149: Cracking the Happiness Code with Dr. Jonathan Haidt, author of The Happiness Hypothesis

“Happiness comes from getting the right relationship between yourself and: Others, your work, and something larger than yourself.” – Jonathan Haidt

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What is happiness? How do we achieve it? Are attractive people happier? Are rich people happier? Could plastic surgery make you happier? Should we seek the most momentary happiness possible, or is a happy and fulfilled life one that consists of ups and downs over the course of it? These are just a few of the questions I get to ask Dr. Jonathan Haidt, author of “The Happiness Hypothesis” on this episode.

Many people confuse the state of happiness with a mood. The thought is that happiness is this momentary mood of joy that we feel, and often people spend all of their energy attempting to fill their lives with as much of that mood as possible, to attain the most happiness in their life possible. The truth, however, is more complex. As humans, we crave a storyline of attempting, failing, attempting again, and ultimately succeeding. That same storyline of ups and downs is what we crave out of a fulfilled life, and what will bring us the most happiness.

If you’re in search of the best, most fulfilled life possible, this episode is for you! Learn the surprising answer to whether plastic surgery can make you happier, if you should seek passionate love in marriage, why some traumatic experiences make you happier overall, whether your daily commute is making you less happy, and much more on this episode of the James Swanwick Show!

Key Takeaways:

  • The ancients had tons of advice on relationships and how to get along that is applicable to modern life
  • Many people confuse happiness with mood, or current feeling. But happiness in life consists of a story of ups and downs that leads to eventual happiness overall. A life that, at the end, you are proud to have lived
  • At the end of your day, write down three things that went well during the day. This simple exercise will increase your happiness overall
  • Traumatic experiences are essential to increasing our range of experiences, and thereby increasing our life happiness. Humans are just not their best when they haven’t had problems
  • Consider the level of stress that your commute is adding to your life daily, and whether it’s worth the home that you have decided to live in
  • If plastic surgery fixes something that was causing you shame, it increases your happiness levels
  • Relationships are far more important to happiness than any other aspect, including money and level of attractiveness
  • Passionate love tends to not last long. Passionate love evolved to get women pregnant, not to create long-lasting relationships
  • Companionate love is the kind that doesn’t wear off
  • Look for both passionate and companionate love in a marriage


“We (humans) are just not at our best until we’ve been challenged, and overcome those challenges.” – Jonathan Haidt

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