5 Things to Know About Yale University’s Free Science of Well-Being Course

5 Things to Know About Yale University’s Free Science of Well-Being Course


Photo by Kampus Production

Can people be happy without material wealth? After all, the time-worn saying goes, “Money can’t buy happiness.” Yet people are constantly in pursuit of more money to make their lives easier and, thus, make them happier. But Yale University‘s groundbreaking online course, “The Science of Well-Being,” challenges that notion and explores what makes people truly happy. No wonder why the Ivy League university’s most popular course, according to The New York Times. And it’s free.

Here are five to know about the Yale course.

1. Well-Being and the Illusion of Miswantings

Taught by Laurie Santos, a professor of psychology and cognitive science at Yale, the course starts off with a powerful revelation: our desires often mislead us.

According to Santos, this is a concept called “miswantings,” the tendency to mispredict how much we’ll enjoy something in the future. Research has shown that material possessions hardly ever give one lasting satisfaction, CNBC reported.

The Complex Relationship of Money and Happiness

The relationship between money and happiness is a complex one. While there’s a correlation between income and happiness, it’s not a linear progression.

“Money doesn’t increase happiness in the way that we think. Our minds are lying to us about how much of an impact extra cash will have on our happiness,” Santos told CNBC’s David Schools, who took the course.

3. Well-Being from Experiences Over Possessions

In the Yale course, which was adapted from Santos’ 2018 “Psychology and the Good Life” class, according to Business Insider, Santos suggests that unique experiences, such as travel or trying new activities, can lead to sustained happiness.

4. Mindful Spending and Prioritization

The 10-week (19 hours) course emphasizes the importance of mindfulness in spending decisions. It suggests that by focusing on the positive experiences that purchases can bring and being conscious of their impact, we can derive more happiness from our spending choices.

5. Practical Steps to Well-Being

The class provides actionable strategies for enhancing well-being, many of which are simple yet transformative. These include practicing meditation, cultivating gratitude, nurturing social connections, incorporating healthy habits like exercise and journaling, and performing acts of kindness toward others. By adopting these practices, participants can experience significant shifts in their overall happiness, teaches Santos.

Photo by Kampus Production: https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-woman-showing-thumb-up-to-camera-5940843/