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Arthur Brooks: The Art and Science of Getting Happier

Brian Kilmeade Show / Brian Kilmeade
The Truth Network Radio
March 9, 2024 12:00 am

Arthur Brooks: The Art and Science of Getting Happier

Brian Kilmeade Show / Brian Kilmeade

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Brian Kilmeade Show
Brian Kilmeade

The reason Donald Trump will win is because he's the greatest fighter we've ever had in the history of politics. I endorsed him a year ago, so a lot of us knew this comeback was coming. He's going to win because he's an authentic human being that relates to people on a personal level that, quite frankly, DeSantis and Nikki didn't do, and they're great people, but they didn't do. That's why people love Donald Trump. And the people that do like him love him, and the people that really don't like him really don't like him in a way I've never seen before, but if you have a politician that's going to pack a house, we all know there's only one person they could do it these days. Arthur Brooks is with us.

That's a little taste of his old life, the political life. He's a Parker Gilbert Montgomery professor and author of Build the Life You Want, The Art and Sciences of Getting Happier. He's also the Art and Science of Happiness Online Workshop, a series of 10 video lessons with our downloadable resources, a podcast component, and other learning tools. So there is a podcast. I asked you if you had a podcast. Yeah, yeah, it's a podcast component. I'm not doing a weekly podcast at this point, but I'm teaching. So you're taking your course and you're putting it online?

You broke it up into 10? Yeah, I mean, I do. It's a workshop. So, you know, I teach a course at the Harvard Business School on the science of happiness, and there's a lot of ideas out there, and so I have workshops that are available for people who want to learn on their own.

Not everybody gets to go to Harvard, as it turns out. Right, so I wanted you to, I know, you know, you used to be very political. Yeah, I was running a think tank in DC for 11 years.

Yeah, that'll do it. So when you hear our leaders of today as opposed to other years, like when we roll old tapes back and hear what Truman was running on and what Nixon was running on and JFK, it's not what the country could do for you, what you could do for your country. I can't imagine a politician saying this now.

Are the nature of our politicians getting us down? Yeah, so there's a big problem, a psychological problem in the United States, and this is one of the things that I teach. There's a concept called dark triad. Now, dark triad sounds cool, right, like a band or something. A dark triad is a combination of three personality characteristics that happens in 7% of the population. Narcissism, which means it's all about me, Machiavellianism, which means I'm willing to hurt you to get stuff for me, and psychopathy, to be psychopathic, which means I have no remorse.

7% of the population has this constellation of personality characteristics. Under normal circumstances, they're not rewarded. People don't like them. People avoid them. People don't want to date them.

People don't want to watch them on TV. But in certain circumstances where these malignant, narcissistic bullies actually can take over the political system, that's what you start to see on both right and left. And that's what we have in America today is making us nuts.

But you drove it down. But fundamentally, don't people of strength or with the character or physical strength, have they always been leaders in society? So, yeah, but they don't have to be dark triads. Lots of people with good character, with strong personalities, with a hardcore point of view, who really are natural leaders, but they love their fellow human beings.

They're not horribly narcissistic. They're not willing to hurt other people. They're not willing to do anything to get elected and anything to avoid losing. The trouble is that when we have bullies on both sides, that everybody's more afraid of the other bully than they dislike their own.

And so the result of that is that most Americans, more than 70 percent, say Trump versus Biden. I don't want that. I don't want that.

But OK, I guess I'll vote for my guy, whatever side they're on. So how does that affect the collective psyche in this country that you've noticed? It's bad. It's a really bad thing. There have been really three big storms pushing down American happiness.

And there's it's been going on for a long time. But go back to 2008, 2009. That was when everybody got social media on their devices.

That was horrible for happiness, especially young adults. Who would have thought? Yeah. If I told you in 2008 it's going to happen, we'd be more connected. Yeah. More diverse. We'll be smarter.

Nobody's lonely. Accessibility. Accessibility to knowledge. Yeah. It's a huge problem. And everybody listening to us who's got adolescent kids, they know exactly what I'm talking about here. They're more isolated, more anxious, more lonely, more depressed and hard to concentrate. Totally. Totally.

They're very distracted. And then and then, of course, more recently, the storm was the coronavirus epidemic where people got way lonelier. I mean, the symptoms of depression went up by fourfold and didn't come back down because of the horrendous the way that we reacted to the epidemic, which was locking everybody down. You know, basically you can't go out.

And if you do, you know, you're risking granny's life. You know, that whole thing that lasted was so horrible, especially for young adults. But in the middle of that and a slow rolling crisis that we've seen for American happiness is politics. Politics has been driving us crazy, making us anxious and actually depressed. And part of the reason is because you have political parties and media telling people that if somebody disagrees with you, you've got to cut them off. One in six Americans is not talking to a family member today because of politics, which is insanity. Family is one of the core parts of the happiness equation. You can't be happy if you start cutting family members off. The only reason to have a schism with family is abuse. And differences of political opinion are not abuse. This is appealing to ancient structures in the human brain that say this is in-group, out-group, my people, their people.

It's tribal. So, Arthur, you have a knowledge of politics and now you have an expertise in happiness. Are you going to tell me that Kennedy and Nixon going at it with controversial ends to the election? We had a different reaction in the sixties when we were anti-Vietnam, in the middle of racial unrest. It was different then? It was, it was actually a lot more like now than people recognize.

Yeah, for sure. And so you look at 1968, 1969, there was something like 700 political bombings. In some ways it was much worse. But then the country tends to come back together, fall apart, come back together.

This is a normal thing that we're seeing. What we need next to remember, 1973, 1974, Watergate, the whole thing disruptive. It was the worst political parties. Double figure interest rates.

You're absolutely right. And then what? Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan came along. Look, my family was completely against Reagan. I come from a liberal household in Seattle, Washington of academics and artists you can imagine.

Right. But I remember I was in high school, Reagan got elected and I thought, I heard him and I thought, he loves me. I don't even know him, but I actually think he loves me. And it converted me, man. I mean, Brian, I, it was, I became a different person because of the love that Ronald Reagan had for the United States and indirectly for me and leaders can do this. And just keep in mind too, and I feel weird saying this to you, but I remember in high school that people thought he was dumb. They thought he was reckless and thought he was dangerous. And I had the first time I realized how much he was beloved was when he died and that funeral and the turnout. But when we were living through him, do you think we appreciated him even though he did win 49 States of the reelection?

Yeah, no, for sure. So the key thing to keep in mind is that any company or family or community or even country has one of two basic polarities culturally. It's either based on fear or it's based on love. Fear and love are opposites.

They're, they're psychological opposites. Hate and love are not opposites. Hate comes from fear. And so that doesn't mean that if you have a love based polarity in your family, that there is no problem. Hate and love aren't opposites?

No, no, no, no. Fear and love are opposites. And this is a biblical principle too, that perfect love drives out fear, but this is also, it goes back to ancient philosophies and social psychologists understand this is true today.

They're different parts of the brain. Fear and love turn each other off in the human brain. And so the result of that is that when, when politicians are using fear-based language to drive us apart, what they're doing is that they're, they're suffocating love that we have for our friends and family. And that's why we're lonely and depressed in America today. You also think building on what you just said, if I win, you lose.

That attitude gets us nowhere. For example, now we'd understand if Trump wins, democracy is over. There might not be any more elections. And Hitler, Hitler, excuse me, really? Hitler, and maybe on the other side, they'll say the border's going to be wide open. We're going to be getting all these other illegal immigrants. Crime's going to run rampant. You see what's going on in New York City. So do you think that leaders should be more responsible in their rhetoric?

Oh, for sure. But they're doing this because they're trying to appeal to these ancient, ancient structures in our brains to make us disgusted by other people. There's a part of the brain called the insula. Its whole job is making you feel disgust. So you're afraid of a pathogen, like something in your fridge smells bad that will, this part of the brain will be stimulated. So you'll throw it away and not eat it.

It's, it's evolved is what it comes from. When politicians use disgust-based language, they say that other person hates America. That other person wants to destroy your family. They'll make you feel disgusted and you'll have the same reaction.

It'll, it'll hijack your brain. This is exactly what they're doing to us. They're dehumanizing us.

They're, our people are dehumanizing them as their followers. Oh, we, do we care more about, why do we care more about politics today than ever before? Well, the truth is that politics is more ever present because the media takes a different role in our lives is what we find is much, much easier to be surrounded by information. So before the internet, for example, it was the nightly news and a newspaper. And most of the day you weren't getting any news at all. Well, the truth of the matter is that on your device, you're always being delivered real time information and people get quite addicted to it and they distract themselves. They're never bored. And one of the ways that people distract themselves is the over-consumption of news.

And that's a very bad practice for your brain. So, you know, there's so much to take in. I mean, you've, you've made happiness a science, right? And is it a choice? Yeah. Well, happiness, it's a choice to actually pursue it. So you can't be happy because I mean, cosmically happy this side of heaven.

I mean, you and I believe that we're going to, if we're lucky, we're going to get to heaven. That's pure happiness, but you got to know somebody. Yeah. You got a guy. Yeah.

I got a guy to get you in. But what we really want is my co-authors, Oprah Winfrey on this work. And she talks about happy yearness, which is exactly the right way to think about it. Now, pure happiness means no negative emotions. You're going to have negative emotions. Life has aversive events, has things going on, and you need negative emotions to keep you alive because there are threats in life. You need to be sad sometimes and angry or afraid or disgusted for sure. Life is like that, but you can get happy year by understanding the science. That's why we put together this workshop that you can, that people can actually take and learn more about it and start to apply it and start to bring it to other people. And what I really want is for people to start seeing themselves as happiness teachers. But if I'm so focused on my happiness, am I selfish?

No, no. On the contrary, you got to put your own oxygen mask on first, Brian. If you're going to be somebody who's going to bring... Look, you have tons of people who watch you on television and listen to you on the radio. You have a responsibility as a leader to lift people up and bring them together, but you can't do it if you're miserable. You can't do it. Unhappy leaders can't have happy followers.

It just doesn't work that way. But you have to focus on what makes you happy. Yeah. And what makes you happy is the same thing that makes everybody else happy. Everybody feels like a special snowflake in their happiness, but the truth is it's just four things, faith, family, friends, and work.

Work that serves other people, whether it's for taking care of your family or working in a job, those are the big four. So I think some things are almost mislabeled. For example, when kids play sports, they go, if they're not having fun, don't let them play.

Yeah. That's wrong. It's wrong.

It's wrong. Because I go, what do you mean by fun? Like tag, like fun, smiling? When fun is learning to be in a team, learning your role in a team, learning to listen to a coach. Well, trying to win that game, trying to play the best you can, trying to get the most out of your skills. I don't watch people running sprints and thinking, look how happy they are.

No. They're focused on a mission. How does the mission play a role in your happiness? You have to have a direction in your life. This is, you know, meaning in life is a funny thing.

It just means when you retire, you oftentimes people go depressed. Yeah, for sure. There goes the mission. Yeah. And so part of meaning is what we call purpose and purpose is goals and direction.

You can't have a sense of meaning if you don't have goals and direction in your life. So I work with young people. I mean, I teach 20 somethings at, you know, at the business school, but I'm working with college students constantly. And I have young adult kids. My kids are in their twenties.

All three of my kids are in their twenties. I'm talking constantly about seeing the future, seeing what you're moving toward, not to be attached to it because it's going to change. You're not going to get exactly everything that you want, but to have intention without that attachment and moving in a direction. You must have that.

You must have those things. Do you feel like a therapist? How are you different from a therapist then? You know, I'm, well, I'm a teacher, not a therapist.

I'm not saying I'm going to fix you. It seems like you're coaching a lot of people in a way that therapists would. Well, a good therapist is really a good teacher.

That's really what it's all about. Because, you know, a lot of people go to therapy. I don't, but a lot of people do. And I know a lot of people who do therapy. I know a lot of therapists. The best ones are the ones who teach you about you. We're helping you get your PhD in Eunice. Not to, you know, fix you and to, you know, to, you know, blow your mind in every single session, but for you to uncover what's actually going on. And there are lots of ways to do that. There's a whole suite of techniques that I teach called metacognition.

It sounds fancy, but it isn't. It just means thinking about yourself and interrogating your feelings. I talk about journaling. I talk about meditation. I talk about prayers of petition, which for Christian people like me is super important. What does that mean? Prayers of petition, that means you're offering something up to God. And when you do that, you can't actually, the emotions are produced in a part of your brain called the limbic system.

It's very animal. When you actually interrogate your emotions, you move the experience of those emotions to the most human parts of your brain and you can manage them so they don't manage you. But you have to do something on purpose. Writing them down actually moves them to the human parts of your brain. Praying to God, actually articulating these things. I'm feeling this thing, Lord.

Can you help me? That moves it to the more human parts of your brain. And that's just the same thing that therapy is supposed to be doing. But you know, you don't have to go someplace and pay a hundred bucks. So when people say there's a science to prayer, there is a human science.

Oh my goodness. I mean, the research is completely overwhelming. It's super important. I mean, people who are religious but don't pray, they're leaving all the value on the table.

I mean, regardless of what your actual religious views are, I believe God actually wants to hear from me because we have a friendship. But even more than that, I actually know as somebody who's dedicated to the science of this stuff, looking at the neuroscience of this, it changes your brain. Were you different if I met you 10 years ago, 15 years ago? Did you always have this deep thought about what's going to make me feel happier while you were competing in your think tank world? It was hard.

It was much harder. So when I was running an organization, I mean, I was raising money and giving speeches and I was in the rough and tumble of Washington, D.C. all the time. And I realized that I wasn't happy.

And I wanted to be. Look, I'm a social scientist. My PhD is in behavioral sciences.

I've been doing this work for a long time. But I wasn't taking my own medicine. I wasn't doing research on what I really needed. My wife finally took me by the shoulders and said, hey, man, you got your PhD.

Why don't you use it on something useful? And so I actually retired and went to Harvard to teach happiness. That's why. Well, man, you really listen. Oh, yeah.

You put all men to shame. All right. So listen, stick around for a few more minutes. The Art and Science of Happiness Online Workshop is a series of 10 video lessons, downloadable resources, a podcast component as well. Where do we get it? Back in a moment. They're not the same in private as they are in public. She's completely the same. I mean, it's like everybody admires her for her public persona. And in person, when we're having dinner or dinner table or whatever, just hanging out, she's exactly the same person. She's humble. She's nice. What she really cares about is is is making life better for other people.

That's what she's used her platform for, which is why she can be this prominent and still very happy. And what did you the book and the response? What's it been like?

It's been incredible. I mean, it was number one New York Times bestseller for multiple weeks. It was spent the entire fall on the New York Times bestseller list, which was a thrill, which is great. And it gave us an opportunity to reach millions and millions of people. It's in 30 languages already.

It's great. And do you think you'll do something else? I mean, this just lay the groundwork for the next book? Yeah, we're talking, Oprah and I are talking about what we can do next to bring the science of happiness to more people, more people, more people, because that's really what we have the same mission, but different means of doing it.

And if she still had her show, then I would just go on her show a lot. But this is different. So we're looking for new ways.

We're looking for ideas right now on how to do this bigger. And is this a rich people problem trying to be happy? Not really, because everybody's got the same happiness equation, faith, family, friends, and work, rich, poor, everybody else, black, white, every single religion. We all want the same things.

And here's the million dollar question. Does money get you happy? No, it does not. Does it play a good role? Well, what it does is money is at relatively low levels eliminates many sources of unhappiness, but above relatively low levels, all that matters is how you spend it. The way to spend it is on the people that you love, experiences with the people you love, because happiness is love, Brian.

John Madden said that term. He goes, I like to have money because it gave me the freedom to do what I want. That's a good thing, as long as you're using that freedom to love people more. All right. Add Arthur Brooks to find out about his seminars, his series, and his books. Arthur, great to see you again. Thanks, man. And I feel happy because you chose to come in. It makes me happy to see you every time, Brian. Listen to the show ad-free on Fox News Podcast Plus, on Apple Podcast, Amazon Music with your Prime membership, or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-09 00:13:10 / 2024-03-09 00:22:10 / 9

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