2020 was the most challenging year of many of our lives. Through it all, The Science of Happiness podcast searched for ways to find meaning, connection, well-being, and, yes, happiness. We confronted the challenges of the pandemic head-on by asking experts and our guests how we can stay connected, calm, and hopeful.

We learned about combating a crisis of loneliness with former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, why we should thank our heroes from activist and Parkland shooting survivor Kai Korber, how to love our less-than-favorite people with musician Gaelyn Lea, the connection between racial justice and well-being with john a. powell, and much, much more.

We watched our country call for change, and our team asked ourselves how we can be part of that. We committed to lifting up more voices, taking a more inclusive approach to our work, and broadening how we think about happiness and well-being.

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Our listeners took that journey with us, and our community expanded. Our total downloads grew by several million this year—up to more than 20 million since we launched in 2018. We were featured in Apple’s top podcasts and recommended by the New York Times as a podcast “for this time,” to get us through 2020.

  • How Birdsong Can Help Your Mental Health (The Science of Happiness Podcast)

    The Science of Happiness

    What does it take to live a happier life? Learn research-tested strategies that you can put into practice today. Hosted by award-winning psychologist Dacher Keltner. Co-produced by PRX and UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center.

In case you missed them, here are seven of our favorite 2020 episodes of The Science of Happiness:

1. From Othering to Belonging: During a renewed reckoning around racial injustice, past Science of Happiness guests share how they found meaning, and supported their well-being and the people they care about. Hear from Theresa Scott, Adrien Michael Green, Jennifer Keitt, Kai Koerber, and Justin Michael Williams.

2. What’s Your Why in Life?: Adrian Michael Green helps teens tap into a sense of purpose and shares how adults can learn from his work, too.

3. How to Reconnect With Your Partner: Comedians Francesca Fiorentini and Matt Lieb met a comedy club in San Francisco and fell in love soon after. They try a practice to bring more excitement and passion into their relationship, even while sheltering in place.

4. A Cure for Loneliness: Even before the pandemic, Americans were facing down a national crisis of loneliness. Former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy shares his personal journey with loneliness, and why focusing on the quality of our relationships, not the quantity, can be an antidote.

5. How to Ride With the Pain: It’s easy to be anxious and uncertain about the future—especially if you’re eight months pregnant. Our guest, first-time parent and psychologist Jade Wu, tries practices to help her deal with whatever life throws her way.

6. Are You Listening to Your Elders?: Connecting across generations is one of the oldest happiness practices there is. We hear from Ohlone tribal members Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino about how and why to honor your elders, along with other practices from indigenous cultures often overlooked by Western science.

7. 24 Hours of Kindness: Could performing random acts of kindness help you feel better? UC Berkeley student and Underground Scholars mentor Aaron Harvey lets the practice guide his actions for 24 hours and shares the results.

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