We’re all striving for a little more happiness in our lives, aren’t we? Whether you’re a college student or not, you could stand to learn a thing or two from Yale University professor Dr. Laurie Santos. She teaches a class called “Psychology and the Good Life,” and it has become known on campus as “Laurie Santos’ happiness class.”
According to Quartz, the happiness class is the most popular one in Yale’s history. Santos, who studies the human mind, designed the course after realizing that a pressurized academic environment wasn’t always the best for students’ mental health and overall well-being.
“We put them in a space where they feel anxious over grades, stressed about the time they have, overwhelmed about everything they have to do,” the professor told NBC News. “And I feel like we might be missing their potential.”
What Makes Us Happy?
Now, you can enroll in the “happiness class” for free online through Coursera, an online site where universities around the world post syllabi and videos of their lessons. Such courses are called “massive online open courses,” or MOOCs.
The course is meant to teach students of any age about the psychology of happiness, but also offer them tools to create their own happiness in the long-term. According to the course description:
“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.”
Lessons include “Misconceptions About Happiness,” “Why Our Expectations Are So Bad,” “How We Can Overcome Our Biases,” “Stuff That Really Makes Us Happy” and “Putting Strategies Into Practice.” Each lesson is a combination of videos (anywhere from one hour to two and a half hours long) and readings. Course materials, including discussion forums, are found on the class website.
To progress through to the next lesson in the class, Coursera students must take a quiz, each of which is around 15 minutes in length.
Anyone can sign up for the class for free by creating a Coursera account. However, if you want to receive a certificate validating your completion of the course, it will cost about $50.
Learning To Be Happier
Learning about happiness is not only helpful for stressed-out students — it’s also helpful for adults, as work environments can tend to be just as stressful as an academic environment. A Gallup report in 2015 revealed that 51% of Americans in managerial positions aren’t engaged at work, and 14% are “actively disengaged.” Also distressing is the statistic that 30% of all workers are disengaged.
Clearly, lots of us could benefit from learning coping mechanisms to fine-tune our happiness. So let’s all learn how to become a little happier, shall we?