Happiness is Now Taught In College As the Younger Generation Seems to Need Be Taught What Happiness Is

Yale’s Most Popular Class EverThe big news across media platforms that are viewed by us Boomers is Professor Laurie Santos’s “Psychology and the Good Life,” course at Yale that has nearly 1,200 students signed up.  See the New York Times, January 26, 2018, “Yale’s Most Popular Class Ever: Happiness, by David Shimerjan.

The New York Times article addresses the class itself, now with one in four students at Yale taking it, and why.  The goal of the course, according to the professor, is to try to teach students how to lead happier and more satisfying lives.  Yes, some are taking it because they perceive it to be an easy course.  These students seem like the students I went to high school and college with.  We always looked for one “gut” course amidst harder, more demanding courses each semester.  The Yale students interviewed mentioned their unhappiness, anxiety and depression, and the causes they shared.  These are Yale students who made it to the Ivy League, a path to success.  Dr. Santos is quoted:

“Students want to change, to be happier themselves, and to change the culture here on campus,” Dr. Santos said in an interview. “With one in four students at Yale taking it, if we see good habits, things like students showing more gratitude, procrastinating less, increasing social connections, we’re actually seeding change in the school’s culture.”

Aha!  What is not mentioned by Dr. Santos are the studies such as the July 2017 study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine on “Social Media Use and Perceived Social Isolation Among Young Adults in the U.S.” which found that increased social media use is linked to higher levels of perceived social isolation.

This new generation which gets all of its information from the internet and is connected to social media feels disconnected and isolated.  We Boomers also know that social isolation impacts a happy life, and those with strong friendships not only have happiness, but better health and longer life.

David Shimerjan reports that the course focuses both on positive psychology, the characteristics that allow humans to flourish, and behavioral change, or how to live by those lessons in real life.  At Wikipedia, we can learn more about positive psychology and how this scientific study of what makes life worth living is impacting on how we should all function in modern society.

This quote from Wikipedia explains the connection between positive psychology and happiness:

“Positive psychologists have suggested a number of ways in which individual happiness may be fostered. Social ties with a spouse, family, friends and wider networks through work, clubs or social organizations are of particular importance, while physical exercise and the practice of meditation may also contribute to happiness. Happiness may rise with increasing financial income, though it may plateau or even fall when no further gains are made.”

Another take on this same professor and same course, and especially positive psychology, was a segment on the Today Show and  is on Today website, February 19,2018, “Yale’s most popular class teaches happiness: 6 lessons you can practice now,” by Ama Pawlowski.

For all of us, not only those in college or younger, the six lessons are described in detail at the link above, are worth reading.  We know that Dr. Santos’ six lessons are the same as set forth in positive psychology and numerous studies on happiness.

  1. Spend time and energy in the right way.
  1. Take time to express gratitude.
  1. Do something nice for somebody else and talk with others.
  1. Find some time to be mindful.
  1. Get plenty of exercise and sleep.
  1. Practice these happiness behaviors every day.

Dr. Santos’ six lessons remind me of my Mother’s lessons to me I put in a post, “2018 New Year’s Resolutions Focusing on Feelings That Span A Lifetime Will Bring Us Joy.”

These life lessons are not only for practice for ourselves, we can remind our grandchildren to get off their social media screens and live life, not just isolate themselves.  Our grandchildren might not listen to their parents, but they may listen to and emulate us.  We should promote those skills that will bring happiness to our precious grandchildren, and long life, and be the role models of a long life well lived. . . before they head to college and have to take a course on happiness, unless, of course, they need a “gut” class to round out their schedule.

 

Joy,

 

Mema

 

 

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