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Yale class on boosting happiness surges in popularity amid COVID-19

Yale class on boosting happiness surges in popularity amid COVID-19
"The Science of Well-Being," a Yale University course made available for free online, has seen enrollment spike by 3,000% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Professor Laurie Santos said. Photo by Taken/Pixabay.com

Jan. 11 (UPI) -- A Yale University professor said her free online course on the science of living a happy life has seen enrollment spike by about 3,000% during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Laurie Santos, a professor of psychology, started teaching her class, Psycology 157: Psychology and the Good Life, in March 2018, and the next semester she made the class available for free online via Coursera under the title "Science of Well-Being."

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Santos said the COVID-19 pandemic led to enrollment in the course spiking to 3,000% of what it was in 2019.

"I do think people wanted to do more to protect their happiness during the pandemic," Santos told The Hill. "I think people were getting great evidence-based advice about how to protect their physical health -- mask up, socially distance, get a vaccine -- but people were struggling with what to do to protect their mental health. The class provided that evidence-based advice for improving well-being."

The 10-week course features science-based examinations of well-being contrasted with common misconceptions about happiness. Students learn to develop and implement strategies to increase their own well-being and are given "happiness-boosting challenges" as homework.

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"In class people learn about a lot of strategies that are helpful for navigating the mental health hit that comes from life during Omicron. For example, you'll hear about ways to boost your social connection, even if you can't get together in person," Santos said.

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