Special thanks to Sophie Scott for answering 5 questions about her recently featured book – Roadtesting Happiness: How to be Happier (No Matter What)
Sophie Scott is the national medical reporter for the ABC, in addition to being a prominent public speaker. Sophie has won numerous awards for excellence in medical and health journalism, including an Australian Museum Eureka award and multiple awards from various professional medical colleges. – From ABC News
1. What was the impetus for Roadtesting Happiness?
I wanted to write Roadtesting Happiness because I’m passionate about psychology and I had read lots of books about happiness and how to get it. But when my mother died, I felt racked with grief and it tested everything I had believed about how to cope and be resilient. My journey, documented in Roadtesting Happiness, was to find solace and a way towards happiness, when all hope seemed lost.
2. Your own journey was a fundamental feature of the book. How did writing this book affect you personally?
I have to admit, writing something so personal wasn’t always easy. I’m a journalist. We deal in facts and information. Opinion and putting yourself in the centre of the story wasn’t something I was used to. But I felt it was crucial to show how even someone with all the tools and information can find it difficult to see a path to happiness. Being happy and resilient is like working a muscle. It needs constant, small efforts but the reward can be huge. I have a poster from the book on my wall which says “happiness is a habit. Get practising.”
3. What was it like to speak with so many people with different views about happiness? Did some of the answers surprise you?
What I found from interviewing people with different views of how to be happy was that there is no one right answer. Happiness and fulfilment is personal. But one constant is that happy people don’t judge themselves too harshly. They have worked out where they find joy in their lives and make it a priority.
4. Happiness is a highly subjective concept. How does the rigor of science marry with such a malleable idea?
That is a great question! In so many ways, that concept of how science and happiness interacts is at the heart of Roadtesting Happiness. I’m a medical reporter so I focus on evidence. What the research into happiness shows is that there are robust scientific findings backing up what we’ve been told makes us happy. Exercise can alter the circulation of neurotransmitters including serotonin and has been shown to be as effective as anti depressants in people with mild depression. Meditation can improve your health, down to a genetic level, by suppressing stress related genes. The scientific evidence is overwhelming.
5. Are you working on any new projects/books you can tell us about?
Yes. I’m really excited about my latest project which is a regular blog on health, happiness and emotional wellbeing. You can subscribe at www.sophiescott.com.au
I want to bring the latest evidence-based research on revitalising the way we live, eat and move. I am also lucky enough to be hosting more health events and connecting with so many great people interested in health and wellbeing.
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