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Emma Seppala: Science of Service: Why it's Good for You & the World

Emma Seppala On Happiness: Smile, Serve, Connect ...

Emma Seppala shared insights on science of happiness and connectivity on our Awakin call.

It was a very lively conversation with our moderator Amit Dungarani and other callers.

There is energy and passion in Emma’s voice. Her zeal to genuinely help others came through so well during the call.



Emma explained that sense of feeling connected to others is very critical for health and well being. It is a very empowering state of mind and heart. A monk in Himalayas staying by himself could feel connected to everything around him. At the same time, someone could feel lonely while surrounded by a lot of people.  You, as an individual, have a lot of control and say in this perception of connection.
Loving from your end is more important than feeling being loved. That’s where the service comes into play. When you serve, you feel connected naturally from inside.
Meditation and yoga are very useful to detect patterns of thinking and behavior. It can play a very effective role in restoring the sense of connection from inside. 


Emma has done research in yoga-based treatment for veterans. These veterans have a wider perspective about life; they have a very strong spirit of service and have incredible humility. However, their experience in the field can be very traumatizing leading to suicidal behavior, addiction, feeling of being lost …etc. There are opportunities and avenues for them to restore the healthy feeling from inside. A lot of work with that is using meditation and yoga … “rewire the brain using breath”. There is a documentary film, Free the Mind that is based on this research work. The film tracks, Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY), a yoga based breathing intervention. It is available to all veterans through Project Welcome Home Troops

In workplace when you take care of employees and colleagues, it brings the power of connection to workplace as well. Take care of people. That is a very effective way to build loyalty among peers, subordinates and superiors.

Use meditation to be aware of your mental state of mind. Be honest to yourself. Be real. Be as authentic as possible. That is foundation to healthier relationships with family, friends and colleagues.

Compassion and kindness are contagious. When you are being kind to someone, people away in the chain of relationships by as many as three links would benefit from that. When you see an act of kindness being performed, you feel good and kind from inside naturally. That’s how we are wired up.

Smile. Be nice to people when you see them. You might make someone’s life. Every one out of four people in the US feels he has no one to talk to.

Understand that everyone is vulnerable, flawed, soup of their own mind, worries and anxieties. Stop blaming people. Understand yourself first. You aren’t perfect either.

Having an attitude of gratitude is a very wise way of living.

Culture is layer of rules to connect with world around you. There is something to learn from every culture. The most of countries in Europe appreciate art, poetry, leisure. In the States there is so much more open mindedness. The lifestyle in China can be hard – it’s crowded, much less resources, life can be hard core; even then people in China are joyful, resilient, appreciative of what they have. Keep an open mind to learn from no matter where you go.

Take care of your own well being. See what nurtures you. And then, go out and help others. See what matches your personality. If you are an introvert engineer for example, you don’t have to go feed the poor in Somalia, maybe you help with engineering work.

Happiness and unhappiness are two sides of a coin. We experience happiness because there is unhappiness. Pain can be a blessing. Early in my life, I had anxieties and stress from it. It made me look for answers. It gave me opportunities to grow.

Emma is working on publishing a book based on her work. The book is about fundamental things that can help you recharge in middle of crazy busy, stressful life. There are ideas to breakthrough traditional barriers of theories and beliefs, and have a life full of happiness, resilience and fulfillment.


Emma has a lot of energy and enthusiasm in her voice. Feel that by listening to her Awakin call podcast. Emma's research on happiness, social connection and compassion has powerful ideas for healthier, happier, fuller life.

See Emma's TED talk on this topic...

Towards the end of the call, Amit asked Emma how we can help her. Emma’s answer was I think deeply touching, “If you know of any veterans in need for help, let me know. There are so many resources for them. With their wise perspective, deeply ingrained spirit of service and humility, these veterans can be a huge asset to our society.”



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