Yale's Popular Happiness Class Is Now Available Online for Free — Here's What It Entails

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The course, taught by psychology professor Laurie Santos, focuses on understanding happiness in life

By  Eric Todisco March 24, 2020 10:55 AM

Yale University has the perfect solution to keeping happiness alive amid the trying times of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Connecticut-based Ivy League college is making its widely-popular “happiness” course available online for free via Coursera.

According to Yale’s news site, the online course, titled “The Science of Well Being,” is taught by psychology professor Laurie Santos. The class features lectures from Santos on discovering what makes humans truly happy.

The course was initially started in 2018 as an in-person lecture by Santos titled “Psychology and the Good Life.” Before launching the happiness course, Santos said that she would eat daily with students and was “shocked at the kind of mental health issues” she was witnessing.

Since beginning the class, it grew in popularity, drawing in 1,000 students for enrollment and becoming one of the most popular courses at the university.

After its high demand — with nearly a quarter of Yale University students enrolling a year — it was transitioned into an online class.

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Now, both students and non-students can enroll in the class online and complete assignments, submit them for a grade and earn a certificate of completion. (Sign up here)

“We’re in a particularly challenging time not just for this health crisis, this physical health crisis, but also a potential mental health crisis as well,” Santos told CNN.

She also shared with the outlet that while many believe that happiness derives from things like finding a more attractive partner or buying a bigger house, it actually comes from the simpler things in life.

“What plays a much bigger role are our simple practices, simple acts like making a social connection, or taking time for gratitude, or taking time to be in the present moment,” Santos explained.

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Catie Henderson, a 29-year-old from Atlanta that had studied philosophy in college, took the course last year, wanting to continue her “learning and development.”

After completing the course, Henderson said she learned a lot about the misconceptions surrounding happiness in life.

“Getting your dream job or dream spouse won’t create happiness. You have to build habits,” Henderson said. “And connecting with others is important, but getting right with yourself is equally important.”


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