JUL 20, 2018 7:18 AM PDT

Is Yale Teaching Happiness 101?

Going to college is about taking your education to the next level. After all the SATs, applications and interviews, once a school is chosen, and classes begin, it's a new world of learning. It's not uncommon for students to find their first year at college stressful.

Academic work is much more difficult; there's an adjustment to living away from home and adapting to new demands can be a challenge. At Yale, arguably one of the most rigorous academic environments in the world, the most popular class in the history of the school isn't a course on world history, politics or business. It's a course about how to be happy.

The class is listed in the Yale catalog as "Psyc 157, "Psychology and the Good Life" and is taught by psychology professor Laurie Santos. How popular is it? In the first year it was offered, more than 25% of undergraduates at the university enrolled. Santos has a BA and an MA from Harvard in psychology and biology and is a tenured professor at Yale. The course is not supposed to be easy, and it's not. It doesn't claim to be a class where the critical secrets to happiness will be revealed, but instead, it covers the science of being well and getting the most satisfaction out our lives.

The course was recently added to Coursera, an online platform that allows anyone to take classes at different universities. Coursera was founded by Stanford computer science Professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng in 2010. They put their courses online for anyone to enroll and soon partnered with other professors and universities. There are currently more than 150 universities partnered with Coursera, and they offer more than 2,700 classes.

Dr. Santos' online version of the class through Coursera is called "The Science of Well Being" and will include lectures by Santos on what people think will bring happiness to their lives, but often do not. It also covers how to change thinking patterns about happiness and what it is, and more importantly, is not. The course description reads: "The Science of Well-Being" taught by Professor Laurie Santos overviews what psychological science says about happiness. The purpose of the course is to not only learn what psychological research says about what makes us happy but also to put those strategies into practice. The first half of the course reveals misconceptions we have about happiness and the annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do. The second half of the course focuses on activities that have been proven to increase happiness along with strategies to build better habits. Things people think will make them happy but don't — and, more importantly, things that do bring lasting life satisfaction. "

Classes via Coursera range from free versions to certificate programs that cost between $29 and $99. Check out the video below from Dr. Santos about the science of being happy.

Sources: Yale News  Coursera

About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
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