How To Be Sad with Helen Russell

Season 3 #1 Dr Tal Ben Shahar

September 15, 2021

Psychologist and New York Times Bestselling author Dr Tal Ben-Shahar taught the most popular course at Harvard on Positive Psychology – but he’s also the perfect guest to help us navigate how to be sad, well.

From a dashed career as an elite squash player to navigating the perils of perfectionism, the fallacy of arrival and the importance of feeling all of our feelings – Tal has explored highs and lows both personally and professionally.

Now, Tal says: ‘One of the major obstacles to becoming happier is the belief that life can and ought to be free of painful emotions.’


Here, we talk about

  • positive psychology vs toxic positivity
  • arrival fallacy
  • perfectionism (aka sunk cost’)
  • why we need to embrace ‘wholebeing’
  • the SPIRE model for living and being sad, well
  • what advice Tal would you give to his 21 year old self

Find out more about Tal’s work @TalBenShahar on Twitter or on Instagram - and his new book, Happiness Studies, is out now.

Follow Helen on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook @MsHelenRussell

Read more about Helen’s new book, How To Be Sad (Waterstones , Amazon UK or anywhere you like to buy books)

Get in touch with the show at

And as ever, BIG thanks to Joel Grove for production and to Matt Clacher at HarperCollins for making this podcast happen.

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