Here’s something to smile about: these 10 quality free online courses are waiting to teach you how to create a happier, more fulfilling life. Learn about the study of happiness from professors and researchers at top universities as you implement techniques such as meditation, resilience, mindfulness, and visualization into your own life.
Whether you’re going through a rough spot or are simply looking for a few tips on creating a happier life, these courses can help bring a little sunshine your way.
The Science of Happiness (UC Berkeley) – Created by leaders in UC Berkeley’s “Greater Good Science Center,” this extremely popular 10-week course gives students an introduction to the concepts behind Positive Psychology. Learners study science-based methods of increasing their happiness and monitor their progress as they go. The results of this online class have also been studied. Research shows that students who consistently participate throughout the course experience an increase in well-being and a sense of common humanity, as well as a decrease in loneliness.
The Year of Happy (Independent) – Want to make this year your happiest yet? This free email course walks recipients through one major theme of happiness each month. Every week, receive an email related to that theme containing videos, readings, discussions, and more. Monthly themes include gratitude, optimism, mindfulness, kindness, relationships, flow, goals, work, savoring, resilience, body, meaning & spirituality.
Becoming a Resilient Person: The Science of Stress Management (University of Washington) – When stress strikes, how do you react? This 8-week course teaches students how to develop resilience – the ability to positively withstand adversity in their lives. Techniques such as optimistic thinking, relaxation, meditation, mindfulness, and purposeful decision-making are introduced as ways to develop a toolbox for dealing with stressful situations.
Introduction to Psychology (Tsinghua University) – When you understand the basics of psychology, you'll be better prepared to make decisions that bring you ongoing happiness. Learn about the mind, perception, learning, personality, and (ultimately) happiness in this 13-week introductory course.
A Lifetime of Happiness and Fulfillment (Indian School of Business) – Developed by a professor nicknamed “Dr. HappySmarts,” this 6-week course draws on research from a variety of disciplines to help students understand what makes people happy. Be prepared for videos featuring interviews with happiness experts and authors, readings, and exercises.
Positive Psychology (The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) – Students in this 6-week course are introduced to the study of Positive Psychology. Weekly units focus on psychological techniques that are proven to improve happiness levels – upward spirals, building resilience, loving-kindness meditations, and more.
Psychology of Popularity (The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) – If you think that popularity doesn’t affect you, think again. This 6-week course introduces students to the multitude of ways that experience with popularity in their younger years shape who they are and how they feel as an adult.
Apparently, popularity can even change DNA in unexpected ways.
Buddhist Meditation and the Modern World (University of Virginia) – You don’t have to join a religion for Buddhist practices to become practical in your life. This 13-week online course takes a look at some of the most common Buddhist practices (meditation, yoga, mindfulness, visualization, etc.), examines the science behind how they work, and explains how they can be used in personal, secular, or even professional places.
by Jamie Littlefield
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