Sheltering in place. Stay at home. Social distancing. The world has become more housebound recently, cutting off our avenues of interaction and throwing off our happiness equilibrium.
But amid all the cute puppies, kittens and goats making the rounds on the Internet is something that may help the homebound lead a more fulfilling life. It’s an online class, “The Science of Well Being,” offered through Yale University.
The price for this slice of an Ivy League education? Free. Zip. Nada. Nothing. Zero.
In the past few weeks, more than 1.5 million have signed up for the online version of “The Science of Well Being,” originally taught on campus in the 2018 spring session by psychology professor Laurie Santos – and making it the most popular course in the more than 300-year history of Yale to boot, the university said in a release.
“The Science of Well Being” highlights research that reveals misconceptions about what makes us happy and offers discrete steps we can take to live a more fulfilling life. Buzz surrounds this class as it has been recommended as a way to reconnect with essential lessons of life as people worldwide self-isolate during this anxiety-ridden time.
Santos also has a podcast, “The Happiness Lab,” which saw a half-million downloads recently.
“The interest in the class in just the last few days has been incredible and a bit surreal,” Santos said. “I think that just as people are focused on evidenced-based ways for staying physically healthy during this COVID-19 crisis, so too people are looking for evidence-based ways of improving their mental health.”
Santos’ teachings in the abbreviated online course, available through Coursera.org are particularly on topic during now as the world is in the grips of the novel coronavirus and contending with the financial, professional, social and emotional fallout of the outbreak and the physical distancing necessary to help curb its spread.
Santos’ two-hour lectures spread over four weeks serve up advice on building personal happiness and productive habits, emphasizing both the importance of mental health and real-world ways to achieve it, the Smithsonian magazine reported. Using psychology and behavioral science, the course demystifies myths about happiness, then guides students to overcome their own biases through reading and activity-based assignments.
Santos styled the class as a multi-part seminar series that she filmed in her home. The course engages students through challenges designed to increase their own happiness and build more productive habits.
Santos unveils misconceptions about happiness and the research that can help us change. The goal, ultimately, is to be prepared to successfully incorporate a specific wellness activity into your life.
“We think [happiness is] about money and material possessions, but it’s really about a whole host of different things,” Santos said on NBC’s “Today.” “It’s taking time to be other-oriented, taking time for social connection, taking time to be mindful.”
“This is a physical health crisis,” Santos said, “but also a mental health crisis.”
To enroll in the free “Science of Well Being” online course, click here