
[00:11:38] Laurie Santos: Yeah. And surprisingly, that is what the science shows. It's really depressing when you really look at silver medalists. And again, you think of what got them there. They had this moment where like they're getting into the Olympics, they're going to represent their country. They'd be there.They're part of a big team and now you're going to actually play at that level. You beat like pretty much everybody, every other country, except one and you can't enjoy it. And the reason behind that is that we don't tend to think of the good things in our lives objectively. Like you might think, I want to be objectively at a certain wealth or objectively at a certain performance level, but our brain just can't hold onto things objectively.
[00:12:13] Our brain has to use what's called a reference point. Like, who can I compare myself to and see how I'm doing with my income, with my looks or in this case with my performance in the Olympics? And you know, if you're a silver medalist, there's a very salient, other reference point out there, which is the gold. Like you almost, almost got there if it weren't for that one other person. And rather than feel at the top, when you compare yourself against the one person who's better than you, you feel like crap, you know, you feel awful. And that's why, when you look at the — scientists have done these things where they look at videotapes of silver medalists on the stand and kind of analyze facial expressions.
[00:12:48] And it's not just so much that they're not happy. They're actually showing emotions like contempt to disgust, deep sadness, anger. They're miserable, but what's shocking and what it tells, shows you the power of these reference points is that you might predict given how sad the silver medalists are. If you look at the bronze medalists, that they'd be even more miserable after all, you know, they were many seconds from winning, right?
[00:13:09] Jordan Harbinger: Bro, you weren't even close. Right? And you weren't even close.
[00:13:13] Laurie Santos: But it turns out not. So, in fact, in some of the analyses, the bronze medalists look even happier than the gold medalist. And the reason there, again, gets back to reference points. Like what's the bronze medalist reference points? It's not silver or gold. You know like gold was really far.
[00:13:26] Jordan Harbinger: It's the forgotten into obscurity forever slash you know, like, never even—
[00:13:30] Laurie Santos: Yeah, it's like, "Two seconds away and I'd be going home empty handed. My whole life was weaving up to this moment and I could have walked away with literally nothing." So they are stoked. Their reference point was telling them that everything's great. And this is such a powerful message, I think for all of us, right? Because if you're comparing yourself money-wise against Jeff Bezos, if you're comparing yourself, looks-wise, against like Beyonce. If you're picking this reference point, that's going to make you feel like crap, you're going to feel like crap. But there are also lots of other reference points out there that you could be using to feel good about yourself. And it's powerful because there's all these cases in which we're objectively doing great.
[00:14:07] You know, so many people listening to this podcast are objectively, probably pretty healthy, objectively doing okay, you know, a roof over your head and these kinds of things, but we don't tend to compare ourselves to people who are doing worse than that. We don't tend to recognize it. And that means we're missing out on the happiness that our actual objective circumstances could be giving us, but are not.
[00:14:25] Jordan Harbinger: I want to get back to comparisons in a second, although I will say I do have a better jawline than Beyonce. But what does happy even mean? Maybe we should back up for a second. Because I think people are going, "Cool, scientist studies this thing that you can't even measure. Nice try. You're just trying to make me feel better." So how do we — I mean, obviously you've gone through painstaking measures to figure out how to measure this, or the whole thing is for none, right?
[00:14:48] Laurie Santos: Yeah. Yeah. Honestly, I mean, this is like a real problem with the field, right? Like I wish we had some sort of thermometer for happiness and I could stick it in your mouth and be like, boop, boop, boop. Like you're 98.6 on happiness. The honest answer is we don't, but we do have great techniques that researchers have come up with that seem to be pretty valid. In other words, they're like measuring something that we think is real and they also seem to be pretty reliable. In other words, if I give you different ones of these, I get kind of the same answer, right? If you put your thermometer in your mouth and every time you measured it, different temperature, you'd be like this thing's broken.
[00:15:19] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:15:20] Laurie Santos: The happiness instruments, we have these self-report instruments, like they actually give us the same answer, which is really telling. But what this really important experimental technique is, is just to ask people if they're happy, is to ask people two things about happiness. One is kind of, are you happy with your life? You know, all things considered. Are you satisfied with your life? That's kind of one of the sort of questions people use. The other thing they ask you is if you're happy in your life and that's kind of the emotions you experience. I literally give you a list of emotions, happy, sad, angry, sad, whatever. And you say, on a scale of one to seven, how often do you experience those. And that can feel like a silly Buzzfeed quiz, you know, when I explain it.
[00:15:58] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, totally like a Cosmopolitan—
[00:16:00] Laurie Santos: Yeah, exactly. But there's tons of research showing that your answer to that will predict something, like if I measure your stress hormones, or if I do like a detailed text analysis of your journals or your tweets or something like that, or if I do like super, super detailed interviews with your family members and ask them how you're doing. These things that sound like silly quizzes are actually real scientific instruments. And when we use them, we see what kind of moves the needle on those measures.
[00:16:26] Jordan Harbinger: So happy people tend to experience more positive emotions, obviously, right? And do we know what these emotions are? Is it like a specific subset or is it just over arching happiness?
[00:16:37] Laurie Santos: Yeah. Well, I think those two parts of happiness, this idea of being happy in your life and with your life, it's important to realize there are different constructs, right? You can be high on one and low on the other. You know, my academic dean who lives with me here in the college where I live at Yale, she and her wife just had a new baby. And she's really happy with her life. Oh my gosh, she's a new mom. This is amazing. But in her life, it sucks. Like, you know, the kids screaming and there's poopy diapers. It's just not good, right? So you can get that dissociation. I think you also, you know, go on Instagram and see the other dissociation. People who are really happy in their life. They're on planes and you don't have all the luxuries, but with their life, they're feeling really empty.
[00:17:18] And so what scientists are trying to do is maximize both. And the way you get to both is to kind of focus on what you were mentioning, which is these positive emotions. Just things like laughter, joy, delight, these kinds of things. Even things like kind of contentment, right? Just kind of work, chiller emotions. Those are all good. But I think another mistake we make about happiness is that we assume that we have to have those emotions in the absence of the negative stuff. It's not boost up the positive. It's like get rid of the anger and the sadness and the frustration. And what the research really shows is that that's not necessarily a path to happiness, a full, happy life, where we're sort of satisfied with your life. It actually comes with some negative emotions. They can teach us things there.
[00:18:01] Many of our negative emotions are really problem-solving emotions. Like when you get sad, it's not just something your body does to torture you. It's often telling you you're missing something in your life. Like you're maybe missing a person in your life, or you're not happy with your job and maybe you should do something to change it. Again, we think of these emotions as just we're stuck with them and they're torturing us, but they're almost like a little notification on our phones. It's telling us like, "Hey, something's amiss. Like you got to do something about this."
[00:18:28] Jordan Harbinger: That makes sense. I love the distinction between being happy in your life and being happy with your life. Like right now, I'm happy with my life. My wife's pregnant. I've got a two-year-old. Everyone's healthy. They're super cute. But in my day to day, I get up. I've slept okay because there's a baby crying, not great. I drink and eat a lot of the same stuff. I'm in the same kitchen. I'm in my studio. I can't go on a trip to Greece or anything like I've been overdue for five freaking years. You know what I mean? And it sounds so trite, so I don't even complain about it, especially not in public, on the show usually because people are like, "So I lost my job and my grandma died of COVID and you're whining about not being able to take a cruise to Greece. Like go eff yourself, Jordan." Right? So I don't say that stuff publicly, but I know a lot of people are feeling it. You know, they're sick of looking at their refrigerator and their laptop. As trite as it is, it's still a personal problem for a lot of people. But like with my path, look, set for retirement, business going great, family going great. Not a lot to complain about, but a hell of a lack of variety in my day to day. And I won't say I'm unhappy, but I'm certainly not waking up bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to attack the day. I need a freak vacation.
[00:19:36] Laurie Santos: And I think you're not alone. We can quibble and try to compare our levels of misery during COVID.
[00:19:42] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:19:43] Laurie Santos: But this hasn't been a unicorn ride for pretty much most people. Even if your circumstances are ostensibly good, often your routine has changed. Like your ability to go out and do things you enjoyed before has changed. Your social connections probably decreased because you haven't seen people you care about in so long, you know? And so these are real hits to our happiness. It's just not to say that things would be worse, obviously, if you lost a family member to COVID, definitely, but you know, that sucks. And I think one thing we need to do in the pandemic and we often haven't allowed ourselves to do is to like, feel the fact that it sucks. It takes some time to give yourself some self-compassion. Like, "I just lived through a world-wide global pandemic." Maybe not even live through because we're still kind of getting through it at the time you and I are talking.
[00:20:24] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I was going to say, where are you in the timeline? Yeah.
[00:20:27] Laurie Santos: Yeah. And so like that's crappy and giving yourself a little bit of grace about it being crappy, recognizing you're human and that those things are going to feel nasty, not running away from the nasty feelings, kind of sitting with them and sort of allowing them to be there. Those are processes that can help you get through the negative emotions. And then there are other strategies you can use to say, "All right, I can't go on my vacation right now, but how can I build a little bit more fun into my life, given the health constraints that the pandemic poses," and they're kind of active things you can do to feel better too.
[00:20:59] Jordan Harbinger: A lot of the people really are down in the dumps or clinically depressed, not just because of the pandemic, just generally, right? So they think that being happy is actually really far away from them. And from the emails that I get in my Feedback Friday in box, which is like an advice show that we do, a lot of people they assume — so let's say you stub your toe, you're unhappy in the moment kind of, or like you've been having a bad week or you didn't get a promotion you wanted, you're sort of like a quick turn to happiness in most people's mind. But if you're clinically depressed and you can't get out of bed, you view that turn to happiness, that is miles through this unknown maze of uncharted waters for you. But it seems like the research shows that's not necessarily true, right? It seems like you're not really any further away from making yourself happy or getting the skills to become happy or putting yourself in a happy place, along with treatment, of course, if you're in psychological distress. It just sort of seems like you're at the bottom of a well when really you're maybe about as far away as anyone else. Is that true to your observation?
[00:21:56] Laurie Santos: Yeah. I mean, I think a couple of things with that one is, it is the case that some people are in acute mental health distress. Right?
[00:22:02] Jordan Harbinger: For sure.
[00:22:03] Laurie Santos: And we need to recognize that. Often people will ask me about these kinds of things who are feeling acutely suicidal or in the middle of a panic attack. And the analogy often used — if you go to your doctor and you say, "Hey doctor, I have high blood pressure. What should I do?" The doctor might say, "Hey, hop on the treadmill. Eat healthy." If you walk into your doctor's office clutching your chest and I'm like, "I'm in acute cardiac arrest." Your doctor'sbe like, "Hey, hop on the tread—" you know, they're going to bring out the big guns and whatever. And so I think for some levels of mental health distress, this sort of treatment requires the big guns. And for those people who are suffering, we can talk about what those treatments look like. You really do need a sort of professional treatment. But for many of us, what we should be focused on is the high blood pressure part so we don't get to that acute level. What is the preventative medicine to kind of protect our mental health? And, you know, many of us think in terms of preventative medicine for our physical health, we're trying to eat healthier and get more exercise and things.
[00:22:57] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:22:57] Laurie Santos: I think we have to be just as proactive about our mental health, especially in such a nasty time, like the time we're living in right now, where we're not naturally getting the doses of social connection and the kinds of good feelings that we would normally be getting through vacations and the like. You kind of have to put more work in. You're just like you'd put work into your diet and exercise. You get to put work into your mental health too.
[00:23:16] Jordan Harbinger: Let's go back to lottery winners because this is so interesting. I think for a lot of people, none of us probably who are listening have won— well, you know, I'm sure, actually I take it back. I think somebody who's listening to this has for sure won the lottery and maybe experienced this, but the bulk of us haven't. Lottery winners are often unhappy because as you phrase it in The Happiness Lab, the episode about the lottery, people only think about what they have gained or what they will gain, not what that they will lose. And that was pretty insightful because, of course, when I'm thinking about the lottery, and I consider myself pretty — I try to mitigate bias, I would never think, what am I going to lose if I end up with $160 million. That would never even enter my mind at all. And if I did, it would be like, "Oh, I'm going to lose all of the bills that I have to worry about every month."
[00:24:01] Laurie Santos: Car payments out the door, yeah.
[00:24:02] Jordan Harbinger: I'm going to lose some of my neighbors that I really don't like that much when I moved to Bellaire. Right? Like, come on. But it turns out you lose a lot more than that it is unforeseen. And that seems like one of the major reasons these people end up unhappy. I'd love for you to speak to that a little bit.
[00:24:14] Laurie Santos: Yeah. I mean, when you, when you talked to real lottery winners, what happened? The first thing you lose often is like the normalcy of your social connection. You know, the easiest way to get a lot of weirdos to come out of the woodwork, from your Facebook friends, you don't want to talk to is to win the lottery. People show up and say, "Hey, I have this legitimate problem. How are you going to help me?" And you're like, "Crap, like who do I decide to help? How do I decide to help? Am I enabling people? Like, how do I make those decisions? How do I hurt people by sometimes saying no?" You forget, you can't hang out with your buds anymore in the same way. I don't know. That your favorite bar, coffee shop, you used to go to with your friends, you split the tab with chicken wings, they're looking at you, you're looking at them, right?
[00:24:53] Jordan Harbinger: Right. They're making $400. They're like, "You made $160 million. I am not paying for these f*cking chicken wings, man. These are your chicken wings."
[00:25:00] Laurie Santos: You'll have more opportunities come up or you probably want to move to a better place than the crappy apartment you live in. But now you're far from your friends and they come over and they feel like crap because their car, their furniture, their whatever is not as good as yours. And so you, you kind of lose this connection. And then you also have these kinds of moments where you lose time. Now, you got to hire a financial analyst and make sure you're investing it right and so on. I mean, these things don't sound like big losses, but if you look empirically, you find that a lot of lottery winners if you come back a year later are miserable, or at least just as happy as they were before. It doesn't make them happier, but you also find a lot of them that have committed suicide because things go so bad. You know, your marriage breaks down because it's had so many changes, your kids are upset, and so on. Sometimes it's going to know what you want to wish for, be careful what you wish for, I think the lottery is one of those.
[00:25:48] But the same is true for these awful events. In my podcast, I interview people who've been in accidents and you've been burned over three quarters of their body.
[00:25:57] Jordan Harbinger: That guy was amazing. I got to get that guy's email address at the end of the show. He was really something.
[00:26:02] Laurie Santos: And one of the studies is on people who've been in an accident and become paraplegic. You know, so if you're listening to this podcast in your car, imagine some bad happens, you're in a horrible accident and now you lose your legs. Right? What does that do to your happiness? Again, in the moment, it's going to suck. If this happens today, again, they have a pretty crappy afternoon, but when you go back to people for whom that's really happened, six months later, one year later, they say their happiness is as good as it was before. And sometimes they say it's the best thing that ever happened to them.
[00:26:31] You know, J.R. Martinez, the guy you're mentioning in my podcast who I interviewed, who is, you know, in war and he had a Humvee blow up. So he's burned over three quarters of his body. He lost his military career. He lost his looks. He was kind of a good looking guy before. Just his whole life was changed. And I said, "Would you change anything? Would you go back and make that Humvee not blow up?" And he was like, "No, I'm blessed. This has given me so many gifts that I wouldn't have imagined." And like, you don't think getting in a horrible car accident, becoming paraplegic, terminal cancer diagnosis, all these things, you don't think those are going to change your life for the positive, but the people who've actually experienced those things in a lot of cases will say, "Yeah, more good than bad came of that," which is shocking.
[00:27:14] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Laurie Santos. We'll be right back.
[00:27:19] This episode is sponsored in part by Cuts Clothing. I'm proud of the last three years. I hustled. I rebuilt the business with my team here. I lost like 30 pounds, became a dad. Through it all Cuts who sponsored The Jordan Harbinger Show early on, helped keep me feeling good and looking sharp as sharp as possible when you're stressed out and you're not sleeping much. I got to say I don't miss those early days a ton. Cuts basically makes the Tesla — can I say that? I'm saying that. The Tesla of t-shirts, hoodies, polos, sweatshirts, and more. My favorite is the classic PYCA Pro tri-blend tee, which GQ Magazine calls the only shirt worth wearing. I can get behind that. Now, that falls just around the corner, you can also catch me wearing Cuts Clothing, cozy Hyperloop, French Terry fabric hoodies, which has a temperature controlled material, very fancy and cutting edge.
[00:28:01] Jen Harbinger: This month marks the Cuts' fifth anniversary and they're doing it big with two collection drops, a product launch, and a week-long special event. Go to cutsclothing.com/jordan to get 25 percent off site-wide during their anniversary sale. That's 25 percent off site-wide at cutsclothing.com/jordan.
[00:28:21] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Peloton. I've been home a lot, like a lot, a lot, and there are many perks like watching movies from the comfort of my own couch, so I can pause, eat, talk when I want. Podcasting from my underwear or in my underwear, maybe right now. You'll never know. Some things are just better at home sweet home and Peloton delivers a workout experience you'd never thought was possible right in your own home. And better yet, I can create a full body workout that includes stretching, yoga, cycling, meditation, whatever Pilates, and way more. Jen loves the dance cardio, which well, frankly, it's hilarious to watch. That's all that is. When you purchase the Peloton bike, you can get access to live classes and thousands on demand, plus access to the app to get you moving anytime, anywhere with a bootcamp between nap, times, or ride before brunch, you can seamlessly fit Peloton into your life.
[00:29:04] Jen Harbinger: With the Peloton bike, there's nothing like working out from home. Learn more at onepeloton.com. New members can try Peloton classes free for 30 days at onepeloton.com/app. Terms apply. That's O-N-E-P-E-L-O-T-O-N.com.
[00:29:20] Jordan Harbinger: Now back to Dr. Laurie Santos on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:29:26] People's prediction of what's going to happen when they win the lottery or when a bad thing happens is off. So it happens both when we predict positive outcomes and when we predict negative outcomes from the sound of it, we think it's going to be greater, we think it's going to be horrible. And it turns out to not necessarily really be either of those things, but the disparity between what we think and hope will happen in the case of a good thing and what actually happens. Is that what's triggering the sadness and desperation? Like if I win the gold medal and I'm still me but now there's more expectations, but I'm still like, I'm not rich and famous anymore because it's been a year since the Olympics and nobody remembers my awesome ski jump, except for me and my coach. That seems what it would trigger it. That it seems like you really are placing too much pressure on this random singular event. And it just doesn't work.
[00:30:13] Laurie Santos: Yeah. It's a bias that like researchers call focalism.
[00:30:17] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:30:17] Laurie Santos: Like when you're thinking about winning the lottery, you're like, "Oh my God, I'm going to be rich." You're not thinking, "I'm still going to have to pay my taxes. I'm still going to, you know, my knees still going to hurt." Like, there's just stuff in life that's kind of a pain in the butt. Same thing, if you're paraplegic, there's still going to be laughter, spring's still going to come around, pizza still going to taste awesome. Right? Like you just forget that they're still going to be good things. So focalism means you focus on this one thing that you think is going to matter so much. But really the rest of life is going to be the rest of life.
[00:30:44] In my podcast, I do one episode on my Yale students. Yale is one of these places that students would give their arm to be able to get into. This is a school that accepts so few people. My students work so hard to get here. And I show these little videos, because now students these days, post videos of themselves doing embarrassing or sad moments. So students will videotape when they click on the link, "Did I get into Yale or not?" And then they'll post that on YouTube. And sometimes it's sad and sometimes it's really happy. And so I showed these videos of these students who like find out they get into Yale and completely freak out and are screaming. And my students will say, "Yeah, I freaked out. And that was an awesome moment." But about like 10 minutes later, I was like, "And now what? Like, "I was lonely. I lost all asleep. I got into this place," and like, "Now, I just have to be awesome there and get into medical—" So I think we place our accomplishments as, "This is going to happen and I'm happily ever after. I'll just be happy forever," but that's just not how life works.
[00:31:41] Dan Gilbert, the psychologist, who I interviewed, is fond of saying, "Happily ever after only works if you have 10 minutes to live," you know?
[00:31:48] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Which is a little, a little dark, Dan, a little dark. Yeah.
[00:31:51] What about impact bias? This is another sort of, along with hedonic adaptation, where we get used to stuff in return to baseline. Impact bias is another sort of useful term. Tell me about that.
[00:32:01] Laurie Santos: Yeah. Impact bias is kind of the idea that it's not so much that we're bad at predicting what we're going to feel when good and bad events happen. You know, I predict lottery is going to probably feel good for a little while, becoming paraplegic is probably going to feel bad for a little while. We kind of get the valence right. But we get the amount of that valence and the duration of that valence wrong. So what do I mean? Let's say, you win the lottery. You predict positive valence, it's going to feel positive, but it doesn't feel as good as you predict. You find out you get into Yale. You predict positive valence, but it's not as good as you thought. And the impact doesn't last for as long as you thought. You thought it was going to be fun for the rest of my life. It was for a couple of weeks when you get to brag to people you're going to Ivy League school and then it kind of goes old. So impact bias is this idea that we think the impact is going to be huge and lasts for a really long duration. And it's never as huge or for as long as we think. And again, that sucks in the positive direction. It means the lotteries and the getting into Ivy League schools of life don't feel great, but the same is true in the negative direction. It means the breakups and the losing the jobs and the getting awful medical diagnoses, those aren't going to hurt for as long as we think either, or as bad as we think.
[00:33:08] Jordan Harbinger: It takes some life experience to understand this though. Right? Because I remember going through things when I was like 18, 19 and being like, "No, you don't understand. I'm never going to get over this." And now I'm like, "What was that thing again?" And you know, even a few years later when someone like stole from me and it was like a close friend, I was so pissed. I helped him move. I gave him money and then he like ended up stealing from me. "I'm never going to be not mad at this person." And what's funny is like a few years later he texted me and he was like, "Hey man, I want to catch up with you." And I thought it would be so livid, but instead I was like, I don't even care about this guy. Like, I didn't even bother blocking his number. I was just like, "What a loser? Next." Like, I probably like went back to eating my lunch. It just didn't even register. A lot of the things that have made me the most angry or upset in my whole life, even just a few short years later, I'm like, "Well, that wasn't such a big deal," or, "That actually worked out really well for me." But the older I get, the easier it is for me to get there, because my timeline is stretched out. Whereas if I'm 12 and my mom won't buy me a Nintendo, I'm like, "My life is definitely going to take a different turn now that I don't have a Nintendo." Right? And now it's like, I can lose a job in a business, in a relationship and I'm like, "I will probably be fine in a couple of years."
[00:34:15] Laurie Santos: Yeah. I think we get better at it. The part is we have experienced with it. You break up with someone and you're like, "I'm never going to feel good again." And then, you know, two years later, you're fine. And then the next breakup happens, you can kind of look back to the other breakup and think, "Well, I guess with Joe, it got better, faster than I thought." And so you get little hints but for many of us, even that insight, doesn't generalize really fully. Like what it really means is like you're going to be the worst possible thing that you could imagine could happen to you. And it's actually not going to be as bad as you think. Many of us don't make that strong generalization and there's real evidence that even people who have the same thing happen again, don't generalize as much as they think.
[00:34:54] One of my favorite funny studies of this, because you have to find these moments where bad things happen to people that are not so bad, that you can kind of experimentally study and one study I looked at people who failed their driver's test multiple times. So, you know, people's going in for the driver's test and you're going to get licensed. Like how happy will you feel if you get it? How sad will you feel if you don't get? That people predict and then, you know, go through the stop sign, you fail. And then you say, "Well, how bad was it?" People say, "Oh, it wasn't as bad as they think." But those people who failed, they're probably going to go back a second time. So researchers will be like, "Okay, second time, how bad are you going to predict you're going to feel if you fail?" And they update a little bit, you know, they're like, "Yeah, it won't be—" but they're still not realizing how much resilience they have.
[00:35:32] And so what you find is that even people who failed several times in a row, they update a tad but not that much. We keep forgetting how resilient we are. We're what's called — this is something that the psychologist, Dan Gilbert, calls immune neglect. He says, "You know, we kind of have like the psychological immune system. When bad things happen, we have all these things that come in and fight it and say, "Well, she wasn't good for you anyway," or, "Screw it. I never really wanted a license," or, "You know, paraplegic, I didn't need my legs." Like we have these mechanisms to come in and convince ourselves, it's not that bad, but we have immune neglect. We don't realize the psychological immune system is as powerful as it is.
[00:36:07] We neglect that we're going to do all this stuff to feel better. And that means that we're not taking risks that we could take. You know, you might be scared like, well, if I break up this person, I'll never get over the pain of it. Like, nah, you'll just be fine. You know, you maybe want to leave that job or take a risk in your business and you think, "If the bad outcome happens, I just won't be able to handle it." And the science suggests you will, you just don't realize it.
[00:36:29] Jordan Harbinger: Going back to the idea that — it's a little bit of a myth, and we touched on this before that one change ahead is going to make us happier. We know that that's not true. What about when your circumstances are truly horrible? I assume there's exceptions to this. Like if I'm born in Yemen to a mother, who's a teenager and we're hiding in an abandoned building because of a war. That's a bad environment, right? A change to a secure environment is going to make us all happier, I assume.
[00:36:56] Laurie Santos: Yeah. That's definitely true. And I'm glad you brought that up. You know, we often say, for example, "Like money doesn't matter as much as you think for happiness." But again, like if you can't put food on your table, if you can't put a roof over your head, if you're living in dire poverty, yeah, getting some more money is going to give you the creature comforts you need for happiness. And so it's not that, circumstances matter zero. If you're in truly traumatic circumstances, yeah, changing your circumstances is probably going to help a lot. But for most of us, we're not in those dire circumstances.
[00:37:24] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:37:25] Laurie Santos: You know, like not being able to get the newest PlayStation is not like the Yemeni trauma you're talking about. And so I think we want to be careful. It's not that circumstances don't matter at all. It's that 99.99 percent of the people listening to this podcast right now are probably in circumstances where changing them drastically isn't going to matter for their happiness as much as they think.
[00:37:48] Jordan Harbinger: As far as the dramatically poor environments are concerned. Okay, the Yemen, the thing, obvious example. What about like an abusive relationship or a bad job? Which candidly can have a lot of commonalities with an abusive relationship in many ways, depending on the job like if you're bullied or you have a terrible boss. Like where does it sort of stop? You mentioned, yes, the newest PlayStation, but I assume that common examples of people in bad environments where you're like, "Okay, this is a common environment that could be changed." Because like you said, 99.9 percent of the people plus listening are not in a Yemeni war zone, but a lot of people are in crappy relationships and crappy jobs.
[00:38:20] Laurie Santos: Yeah. And I think, one thing you need to think about is — I think this is where the psychological immune system can be so powerful. You know, we often have a sense of like, "I'm just kind of not happy with it," versus there's something really wrong, "I'm getting physically hurt in this situation. I'm getting actually psychologically abused." All of those cases are ones in which changing things will be good. But if you're kind of just like run of the mill, not excited about stuff, then there's lots of mechanisms you can use to kind of get a little bit better.
[00:38:48] One of my favorite ones in the context of jobs is what researcher Amy Wrzesniewski at Yale calls job crafting. She does these great studies where she interviews people in a job that you might not think of as like the most glamorous career path. So she interviews hospital janitorial workers, right? I mean, these are people who are like cleaning up vomit or taking people's linens away and stuff like not great, but what she finds is there is a certain subset of them. She asked if you like your job, do you feel like your job is a calling? They'll say, "Yeah, my job is a calling. I could not imagine doing anything better in my life. I love it so much."
[00:39:18] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:39:18] Laurie Santos: And you're like, what is going on with these people? And what you find is that they're finding ways, even though their job is to be a janitor, to infuse in what they find valuable. So one janitor, for example, talked about how he uses his job to try to make sick patients feel better. So his job was like cleaning up the vomit in a chemotherapy ward, like not great, but he'd come in and he'd like, just like laugh around and joke around with the person and be like, "You know what? Don't feel bad about vomiting on the floor because that's why I have this job. Like I got a car payment to make." And then the person laughs and he laughs. He's like my job isn't to clean up the sick. Like my job is to make this person laugh. That's what I get value from. Then you could have all kinds of different values. You know, his was really about doing something nice for people being social. It could be a love of learning. It could be doing something brave, it could be taking risks, it could be exercising your creativity.
[00:40:05] You know, she claims that like if janitorial staff can infuse this stuff into their daily life, most of us in most professions could do that. She's another example of a woman who, a janitorial staff member who worked on a coma ward. And the staff member every day would slightly move the paintings and the pots in the room. And she thought like, "Maybe I think it might be helping these coma patients a little bit just to like notice some changes." I don't know if medically that's a thing, but she like had this sense that she was helping. She had the sense that she was doing something that she'd come up with that was creative, that was sort of helping her.
[00:40:38] And so Amy thinks that there are ways we can job craft in every profession. Now, does that mean, you know, I don't know if you like have some office job that you're like, "My job crafting is I'm just going to play guitar every day." Like you have to do what's in your job description, but there are lots of ways to infuse some creative crafting into that.
[00:40:56] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:40:56] Laurie Santos: She has lots of suggestions on her website, a little survey, to just brainstorm how you can do this.
[00:41:02] Jordan Harbinger: I know tax planners and accountants that they sort of play a game, "How much money can I save my client on taxes?" Because they know if they go, "I saved you $89,000 on taxes." The person's going to be like, "Dang." And then if they beat that next year, it's like, look, they made more money last year, which is why they were able to save more on taxes. But that's beside the point. The point is you were going to give this to Uncle Sam to spend on toilet seats, and now you can spend it on your retirement or your kids' college education or whatever it is. So that kind of thing is, I guess probably how he does that. He didn't use that term obviously, but it totally makes sense that every job has that somewhere, even if it's not good.
[00:41:40] Laurie Santos: And you just have to kind of get creative with it. I mean, we often don't really think a lot about our values. You know, what really gives us joy? You know, is it social connection? Is it doing something creative? Is it learning something? Is it being brave? Think about the values that you have, the kind of character strengths that you really believe are like, you have something. When you exercise, you feel good. And then figure out ways to bring that into more of our life. Our job is one example, but you know, another thing you can do is to infuse that more into your relationships. You mentioned people who are, again, if you're in a terrible, abusive relationship, get out of that. That's not great, but you know, many of us are just in relationships that feel a little stale because we're not putting work into it. But doing this thing where you think about each other's values, what's one of those things that I just mentioned that you both like. Can you kind of build that up together? And if you both like learning, go do like, look at a new documentary or go on some museum website or go to a real museum if the COVID thing is going down. You have to really like doing things that are brave. Take a trip to like some hiking spot that's kind of hard and like push yourself a little bit, right? We forget that we can engage our values in an active way, and that can make us feel really good.
[00:42:46] Jordan Harbinger: We mentioned before that having our material needs met makes us happy. And I've seen this number batted around a lot, but above let's say this material needs money. Making more money does not necessarily make us more happy. What is the number? Because, you know, we've all seen this study where it's like above X, your marginal happiness doesn't get any bigger. But every time I hear this quoted the freaking number is different.
[00:43:09] Laurie Santos: Well, I mean, you know that number, if you looked at a study that was done in late 1922—
[00:43:14] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:43:14] Laurie Santos: —the number probably—
[00:43:15] Jordan Harbinger: $12,000 a year is what you need.
[00:43:17] Laurie Santos: And so the one that I often like to quote was a study that was done in 2009.
[00:43:22] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:43:22] Laurie Santos: So a teensy bit out of date already, but the number in that famous paper was around $75,000. The idea is that past $75,000, you're not going to get happier. And that trend was striking. Again, we could adjust — for inflation, we could figure out what the number is, but what's striking is in the 2009 data, it wasn't just that you don't get happier with more money. Like you get people with quadruple that salary and they have no difference in their life satisfaction. And that is just not what we think. Most of the people listening right now, if I said, I'm going to like quadruple or quintuple your salary, you'd be like, stoked. You'd be like, "My life will be demonstrably better. I'll be way satisfied with my life." And that simply is not what's pulled out of the data.
[00:44:04] And so you might get a little happier, you might be able to buy a few more things, but like it's not going to have as much of an impact on your happiness as say, if you boosted your social connection or if you job crafted at work, or honestly, if you just gave yourself a little bit more free time. So it's not so much that money has zero effect on happiness. It's like the effect on happiness isn't that big and the amount of work you have to put into it. If you put that amount of work into pretty much any of these other happiness hacks, they'd work so much better.
[00:44:32] Jordan Harbinger: By the way, there's $95,000 in today's money, $75,000 in 2009. So for example, if you're making $40,000 a year, you get a bump to 70K. You feel less stress, maybe that makes you more happy. So we strive for those increments, which makes sense, right? But unfortunately, and you've mentioned this in your work. What that teaches us is, "Hey, every time I get an incremental salary bump, I'm incrementally happier, but then if it tops off at $95,000 in today's money—" When I was a lawyer on wall street, I think I started off at 160 grand a year and you know, you get a bonus, nobody was happy with that. Like, if you didn't get a raise and then your bonus wasn't up, you would sit there — I know investment bankers back when I worked there, that would be making like, I don't know, $400,000 a year. And they were so pissed off that somebody else got a bonus that was bigger or that their bonus wasn't as big as they expected because in 2008, I mean, people were just in pieces about this. So the problem is people keep chasing cash well, after there's not really any marginal gain and happiness. Like a drug addict, he was like, "Wait a minute. The first time I tried this, it was awesome. Let me take them."
[00:45:38] Laurie Santos: That's exactly right. And you know, one of my favorite surveys that looked at this was looking at — you know, because we could ask ourselves like what is an annual salary that after that's annual salary amount, you wouldn't need anymore.
[00:45:49] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:45:49] Laurie Santos: You could all guess like, "You know, if I got that amount, I'd just be good." Right? And so they do this with people at different income levels. So they bring people in at the time during the survey, they brought people in earning $30,000 a year and they say, "What would be your amount?" The people say, "Well, not 30,000, but if I got $50,000 a year, I would never need a penny more." But then the same survey looked at people who are earning a hundred thousand dollars a year. And they said, "You know, are you good?" And in theory, based on what the other people said, these people should be like, "Yeah, I'm great. It's just piling up in my kitchen. I don't need it." But these folks who are earning a hundred thousand dollars say they need $250,000 a year to be happy.
[00:46:21] Jordan Harbinger: That checks out.
[00:46:22] Laurie Santos: If you do the math on this, you get two things. One is like, you never get to the goal, but what's worth, the goal gets further away as you get more money. You're only $20,000 off if you're at 30K, but now you're at $150,000 off if you're running a 100K like it doesn't make sense. But again, our brains can't be objective, right? When you're earning a hundred thousand dollars a year, you're hanging out with people who are earning more. The investment bankers you were talking about, they just know people who are getting more than them, and that makes them feel bad. But, again, unless, you're literally Jeff Bezos listening to this right now, probably somebody who's earning more than you.
[00:46:57] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:46:57] Laurie Santos: We're all silver medalist in the salary game, except for one person on this planet. And so we shouldn't let other people's salaries affect us. We should be objectively happy with what we have, but we're kind of not.
[00:47:07] Jordan Harbinger: Right. This goes back to reference points. Happiness can be relative. It's better to be — this is interesting. It's better to be richer than your poor neighbors versus what, or at least then your neighbors in general, versus being rich with other rich people. And that completely checks out. Like the most miserable people I know are not people that work two jobs and are struggling to feed their kids. I mean, those people are stressed out, but the most absolutely like negative self-talk can't even be around them type of people are people that have like $14 million instead of 50. They are insufferable and annoying and just terrible. Like you can't even be in the room with them because everything is about how somebody else's plane is bigger or something. It's really gross.
[00:47:48] Laurie Santos: On The Happiness Lab podcast for my episode on this, I interviewed this guy, Clay Cockrell, who is amazing. So he's a wealth psychologist, a mental health professional that only works with the 0.0001 percent, which is like bracketed — like such a good gig. Why didn't I — anyway —
[00:48:02] Jordan Harbinger: Right. We should have thought of that.
[00:48:03] Laurie Santos: But you know, first shock, he has clients, right? All our theories are like, if we had that much money, we'd be fine. We would need to be paying somebody to counsel us. But what's shocking is if you look at the things that they're upset about, it is like the stuff that you're like really? You know, like, "I can't figure out a place to park my yacht."
[00:48:19] Jordan Harbinger: "It's too big. There's no port nearby."
[00:48:22] Laurie Santos: Or like, "I'm only in the hundred millions. I can't get to a billion. If only I could get it to be a billionaire instead of 900 million," you know?
[00:48:29] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:48:29] Laurie Santos: And so they're not happy, right? Like they're struggling with this stuff. And so we assume if we got there that wouldn't be us. But the same kind of stuff creeps in, you know? And so it affects our happiness more than we think.
[00:48:40] Jordan Harbinger: No, I can speak to that a little bit. Because I remember when I was younger thinking, "I just need to make the equivalent of a hundred grand a year." And I thought that when I worked for like $5 and 25 cents at a movie theater, and then I got my job on Wall Street and I was like 160,000. This is great. And then two years later I was like, "So when do we get a raise? And how much is it? And like, what is our bonus check going to be?" And then I started my own business and it was like, "I just want to get back to a regular level of income. It doesn't have to be what I earned on Wall Street." And then I got past the Wall Street thing or got to the Wall Street thing and I was like, "Well, okay, okay, now I want this." And then every time I hit the goal, it's like, "You know, what would be great? If I had a slightly rounder number or another comma in there would be good." Or like, "What if we got from this to that, then do fancy math, inflation calculator, investment compound, interest, this, that, and the other thing, we could buy this house." But I don't even care about the home or the money. It doesn't affect me. It's almost like an idle — it's like, my brain is almost. But my wife and I routinely talk about how much we actually spend, which is barely any of our — like, we live well below our means. So it's not, I need a Ferrari, it's just like my brain torturing itself with math.
[00:49:48] Laurie Santos: Yeah. And I think, you know, this is something that we have these theories about what's going to make us happy. And one of the things we like to do is to like work towards things that are measurable. If I ask like, "How grateful are you today this year versus last year?" "Hard to know," but you know, "What's your annual salary this year versus last year?" So easy for us to know that number, right? And so that means we end up prioritizing the things we can measure over the things that probably matter more or like how socially connected are you? How grateful are you? How present are you? How much do you feel like if you have a lot of free time and you're really wealthy in terms of time?
[00:50:21] Those are the things that probably matter more, but it's not like, you know, we have a score in our bank account. That's telling us those things. So it's not as easy for us to think about maximizing them or put work towards maximizing them because we don't as easily notice the rewards as we do when we're like fight for a raise and get it, even though it doesn't have an effect on our happiness.
[00:50:41] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Dr. Laurie Santos. We'll be right back.
[00:50:46] This episode is sponsored in part by Blue Nile. Are you getting ready to pop the question? Got a special occasion coming up? Whether you're customizing an engagement ring or you're designing some diamond stud earrings, at bluenile.com, you can create one of a kind jewelry with more than 200,000 ethically sourced GIA graded diamonds in every shape and size with an endless selection of settings at a price you won't find at a traditional jeweler. If you're having trouble, you need advice during the process, Blue Nile has jewelry experts on hand 24/7 by phone or chat. They can also ship the same day for those of you that wait till the last minute. A hundred percent satisfaction guarantee, guaranteed free shipping and returns.
[00:51:19] Jen Harbinger: Mark the moments that matter with jewelry from bluenile.com and our listeners get $50 off $500. This podcast exclusive offer includes engagement rings. Use code JORDAN. That's code JORDAN. Plus every order is insured, ships free, and arrives in discreet packaging that won't give away what's inside. Shop stress-free and find her forever peace. Go to bluenile.com today and use code JORDAN.
[00:51:41] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is sponsored by Boll & Branch. The average person sleeps eight hours a day. Basically a third of your life is in bed. So if you think about it, it's not silly to put some thought and care into the sheets you're sleeping on night after night. Boll & Branch knows high quality sleep doesn't stop at your mattress. They're ultra soft organic sheets are transparently sourced and produced in safe, fair conditions. So you'll sleep even easier knowing that it's not made by tiny children's fingers in some sweatshops situation, although they do make the softest sheets. We love our Boll & Branch's hundred percent organic cotton, white Signature Hemmed Sheets. That's their best seller that gets softer with every wash. Yes, I'm laughing at my own joke. They arrived in a package so nice. It was like opening a gift to myself. And I ended up gifting new sheets to my brother-in-law who happened to be over. When we were opening the box, he felt some major FOMO after feeling the quality. You can feel that fair quality. Also gifted my parents a set in the mineral blue color, which is several notches above what they're currently using. You don't even want to know. To experience the best sheets you've ever felt, choose Boll & Branch.
[00:52:34] Jen Harbinger: To experience the best sheets you've ever felt, choose Boll & Branch. You can try them worry free for 30 nights with free shipping and returns. And our listeners get an exclusive 15 percent off your first set of sheets with promo code JORDAN at bollandbranch.com. That's Boll and Branch, B-O-L-L- andbranch.com, promo code JORDAN.
[00:52:53] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored in part by Nuun. When you work up a sweat from a marathon runner, if you're like me running after my two-year-old kid, you lose vital electrolytes and minerals that your body needs in order to keep moving and recover efficiently. Nuun Sport is optimized for hydration and mineral replenishment before, during, and after a workout. I also use mine on airplanes. You just drop a fizzy tablet into your water bottle to support your hydration anytime, anywhere. My friends take Nuun tablets to festivals, and I take Nuun Sport with me when I go on a long hike or a bike ride. Nuun Sport has made with only one gram of sugar, carefully sourced to premium ingredients that are certified non-GMO, gluten-free, and vegan. Available in 13 delicious flavors, including fan favorite cherry limeade, which has an extra boost of caffeine to help attack that jet lag.
[00:53:34] Jen Harbinger: To get your game changing hydration, visit N-U-U-N.life/jordan and enter code JORDAN for 25 percent off your first order.
[00:53:41] Jordan Harbinger: Thank you so much for listening to the show. I hope you get a lot out of it. We put all of those URLs and codes you need for all the sponsors in one easy place. And we've recently remade this whole page to make it easier to navigate on your phone and on your computer. jordanharbinger.com/deals is where you'll find it. I would love it if you would check the page out, make sure it works for you, give us some feedback on it. And ideally, you help support those who make the show possible as well. You know, if you're looking for a mattress, maybe a little ring, something like that, some probiotics, we've got all that and it's at jordanharbinger.com/deals.
[00:54:11] Don't forget, we also have worksheets for many episodes. If you want some of the drills and exercises talked about during the show, all in one easy place, that link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcasts.
[00:54:22] Now for the rest of my conversation with Dr. Laurie Santos.
[00:54:27] The comparison thing seems like it could just get so toxic though, right? We'd rather be superior to others, even if we sacrificed money or looks. So it really is all about those reference points. But to your point, we set the target upward because we're productive achievers, like you mentioned, right? So we set them very high. I'm not thinking about friends of mine that have some money. I'm thinking about like my richest friend, who's just obviously an outlier. Or my like best looking friend who is literally a European fashion model. Okay. So what are you like? Are you kidding me? Why would you do that to yourself? And it doesn't make any sense. So it's always an extreme alternative, which never wins, right? Because if you think about this from like a, almost like a philosophical angle, who's more socially active you, or like air quotes, other people, or who's rich, or you or someone else like anyone, the answer is always not you in every category, generally.
[00:55:22] Laurie Santos: And it's amazing how our brains will seek out exactly the reference point that makes us feel worse about ourselves.
[00:55:28] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:55:29] Laurie Santos: I was doing some consulting with a cannot-be-named NBA team. And I was talking about these things. And I was like putting up like, "Okay, who are your reference points for this?" Like, who's your reference points for free throw? And they all scream out like Steph Curry. Who's your reference points for height? It was like Tacko Fall. Like, who's your reference point for having awesome cars? Like LeBron James. I'm like, "Well, why don't you pick just like one awesome NBA player and feel bad?" No, you specifically pick the one that's going to make you feel the worst. You know, like no one thinks of height when they're thinking of Steph Curry. And they're like, "Well, I'm taller than Steph. Like I don't care." They're specifically picking the people that make them feel worse. And that's like one case of professional athletes who are all pretty good at all those things that I've just talked about, but we all just kind of do this.
[00:56:11] We pick the person that's like most attractive if we're thinking about our attractiveness. We pick the person with the most money for thinking about money. If we think about like, "Oh, I wish I had a good relationship." We just like scroll through and find someone we think is like in a happy marriage. Like we constantly pick the thing that makes us feel the worst. And we're surrounded by structures that make that even harder.
[00:56:31] It was one thing back in the day when we probably had brains that did this, when we were hunter gatherers, you know, walking around the plains and we could see like 18 other people—
[00:56:39] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:56:39] Laurie Santos: Now, we just have the Internet that's filled with people curating what these things feel like to them and curating how awesome their lives are. And that just can make us feel so crappy to see that stuff.
[00:56:50] Jordan Harbinger: These are sort of manufactured bullsh*t, right? The alternatives are always on social media. I neglect my Instagram, generally. I only post there like twice a year, but I always answer my DMs and I'll get a DM from somebody with like the blue check mark, and I'll go, "Oh, I wonder what this person does." And they're war photographers. So they've got all these cool photos and I'm like, "Your life is so exciting. Where are you right now?" "Oh, I'm outside Syria. And I'm downloading a few episodes of your show because I finally have Internet." I'm like, "Ah, it's so cool." And then somebody else is like, "My favorite hotel in the Swiss Alps is this one. Here's a bunch of photos of me in an awesome dress with my husband, just like drinking, handcrafted cocktails on a balcony." And I'm like, "I'm in my kitchen. And I feel kind of fat because I ate Fritos." Like, you know, like that's where I'm at.
[00:57:33] So the alternatives are just even worse now because of social media. Like anytime you're feeling good about yourself, don't worry, crack, open Instagram, and look at how sh*t your life actually is compared to somebody else. But if you talk to these folks, the war photographer is like, "I need to figure out how I'm going to make money because I made like $300 this month from one photo. And like I'm spending way more just to exist in this environment. My hotel costs more than that because there's only one in the whole country that's open, that has electricity." And then the influencer person in the amazing hotel is like, "Yeah, I kind of have to shill Listerine and mattresses nonstop because I stay at these places for free, but I don't have any money. You know, how am I going to retire? This is my business. And I'm just getting started and look how many followers this other person has." So we're all on the treadmill, but we're all pretending, like we're not on the treadmill.
[00:58:18] Laurie Santos: Yeah. And this is one of my favorite studies that I tell my students about just makes this point so well. So they bring college students in and they ask, "How often do these good and bad events happen to you?" So good events, you got a better grade than you expected, or someone you liked asked you, I went to a cool party. Or these bad events, you know, got a crappy grade, felt lonely, felt really homesick, you know, like really embarrassed, like some embarrassing thing that happens, whatever. So you tick off how often that happens to you. And then you say, "How often did these events happen to the average college student?" So you get this prediction, how often happens to an individual person and how often they predict. But of course, if you ask every individual person, you can get the accurate percentage of how often it's happening in general.
[00:58:57] And so you look at these and what you find is that people's predictions are completely wrong. So for the positive events, people think these are happening all the time. Everybody's going to a cool party. Everybody's getting grades better than they expect. Everybody's getting asked out. And the fact is like, that's not really happening to that many people, but that effect of being wrong is even stronger in the negative direction. You predict zero people are feeling homesick like I am. Zero people are feeling fat, like I am. Zero people got worse grades. And like the effects are huge. Like people are off by like 30 percentage points of what they think. And so this is kind of bad, right? It means not just that we're comparing ourselves against other people. We're creating this imaginary awesome person who has only good things happen and no negative things.
[00:59:40] There's some quote — I'm now forgetting, you know, I'm bad at names.
[00:59:42] Jordan Harbinger: I'll tell you right now fine, I know exactly where you're going, we compare our blooper reel to everybody else's highlight reel. Is that it?
[00:59:48] Laurie Santos: Exactly, exactly. It'd be one thing if we were comparing ourselves against real people and feeling bad, but we always feel worse because we imagine people to be richer and more beautiful than they really are. And so—
[00:59:59] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:59:59] Laurie Santos: But one thing that this study also showed is that if you ask people, "Hey, all those good things and bad things that you just talked about, do you try to boost them on social media? Do you try to make the good things seem better and make the bad themes seem less true?" And people say, "Yeah, I definitely try to hide the bad things. I definitely try to show off the good things.
[01:00:20] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:00:20] Laurie Santos: And that's bad. We're all participating in this collective culture of making our own reference points seem better in a way that makes other people around us feel crappy.
[01:00:29] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. It's kind of a shame, but I also totally understand it because even — I've talked about this before. Even some of the people that you see on social media who say like, "No, I'm going to post all the real stuff." Even that stuff is, I mean, it's fake, right? Like they're doing a video and they're a cute couple and they accidentally cut each other off. "No, you go." "No, you go." They planned that sh*t. I know it because you know, someone who works for them or whatever, and they're like, "Yeah, that's in the script. Like, totally, the whole thing is BS," or like, "Oh, we fought today. But we fought about who loves each other more," and it's like, shut up. Like the whole thing is nonsense. But yeah, we're all doing this to one another.
[01:01:07] That's one of the reasons I opted out of social media, because I was just like, you know, this is just making other people feel FOMO. And I hate when I feel that. So why am I going to do that to other people? What am I trying to do? It's a manipulation tactic. And I'm like, do I need to do that in my life? I don't really want to do that. I don't like it when other people do it to me. So I just stopped. I post now when I just have a real big life event, but it's just a normal life event. Like I had a birthday, not like, oh, I'm on a yacht. I just don't share that stuff. No one cares, first of all, and it never makes anyone feel good. It only makes other people feel bad. So I kind of encourage people to just stop looking at Instagram unless they're looking at meme accounts. Those are funny.
[01:01:46] Laurie Santos: Yeah. I mean, I think, you know, it's worth noticing what you're taking in kind of matters. One of the kind of tips I give my students is I tell them to hack their feeds. If there's somebody who's making you feel bad about yourself, like get rid of that, or maybe kind of fill in the stuff that's like, not as good. Again, we will feel bad about our income if we're comparing ourselves against rich influences. But if you put in your feed that like, "Hey, there are people starving right now in all these countries and X number of people lost their job in the middle of COVID." And you're like, "Oh, okay. Like, that's good." If you're constantly in an Instagram feed, that's making you feel bad about your body's like put in some realistic bodies into that feed. You know, in some ways we forget that we can control and curate that. It might not be as fun to look at the not rich influencers all the time, but you have to recognize what that's doing to your psychology and recognize that you can kind of control your own reference points. You, you get some control over that. Once you see it, you can't control it. You might not think it's influencing you, but it is. If it gets in there, if it gets past your eyes, it's going to influence you in a negative way. But you have some control over what, what you choose to look at.
[01:02:52] Jordan Harbinger: Now, what are some favorite daily rituals habits besides feed hacking that you've found increased happiness and aren't maybe like a huge time sucker commitment?
[01:03:01] Laurie Santos: Yeah. One of my favorite ones, which sounds so cheesy — I mean, it's worth saying at the outset, like none of these happiness tips had a great like marketing team.
[01:03:10] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[01:03:10] Laurie Santos: They all sound like kind of hippy-dippy, like platitude, grandmother-y stuff.
[01:03:14] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:03:14] Laurie Santos: But every single one I'm going to tell you about is backed by like some of the latest science. So one of my favorite ones, again sounds cheesy, but works is this idea of gratitude. Like, you know, counting your blessings.
[01:03:24] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[01:03:24] Laurie Santos: Like so cheesy, right? It totally works. Turns out that the simple act of scribbling down three to five things you're grateful for at the end of the day can significantly improve your well being in as little as two weeks. But it doesn't just do that. It allows you to be kind of happy in your life. Gratitude is a sort of prosocial emotion and so it causes you to want to give back. So grateful people are more likely to do nice stuff for other people and like, makes you a better person. But it also makes you a more productive person because one of the people's gratitude makes you want to give back to you is your future self.
[01:03:56] So it turns out grateful people are more likely to eat healthier. They're more likely to save more for retirement easily. They're more likely to exercise. It makes it easier to do the thing that like you know a future you would benefit from, but it kind of sucks right now to do. Grateful people do that easily. And so like, it's kind of a win-win. Like it feels awesome. And it's going to cause you to feel more productive to get to your goal. I mean, it sounds like gratitude, but like, no, it's like productivity hacks. It's like really what it is.
[01:04:24] Jordan Harbinger: Right. I'm down with that one. I thought it was cheesy for years, never did it. I didn't even allow people to mention it on the show because I thought it was so stupid. And then a friend of mine, we shared a room on a hiking trip and he was like, "All right, every day, me and my wife do the three amazing things about today." And I was like, "Ah, I don't have anything." And he's like, "No, the idea is you have to stretch and find it." And I was like, "Well, I got a haircut this morning." He's like, "Great." I was like, "Well, I mean, we're flying to the Himalayas tomorrow to go hiking." He's like, "Yes, that's an obvious one. What else?" And so you start thinking about all these things that we really just weren't even thinking about because you never, like, why would you bother right? That's tomorrow. This is a thing I did today or earlier. I'm not thinking about it anymore.
[01:05:02] So it forces you to then think about all these things. We call it three amazing things and it can be like, "Oh, our kid was so cute. He was jumping on the couch," and he said like, "Daddy's coming or something like, and he's never said that before." And then, you know, my wife will go, "Oh, he said another thing that was really funny today too." And it turns into this conversation, that's not about like, "Hey, did you take out the garbage? Oh, we're out of milk. Why didn't you do that thing I told you to do the other day that you forgot twice in a row." It just changes the whole vibe. And it makes a really interesting and fun conversation. So I can see that that actually is a real thing that works and not just a bunch of BS. Because it does sound like influencer, Instagram, BS, candidly.
[01:05:42] Laurie Santos: I mean, yeah, I think, I agree that it sounds this way, but I mean, the studies that are on it are just like really powerful and people who tend to just be more grateful, you know, have these benefits, but then you just force people to be more grateful. Like force yourself to pay attention to these things in it. It helps.
[01:05:58] If gratitude sounds too cheesy. And another one that I've heard, which can be also quite powerful is just basically what you're doing is you're training your brain towards the positive. Our brains naturally have this sort of negativity bias, where we notice all the tigers in the world that are going to come jump out and get us. Like that's what evolutionarily made sense is to notice the risks and the bad stuff and whatever, but that means that we're missing out naturally on attending to a lot of the things that feel good. And so if gratitude feels too cheesy, you can try a different technique. That we were talking about in our upcoming season of the podcast, which is to pay attention to delights.
[01:06:30] I interviewed this author, Ross Gay, who has this book called The Book of Delights. And he decided that every day for a whole year, he'd write a new essay on something that delighted him. So you had to find these delights every single day. And they're kind of funny. There are things like, "Lilacs are a delight," and he has one that's like, "Trust on planes. Like why don't people steal people's stuff on trains." Like that's kind of a delight. The sort of odd high fives that strangers give you sometimes. El DeBarge likes to bend, like every day he just comes up with something. And what he talks about is that throughout the course of this thing, he just now is training his brain to notice this stuff, and then he's sharing it with people, right?
[01:07:06] So now people know he's doing it. So they tell him their delights. And that's kind of delightful when you hear like funny and good things that are happening to other people. And then you get these kinds of meta delights, where you notice like, you know, these series of things make other people delighted. And so it was just a wonderful exercise for him. For some people, it feels better than gratitude, which feels cheesy, but just like noticing things that are like awesome. Like your own personal awesome lists can be quite powerful.
[01:07:30] So for the podcast I've been doing this, I've been noticing things and some of my recent things this week, earlier this week, I had gone to the beach, just like a local beach. And there was this lady there who had a cat on a leash. Like she brought her cat to the beach, and that was just kind of like delight. You know, another one was I was walking through this, we have this park in New Haven. It's not like the nicest park. Like it's not the kind of place that people kind of tend to hang out. But there was this guy there who had this big suitcase and backpack. And he was sitting there with this huge science fiction book, like right on the last few pages. And I knew what had happened, which was like, he'd probably been traveling, maybe was on a train or maybe was like at a coffee shop that was closing or something. And he hadn't finished the book. And he so wanted to finish the book that he just like plopped down in the seat to like read it. And I was like, "Oh, it's a delight, Coffee, delight."
[01:08:17] It's so silly, but it just trains your brain. Like now you're not thinking about like, "Oh, taxes. Oh, how long for the pandemic? Oh, like our time is finite. Our attention is finite. And if we can train it on stuff that's going to make us feel good. Then that's going to make us feel good, but it's going to give us the resilience and the bandwidth to get through the crap of life.
[01:08:36] Jordan Harbinger: I think that's amazing. And it's a good place to leave it because we do have some practical exercises and stuff like that from your show. And of course we'll link to some of this in the show notes and in the worksheets. So I know we're just scratching the surface here.
[01:08:46] Laurie, thank you so much for coming on the show. Really appreciate it.
[01:08:49] Laurie Santos: Thank you so much for having me.
[01:08:52] Jordan Harbinger: If you're looking for another episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show to sink your teeth into, here's a preview trailer of our interview with angel investor, Jason Calacanis. If you're a founder or interested in business or ideas, you're going to want to hear this. Check out episode 100 right here on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:09:10] Jason Calacanis: I built Weblogs Inc and 18 months after we were growing it, we were at about 150K in total revenue and AOL came and offered us 30 million bucks for it. I was negative 10,000 in my bank account. And I was walking my old dog Toro, rest in peace, I'm smoking a cigar of my life. And we're sitting there in Santa Monica. We had a $2,000 a month apartment and I said, "They've offered us $30 million. I can't keep up with our credit card bills. I'm going to take it." And she was like, "This is going to be crazy. Like we're going to have over $10 million in our bank account." I was like, "Yep." I sat there and I just had to have this like really long look, like deep moment, because I had a very complicated relationship with money and being poor because—
[01:09:55] Jordan Harbinger: You grew up wanting to be rich.
[01:09:57] Jason Calacanis: Exactly.
[01:09:57] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:09:57] Jason Calacanis: And I wanted to be powerful and rich when I was a kid. And looking back on it, the reason I want it to be powerful and rich was because I was poor and I had no power. My wife remembers this story and I remember this story like it was yesterday. I was sitting refreshing my Bank of America account, the corporate account and nothing, nothing, nothing. And then boom. 27 million bucks. And I started crying and my wife was like, "Why are you crying?" I spent the majority of my life broke. I don't have to worry about money ever again.
[01:10:25] Jordan Harbinger: Ever.
[01:10:26] For more with Jason Calacanis, including what venture capitalists are looking for in startup founders and how to make yourself more marketable, whether you're a founder or an angel investor, yourself, check out episode 100 right here on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:10:43] I love this. Who doesn't want to know more about happiness and at least get some practical tips so we can move in the right direction, right? I thought it was interesting that we think we feel happy because we have money and friends and a sense of purpose, but actually the causal arrow goes the other way. We have friends and we get money because we have a sense of purpose. And because we are happy, we're more likely to get married. We're more likely to get called for a job. Happier kids actually make more money later in life. There's science behind this now. It's something like 10 percent more. Talking about negative experiences or writing about them also has a massive therapeutic effect. Talk therapy, one of our sponsors of course, betterhelp.com/jordan. This type of therapy is shown to be very good for your happiness level, even if all you do is get things off your chest. But what is talking about things we're trying to suppress do for us, it opens up that mental pressure cooker? Relieves a little bit of steam, helps us make sense of some things, and also forces structure. When we put things into language and we're forced to articulate things, it gives us a lot of perspective that we can use to grow and it's different than mere catharsis.
[01:11:46] So there's actually a lot more to this than I previously thought. And of course, don't forget there's a new season of The Happiness Lab coming up, wherever you get your podcasts. We'll link to that in the show notes. Links to all things to Laurie Santos will be on our website at jordanharbinger.com. Please use our website links if you buy anything from our guests. That helps support the show. Worksheets for the episodes are in the show notes. Transcripts are in the show notes. And there's a video of this interview going up on our YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube. Our clips channel, which is brand new, has cuts that don't make it anywhere else is also on YouTube at jordanharbinger.com/clips. That's where you can find it. And you can find me at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or you can hit me on LinkedIn.
[01:12:25] I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships using systems and tiny habits. And of course, as you'll recall from this episode, having more social connections is good for the old happiness meter and our Six-Minute Networking course is free. That should make you happy. It's over at jordanharbinger.com/course. Dig the well before you get thirsty. Most of the guests on the show, they subscribe to the course. Come join us, you'll be in smart company where you belong.
[01:12:48] The show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for the show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you know people who are into psychology, the study of happiness, or maybe they need a couple of tips on becoming happy — you know, COVID has been rough on a lot of us these days — then please share this episode with them. Hopefully, you find something great in every episode of the show. We do work very hard on it. Please do share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.