The nature of happiness is a subject great minds have been noodling over for centuries. Intellectual luminaries, like Plato, Edith Wharton, and Pharrell Williams, have each dedicated some brain power to cultivating the secret spice of life we all so desire. We still don’t have a cut-and-dry equation for metamorphosing into Suzie Sunshine at will, but with a free online class entitled “The Science of Happiness,” the University of California, Berkeley, grants access to students seeking humanity’s most-coveted emotion.
In a eight-week program, instructed by two of the Berkeley’s leading positive psychology experts, students learn:
1. What happiness is (insert existential crisis here).
2. How to cultivate the feeling in both yourself and others.
3. The ingredients for living a fulfilling life.
4. The mental habits of utterly gleeful people.
“We all want to be happy, and there are countless ideas about what happiness is and how we can get some,” write the instructors in the course description. “But not many of those ideas are based on science. That’s where this course comes in.” Upon signing up to audit Berkeley’s class (you also have the option of receiving an official certificate for $49), you’ll immediately be given access to lesson plans titled things like “Can Money Buy Happiness?” and “The Science of Forgiveness.” Videos, exams, and (gah!) homework lend to the academic rigor and feeling of an IRL course.
For skeptics out there, the course is backed by scientific evidence. A weekly survey sent to more than 120,000 individuals found that those who studiously completed every assignment reported a steady increase of positive feelings. In about 56 days, you could be that much closer to schooling Plato about his life’s work.
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