Happiness, like physics or the arts, is a complicated matter, and it’s only proper that it be treated with the same reverence — by being taught as a class at Yale. Psych 157, or Psychology and the Good Life, is Yale University’s most popular course in its more than 300 years of educational history, having attracted 1,200 students — or one in every four Yale undergrads — to the course within its first week. And because everyone (even Harvardians) deserves to find happiness, Yale has made the course available online for anyone with an internet access.
Laurie Santos, a psychology professor at Yale, teaches the biweekly course, which aims to equip students with the ability to find happiness in their lives. Dr. Santos and other Yale officials expected the class to attract a large number of enrolees, but none expected it to balloon into the thousands, according to the New York Times.
The high number of students in Dr. Santos’ class could be explained by the often-toxic culture of competitiveness among students at Yale. Santos herself suggests her class is popular among Yale undergrads because getting into Yale meant having worked tirelessly in high school to prop up credentials, often at the detriment of their personal happiness.
So what can you expect to learn from Psychology and the Good Life?
A subject that teaches happiness would naturally attract skepticism regarding its rigor, but the class is, in fact, just like any others at Yale — academic and extensive. The class deals with both positive psychology, including psychological research on happiness, and behavioral strategies, which are real-life applications meant to help students live happier lives.
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And the best thing about this course is that it’s now available online. Everyone around the world can now access Psychology and the Good Life on the internet and for free.
Retitled for the internet as “The Science of Wellbeing,” it now comes with an app that can help users engage in happiness-inducing behavior. According to Yale News, ever since the course’s launch, it has already attracted “78,000 people in more than 168 countries around the world — the most popular online course launch in school history.”
The course can be accessed via Coursera. An optional certificate of completion may be acquired at the end of the course for $49.