What does it mean to be happy? Is it the pleasure of doing nothing, or, as the Italians would say, dolce far niente? Is it the sense of community and shared contentment that the Māori people find in performing a haka? Or maybe it’s the Finnish habit of drinking at home in your pants?
In her book The Atlas of Happiness (£16.99, Hodder), Helen Russell explores what happiness means to people around the world, and how what makes us happy is intricately linked to our cultures. She also looks into what the research has to say about why these things might make us happy, and suggests ways that we can experience happiness in all its forms ourselves.
In this episode of the Science Focus Podcast, she speaks to BBC Focus online assistant Sara Rigby about what she has learnt about happiness, misconceptions about the haka, and what we Brits could do to make ourselves happier.
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Listen to more episodes of the Science Focus Podcast:
- There’s no such thing as Blue Monday – Sir David Spiegelhalter
- Why ASMR gives you tingles – Emma WhispersRed
- Inside the mind of a comedian – Robin Ince
- Finding the fun in science – Dara Ó Briain
- The neuroscience of happiness – Dean Burnett
- How emotions are made
- How the happiest people on the planet keep smiling
- The science of happiness: six books to brighten up your January