Imagine this: You’re a teenage musical prodigy, a world-class classical French horn player. You drop out of college at age 19 and spend your twenties touring the globe as a musician (including, once, tripping and falling off the stage at Carnegie Hall).
At age 31, you retire from your musical career, get a Ph.D., and become a professor – first at Syracuse and then at Harvard, where you teach both at Harvard Business School and at the Harvard Kennedy School.
You publish 13 books and write a column for The Atlantic, which gets noticed by Oprah Winfrey. Oprah then invites you to dinner, where she asks you to co-author a book together.
This is the life of today’s guest, Harvard Professor Arthur Brooks, whose collaboration with Oprah, a book called Build the Life You Want, focuses on the science and research behind happiness.
Brooks teaches a class on leadership and happiness to second-year Harvard MBA candidates. In our conversation, we discuss a range of topics, including metacognition (thinking about how to think), the neurobiological basis of ruminating, and how to balance the concept of contentment with the innately human urge for ambition and progress.
He also offers a formula for happiness: enjoyment + satisfaction + meaning and purpose.
So – I hope you enjoy this episode; I hope you find it satisfying, and I hope it fills you with meaning and purpose!
Discussion as of November 2023:
03:54: Why being purely happy isn’t desirable
05:30: Anxiety and depression are normal
07:55: The opposite of happiness
09:20: What is happiness?
13:24: Why managing your emotions is the key to happiness
16:11: The importance of metacognition in managing your emotions
22:10: The biology behind ruminating
24:04: The four emotional profiles
31:41: Why humans are driven for progress
44:34: Real friends vs. deal friends
56:02: The one concept central to happiness
Build the Life You Want: The Art and Science of Getting Happier | Book
Arthur Brooks – Teaching the Science of Happiness. Live Better. Be Happier. | Website
Thanks to our sponsors!
Get more bang for your bite with America’s Best Value Meal Kit! EveryPlate is 25% cheaper than most grocery shopping, with no hidden fees, so you can count on great value, week after week. Plus, only pay for what you need with pre-portioned ingredients. Get started with EveryPlate for just $1.49 per meal PLUS $1 steaks by going to everyplate.com/podcast and entering code: 49affordanything.
Monarch is the top-rated, all-in-one personal finance app. It gives you a comprehensive view of all your accounts, investments, transactions, cash flow, net worth, and more. Go to monarchmoney.com/paula for an extended free 30 day trial.
Justworks makes it simple to hire and manage remote employees across all 50 states. It’s a cloud-based platform that enables managers and employees alike to quickly and securely access benefits, payroll, and other HR functionality from anywhere, anytime. That’s justworks.com/podcast.