The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos

You might think you know what it takes to lead a happier life… more money, a better job, or Instagram-worthy vacations. You’re dead wrong. Yale professor Dr. Laurie Santos has studied the science of happiness and found that many of us do the exact opposite of what will truly make our lives better. Based on the psychology course she teaches at Yale -- the most popular class in the university’s 300-year history -- Laurie will take you through the latest scientific research and share some surprising and inspiring stories that will change the way you think about happiness. iHeartMedia is the exclusive podcast partner of Pushkin Industries.

Happiness Lessons of The Ancients: Socrates and Self-Knowledge

Happiness Lessons of The Ancients: Socrates and Self-Knowledge

Mon, 20 Feb 2023 05:48

Question everything... that's a key insight from the great Greek philosopher Socrates. We may think we know ourselves and what makes us happy... but that's not always true.

Yale professor Tamar Gendler says that by harnessing our "inner Socrates" we can ask ourselves why we think or feel certain things. We might then find that deeply-held convictions that money or status or accolades are a reliable route to happiness aren't correct, and can then start to pursue the things that might really make us happier.

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In fact, many long dead philosophers, thinkers, and spiritual leaders have had some powerful ideas for improving our well-being, strategies that are just as relevant today in the age of the podcast, as they were back in the time of Caesar or the Pharaohs. If you've listened to other seasons of the Happiness Lab, you probably know that I get a lot of inspiration from ancient lives and insights, and that I love to share all those old school tips with you. But our past episodes have only just scratched the surface on all the strategies that ancient wisdom can teach us. So get ready to go old school and welcome back to Happiness Lessons of the Inchids, with me, Dr. Laurie Santos. In today's episode, I want to share the happiness insights of a towering figure in the history of Western thought. He's the OG disruptor, a philosopher who challenged everything, but someone who is never so vain as to think that he knew it all. He's a scholar who's beloved worldwide by some of the most brilliant philosophers and academics around. A thinker that I personally was lucky to be exposed to all the way back in the 1980s, but not because I read his student Plato's famous account of his teachings. Now, I learned of this famous scholar's work from Billin Ted's excellent adventure. For those uninitiated in 80s cinema culture, Billin Ted's excellent adventure is a movie about Bill S. Preston's Squire and Theodore Logan, aka Billin Ted. There are two Sandeem's high school students who, in an attempt not to flunk their history exam, head back in time to meet the great thinkers of the past. Billin Ted were the first to expose me to the central doctrines of Socrates, or, as I would later get to know him, Socrates. Socrates's famous idea, which very much appealed to Billin Ted, is that we know far less than we often think. It may sound like a simple concept, or a joke out of some classic high school movie, but it's also a hugely important insight, especially if you want to live a happier life. There are errors in history where Socrates was considered a figure alongside Jesus. This is my dear friend, the Yale philosopher and cognitive scientist, Tamara Gendler. Benjamin Franklin, who has this wonderful Arbography, which is full of really good advice about happiness, wrote humility, imitate Jesus on Socrates. Tamara teaches a popular class at Yale, known as philosophy in the Science of Human Nature. You can check it out for free on the Open Yale Course Network. The class looks to ancient scholars for insights into the problems we all face today. And Tamara agrees with Ben Franklin that Socrates is a perfect model of intellectual humility, and that his example, if we can follow it, will bring lots of benefits to our daily lives. Socrates is a fascinating figure. He lived about 25-hundred years ago in ancient Athens. He was born sometime around 470 before the common era. And though we don't know his exact birth date, we do know his exact death date because he was put to death in a very famous public trial in Athens in 399 BCE, which was recorded by his student, a man named Plato, who described Socrates' intellectual integrity and bravery in his willingness to be put to death for what he believed. What Socrates was known for is sitting out in the public square of Athens and drawing people into conversations about fundamental questions, questions like what's the nature of truth? What's the nature of justice? What is it for a society to be fair? What should our attitudes be towards the gods? What should our attitudes be towards religious rituals? What should our attitudes be towards prisoners that we captured from other countries? And because Socrates was willing to question everything, he was accused of being a corruptor of the youth. And when he was put on trial, he was put on trial for corrupting youth by causing them to question the received wisdom of their culture. So like what was his background? How did he become the kind of guy that was questioning all these things? Here's what we know about Socrates. We know that his father was a stone worker and his mother was a midwife. And those are roughly middle class professions in ancient Athens. So he wasn't a super elite guy, but he was born into a social class that gave him access to the elite. So he didn't have many financial concerns. He inherited his father's estate, that is, he came from the part of society that had inherited wealth, which allows a certain kind of security and stability. And as a result, he was free to pursue ideas that intrigued him. And he had been trained up in the way that most middle class opinions of his time were he knew how to read and how to write and he knew a little bit about poetry and music. But even though he was kind of this middle class dude with some inherited wealth, he also kind of wasn't into that wealth himself, right? Like he kind of just didn't dress as awesomely as other Athenian dudes and things. Yeah, I would say one of the striking things about Socrates is that he was a pretty idiosyncratic guy. He was not conventionally attractive by the north of his time. He was being bellied and numb nose. And he let us say a should customary bathing practices. So he was kind of a guy on the corner who engaged passers-by in conversation. He was a funny guy. So you can imagine him as sort of an owner of a Brooklyn corner store who just engages all of the people who pass him by in really, really, really interesting conversation. But instead of being about the Yankees or the Mets or the Lottery, his conversation is about the nature of mathematics or the value of justice. But really what he is is a guy at the corner store who's engaging everyone going by in his quirky idiosyncratic individualistic way. And he wanted to be in the corner store that got a lot of followers, including some like really famous ancient philosophers, right? Socrates was the person who was the teacher of Plato. So Plato is the person who was the teacher of Aristotle and Aristotle taught Alexander the Great. So in his intellectual legacy is all of ancient Greek history. But he was really famous even at the time where he lived. If you have heard of any of the ancient playwrights, they wrote plays about Socrates in which he appears as a character, a gavfly or a funny guy on the corner. So there are famous comic play about him by a Greek dramatist called Aristophanes. He's also written about in historical works. For example, the ancient historian Zina von Wights about him. So he was in some sense the person whom all of the rich, cool kids of Athens hung out with contrary to their parents' desires. Imagine your Plato's parents, you want him to go on to live a normal, a thinian life where he makes money and has a position of honor. And instead he's hanging out on the corner with this funny looking guy who is wearing ratty roads and has a messy demeanor about him who's asking him to think about fundamental questions. And it's not just Plato, it's all the fancy youth of Athens who are down there hanging out with this dude, Socrates. But the parents didn't really like the fact that their kids were hanging out on the corner with this lovinly guy. And that was one of the reasons that his life played out in a sort of unfortunate way. And then. Yeah, so the parents really didn't like the fact that their kids were hanging out on the corner with this lovinly guy. And the city of Athens decided to put Socrates on trial. And they made three charges against him. The first was that he was corrupting the youth. The second was that he was worshipping false gods. And the third was that he was defying the state religion. And the trial of Socrates is documented in a dialogue written by his student Plato in which Plato allows the world to hear what happened at the trial and what happened when Socrates accepted the outcome of the trial. So famously, Socrates was condemned to death. And the death was to take the form of drinking poison hemlock. Socrates students offered him the opportunity to escape Athens so that he could avoid what they viewed to be an unjust penalty. And Socrates instead said, I have lived within the city of Athens. I have thrived because of its laws and culture. And therefore I am compelled to take the penalty, which is given to me whether or not it is the penalty, I think, appropriate. So he spent his last day surrounded by his students and then voluntarily took upon himself the penalty, which had been imposed. So one of the reasons Socrates is famous is for this kind of, you know, drinking the hemlock, corrupting the youth story. But one of his main philosophical legacies is the way that he went about his argument. And so this is what's known as the Socrates method. What is the Socrates method? And why was it so kind of novel and important? So the Socrates method is the method of asking questions rather than giving answers as a way of causing people to think through their own commitments and allowing them to bring them into some sort of equilibrium or harmony. So there's a famous example in one of Plato's dialogues about Socrates, which is a dialogue called the Meno, where Socrates encounters a young uneducated boy. And he teaches that boy the Pythagorean theorem. You may remember that's the theorem from geometry about a right angle in a triangle and the relation between the sides of the triangle. And the way that Socrates teaches this young boy about the Pythagorean theorem is by asking him the young boy a series of questions that caused the young boy to realize explicitly something which he had already realized implicitly, which are certain facts about geometrical relations. So you can see how that works in the case of geometry. And we can think of our own examples of teaching children basic facts of arithmetic. You cause them to come to reason. If I have one apple and I put one other apple on the table, how many apples would we have? That's a critic method. It's a listening from somebody a fact about the world or a view about the world which they held but they didn't realize they held. So what Socrates does is he uses the method that you might use in arithmetic or geometry about the sorts of things that matter most. So he might ask you a question why does truth matter? And you might say truth matters because truth is a good guide to the world. And then he would say but what if there was something untruthful that were an equally good guide to the world? Would that matter to you as much as truth? And you would engage in a back and forth about it until you yourself come to recognize either that you don't fully understand something or that your previous view about it was just based on assumptions for which you don't have real justification. And the cool thing about the syncratic method is that Socrates didn't just ask these kinds of questions of other people. He also applied the same method to what he himself knew to his own sets of knowledge, right? That's right. So there is a famous story about this. And to tell you the story I'm going to need to give you just a little bit of background about ancient Greek religion and culture. So one of the things the ancient Greeks believed is that the gods could speak to human beings through what were called oracles oracles were basically mystical priests who interpreted the words of the gods. And there was a very very famous oracle at a place called Delphi in Greece in the Temple of Apollo. And during the time this is reported in Plato's apology during the time of Socrates' trial a young man named Tyrophon went to visit the oracle at Delphi. And Tyrophon said to the oracle, oracle, who is the wisest person? And the oracle answered Tyrophon by saying very specifically, no one is wiser than Socrates. The Tyrophon comes back and he says to Socrates, hey, I went to see the oracle at Delphi and it said that no one is wiser than you. And Socrates responds as follows and I'm now giving you the exact words as transcribed in Plato's apology that are translated into English. When I heard this says Socrates, I said to myself, what can the oracle mean when it says that no one is wiser than I am? For I know that I have no wisdom, small or great. And then Socrates continues, so I went to one who had the reputation of wisdom. And I began to talk with him and I could not help thinking that he was not really wise. Although he was thought wise by many and wiser still by himself. So Socrates continues, so I left him saying to myself as I went away. Although I don't suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is. For he knows nothing and thinks that he knows. Whereas I neither know nor think that I know. But what Socrates saying here, he's saying most people who have a reputation for being wise and knowing a lot of things have a mistaken degree of self confidence. They not only act to the world as if they know things. They are in their own minds more certain than they ought to be. And so this is what's been called the paradox of self knowledge or the paradox of sacratic knowledge. What is that? The paradox of sacratic knowledge is that the knowledge involves the recognition that Socrates himself is unsure. So think back to what the oracle that the chiroffon. The oracle didn't say in response to the question, who is the wisest person? The oracle said when asked, who is the wisest person? No one is wiser than Socrates. And in saying that, it emphasized that the way in which Socrates is wise is that he knows just how much he does not know. So this is cool. I mean, it's really setting up this idea that to know ourselves is to know that we don't know ourselves. Yeah, that's a beautiful way of putting the paradox. To know ourselves is to know that we do not know ourselves. It is to know that in many ways we do not have direct access to our motivations. We don't have direct access to what it is that we are actually responding to when we do something. And it's an endless process of engaging in sacratic self question. So there's a way in which each of us can give ourselves an inner Socrates who says, why do you think that? Is it possible that you think that for a different reason? Is it possible that even though you assume you value that? Actually, that's just an old habit that you haven't questioned. Is it possible that you think you're responding to a person? And in fact, you're responding to a stereotype about people of that kind. Those are the kinds of questions that your inner Socrates can ask you. Harnessing your inner Socrates isn't always comfortable. It involves intentionally questioning why you think certain things and why you take certain actions. It also involves admitting that you probably aren't as smart as you think you are. But the science hints that channeling this ancient thinker a bit more can be an important step to becoming happier. The problem, as we'll explore when the happiness lab returns from the break, is that our brains don't always make that an easy task. The happiness lab will be right back. What if you were a global energy company with operations in Scotland, technologists in India, and customers all on different systems? You need to pull it together. So you call an IBM and Red Hat to create an open hybrid cloud platform. Now data is available anywhere securely. And your digital transformation is helping find new ways to unlock energy around the world. Let's create a hybrid cloud that can change in industry. IBM, let's create. Learn more at I want to tell you about a show called Exchanges at Goldman Sachs. It's Goldman Sachs Weekly Podcast. And you can think of it as a go-to podcast for all things finance. A few examples of what they've had on the show recently. There was an episode on the rise of the dollar, which of course is a huge global story right now. Also, we'll slaying inflation require recession. That's probably the most important economic story in the US right now. And also, why we are living in a golden age of life sciences innovation. So as you can hear, the show covers a wide range of topics with Goldman Sachs senior leaders. And it helps you make sense of the world. So follow and listen to the exchanges at Goldman Sachs Podcast right now. Socrates' great insight is that we don't really understand ourselves as well as we think. It's an idea so radical that it got the great thinker condemned to death. But Yale professor Tamar Gendler argues the Socrates might have been on to something. Modern scientific studies show that there are real limits when it comes to our self-knowledge. In fact, some classic experiments have found that we don't even know why we feel the way we do. There's a fantastic study done in the 1970s that was trying to figure out whether people sometimes mistake what is going on around them for what is going on inside them. And so here's the study. The study involved putting two people on a bridge. And the bridge was either a really solid bridge and unthreatening or it was a suspension bridge. And afterwards they looked to see how likely the two people were to think that they had physical attraction to one another. That is how likely they were to call the other one and ask for a date. People were almost twice as likely to ask the other person for a date when they had been standing on an unstable bridge than when they had been standing in a stable place. That seems wired, right? That's a major major effect. Why are people twice as likely to think they were attracted to somebody? If they met them on a bridge that was unstable, then if they met them in a place that was stable, think about what happens when you're on a shaky bridge. Your heart beats a little faster. Your breath gets a little shallower. You notice a little bit of trembling. What happens when you fall in love with somebody and find them physically attracted? Your heart beats a little faster. Your breath gets a little shallower. You notice your hands trembling. That is, people can't distinguish whether the reason their heart is beating fast is because they're on a shaky bridge or because they're attracted to a person. That fact about people that we cannot tell what's causing us to respond in the way we do became the basis for almost 50 years of psychological studies that looked at exactly this question. This is basically really falling prey to the thing that Socrates was worried about. Even in a domain as fundamental as whether or not you're falling in love with somebody, we just don't have access to what it is we really prefer. What it is we really believe? What it is we really think and why? Yeah, imagine having an inner Socrates with you on the bridge, right? So there you are and you're thinking, oh, this person across from me is really hot. And your inner Socrates says, hey, why do you think they're really hot? And you say, well, my palms are sweaty. And your inner Socrates says, is there any other explanation for why your palms might be sweaty? Did you notice you're standing on a bridge? And all of a sudden the fact that you are willing to doubt that you know yourself allows you to know yourself better. And our inability to know this stuff doesn't just happen in these domains where, you know, our heart is racing and this is big physiological effect. Sometimes it's really just cognitive too. So tell me about these sort of choice blindness studies. So here's a fabulous choice for this kind of study. So you show people a pair of pictures and ask them to judge which picture they think is more attractive. So suppose they say the second picture is more attractive to them than the first picture. A minute later, when they show the pictures next, they've swapped them. You show them the first picture, not the one they chose, the first picture. And you say to them, why did you think this one is more attractive? And they offer a rationalization where they say, oh, I thought picture one was more attractive than picture two because I like the color of the shirt or I really like the shape of the eyebrows. But notice, they didn't think that picture one was more attractive than picture two. A minute ago, they had selected the second picture. So not only do people have a really bad sense of why they make the choices that they do, they may not even be in a position to hold on to which choices they made. We are not transparent to ourselves. We should have our inner Socrates check whether we mean what we just said. So these are kind of funny examples about our choices and who you might find attractive or what image we might like better. But this is also a big problem for our happiness because our happiness also seems to depend on our preferences and how we think we should behave. If we don't have knowledge of that, that's going to be a big problem for how we act in the world. That seems exactly right. So when you ask people what makes them happy and they make their first guess is they give answers like, oh yeah, what makes me happy is money. And what makes me happy is external approval. And when people say those things, they're convinced of them. And exactly the same way that the person on the bridge was convinced that they were falling in love with this other person. And they didn't recognize that they were wrong about what they thought they knew. In that same way, we're wrong about a whole bunch of things we think we know about what makes us happy. I mean, this whole podcast is filled with that, right? You know, we have episodes about how we think, you know, spending money out of cells will make us feel happy. But actually, we find out that spending money on other people is really the way to go. We have episodes on how trying to like add to our workload will make us happy because we want accolades at work. But then we find that having more free time will make us happier. You know, there's even a famous episode where I get lots of critiques from people online where we tell people, hey, talk to strangers that'll make you happy. But people consult their self-knowledge and their self-knowledge says, nah, that will make me feel like crap. I mean, it just feels like the whole field is one where we really need to recognize that our minds seem to be lying to us if we want to make some progress. But it's kind of a problem because we don't really know what we don't know. That's right. And the first step towards being able to recognize what we don't know is being ready to accept that any given moment where you seem to know something, you might not. You might know it, but you might not. And so let's walk through why we're so bad at self-knowledge, right? One comes from the structure of the way our minds work, which is like we kind of just don't have access to everything in our heads. Yeah. So anybody who's ever heard of the notion of the unconscious or read a novel in which a character does something for a reason that they themselves don't recognize or anybody who's ever been involved in therapy knows that one of the fundamental ways of understanding human beings is to understand that a lot of what we do is not for conscious reasons. It's for unconscious reasons. And what it means for something to be unconscious by definition is that it's not something to which we have direct immediate automatic access as we move around in the world. And so that's the problem of things in our minds being unconscious, things we don't have access to. But there is also a problem where our mind isn't just a unitary thing too, right? Yeah. So we sometimes act as if there's a single thing that we're thinking at any moment. But it's never the case that there's only one thing going on in your head at once. Previously, Laurie, you and I had the chance to talk about a metaphor from Plato, which divides the mind into three parts. It says that there are two horses and a chariot here, a driver of those horses. And one of those horses is interesting things like food and reproduction. The second horse is interested in things like honor and social approval. And then the driver of these horses is interested in reason and rationality. And Plato's image there is echoed by everything we now know about the brain. So in the middle of all of our brains is a lizard brain, which is responding to really primitive things. When you are making a judgment about the world, here's stuff coming in from your visual system. And there's stuff coming in from your auditory system. But there's also stuff coming in from your amygdala, which is giving you a sense of your emotions. And there may be things coming in from your memory. And all of these things are coming in in lots and lots of different directions and pulling you in different directions. And your mind has to make a decision about what it's going to say it sees. One of the nicest example of this is in an optical illusion. So if you're sitting in a train looking out the window and the train next to you starts moving, your visual system gives you a certain kind of information. And it runs to the front of your brain and it gets there to your conscious rational part before the stuff from your somatosensory or your vestibular system. And so you, even though it's the other train that's moving and you're sitting still, your eyes pull you. They get to the front of your brain first, they tell your brain what to think and your brain thinks, oh my god, my train is moving. But it's not. And that kind of mistake happens endlessly in brains that are built up of complex evolutionary layers as every human brain is. So our pesky minds make it hard for us to really know ourselves. But don't disparage us yet. Because when we get back from the break, we'll learn that we can get better at self-knowledge if we commit to harnessing our inner Socrates. We'll see how when the happiness lab returns in a moment. I'm not a day trader or a finance expert. I don't spend hours studying the stock market, but that doesn't mean I don't care about what happens in the economy and how that might affect my savings. That's why I listen to exchanges by Goldman Sachs. Its Goldman Sachs is weekly podcast and should also be your go-to podcast for all things finance. Every episode, you get sharp insights from Goldman Sachs senior leaders. Some episodes talk about the risk of recession, others cover how the metaverse will change our future. When I listen, it helps me break down big topics and make sense of our fascinating and complex world. Make sure to follow and listen to the exchanges at Goldman Sachs podcast now. Welcome to Biggie Burger. I'll take a cheeseburger. Two door or four door. What? Sorry, I'm shopping for a new car on the Roto app. Did you know that Roto finds discounts and rebates specific to each customer? That's kind of cool. Right. So you get the car you want and the price you want. It's like getting your burger just how you like it. Get every rebate and discount available. Then save big on your next car with Roto. Download the Roto app or check out Roto. The easiest way to buy or sell a car right from your phone. When I first watched Bill and Ted's excellent adventure back in the 1980s, my childhood self was able to pick up tiny snippets of the sacratic cannon. Mostly in the form of bad punchlines from the movie. Excellent! But it wasn't actually until later in my education that I was introduced to one of Socrates' key phrases, one that's super important for feeling happier. And one that I find to be to paraphrase Bill and Ted, most excellent. The quote that people often think of and associate with Socrates is the unexamined life is not worth living. So what does it mean to say the unexamined life is not worth living? There are two ways of thinking about that both with regard to one's relation to what we might call outer knowledge. That is the way the world is. And with regard to what we might call inner knowledge. That is the way we ourselves are. So let me start with the outer knowledge. What does Socrates mean when he says the unexamined life is not worth living? He means society as we inherit it isn't perfect. Your country may have a religion which has landed on certain really important truths and missed other really important truths. Your society may have some values which are really important to human flourishing, but some values which really impede human flourishing. And there are many, many discoveries to be made about the world. This is the time when science as a way of making sense of reality begins. For example, people begin to do astronomical work and understand the relation between the stars and the planets and the earth. All of those are what Socrates would call the examined life in an external sense. And so the unexamined life is the life where you aren't curious about the natural world around you and you aren't ready to challenge the social world around you. So that's version one of the unexamined life. The second version of the unexamined life that Socrates is concerned about is the case where you trust your first impression instead of your deeper self. That is the case where you don't awaken your inner Socrates to ask yourself, am I really in love with this person? Or is it just that my palms are sweaty? Am I really happier when I make lots of money? Or am I just taking at face values something that my brain is telling myself? Is my train really moving? Or am I just responding to what vision got into my body faster than the other senses? So the second sense in which Socrates means the unexamined life is not worth living is that he means we need to examine our own assumptions about what we think we want and about what we think we need. Another way we can do this is through the practice of mindfulness. Why does mindfulness help us kind of know ourselves better? So mindfulness is a practice whereby we try to authentically recognize what is going on inside us. It's a process of removing distraction and focusing deliberately attention on something particular. And there's a way in which you can think of meditation as a non-verbal analog of Socrates' self-examination. So Socrates says, keep asking yourself, why do you think that? But why do you think that? But why do you think that? That's the verbal version of Socratic Self-Question. Meditation is the non-verbal version of Socratic Self-Question. It says, attend what's really going on? What's really going on? What's really going on? So both of these are processes of eliminating distraction and coming to authenticity. Neither of them demands that you get all the way there. It just says, here's a process that you can follow that's going to bring you closer to the truth, closer to understanding. And that is being ready in the Socratic Sense to challenge yourself and ask why and being ready in a meditation sense to focus yourself and eliminate distraction. So the first way that we can really get better self-knowledge according to Socrates is through this idea of the Socratic Method and applying it to ourselves. What does this look like, say in the context of maybe thinking that money might bring us happiness when it might not? So you might ask yourself, in the way that Socrates would ask you, why do you think that money is going to give you happiness? Think back to a time that you got money. What did you really feel? Think back to other times when you were happy. What were those times like? Think back to things that you've learned from science about what it is that makes people happy. Why would you think those scientific facts don't apply to you? It's exactly like you come home and you have a fight with your spouse and your spouse says, why are you yelling at me? And you say, blah blah blah and your spouse asks you a question again and you realize, oh, I'm yelling at you because I was irritated by something that happened to me on the bus on the way home. And so I'm taking frustration that came from one source and I'm bringing it out in another source. That kind of capacity to recognize that we're doing something for a reason other than the reason we thought we were doing it is familiar to all of us when we think about our relations to other people. And so it shouldn't be surprising that it's also the case when we're making decisions for ourselves. I think a final way that we can really embrace our inner Socrates is to really understand what the science is telling us. Sometimes it's just really hard to know our minds because the unconscious makes us our own selves impenetrable. But if we know what's going on with other people, that that can kind of help us make better decisions ourselves. Yeah. So one of the amazing things about human beings is that each of us is different from one another. But in certain fundamental ways, we've each been given the same set of stuff to work with. All of us have brains that were subject to the same evolutionary process. All of us are affected by features of our external environment. And therefore, one of the ways to understand yourself is to understand other people. And it's really, really unlikely that everybody else in the world would be some way and you yourself would be another way. You are unique. You're unique in the configuration of facts which are true of you. But general tendencies that if your skin is cut, you will bleed. That if you are feeling sadness, your pupils will show a certain kind of dilation. Those are fundamental facts about human beings. And one of the many very good ways to learn about ourselves is to learn about others. And one of the very many good ways to learn about others is to use scientific understanding. I think another insight of kind of finding our inner Socrates is this idea that we can sort of treat ourselves the way we had treated friend. Like if our friend was really struggling with something, we might ask them questions. We might kind of get curious with them. And ultimately, what we're doing is just treating ourselves in the same friend like way that we might treat other people when they're dealing with difficult situations. That's right. It's sometimes said a friend is a second self, but a self is a second friend. And just as when we're asking a friend questions, why do you think that? Why do you think that? Hey, that's inconsistent with that. We don't do it in an accusatory way. We don't say, oh, you loser. You were being mean to the cat because you were angry at the bus driver. We say, hey, that's so funny. You're being mean to the cat because you were upset with the bus driver. Now that you understand that, isn't it easier for you to be compassionate towards the cat in the way that you wanted it to be? So one of the nice things about using a friend to understand yourself or using yourself to understand your friend is that they're both ways of evoking simultaneously compassion and responsibility. You say simultaneously, I'm not letting you off the hook to yourself or your friend. And I understand that it is challenging. And that simultaneous attitude of compassion and responsibility towards self and other through self and other is a key lesson that we can take from this socratic image. Sometimes when people hear about this idea that we don't know ourselves right well, it can be a little bit destabilizing. How have you handled this? Hard of what self knowledge requires is a certain kind of humility. That is really authentically understanding that you don't know yourself brings with it a kind of vertical. You have this sense that I don't really know what's going on inside, but then there's this reassuring sense that even though you don't know what's going on inside, at least you're no longer under the false impression that you thought you knew what was going on inside when in fact you didn't. And even though there is a certain kind of anxiety which comes with recognizing that you really are opaque to yourself, at least realizing that you're opaque to yourself is a little more transparent than thinking that you're transparent to yourself. Knowing all these practices and studying Socrates yourself have you been able to better turn on your inner Socrates to promote happiness? Absolutely. When I find myself frustrated, one of the tricks that I have tried to habituate in myself is just an asking of why am I feeling this emotion right now? Often it comes in the context of a case where I have a project that I want to engage in and I find myself procrastinating on it. And I ask myself why am I putting this off? And often it's because I don't know what the next step is or I'm hold and I'm staying where I am because I have a ready story in this room and I need something in another room. I'm discovering that these little things and make a difference that just lightly move me towards what I'm trying to do. I never try to get all the way there all at once. But Socrates self questioning can help me understand what direction I need to go to take the very next step. Socrates's ideas were so challenging in his own time that he was put to death. Today, many centuries later, Socrates is called to constantly question ourselves and our motivations can still cause lots of discomfort. But as Tamara so eloquently put it before, it really is better to know that we don't know. So next time you're feeling a negative emotion, a flash of anger or a sense of arousal or a twinge of sadness, take some time to intentionally examine the reasons you might be feeling that way. And look carefully at the steps you can take to address those emotions. And if you're planning to do something that you think will make you happy, why not channel your inner Socrates and ask if the path you're planning to follow is really right for you. Does it fit with what the science says truly makes for a happier life? Or are you being fooled by the lies of your mind yet again? And do remember the great advice of Socrates' later students, Bill and Ted. Because harnessing your inner Socrates is yet another great way to be excellent to one another and to yourself. If you liked hearing about today's ancient happiness insights, you should make sure you're signed up for Pushkin Plus. Pushkin Plus is our subscription service, which allows you to enjoy ad-free listening to this and other Pushkin podcasts. And as a special gift to Pushkin Plus subscribers, I'll be sharing some of my favorite passages from the original texts that you heard about today. So be sure to sign up today at Apple Podcasts or at Our next edition of Happiness Lessons of the Ancient is going to be a little different. We'll head deep into the Happiness Labs past episode archive. To look at the work of Socrates' famed pupils, Plato and Aristotle, we'll see that we're not yet done with the deep wisdom we can get from the ancient Greeks. Until next time, stay safe, stay happy, and party on. The Happiness Lab is co-written by Ryan Dilly and is produced by Ryan Dilly, Courtney Garano, and Brittany Brown. The show was mastered by Evan Viole and our original music was composed by Zachary Silver. Special thanks to Greta Cohn, Eric Sandler, Carly Migliori, Nicole Morano, Morgan Ratner, Jacob Weisberg, my agent Ben Davis, and the rest of the Pushkin team. The Happiness Lab is brought to you by Pushkin Industries and by me, Dr. Laurie Santos. To finish the day strong, you gotta start strong. So, shush up your morning routine with Honeybunches of Oats cereal. The perfect cereal, with the perfect combination of sweet flakes and crunchy granola. Honeybunches of Oats cereal keeps your happy tank full. So you can bring a bunch to your day, a bunch of smiles, a bunch of energy, a bunch of everything good. So start your morning with the sweetness and crunch of Honeybunches of Oats. Then get out there and make a bunch happen. Pick up a box of Honeybunches of Oats in the cereal aisle today. At Premiere, we never lose sight of our purpose, working with health systems and other stakeholders to create the world's healthiest society. Health care providers are operating in a more complex environment than ever before as they continue to address labor shortages, inflation, and a fragile supply chain. All while working to implement large-scale changes in an increasingly competitive and value-based environment, we're delivering solutions and more to help transform health care in our communities. Learn more about the power of Premiere's impact. 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