Edx.org offers – among many others – a course by Berkeley X called “The Science of Happiness”. Being an engineer by training, hence naturally sceptical towards a lot of things that fall into the broad spectrum of “spirituality” I was quite intrigued by the title. Of course, I want to be happy and yet I can’t just blindly believe anything. So the word science in this context really got me.
The course claims to be “The first MOOC to teach positive psychology. Learn science-based principles and practices for a happy, meaningful life.”
Backing up claims for improving happiness with science
You can do the course self-paced and for free. So if you are a sceptic and you want some scientific proof why certain habits and behaviours have positive effects on your well-being sign up for it and give it a try.
During the course, I admit that I sometimes got bored with the many studies they quoted to prove a point and be scientifically convincing. It was only because by that point I had developed trust in what they were claiming and I didn’t need further convincing and have proof for every single point.
I had heard about mindfulness, about the benefits of meditation, but I was never convinced enough to actually sit down myself and give it a proper try. Well, after this course I did and I haven’t stopped since.
Also seeing scientific proof of the deep need for social connections had a big effect on me. I tend to be an introvert and have the vague idea that I need to surround myself with just a handful of the “right” people to be happy. This view shifted drastically. By focusing on empathy, compassion and also the will to improve relationships rather than avoiding unpleasant conversations. I still try to avoid conflict, but only to a certain degree because I have learned to appreciate it’s potential for growth. It also allows for a deeper connection instead of trying to keep up the status quo. Change – after all – is inevitable.
Contents of the MOOC: the science of happiness
What you’ll learn:
- Discover what happiness is and why it matters to you
- Learn how to increase your own happiness
- Understand the power of social connections and the science of empathy
- Discover what mindfulness is and applications for the real world
I also appreciated the many practices we did during the course. That way you get to try out what works better for you. You develop a broader idea of what you could focus on in the future to develop resilience, improve your happiness and find meaning and therefore motivation in what you are doing. Referred to as “happiness practices,” you’ll try 11 different practices throughout the 8-week course. For example active listening, random acts of kindness, and writing a self-compassionate letter. They are all connected to the topics of the course:
- The power of social connection
- Kindness & compassion
- Cooperation & reconciliation
- Mental habits of happiness
- Finding your happiness fit and the new frontiers
As you can see the “Science of Happiness” course covers a broad spectrum that influences our happiness. As I said before it does so by presenting scientific proof for the findings and recommendations on how to improve your happiness.
Image source: edX the Science of happiness