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University of California, Berkeley

The Science of Happiness

University of California, Berkeley via edX


"A free eight-week Science of Happiness course that will offer practical, research-backed tips on living a happy and meaningful life." - The Huffington Post

We all want to be happy, and there are countless ideas about what happiness is and how we can get some. But not many of those ideas are based on science. That's where this course comes in.

"The Science of Happiness" is the first MOOC to teach the ground-breaking science of positive psychology, which explores the roots of a happy and meaningful life. Students will engage with some of the most provocative and practical lessons from this science, discovering how cutting-edge research can be applied to their own lives. Created by UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center, the course will zero in on a fundamental finding from positive psychology: that happiness is inextricably linked to having strong social connections and contributing to something bigger than yourself--the greater good. Students will learn about the cross-disciplinary research supporting this view, spanning the fields of psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and beyond.

What's more, "The Science of Happiness" 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, and exploring how their own happiness changes along the way.

The course's co-instructors, Dacher Keltner and Emiliana Simon-Thomas, are not only leading authorities on positive psychology but also gifted teachers skilled at making science fun and personal. They'll be joined by world-renowned experts discussing themes like empathy, mindfulness, and gratitude--experts including Barbara Fredrickson, Paul Ekman, Sonja Lyubomirsky, and Jon Kabat-Zinn. Health professionals who register can earn continuing education units for their participation.

Consider signing up for this course with a friend or group - tweet about your registration, share it on Facebook, and use the buddy system to stay on track. Join the conversation on The Greater Good Science Center Facebook page, or in the BerkeleyX: GG101x The Science of Happiness Facebook group.

NOTE: This course is a self-paced course on edX.

Taught by

Emiliana Simon-Thomas and Dacher Keltner


4.5 rating, based on 35 Class Central reviews

4.7 rating at edX based on 21 ratings

Start your review of The Science of Happiness

  • This was a wonderful course. It took some time to do, but it is well worth it. It gives you many techniques that you can practice to improve your own happiness, as well as tons of scientific information to back it up. This is a very interesting topic. Most courses focus on the negative emotions and feelings, where as this one shows how to change your life by focusing on the positive. Also, it is build knowing that everyone is different.
  • Writing a review for this course is pretty difficult. On the one hand, there is quite a bit of information provided on what make someone happy, but on the other, this is definitely a "touchy-feely" course that uses weekly happiness surveys and encourages keeping a journal to measure your own happiness. The neuroscience is not very rigorous – I think the course directors intentionally made this an easy class so they could get more people to sign up and get through the material. Computer graded homework assignments are a breeze. Again, I think this course is really meant as a simple introduction to the science of happiness, yet seems more focused on having the student find his own path to what makes him happy.
  • Liv
    An absolutely wonderful course that I highly recommend to those interested in gaining greater insight into positive psychology and the drivers (and barriers) to happiness. The course is accessible, enjoyable and jam packed with proven, research-base…
  • Minakshi SaiKaulogist
    This course looks at positive qualities of human beings and the attributes that if incorporated in one's personality would make them happier. Happiness comes from empathising with other's needs,feeling and acknowledging gratitude and being more socially open. A great course to take when you want to grow more in yourself and out in the world. -Dr. Minakshi Kaul, Health Professional
  • Jayne McCormack
    A course looking at the science behind our feelings of happiness, and practical tools to help encourage happiness into our lives. It looks at it from a scientific point of view and with the latest research. It's a course with a lot of content and tasks to complete each week. I find the Edx platform quite a messy one, and the least straightforward to navigate which makes taking such a broad course as this more difficult then it needs to be.
  • Anonymous
    After I took this course, I became a different person. I learnt how to be mindful, accept myself. It really works. This is one of the best courses online
  • Anonymous
    Take this course. You will learn a lot. You may not be very happy ,but you will never be sad again
  • Anonymous
    I loved this course. Lots of common sense, and self evident truths, but conveyed in a fresh, affirming way. I feel happy just thinking about it. Thanks to the teachers.
  • Anonymous
    Fantastic course. Enjoyed doing the exercises to put the learning into practice. Recommend the lecturers add a bit more 'hollywood' creativity to their videos because watching someone talk is boring, whereas using graphics and movement to convey information is a much more powerful way of learning
  • Stephen
    Great course! I've used the techniques that i learned in the course to improve my life. The information in the course will make you think and challenge you to grow happier. Obtaining happiness can be difficult but the pursuit is worth it. Take the course and you might enjoy life a little more by using the science of happiness.
  • Andrea Marks
    An excellent course, quite a lot of content, but all very interesting and informative and very clearly presented. Left me with lots to think about and put into action.
  • Profile image for Jessica Crider
    Jessica Crider
    This course seems very simple so far. The instructions are clear, they literally spell it out for us. I am looking forward to learning more about the science of happiness.
  • Pedro Henrique Coelho Pinto
    Muito bom, otima introdução, otimas dicas, esse curso com certeza não Vai sair da minha cabeça, gostei muito e sempre irei gostar, pretendo ver e rever denovo
  • Great course! Some of it seems simple, but also shows many ways to apply concepts. Love it. Would take again.
  • Anonymous
    The course was very enjoyable. I also liked having the videos instead of needing to read everything. All in all, I would give it 5 stars. Thank you.
  • Sagar Ladhwani
    The course is about the most fundamental blocks of the positive happy thinking. With the help of proven research, the tutors speak about how these simple concepts like connection, mindfulness, gratitude increase the level of happiness. From a pers…
  • Profile image for Pieter Dumortier
    Pieter Dumortier
    I think the course should need more of a guidance through the lesson, it could for example start of with a question like: "How can someone/a community maximize their overal joy, happiness & satisfaction" and the deduct best practices by referring to other (previous) research from other fields.
  • Abdul Azeez
    I am interested to discuss in happiness and its science of brain. When we meditate in brain certain positive hormons produce. It gives happy feeling
  • Fabi

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