In 2013, anti-depressant usage doubled by 400 percent in the US, reportedly making Americans the unhappiest people in the world [1]. It isn’t because the country is an unhappy place. Actually, America is pretty cool. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t go about their own personal happiness. They don’t know how to keep themselves happy from within. Many people rely on external factors such as alcohol, sex, drugs, and excess sugar and carbs to be happy. The euphoria gotten from these things is only short-lived, and the anxiety worsens right after their effects wear off.

People just don’t know how to be happy.

And in one of the most prestigious Ivy League schools in the country, there are most likely a lot of anxious and tense people. Students under intense academic pressure with high expectations to live up to.

Psychology and the Good Life

Professor Laurie Santos of the Yale University’s Psychology Department decided it was time to share some incredible knowledge with the student community. Open to all students of Yale in January 2018, Professor Santos, 42, introduced a course called “Psychology and the Good Life“, Psyc 157. Basically, she teaches students how to be TRULY happy. With a blend of theoretical facts and real-life scenarios, the professor enlightens her audience on the true meaning of happiness and what it embodies. Happiness is not short-lived infatuation in material things, but it’s actually a state of mind which a person can create and innately sustain.

The course was massively loved and welcomed by the Yale community. Speaking to the New York Times, Santos said that one out of every four Yale students was taking the course [2].  While most large lectures don’t usually record attendance of more than 600 people, her happiness course has recorded a ground-breaking 1,182 students in attendance.

Officially tagged The Science of Well-being, Santos’ course can now be accessed online for free on Coursera by anyone in the world. The course had gained viral popularity in 2018, and people all over the world wanted more details. In April 2019, Professor Santos and the University of Yale decided to give everyone access to the life-changing lectures.

Course outline and methods

The happiness course online is video-based, and you don’t have to read anything if you don’t want to. Every piece of information you require will be in the videos, although the professor does provide links to other sources in her video descriptions. The videos are recorded in the warmth of her own home and with Yale students in the audience, giving the lectures a more interactive and semi-formal appearance.

Here are the topics to be covered every week through six weeks:

  • Misconceptions about happiness
  • Why our expectations are so bad
  • How we can overcome our biases
  • Stuff that really makes us happy
  • Putting strategies into practice

Other important details to note about the class

This course can be completely audited. The reception of a paid certificate is not mandatory because many people enrolling in the class are doing so for self-enrichment and professional guidance.

You can take questionnaires during and after the entire course to assert your happiness status. Your scores on these tests will confirm if you are actually improving, stagnated, or diminishing.

The idea of the happiness course is to eliminate the factors of normal academic pressure. You don’t have to take the course like it’s a do-or-die affair. You can re-watch the lectures and rewind a few scenes when you want to.

Santos’ videos are transcribed in real-time so you can make notes and highlights without having to write down anything.

Some of the videos may include very simple quizzes which you could try out or ignore as desired.

There’s a student interaction and discussion forum for the course, just like in most other online courses. It’s easy to get tired of online classes and lose focus. Participating in student discussions strengthens your resolve and deepens your interest, but if you don’t have the time for this, you can pass. It’s not compulsory. Although, participating in discussions will expose you to a vast sea of knowledge from fellow students who come from every part of the world. You’ll get to learn about other people’s definitions of happiness, and how they previously managed their lives. This may not seem necessary, but it’s a good way to put your own frame of mind in clear perspective.

Certificates are available, but you have to pay for them

If you have audited the course, you can still apply for a certificate after the initial six-week class. The electronic certificate costs $49 dollars, and you’ll have six months from the day you made the payment to complete the course and receive your certificate.

The paid classes may contain more work than the free classes. Your grades will be added to your Accomplishments page, and at the end of the course, your certificate would be uploaded on the page as well. You can then save it to your device, print it or share it on any social media platform.

There’s also a Financial Aid application for people who can’t afford the $49 fee. Click the link for “financial aid available” under “Enroll” and follow the page to submit your application. You’ll receive feedback in a maximum of 15 days.

An excerpt from a review by Mara Leighton on Business Insider reads [3]: “I was extremely surprised by how much I enjoyed these last couple weeks. It has felt immediately and concretely useful — an assertion backed up by the fact that most of the class legwork is daily “rewiring” tasks designed to build the research-backed scaffolding into your life that will make you happier post-course.”

Click HERE to sign up for the free course.


  1. Report: Americans most unhappy people in the world. ABC13 ARCHIVE. ABC13. February 21, 2013.
  2. Yale’s Most Popular Class Ever: Happiness. David Shimer. NY Times. January 26, 2018.
  3. Yale’s most popular class ever is now available for free online — and the topic is how to be happier in your daily life. Mara Leighton. Business Insider. April 4, 2019.
  4. The Science of Well-Being. Coursera.
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