- Santos will only teach one semester of the Yale course. But a five-part seminar-style series, “The Science of Well-Being,” will be available in March, for free, on the online education site.
- The course, taught by Laurie Santos, 42, a psychology professor and the head of one of Yale’s residential colleges, tries to teach students how to lead a happier, more satisfying life in twice.
- Just last year, Medical News Today reported on a study that showed that owning a dog reduces a person’s risk of premature death by up to a third. Also, researchers at the University of Harvard.
- But last year, a group of researchers at MIT, Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania found that one of the best things parents can do for their children is to have frequent back-and-forth.
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New Year Greetings all round. Hope this year for you will be safe and sound. May you accomplish all you please. And may this New Year flow for you with great ease. Last year was great, this one will be greater. And amazing things will manifest, right now, not later. Happy New Year my valued employee. Working with for me can be a test.By
Last News Of The Year :)teach To Be Happy HourJenny Anderson
Senior reporter, Editor of How to be Human
It takes a lot of hard work to get into places like Yale and Stanford. But once students make it to the Ivy League, many find that while they’re ready to tackle Shakespeare and comparative political systems, they’re lost when it comes to building emotionally rich, and balanced lives.
To that end, a growing number of top universities are offering courses that aim to put students on the happiness track. A week after Yale opened registration for its debut course “Psychology and the Good Life” this January, a quarter of the undergraduate population—more than 1,180 students—had signed up, making it the most popular course ever at the university. Meanwhile, one in six undergraduates at Stanford take a course that teaches students to apply design thinking to the “wicked problem” of creating fulfilling lives and careers. And at McGill University, in Montreal, Quebec, students have flocked to “Lessons of Community and Compassion,” a course on social connectedness and belonging—precisely the things they may have sacrificed to get into one of Canada’s top institutions.
“I think students are looking for meaning,” Peter Salovey, president of Yale, told Quartz at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Salovey, an early pioneer in research on emotional intelligence, says that while students today are more sophisticated and worldly than previous generations, they seem to be much less resilient. Their sense of vulnerability is driving them to search for purpose, in academic courses and beyond.
Laurie Santos, the psychology professor teaching the Yale class, says the message behind her course—helping students figure out what it means to live happier, more satisfying lives, and teaching them scientifically-tested strategies to achieve that goal—resonates with kids who are only now realizing the toll that academic rigor has taken on their sleep, mental health, and sense of social connectedness.
“Our intuitions about what to do to be happy are wrong,” she says. We think we want to achieve high-powered positions or make a lot of money, even if that means sacrificing the things that make us balanced and sane—human connection, exercise, rest, and activities that allow us to recharge. “This is a great moment when we have rigorous research on positive psychology—what makes us happy, but also on behavioral change,” says Santos. Her course covers practical topics ranging from the psychological benefits of charitable giving to how to pick a meaningful career. And because science shows that grade-seeking can undermine happiness, she encourages the students to take the course pass-fail.
Mental health issues among young adults are on the rise at universities around the world. “I was really surprised at the levels of anxiety and depression students face,” Santos says. A 2013 report by the Yale College Council found that more than half of undergraduates sought mental health services during their time on campus. A 2009 survey of 80,121 students, conducted by the American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment, showed that 39% of college students felt hopeless during the school year, and 25% felt so depressed they found it hard to function. Nearly half (47%) reported feeling overwhelming anxiety, and 84% said they felt generally overwhelmed by all they have to do.
Teaching students how to be happier isn’t just about helping them as individuals—it can also be about helping them be better citizens. In the course “Lessons of Community and Compassion: Overcoming Social Isolation and Building Social Connectedness through Policy and Program Development,” McGill University professor of practice Kim Samuel introduces students to some of the most socially isolated people on the planet—refugees and migrants, indigenous communities, families struggling with food insecurity; the displaced, disabled, and disconnected. One of the goals of her course, she says, is to teach students what it feels like to have a sense of safety and community in their own lives, so that they can help build connectedness in more disadvantaged populations. ”All students have experienced some degree of social isolation in their lives,” she says, “and that recognition is the royal road to reciprocity.”
Many of her students say it’s a life-altering experience. Jeremy Monk, who took Samuel’s course and is now a graduate student at Columbia University, says, “I think a lot of us down the road, when we look back on where we started … this is going to be the place that we started, and where our ideas started to blossom, and where we really were given the chance to feel like we can make a difference and we are the leaders of change.”
Stanford’s “Designing Your Life” course, meanwhile, is taught by Bill Burnett, head of Stanford’s design program, and Dave Evans, who led the design of Apple’s first mouse and co-founded the gaming company Electronic Arts before becoming a lecturer in the design program.
Evans says everyone is trying to answer the question posed by poet Mary Oliver: “What is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?” “None of us got the manual explaining how to figure out the answer,” he adds. Soon-to-be graduates are facing that question with immediacy, and under pressure. “They’ve been wonderfully trained to get into and attend schools for 22 years—but not how to live in the world and to determine what “a life” means to them,” Evans says. He notes that being good at school is not the same thing as being good at life.
The Stanford courses have been such a success that the university’s Life Design Lab, co-founded by Evans and Burnett, now helps other colleges and universities to develop their own versions of the program. Evans says similar courses are now being taught at Northwestern, University of Vermont, Dartmouth, University of Michigan and MIT. “We’re adding the ‘life’ component explicitly back to the college experience,” Evans says. “It’s attractive because the need is great, the priority is high, and there’s little offered to help.”
The pursuit of happiness is, of course, hardly a new development. ”Plato was talking about this,” Santo says. Scores of people have bought best-selling books on achieving happiness, from Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project to Dan Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness. And as the New York Times notes, courses on positive psychology are a popular draw for college students; 900 students enrolled in a Harvard lecture titled Positive Psychology in 2006.
What’s new is the growing body of scientific research on what actually makes people happy—and a sense from universities that today’s undergraduates are particularly in need of guidance.
Parents hold some responsibility for students’ lack of resilience, says Salovey. Parents’ laser-sharp, lifelong focus on getting their kids into top universities means that students are terrified of messing up. “It’s a kind of parenting that’s focused on college admissions and mitigating risks. We have to help students develop their own voice, to pick themselves up after failure.”
There’s another advantage to offering classes on happiness: They underscore that mental health and emotional balance aren’t things that young people can afford to keep putting off. According to Sonja Lyuboirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside and author of the The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want,40% of our happiness is conscious, intentional, and under our control. “It takes the work you have to put in to be a great violinist, it takes work every day,” Santos says. Happiness is never a lost cause, but the science does suggests that becoming a happy person is not a quick fix. Taking a college course on the subject may be the best short cut there is.
Santos will only teach one semester of the Yale course. But a five-part seminar-style series, “The Science of Well-Being,” will be available in March, for free, on the online education site Coursera.
So far, Santos has taught five sessions of “Psychology and the Good Life.” She says the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. “They are taking these ideas to heart in a way I did not expect,” she says. Alumni are already writing her to request a copy of the syllabus, as are kindergarten teachers and PTA heads. It’s not just young people who need help with happiness, she notes: “This is a human problem.”
When I think about joy in the Bible, I think of that old Sunday School classic song - I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart! What a sweet song of praise. And yet, sometimes joy seems so hard to capture. It's more than happiness, but it is the deep and abiding presence of contentment, peace, and pleasure. We find our true joy in Jesus!
Here are 3 Bible stories to teach your kids about joy.
3 Bible Stories That Teach Kids About Joy
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Sarah and Isaac
The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac. And Sarah said, 'God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.' And she said, 'Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.' (Genesis 21:1-3, 6-7 ESV)
God brings joy through unexpected blessings. The name Isaac means 'laughter'. Sarah found joy in the unexpected and long-awaited blessing of her son. Of course, she felt happy after finally receiving the child she longed for but her deep joy came in recognizing that God's timing was best. Use this story to share with your child that since life almost never turns out the way we imagine, we must always be on the lookout for hidden blessings. This may come in a surprise gift or connection or experience but it also may simply come by recognizing God in all that surrounds us. Sarah may have moved on from her desire to have children. She probably thought it would never happen. But God brought her this blessing when she least expected it and she was ready to receive him with joy.
Related Verse:For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. Psalm 92:4
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When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:10-11 ESV)
Jesus is the source of our joy. The wise men only knew so much about who Jesus was and why he came and yet, the Bible says they were filled with great joy. Knowing all that we know today, I wonder why we don't join in their exceeding joy. Use this story to explain to your child that Jesus is the ultimate promise fulfilled. Jesus is God's greatest gift. Because of Jesus, we have the hope of heaven and the promise of peace as we go through life here on earth. I cannot think of a better reason to be filled with joy. When life gets hard and we feel joy slipping away, we can refocus on Jesus and be filled again.
Related Verse: These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full. John 15:11
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Paul and Barnabas Share the Good News
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And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:49, 52 ESV)
Our joy is spread through the good news of Jesus' love. It's not enough to be filled with joy and keep it to ourselves. God made us for community. He wants us to share his love with others. Use this story to share with your child that when we share our joy with others, we are sharing the good news of Jesus' love. And this is the whole reason he came to us on Christmas in the first place! Paul and Barnabas were asked by God to spread the good news of Jesus' love. They traveled and ministered to people all over to make sure they understood the joy that could only be found in Jesus. We may not travel the world (well, not yet but maybe someday) but we can share the love of Jesus with family and friends right where we are.
Related Verse:May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13
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