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Yale’s most popular course of all time is now available online—for free

Also known as “Laurie Santos’ happiness class,” it teaches practical advice such as how to choose a career that you’ll love, as well as how to separate satisfying pursuits from hollow ones. It ushers through 1,200 students per semester at Yale, or about one-quarter of the student body.

Santos filed a version of it inside her own house, and Yale has now made it available for free on Coursera. You also have the option to pay a $49 fee to get a certificate of completion, if that’s something you desire.

I just signed up for it myself because I’m very, very curious. Here’s the “about” section:

About this course: “The Science of Well-Being” taught by Professor Laurie Santos overviews what psychological science says about happiness. The purpose of the course is to not only learn what psychological research says about what makes us happy but also to put those strategies into practice. The first half of the course reveals misconceptions we have about happiness and the annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do. The second half of the course focuses on activities that have been proven to increase happiness along with strategies to build better habits.

Intro screenshot from Coursera, "Psychology and the Good Life"

But just because it’s free doesn’t mean it will be a piece of cake: You will get 180 days from the time you sign up for the class to complete all of the work: quizzes, tests, and a peer-graded paper.

Santos summed up why the class works. “Our intuitions about what to do to be happy are wrong… This is a great moment when we have rigorous research on positive psychology—what makes us happy, but also on behavioral change.”

She was actually surprised at the response to the class so far. “They are taking these ideas to heart in a way I did not expect.”

According to Quartz, “‘Psychology and the Good Life’ is currently the most popular class in Yale’s 317-year history, displacing the previous record-holder ‘Psychology and the Law,’ which drew about 1,050 students.”

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