Did You Know: Yale’s Most Popular Course Is “Happiness”

a year ago

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In January 2018, one of the top Ivy League’s schools, Yale, launched a course called “Happiness.” 300 people signed up for the course a few days after the registration had begun. All in all, 1,200 students which makes nearly ¼ of Yale undergraduates were enrolled. So why is a university course bearing such an unusual name popular among Yale students?

Taught by Laurie Santos, a psychology professor and the head of one of Yale’s residential colleges, the course aims to teach students about how to lead a happier life. The professor believes that “good habits, [...] showing more gratitude, procrastinating less, increasing social connections” will make a significant change in the school’s culture. The Happiness curriculum consists of twice-weekly lectures.

Currently, Yale’s Psychology and the Good Life course has 1,182 undergraduates enrolled, which makes it the most popular course in Yale’s 316-year history. In 1992, Psychology and the Law with 1,050 students enrolled was the previous record-holder. The majority of large lectures at Yale typically don’t exceed 600 enrollees.

Happiness Course: Breath of Fresh Air

Yale’s “Happiness” course is like a breath of fresh air to students. Very often, while in high school students have to set their priorities in favor of gaining school admission and exhausting academic work. In some cases, the unhealthy environment results in “adopting harmful life habits” leading to “the mental health crises” often seen in the elite institutions like Yale.

In 2013, the Yale College Council reported that over 50% of undergraduates sought mental health care from the university while studying. Yale students admit having problems like “anxious, stressed, unhappy, numb.” Student course choices speak volumes about how they feel about studying and generally in life. Numbing one’s emotions — whether positive or negative — is exhausting. Prioritizing work and thinking only accomplishments becomes depressing over time.

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