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Course of the Week

The Science of Well-Being

  • 22 March 2019
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The Science of Well-Being
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The course of the week is The Science of Well-Being taught by Yale.

@Claire and I are hoping that together we can help people find great courses through the community. Every week, we're featuring a course and inviting people who have taken the course to share their course highlights and how they're using what they learned.

Have you taken The Science of Well-Being?

What did you like about it?

What were the key skills and knowledge you gained from the course?

Who would benefit from taking this course?

What have you done with what you learned?

27 replies

What did you like about it?
I liked the openness that the instructor talked about real life and reflected a lot on what she said about the things we perceive we want out of life as compared to what we actually want/need.

What were the key skills and knowledge you gained from the course?
It reinforced a lot of prior learning, but it helped me kickstart meditating regularly.

Who would benefit from taking this course?
Certainly students in post secondary education, but also teens and parents.

What have you done with what you learned?
It's made me more resilient, the meditation really helped.
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I have taken the Science of Well Being. I gained an understanding about student wellness and psychology. I have created a preventative stress curriculum (https://docs.google.com/document/u/1/d/1rt-rW56yMDRka-NTy8M0u7kr8cj3TYF7wSrmaXwqwlA/edit) that helps high school students teach high school students science backed ways to reduce or prevent their stressors.
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I recently started the course, and I'm almost done with week 1! So far, I've learned about the GI Joe fallacy—that recognizing your cognitive bias is not half the battle; it's much less. You can know all about bias, but that doesn't mean you're prone to falling for them.
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I have taken the Science of Well Being. I gained an understanding about student wellness and psychology. I have created a preventative stress curriculum (https://docs.google.com/document/u/1/d/1rt-rW56yMDRka-NTy8M0u7kr8cj3TYF7wSrmaXwqwlA/edit) that helps high school students teach high school students science backed ways to reduce or prevent their stressors.

That curriculum and the presentation you created are so awesome!
Let me state first of all that I am a 72 year old Senior Citizen. While I have a lifetime of experiences and learning, I found this course fascinating and totally worth the time I spent on it. Like anything, what you get out of a course depends on what you put into it. The class starts out with testing and establish a baseline for your happiness level. The first few weeks are spent on presentation of research based facts for what makes people happy. I made changes to my life as I learned these facts, but the big changes came latter. Yes, you can buzz through the material in a shorter period of time than prescribed, but for me, I wanted to savor the experience and get what I could out of it. The last 4 weeks was an actual experiencial exercise where the learning was applied. My post measure of happiness was considerably higher than my pretest. My level of physical energy was significantly higher and I was meditating more frequently.

In many of the Coursera courses, if you don't pay your $49, they just blow you away. You can listen to the lectures but can't fully participate. Not the case here. I was able to participate in the full course. But, at the end they do ask if they can you use your data for research. I willing agreed and hated to see the course end.

What have you done with what you learned? As with anything, it doesn't matter where you learn something, only that you have learned it. My a-ha moment in the course was the realization of how much of happiness factors are actually built into the systemic environment of industry. As a retiree, you need to construct your own world. The class is experiential based learning.

Who would benefit from taking this course? I could say everyone, but it probably is not suitable for an elementary school student. For another senior citizen, or at least someone with a little experience in life, definitely.
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I really enjoyed that lesson.The professor would analyze the main points of each lecture, briefly. I could understand the main ideas without any effort.
The important thing I gained from that lesson, was to see things from another new perspective. I found great the 3 good things exersice. I saw and understood how we should analyze a study.
Honestly, I believe that each and everyone would benefit from that course. It is very interesting. Often, I felt as I was talking to a friend and not listen to a professor.
What I learned from that lesson is that we can all be happy , if we want to.
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The course is very practical and useful. When I enrolled in the course, I Would like to know about happiness, the brain and human psychology. So I think that I achieved my goals. Besides, I think that emotions play an import role in our lives. So,the course helped me to deal with this kind of thing. So, it helps me to know a bit more about myself and some sense about the human being. Consequently I have learned some great skills to improve all these aspects of my life.
I am disappointed with Coursera In general - so I will never take another course from them. However- the lessons I learned from the Science of Well Being have stayed with me this last year & I’ve been yearning to revisit the lessons. Professor Laurie is so very down to earth & relatable. I would take any class she offers. But not on coursera. Great class otherwise.
This course changed my life, without a doubt. It changed the way I go about my day to day life and how I deal with stressors and people. Professor Laurie has out together a course which has had an immense positive impact on my life. This impact is one I hope to share with as many people as possible. She has inspired me, through the way she has packaged the information in this course, immensely.
I'm another senior citizen who got a great deal out of this course. Some bits sounded familiar: money doesn't necessarily make you happier while altruistic acts do. However, this course encouraged real change in my life and gave lots of evidence of research into the various topics. For example, I've always liked chatting to people I meet while out walking or on public transport and this course showed that these Social Connections are a great way of boosting happiness. I've taken part in a further research project which asked you to list Three Good Things every day and I found this easier than a Gratitude list. I would recommend this course to anyone over 16 and think it would be just as useful for people in their forties, fifties, sixties and seventies as it is for students.

ps Perhaps it's easier to speak to strangers when you're in your sixties but I've always found people are happy to talk, even on the Tube in London!
This course is the first one I have taken from Coursera... And I have definitely loved it:

What did you like about it?
The PRofessor Laurie Santos insists on both very practical lessons to apply on a daily basis to transform my approach. In addition, there are many references to studies and books to deep dive into additional sources of information.

What were the key skills and knowledge you gained from the course?
Practical daily routines : identifying my personnal strength and practicing them on a daily basis, savoring and gratitude, meditation,...

Who would benefit from taking this course?
EVERYBODY: this kind of lessons should be tought to each and every of us from our early age.

What have you done with what you learned?
I have started to practice on a daily basis. I have also started to read additional books quoted as references and looked for TED conferences by the authors of the quoted studies.
It changes my life on a daily basis.
Thanks for Yale and for Coursera to provide this course for free: what an amazing gift to all of us.
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This course is what I watch when I'm trying to relax. It's replaced my youtube video binging. Unlike some of the more technical and demanding courses on Coursera, I can just let my mind absorb the information without having to work in overdrive if you know what I mean. Prof. Santos is a wonderful instructor with ample relatable analogies that really get me thinking of what happiness 'myths' I apply to my daily life without knowing it, and how those unconscious practices have decreased my happiness at times.

For example, she talks about how our brain is wired to compare ourselves/our things/our successes, etc. to a relative point rather than an absolute point. Which means we are never satisfied or content because there's always something that seems 'better' or more amazing than we we have. If I earn $1M and that's my goal and I reached it, I'll feel good until I see a billionaire standing next to me. Then all of a sudden $1M is not enough for me to be happy. Which is totally unreasonable and silly but our brain does it anyways! So catching myself thinking these things really do help me reframe my thoughts and desires so that I'm not so dependent on what others are doing (looking at you Instagram and social media!).

Really recommend this course if you're looking to gain insight into your own happiness and wellbeing.
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Hi community.

I really enjoy the course and apply the knowlodge in my entire life.

Talking about personal side, I change my life sleeping 7 hours a day and the course help me a lot with the WOOP tool that really works.

in the other hand, in professional subjects I could improve my pitch to present well being software solutions. Yes! The solution exists and now I can talk about change of habits to achieve well being improvement in a company.
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What were the key skills and knowledge you gained from the course?
It reinforced a lot of prior learning, but it helped me kickstart meditating regularly.

What have you done with what you learned?
It's made me more resilient, the meditation really helped.


This is great, @nscoach! Does the course offer specific meditations, or did you create your own meditation practice?
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I have taken the Science of Well Being. I gained an understanding about student wellness and psychology. I have created a preventative stress curriculum (https://docs.google.com/document/u/1/d/1rt-rW56yMDRka-NTy8M0u7kr8cj3TYF7wSrmaXwqwlA/edit) that helps high school students teach high school students science backed ways to reduce or prevent their stressors.

Thanks for sharing your curriculum with the wider community, @Charjad1!
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Let me state first of all that I am a 72 year old Senior Citizen. While I have a lifetime of experiences and learning, I found this course fascinating and totally worth the time I spent on it. Like anything, what you get out of a course depends on what you put into it. The class starts out with testing and establish a baseline for your happiness level. The first few weeks are spent on presentation of research based facts for what makes people happy. I made changes to my life as I learned these facts, but the big changes came latter. Yes, you can buzz through the material in a shorter period of time than prescribed, but for me, I wanted to savor the experience and get what I could out of it. The last 4 weeks was an actual experiencial exercise where the learning was applied. My post measure of happiness was considerably higher than my pretest. My level of physical energy was significantly higher and I was meditating more frequently.

Hi @PaulInPasadena. Thank you for taking the time to share in detail about your experience with the course. It's really interesting (but not surprising) to hear that you had more physical energy at the end of the course! When did you complete the course? Have you found it challenging to maintain your new practices, or did you learn strategies to help you with this once the course was over?
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Often, I felt as I was talking to a friend and not listen to a professor.
What I learned from that lesson is that we can all be happy , if we want to.


What a great compliment to this instructor! And I love that you learned that we can all be happy if we want to. I'd always thought of myself as a someone who was just born 'not happy.' In the past few years, I've been changing my mindset (maybe the fixed vs. growth mindset is covered in the course) and practicing mindfulness and positive neuroplasticity – now I also believe that happiness is available to everyone. Not all the time, of course. And it is harder for some people than others. But, there are ways we can become happier.
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The course is very practical and useful. When I enrolled in the course, I Would like to know about happiness, the brain and human psychology. So I think that I achieved my goals. Besides, I think that emotions play an import role in our lives. So,the course helped me to deal with this kind of thing. So, it helps me to know a bit more about myself and some sense about the human being. Consequently I have learned some great skills to improve all these aspects of my life.

So glad to hear this course helped you, @Vagney!

This course changed my life, without a doubt. It changed the way I go about my day to day life and how I deal with stressors and people. Professor Laurie has out together a course which has had an immense positive impact on my life. This impact is one I hope to share with as many people as possible. She has inspired me, through the way she has packaged the information in this course, immensely.

Amazing that this course changed your life, @Ericaurq!

Did either of you feel it was difficult to keep practicing what you learned once the course was over? Or did you learn strategies in the course that helped you with this?
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I am disappointed with Coursera In general - so I will never take another course from them. However- the lessons I learned from the Science of Well Being have stayed with me this last year & I’ve been yearning to revisit the lessons. Professor Laurie is so very down to earth & relatable. I would take any class she offers. But not on coursera. Great class otherwise.

I'm so sorry to hear that, @Mamarita56. Thank you for taking the time to share that you had a positive experience with Professor Laurie in this course.
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I'm another senior citizen who got a great deal out of this course. Some bits sounded familiar: money doesn't necessarily make you happier while altruistic acts do. However, this course encouraged real change in my life and gave lots of evidence of research into the various topics. For example, I've always liked chatting to people I meet while out walking or on public transport and this course showed that these Social Connections are a great way of boosting happiness. I've taken part in a further research project which asked you to list Three Good Things every day and I found this easier than a Gratitude list. I would recommend this course to anyone over 16 and think it would be just as useful for people in their forties, fifties, sixties and seventies as it is for students.

ps Perhaps it's easier to speak to strangers when you're in your sixties but I've always found people are happy to talk, even on the Tube in London!


Hi @Winter. Thank you for sharing these examples – the social connections and how they boost our happiness as well as the 'good things' list. I've also practiced writing down good things (5) that have happened in my day. It's a simple way to help 're-wire' the brain to focus on the positives rather than the negatives. And I bet the people you meet on the Tube enjoy chatting with you as they're probably learning something (happy) from you!
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This course is the first one I have taken from Coursera... And I have definitely loved it:

What did you like about it?
The PRofessor Laurie Santos insists on both very practical lessons to apply on a daily basis to transform my approach. In addition, there are many references to studies and books to deep dive into additional sources of information.

What were the key skills and knowledge you gained from the course?
Practical daily routines : identifying my personnal strength and practicing them on a daily basis, savoring and gratitude, meditation,...

Who would benefit from taking this course?
EVERYBODY: this kind of lessons should be tought to each and every of us from our early age.

What have you done with what you learned?
I have started to practice on a daily basis. I have also started to read additional books quoted as references and looked for TED conferences by the authors of the quoted studies.
It changes my life on a daily basis.Thanks for Yale and for Coursera to provide this course for free: what an amazing gift to all of us.


Thanks for sharing about your experience with this course, @Nick the passionate learner! Have you found any books particularly helpful? I'm a big fan of Rick Hanson's positive neuroplasticity teaching, which I think aligns a lot with the content of The Science of Well-Being.

This was your first Coursera course ... since you're a passionate learner, what do you plan to take next? (Or what are you taking now!?)
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This course is what I watch when I'm trying to relax. It's replaced my youtube video binging. Unlike some of the more technical and demanding courses on Coursera, I can just let my mind absorb the information without having to work in overdrive if you know what I mean. Prof. Santos is a wonderful instructor with ample relatable analogies that really get me thinking of what happiness 'myths' I apply to my daily life without knowing it, and how those unconscious practices have decreased my happiness at times.

For example, she talks about how our brain is wired to compare ourselves/our things/our successes, etc. to a relative point rather than an absolute point. Which means we are never satisfied or content because there's always something that seems 'better' or more amazing than we we have. If I earn $1M and that's my goal and I reached it, I'll feel good until I see a billionaire standing next to me. Then all of a sudden $1M is not enough for me to be happy. Which is totally unreasonable and silly but our brain does it anyways! So catching myself thinking these things really do help me reframe my thoughts and desires so that I'm not so dependent on what others are doing (looking at you Instagram and social media!).

Really recommend this course if you're looking to gain insight into your own happiness and wellbeing.


I'm impressed that this course has replaced YouTube video binging! That's a great compliment to the course and instructor, @Iris. Great example of how our brains are wired to compare ourselves with others ... it's takes so much of our energy that could be better used elsewhere!
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Hi community.

I really enjoy the course and apply the knowlodge in my entire life.

Talking about personal side, I change my life sleeping 7 hours a day and the course help me a lot with the WOOP tool that really works.

in the other hand, in professional subjects I could improve my pitch to present well being software solutions. Yes! The solution exists and now I can talk about change of habits to achieve well being improvement in a company.


Hi @MarceloGato. Thanks for sharing here. Great to hear that you started sleeping more after taking this course! I hadn't heard of the WOOP tool so I looked it up. It stands for wish, outcome, obstacle, plan? Thanks for introducing me to something new!

What were the key skills and knowledge you gained from the course?
It reinforced a lot of prior learning, but it helped me kickstart meditating regularly.

What have you done with what you learned?
It's made me more resilient, the meditation really helped.
This is great, @nscoach! Does the course offer specific meditations, or did you create your own meditation practice?

Hi @Laura during the meditation week one of the readings had a list of links which brought me to this one in particular: https://youtu.be/-d_AA9H4z9U
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Thank you for sharing that link, @nscoach! Loving-kindness is a wonderful practice. Some of my favorite guided meditations are from Tara Brach and Melli O'Brien.

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