The Learning Leader Show With Ryan Hawk

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Episode #366: Laurie Santos – 

Laurie Santos is a cognitive scientist and Professor of Psychology at Yale University. She has been a featured TED speaker and has been listed in Popular Science as one of their “Brilliant Ten” young scientists in 2007 as well as in Time magazine as a “Leading Campus Celebrity” in 2013. In January 2018, her course titled Psychology and the Good Life became the most popular course in Yale’s history, with approximately one-fourth of Yale’s undergraduates enrolled.


  • Sustaining excellence:
    • Good habits: Form consistent routines
    • Healthy: Exercise regularly
    • Socialize with others
    • They “offload dumb decisions”
  • Create a morning routine – Limit the wardrobe (limit mental energy spent on trivial things).
  • Harness the power of habits – “Set you exercise clothes out the night before.”
    • Do it at a consistent time each day no matter what. This decreases anxiety.
    • For writing: Stop in the middle of a sentence. This will help you get started the next day (and avoid seeing the blank screen)
  • Laurie is the head of a college at Yale. She lives and eats with the students in the dining hall.
    • She built her class based upon hearing the complaints of students daily (they were unhappy)
  • Important behaviors:
    • Gratitude
    • Social connection
    • Random acts of kindness
  • Students didn’t realize their misconceptions about happiness
    • It’s not about your job, house, or money.
  • Happy people are:
    1. Socially connected – They spend a lot of time with others. They prioritize connecting with others.
    2. They don’t focus on themselves – “Others oriented.” They do more for others.
    3. Grateful – They look for the good. They have a mindset of gratitude. They write down 3-5 things they are grateful for everyday. They are mindful.
  • The GI Fallacy – It’s more than just knowing… “You must DO IT.”
  • Be deliberate about connecting with others. Hang out with people you care about. Set up Skype calls with others.
  • Do NOT complain – It’s awful.
  • Laurie’s class has become the most popular class in the history of Yale…
    • Her lectures have been filmed for the Today Show
    • Created The Happiness Lab
    • It’s given more meaning to life
  • Advice for mid-level managers:
    • Doctors find happier workers use less than 15 sick days a year
    • Work with your employees to do what they’re best at
    • Find out what they’re getting out of the job
    • “Your emotions can be contagious. If you embody calm, they will be calm.”
    • Affective spirals – The leader can turn emotions positive
  • How to run excellent meetings:
    • Infuse it with gratitude – Say what you’re grateful for. Grateful team members are more productive.
    • Regulate your emotion. Don’t transmit negative energy to your team.
  • At home: Regulate emotion. Take time to pay attention to your emotion. What are you bringing home?
    • Be present. Express gratitude to your family. Shift from complaining to being grateful.
    • Say what you love about each other at your family dinner table
  • The best way to learn is to teach it.

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