Want to take a free online class together with me (and 3.3 million other people)? The NYT had a nice profile of the free online course The Science of Well-Being offered by Yale University on Coursera. (It was the most popular class ever taught at Yale.) I’d heard about this class before and have even taken other courses at Coursera, but I had the mistaken impression that it was more of a lecture series. In reality, the course requires weekly practice to help you “rewire” and permanently change your behavior based on psychology research.

In this course you will engage in a series of challenges designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits. As preparation for these tasks, Professor Laurie Santos reveals misconceptions about happiness, annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do, and the research that can help us change. You will ultimately be prepared to successfully incorporate a specific wellness activity into your life.

I’m not sure how often the course runs, but I’m enrolled in the one that starts today, March 17th, 2021. I’m guessing they’ll keep enrollment open for a little while longer at least. Here’s my first message after enrolling, which gives you a better idea of what to expect:

Congratulations on taking part in this journey! Over the next several weeks, we’ll explore what new results in psychological science teach us about how to be happier, how to feel less stressed, and how to flourish more. We’ll then have a chance to put these scientific findings into practice by building the sorts of habits that will allow us to live a happier and more fulfilling life.

Each week you will have requirements (graded quizzes) and “rewirements” (weekly practices aimed at rewiring your habits to boost mood and overall well-being). The final project asks you to practice a scientifically validated wellness behavior for four weeks and write about the experience.

Even though the course is completely free (skip the $49 certificate), it is one of those “you get out what you put in” situations. The course runs for 10 weeks and is estimated to require a consistent commitment of 1-2 hours per week. In a given week, you might track your sleep patterns, keep a gratitude journal, perform random acts of kindness, or try to meditate regularly.

You take an initial happiness assessment (answer a bunch of questions) in the beginning and another one at the end of the course. In this way, you have a way of measuring of whether taking these new actions has changed your well-being. Even a small improvement in happiness has to be a pretty valuable thing, no? I mean, think of how often we try to gain a little bit of joy through buying a new object (home, car, phone, shoes, meal).

The creator and professor of this course, Dr. Laurie Santos, also has a podcast called The Happiness Lab.

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Free Practical Course To Improve Your Happiness from Yale University from My Money Blog.


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