A Crash Course on Happiness

What can you do if you want to be happy and you want it right now?

Posted May 19, 2015

 Used With Permission
Source: Istock: Used With Permission

There are funny sayings (e.g., Don't worry if plan A fails, there are 25 more letters in the alphabet) and there are thought provoking ones (e.g., Ego says, “Once everything falls into place, I'll find peace"; spirit says, “Once I find peace, everything will fall into place.”) 

Here’s one that I find to be a good combo of both: God, give me patience, but please hurry.

This saying has probably always been relevant, but it’s more relevant now than ever. That's because, if there is one characteristic that defines our times, it is that we are in a big rush. We want all of our wishes fulfilled, and we want them fulfilled right away.

This impatience extends to even the goal that has been widely acknowledged as a universally important one: the goal of leading a happy and fulfilling life. We all want to lead happy and fulfilling lives, and we want that life to start right away.

Impatience may come in the way of happiness, but to the extent that impatience points to the deep-seated nature of a desire, it could be a good thing. We are more likely to achieve goals that we more motivated to achieve.

Do you consider yourself to be a “seeker”—someone who has been in the quest for happiness? And is your desire for happiness deep-seated enough that you are impatient for it?

If so, you are in luck because if there is another characteristic that defines our times, it is that happiness has been the focus of more rigorous scientific enquiry than it has ever been. As you may know, over the past 15 years or so, tens of thousands of papers have explored the potency of several different determinants of happiness—from money and status to intimacy and mindfulness. As a result of all this research, we now have a pretty good idea of the true and the fake determinants of happiness. And what’s more, you don’t have to pay a penny to access the insights that have been generated by the research.

There are at least three free (online) courses that delve into the topic of happiness. One of them is The Science of Happiness, offered by the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California at Berkeley, on EDx. Another is a course that just concluded on Coursera, called Positivity, offered by Barbara Fredrickson, president-elect of IPPA (International Positive Psychology Association) and author of two excellent books, Positivity and Love 2.0. (The course is no longer on offer, but it will likely be offered again in the future.)

And finally, there’s my own course, titled A Life of happiness and Fulfillment, also on Coursera, that’s about to start—on June 15th, 2015.

What’s different about these three different courses, you ask?

Before answering the question, let me first point out that I found both The Science of Happiness and Positivity to be extremely informative and useful—as did, judging from rave reviews of both, thousands of others.

My course approaches the topic of happiness from a more “managerial” angle. (I am, after all, from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin, which is an MBA school.) While The Science of Happiness provided a broad overview of various themes to have emerged from the research on happiness (such as, the importance of relationships, or of mindfulness) and Positivity dealt mainly with the ways by which positive feelings can be useful and help us thrive, my course focuses squarely on what you can do, starting tomorrow, to lead a happier and more fulfilling life.

So, if you are someone who has always been interested in happiness, I invite you to register for my course by going here. (Don’t forget to watch the intro video first; and if you get a moment, let me know what you think!)

In the month that remains before the course starts and in the weeks that follow the launch of the course, I will be posting one article per week on Sapient Nature (my psychology today blog) on various topics that I will cover in the course. So watch this space.

In the meanwhile, I’d be delighted to have you join me, and thousands of others from around the world, in taking A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment. I hope to see you in “class.”

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