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Yale’s most popular course can teach you how to be happy (and it’s online for free)

The course teaches that happiness can be taught via socialising, exercise, meditation and plenty of sleep. Source: Zachary Nelson/ Unsplash

The most popular course ever at Yale University explores what it psychologically takes to be happy. Now, the course is available to everybody around the world with an internet connection.

“Psychology and the Good Life” is a first year psychology subject at Yale, which sees some 1200 students turn up to listen to Professor Laurie Santos each week. It focuses on behavioural change and positive psychology – the factors which allow humans to flourish psychologically.

Santos was inspired to create PSYC 157 due to high rates of depression and anxiety, especially among students at Yale – one of the most prestigious schools in the US.

Because of overwhelming demand, The Science of Wellbeing is now available to the public via Coursera. The course teaches that happiness can be taught via socialising, exercise, meditation and plenty of sleep.

“Very happy people spend time with others, they prioritize time with their friends, time with their family, they even take time to talk to the barista,” Santos told Reuters. People “mis-want” she says, arguing that they pursue the wrong goals to be happy.

“We work really hard to get a great salary or to buy this huge house,” said Santos. “Those things are not going to make us as happy as we think.”

According to Coursera, 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.”

“In reality, a lot of us are anxious, stressed, unhappy, numb,” said Alannah Maynez, as quoted by the New York Times.

“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.”

Another undergraduate Siliezar told Reuters that “What’s most pressing on our minds is grades, it’s the next job, it’s a potential salary after graduation.” After taking the course, “I really try to focus on the present moment and the people around me.”

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