Trend Digest: Happiness Courses

CATEGORY / education TAGS / happiness courses, trend alert, trend digest Fractals LAB / Forma DATE / June 19, 2020

Trend Definition:

Online courses and lessons teaching people how to be happy.

Trend History:

The Coronavirus Pandemic sparked a boom in Online Learning, with e-learning sites experiencing a growth in both log-ins and minutes spent by users on platforms.
Although work-focused courses were among the most popular, we noticed a rising interest in educational programs that teach people how to improve happiness, helping them to feel better and avoid anxiety in a difficult moment.

Many of these courses has been launched during the global health crisis, and those previously existing saw a huge boost in popularity – like the famous Yale’s Happiness Course.

Trend Evidences: 

Yale’s “The Science of Wellbeing” was already the most popular class in the campus, but it reached a new record since the beginning of the Coronavirus Pandemic.


Professor Laurie Santos, who teaches the course, said they reached around 500,000 learners from March 2018 (when the courses went online for free on the platform Coursera) to the end of February 2020. Now, they have more than 1.5 million people enrolled from all over the world, which means more than 1 million students registered to the course during lockdown.

According to Yale, from the start of December until 26 March, the number of learners shot up 295% in the U.S alone. Dozens of the other countries where learners come from (like Canada, the UK an India) have more than doubled their enrolment in the same time frame, as well. 

The course helps students engage in challenges that are designed to increase happiness and build more productive habits, the description says. Lesson plans include a blend of videos, reading, quizzes and practical exercises, and the final classes focus on rewiring yourself to be happier.

Last April, Delhi government started to give Happiness Classes to students at their homes: parents received audio calls from the Education Department, that explained them how to teach Happiness to theirs sons through step by step activities. 

Finland, which has been crowned as the happiest place on Earth, is giving free online happiness course through Rent A Finn website and Visit Finland’s social media channels: it consists of 5 live broadcasts, each one hosting a different local expert who divulge their happiness routines.

The website says the aim is to allow people “to connect with us Finns virtually to learn about our nature and see our unique habits and traditions that can help you become calmer and happier”.

Each class is approximately 60-minute long and they will also offer a limited number of virtual one-to-one sessions with their happiness guides when the course finishes in the end of June.

“Smile!” is a new online happiness course that is “not only based on scientific evidence but is also hilariously funny”, as they write on their website. Each lessons is 15 minutes long and it includes  a video, a few paragraphs to read, a short quiz to test your understanding, and an actionable step to be practiced in the upcoming days. It takes 3 months to complete it.

At Berkeley University, in California, they are offering a free course titled “The Science of Happiness” where you can learn science-based principles and practices for a happy, meaningful life. Students learn about the cross-disciplinary research supporting the idea that happiness can be improved through strong social connections and by contributing to something bigger than yourself, spanning the fields of psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and beyond.


The course also offers students practical strategies for tapping into and nurturing their own happiness, including trying several research-backed activities that foster social and emotional well-being. 
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