5 Weeks to Happiness? This Online Course Is Designed to Reduce Stress and Boost Satisfaction

Photo: Getty Images/Klaus Vedfelt
People shake their fists at the fact that none of us make it out of school with "practical" knowledge (like how to do taxes or invest in the stock market). Personally, though, I've always wondered why curriculum doesn't include strategies for finding the nine-letter feeling we all crave like avocado toast on a Saturday morning: happiness. Finally, online classes are cropping up to do just that, and a new study suggests that, to some degree, happiness is a choice.

A brand-new study published in Health Journal found that hundreds of caregivers in charge of watching over loved ones suffering from dementia greatly benefited from a course in gratitude, reports NPR. The eight gleeful techniques they learned include: mindfulness; "reframing" the less-than-fun aspects of life; reflecting on strengths; sharing a positive event on social media; finding one positive thing to give thanks for each day; performing acts of kindness; deep breathing, and setting goals. Over the course of five weeks, depression scores of participants went down 16 percent and their anxiety scores also decreased by 14 percent.

"These skills can definitely help people, no matter what type of stress they are experiencing, even if it is 'minor' everyday stress."

"These skills can definitely help people, no matter what type of stress they are experiencing, even if it is 'minor' everyday stress," Judith Moskowitz, PhD, who designed the class, told NPR. Best of all, the researcher points out that what you really have here is a "gratitude buffet." You can pick the practices that make you feel like a human lightbulb and leave the rest behind. Let's just say you're not much of a meditation fan, but you do love taking to the 'gram to share your milestones. Cool, do it!

If you're on the search for more ways to be grateful—and hopefully happy—Dr. Moskowitz recommends perusing the skills you can learn on It's All Good Here, a website that focuses on helping people find the good already present in their lives. On site, you'll find challenges geared toward helping your shift your mind-state when things start to feel gloomy, cut down on your daily gossip, and learn to create something called a "thank bank." Sharpen your pencils and get your hands on a fresh notebook—we're all going back to school to get a degree in happiness.

Ready for even more joyful tips? Start with using the right kind of humor at work

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