5 Questions for Emma Seppälä

5 Questions for Emma Seppälä

Researcher (and new S&H columnist) Emma Seppala, unpacks the latest studies on happiness and offers a new way forward in her new book The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success.

1. How does “chasing the future” actually hinder success?

You believe that, in order to succeed and be happy, you need to focus on the future. But this tendency to focus on the future makes you highly anxious. You get sucked into this pattern because of anticipatory joy and mistakenly believe that the chase will bring you happiness. Research suggests a far superior way to become successful without burning out: being present.

2. What does breath training have to do with building resilience?

Breath training can help you calm down quickly by activating your parasympathetic nervous system. It lowers blood pressure and heart rate very quickly. By regularly practicing breathing exercises, you can reduce your anxiety and learn to more quickly bounce back from stressful situations.

3. You say you can get more done by doing more of nothing. Why is it important to nurture creative idleness?

Neuroscience research shows that idleness helps you be more creative and innovative. By taking time off to do nothing, you are making space to gain insights into problems and to generate breakthrough ideas.

4. Why do we have such a hard time with gratitude and compassion?

Researchers have identified two main tendencies: the negativity bias and habituation. The negativity bias is our mind’s innate tendency to give more weight to the negative. Habituation refers to our tendency over time to get used to the boosts of happiness we receive from new positive experiences, so they no longer have the same effect.

5. What strategies personally resonate with you for attaining happiness and success?

Gratitude and compassion. Being of service gets us out of our head, out of our self-centered tendencies, and puts us in touch with a greater purpose. It also shows us our true colors. Just take on a service project you feel passionate about and watch yourself grow. You will find that you have many more talents and abilities than you even knew!

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