Dave Asprey: The Science of Happiness

“Happiness is as good for longevity & health as giving up smoking”

— Dave Asprey


These days only 1/3 of American report being very happy. Dave shared with us data that shows that we are currently the wealthiest as a society, but our happiness has stayed the same as previous times of lesser income. He shared that we have greater happiness levels when we are in our early twenties, and then it continues to drop into our 50’s and is eventually goes back up to the highest level in our 70’s & 80’s. Maybe with more practice and a higher state of consciousness that age brings, we finally figure it out.

Not only is Dave talking about happiness, so is Harvard Business Review. According to HBR happy people can make more for themselves and their employees. Happy people on average have:

  • 31% higher productivity
  • 37% higher sales
  • 300% higher creativity (the act of being creative encourages more creativity)

“Happiness, it’s a feeling”

— Dave Asprey

He spoke about two two areas of the brain that feed each other: Hedonia and Eudaimonia. The hedonia is responsible for pleasure and enjoyment, while too much hedonia causes addiction. Eudaimonia is responsible for meaning and purpose. Dave says we can give ourselves happiness by looking at the bigger picture. Dave gave a great example about having a job  bagging groceries at a grocery store. One can bring themselves happiness by looking at the job as an act of service, interacting and smiling. They can think, “how great it is that someone doesn’t have to bag their own groceries because I am doing it for them.”

We tend to chase happiness. I know I’m guilty of thinking that once I have those shoes I will be happy. Once I achieve that perfect weight I’ll be happy. In Buddism, they call this the Hungry Ghost. Always searching and grasping for the carrot.

Although happiness is not related to how much money one makes, It turns out that happiness does have a bit of a price- 75k. Above that, it doesn’t buy anymore happiness. This is because 75k can provide you with a roof over your head, food, clothing, and all of your basic needs, plus a little more. The idea is to practice and cultivate happiness despite ones income. Dave also stresses generosity. He says “we gotta give to recieve.” Practicing generosity increases happiness. I love that Dave talked about leaving gratuity at restaurants as I was a server for six years so I have a soft spot in my heart for the restaurant industry. He suggests a simple way to be more generous is by leaving a server the 20% at the restaurant. Unless giving 20% over 15% is really going to make a different in your life, do it. It will make a bigger difference in their life than yours. He say’s “pay it forward. Being kind each day builds happiness.” I’m with you on that one Dave, it does make a difference. It really can make someones day.

“Happiness and gratitude spread because there’s something about us”

— Dave Asprey

There is also heart rate variability that effects ones own happiness as well as others. When we are in a relaxed, happy state, we are in parasympathetic mode. When we are in this mode it spreads. We can unconsciously feel that in others. I love this.

Most of us have heard before that gratitude is an easy way to feel more happy. It’s true according to Dave. Gratitude is one of the strongest predictors of happiness. Dave suggests to count our blessings by thinking of three things we’re grateful for every night to tell our mind that we live in a place of bounty. Even if you had a bad thing happen, look for one good thing that came out of the situation. Your health will thank you for it. Happier people are healthier and have stronger immune systems, and they have higher quality relationships. All of our relationships pay dividends.

“Feel your feelings, you’ll experience more happiness”

— Dave Asprey

Mindful or Mind Full? Learn to adapt better. Dave says that resilience is the key to a bulletproof life. With acceptance of self, one can adapt more effectively though the challenges of life. Dave says “feelings don’t have reason, they’re feelings.” Avoid overthinking and rumination. Feel what you’re feeling and move on. Don’t judge it, accept it. This is something I have been working on this year and it has really made a difference in the way I deal with things. Instead of saying “I shouldn’t be feeling angry right now”, I say “I am angry” and I let every cell in my body feel anger. I can’t tell you how fast the emotion passes through me now. I can then laugh and it and smile after and continue my day without thinking about it again because I’m over it. This practice has made me really proud of myself.

Forgive yourself and others. Practice the art of letting go. Dave is full of amazing one liners. He says “a grudge is carrying someone else’s baggage not yours.” “When you effectively forgive something you seize to hold onto it.”

Identify whats happening in your life. When we are able to identify we’re able to change our programing. Dave urges us to deprogram our nervous system from the habitual ways it’s use to and have more control over our biology.

Happiness is a brain state. We can train our brain to experience less happiness or we can jack up the brain with the right feedback.


Dave Asprey Science of Happiness Recap

  • Move your body to boost happiness (it creates higher happiness levels)
  • Hedonia will give you short term pleasure: eudemonia will give you long term happiness
  • Build meaningful relationships to spread and strengthen joy
  • Be grateful for the good in your life
  • But recognize your anger, fear, anxiety as valid feelings…
  • And if someone hurts you, practice forgiveness instead of holding onto bitterness
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