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A class on “happiness” is one college’s most popular course *ever*


Yale happiness class has sky-high enrollment Pin It
Photo: Stocksy/HEX

Yale students aren’t just studying law, medicine, and other core college courses—as it turns out, some are looking for something a bit more meaningful. For example, after only a few days into the spring semester, 1,200 Yalies—AKA a quarter of the undergrads at the university—were signed up for a twice-a-week lecture with one main focus: teaching students to be happier.

According to The New York Times, the course, Psychology and the Good Life, is the most popular in Yale’s 316-year existence. In fact, enrollment is so high, it had to be moved to Woolsey Hall, which usually hosts symphony performances. The demand for the course, taught by psychology professor Laurie Santos, PhD, basically proves that college students, especially at institutions known for stress-inducing academic rigor, are prioritizing wellness.

“In reality, a lot of us are anxious, stressed, unhappy, numb. 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.” —Alannah Maynez, Yale freshman

“In reality, a lot of us are anxious, stressed, unhappy, numb,” said Alannah Maynez, a freshman enrolled in 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.”

According to the class description, the class uses science-backed techniques to help mentally drained students “live a better life and build a better world,” by learning how to change their behaviors and handle cognitive biases.

“Students want to change, to be happier themselves, and to change the culture here on campus. 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.” —Laurie Santos, PhD

“Students want to change, to be happier themselves, and to change the culture here on campus,” Dr. Santos said. “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.”

Of course, some students are simply taking 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,” said Riley Richmond, a senior who is taking the class along with some friends.

This class already seems to be making an impact on college students at Yale, but you don’t need to submit your application to the Ivy League school to learn how to become happier. Here are some tips: Take a digital detoxpractice self-care, ignore the office gossip, rethink your to-do list, and meditate before your workouts. If you make happiness a priority every day, it won’t take long for you to truly feel it.

Try these Buddhist-approved ways to boost your happiness. Also, learn why happiness doesn’t always correlate to healthiness.