The Science Behind Everyone’s Obsession With Ted Lasso

The Science Behind Everyone’s Obsession With Ted Lasso
Image supplied: Apple

Ted Lasso is a treasure. If the constant online chatter and Emmy’s success hasn’t convinced you yet, let me tell you plainly that this show is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

The Apple TV+ series centres on an American college football coach, Lasso (played by Jason Sudeikis) who decides to take a coaching gig with a professional football (soccer) club in London – despite knowing next to nothing about the sport.

While football, and the team, are significant to the story, that is not what Ted Lasso is about. Not really. The heart of the show is Lasso’s unshakeable commitment to kindness, irrespective of the circumstances he is faced with.

The thing with Lasso’s character is that although his cheerfulness may catch you off guard at first – because, who on Earth is genuinely that lovely? – his demeanour never feels false, or ’80s sitcom-level saccharine. It feels like a hug. And very early on in the Lasso journey, many fans (myself included) find themselves drawn in by his warmth to a degree that is sort of surprising.

There’s a reason there’s been a wave of interest in this series, however. And it’s not just because the performances are brilliant (they are), the characters are loveable (ridiculously so) and the episodes are well written (hello, ‘Rainbow’). Ted Lasso makes us feel safe and seen, and oftentimes, happy. Though there are more than a few emotional moments throughout the series, those central elements of optimism and kindness always have a way of breaking through, and it’s bloody delightful.

Especially after the last two years, a little extra kindness certainly doesn’t go astray, right? But more than that, research shows that being kind is intrinsically connected to your happiness levels. Which is part of the reason I think we’re so in love with Ted Lasso – the show, and the character.

It’s not just cool to be kind, it’s better for you

Image supplied: Apple

If you cast your minds back to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a free Yale course on the psychology of happiness, titled ‘The Science of Well-Being’, exploded in popularity. Everyone, unsurprisingly, was pretty keen to learn the secret to happiness and what those who took the course (myself included) learnt is that we have a misguided view of what brings us happiness in life.

There are loads of elements covered in the 10-week course, spanning from exercise to meditation. But one of the key points made by psychology professor Laurie Santos was that acts of kindness are more than nice gestures. Evidence suggests that being kind actually boosts your own happiness levels, significantly.

In an interview with The New York Times, Santos explained that:

“We assume that self-care looks like a nice bubble bath — or even hedonistic pursuits, selfish pursuits.

“But the data suggests that the right way to treat ourselves would be to do nice things for other people. We actually get more out of being more open and more social and more other-oriented than spending money on ourselves. It’s a bigger increase to your happiness.”

You may roll your eyes at that. But it’s science, baby.

An Oxford University study found that something as subtle as introducing small acts of kindness to your routine for seven days will noticeably boost your mood. And, as Inc reports, these small acts of kindness also tend to have a significant ripple effect, meaning the people who are on the receiving end go on to feel brighter and more satisfied with their day-to-day lives, too (which is the whole point, really).

Encouragingly, research developed by McCrindle on behalf of Helga’s (yeah, the bread) indicates that – despite what it may feel like right now – Aussies are pretty big on kindness. The Kindness Index, which surveyed 3,250 Australians, found that on average, Aussies perform about two acts of kindness per day.

Actions like holding open doors, giving compliments or asking people if they’re okay appeared as common examples across Australia. In saying that, however, two-thirds of the people surveyed shared that uncertainty about how acts of kindness may be received, and nervousness about stepping out of their comfort zone can get in the way, here.

Be like Ted Lasso

Ted Lasso happy
Image supplied: Apple

So, I suppose what I’m trying to say here is that seemingly, loads of us are yearning to both give and receive more kindness right now. Ted Lasso, and the way the show makes us feel, act as a window into what life could be like if we were a little bolder with that.

After all, to quote Trent Crimm, The Independent – “If the Lasso way is wrong, it’s hard to imagine being right.”

You can find Ted Lasso season one on Apple TV+. New episodes of season two hit screens every Friday.

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