With all it has to offer, it might come as a surprise to you that one of the most popular courses at Yale University focuses on teaching students to be happier. If you’re not enrolled at the Ivy League institution, you can still take the Yale happiness class for free, right on your computer.
Psychology and the Good Life is the most popular course in Yale’s 318-year-old history, reports The New York Times. In fact, regular enrollment is so high, it had to be moved to Woolsey Hall, which usually hosts symphony performances. The demand for the course basically proves that college students— especially those at schools known for academic rigor—are prioritizing wellness.
The online equivalent of the course, “The Science of Well-Being,” opens enrollment today. Once you’ve made an account online, you’ll have access to all the course materials without dropping thousands of dollars you would to walk the halls of the esteemed university. If you do want to make things official though, you can order a $49 certificate of completion to hang over your desk.
“The Science of Well-Being” opens enrollment today. Once you’ve made an account online, you’ll have access to all the course materials without dropping the thousands of dollars that you would to walk the halls of the esteemed institution.
“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,” reads the syllabus. According to Yale students, these skills are much-needed. “In reality, a lot of us are anxious, stressed, unhappy, numb,” says Alannah Maynez, a student who took the course. “The fact that a class like this has such large interest speaks to how tired students are of numbing their emotions—both positive and negative—so they can focus on their work, the next step, the next accomplishment.”
“Students want to change, to be happier themselves, and to change the culture here on campus,” says Laurie Santos, PhD, who teaches the class. “With one in four students at Yale taking it, if we see good habits, things like students showing more gratitude, procrastinating less, increasing social connections, we’re actually seeding change in the school’s culture.”
“Students want to change, to be happier themselves, and to change the culture here on campus.” —Laurie Santos, PhD
Of course, Yale is just like every other college, so some students simply take the course because they consider it less work. “I wouldn’t have known about the course if not for word of mouth, but it’s low-pressure, and maybe I’ll learn a few tricks to having a less stressful life,” says Riley Richmond, who took the class along with some friends. For the most part though, the class already seems to be making an impact for students on campus, and now you, too, gain the same wisdom.
Check out the video below for a mood-boosting snack recipe:
Additional reporting by Kells McPhillips.
Originally published January 31, 2018; updated January 10, 2020.
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