Yale’s Free Online Course Helps You Find Happiness Even During A Crisis

Use your self-isolating downtime at home to change your circumstances towards a more joyful existence.

While practicing social distancing, feelings of isolation and loneliness can have a significant impact on stress levels and overall mental health. BET has joined the #AloneTogether campaign in an effort to support mental and emotional health in Black communities by providing content focused on health and wellness, ways to safely connect with others and practical steps to combat negative thoughts and feelings as we all navigate through the coronavirus global pandemic.


 “Use that $1200 to start a business.” 

“Grow your own food.” 

“Learn a foreign language.” 

“If you don’t level up now, you never lacked time, you lacked discipline.”
Are you listening to Quarantine Twitter and their ideas about how to spend your time in isolation from COVID-19? If yes, you have a pretty long to-do list that ranges from “ok, that’s a decent idea” to “wow, that’s condescending and absurd.”

RELATED: 10 Black Fitness and Dance Influencers To Follow During The Coronavirus Quarantine

Emerging from quarantine without a PhD in physics, a vast real estate portfolio and the next great American novel, is just fine. There is a global pandemic afoot after all. Anxiety, depression, and loneliness are real issues and natural emotions that can severely impact anyone attempting to work from home during these dire circumstances or worse yet, forced to search for a new job under these conditions.
Trying to follow someone else’s roadmap to surviving this pandemic is not necessarily the way to go when most of us are just trying to figure out how to get by, but there is one way that may help.

Getty Stock Image
Getty Stock Image

Plenty of people have found solace in the now-viral (and free) online course from Yale that delves into the science of happiness and how to make different choices to snatch a little more happiness for yourself. That is a precious commodity in these trying times.

The course is free (did I say that already?) and self-guided, so there is no pressure. Professor Laurie Santos segmented the class into a 10-week course, but that is just a suggested guideline. The short videos (under five minutes each), surveys and readings that are assigned for each week could easily be done in a shorter time span. Two or even three weeks worth of assignment can actually be done in one day. I know because I did it myself. 
“Psyc 157, Psychology and the Good Life” debuted on Yale’s campus in 2018 and went on to become the school’s most popular course ever.
“The Yale course was my attempt at synthesizing work in positive psychology along with the science of behavior change. My goal was to present these scientific findings in a way that made it clear how this science could be applied in people’s daily lives,” said Professor Santos in an introductory letter to students.

Getty Stock Images
Getty Stock Images

Eventually, the class was placed beyond the Ivy League walls of Yale as a free offering on Coursera for anyone with a Wifi connection to use.
“My goal is to share the insights from that popular Yale class with learners far beyond Yale. To make the lectures feel more intimate, we filmed at my home in one of Yale’s residential colleges with a small group of Yale students in the audience,” continued Professor Santos.  

“I hope you’ll enjoy this more personal format, which allows you to hear the sorts of questions Yale students had about the material and how they applied the science in their daily lives. We understand that many of you taking the course are not currently college students, but we hope you see yourselves as though you are part of this virtual classroom.”
With that said, instead of trying to learn how to grow a garden in a on the window sill of your tiny kitchen or spend hours at night swiping right for next bae, maybe spend some time figuring out what's really important to you. The simple things that are going to change your life and lead you in a state of joy, even during life's current set of circumstances. 


Demetria Irwin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Follow her on Twitter @Love_Is_Dope.

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