MAKE A DIFFERENCE | workplace culture / mental health / wellbeing

Happiness Half Hour podcast

A new podcast brings the University of Bristol’s ground-breaking ‘Science of Happiness’ course to BBC Sounds.

You can listen to the first two episodes here.

Over 10 episodes The Happiness Half Hour separates the facts from the fiction, debunking the fads and revealing what is scientifically proven to improve your wellbeing.

Using the latest peer-reviewed studies in psychology and neuroscience it gives listeners an evidence-based path to happiness – and it throws up more than a few surprises along the way.

The Science of Happiness is the first university course of its kind in the UK. It was brought to Bristol by Bruce Hood (DSc, PhD, FRI, FBPsS, FAPS) and has been a roaring success, with hundreds of students who took the module having a discernible increase in wellbeing and a decrease in feelings of loneliness.

Now Bruce and BBC radio presenter Emma Britton will bring the best of the course to BBC Sounds, starting on Tuesday, September 29.

Emma, known for her bubbly on air personality, said: “I can be up, I can be down, and some days I just can’t explain why. And if I’m honest, I’m down a lot more than people around me would realise. Does that sound familiar? Right now it feels harder than ever to feel positive all of the time.

“I thought: I can’t be the only one right? And that’s when I met Bruce and we decided to make this podcast, to take what science has proven really works so I can finally dispense with the self-help books.

“At the heart of this podcast is the message that happiness is not something we automatically know how to achieve, many of us have to learn it – and this course is your guide.”

Each week Bruce and Emma tackle a different topic to find out what the science says is the best path to long-term well-being.

They are joined by two willing Guinea pigs – ‘Happiness Hackers’ Jason Clarkson and Lillie-Mae Stubbs – who try out Bruce and Emma’s recommendations and give their verdict during the next episode. Lillie-Mae is a BBC social media journalist and Jason came through the broadcaster’s ‘New Voices’ talent search last year.

Bruce, Professor of Development Psychology at the University of Bristol, said: “I started the course because I was increasingly concerned about the rise in mental health problems among my students and I wanted to do something to help.

“I learned of a course at Yale, ‘Psychology and Good Life’ delivered by a former student of mine Laurie Santos, so I reached out to her and she helped me develop a pilot for Bristol.

“In the first term we had 150 students sign up, almost doubling to 250 the following term. We found the students who participated reported significantly increased levels of mental well-being and reduced score on loneliness compared with those who hadn’t taken the course.

“It was so successful, that I wanted to bring it to national attention with the help of the BBC so that everyone could benefit.”

The University of Bristol launched the Science of Happiness course in 2018. Due to its popularity the next year it was accredited as an official degree-level module – the only one at the university that is not assessed and is undertaken purely for the beneficial outcomes.

The first two episodes of the Happiness Half Hour drop on BBC Sounds today. New episodes will be released each Tuesday.

You can listen to the first two episodes here.