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Unhappy with life? Take this course on happiness, it's free

Log on: Ever since the course started last month, several thousand students from over 165 countries have signed up

education Updated: Jul 08, 2015 18:37 IST
Vandana Ramnani
Log on: Ever since the course started last month, several thousand students from over 165 countries have signed up
Log on: Ever since the course started last month, several thousand students from over 165 countries have signed up

Students who are happy study well and get good grades. Similarly, happy employees take less sick leave. This is what prompted Professor Raj Raghunathan or Dr Happy-smarts to design a course on happiness both at the Indian School of Business and at the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin.

Ever since the course started last month, several thousand students from virtually every country in the world (at last count, from over 165 countries!) have signed up. The course, a scientific exploration of the answer to the question: What are the determinants of a happy and fulfilling life, is being offered through the Coursera platform since last month. Anyone who is interested in leading a happier and more meaningful life or is interested in self-awareness will find the course to be useful.

Those wanting to take the course simply have to log on and start viewing the lectures and completing the exercises. It’s not like a regular classroom course where a cohort takes it at the same time. (This course is self-paced; so you can take it anytime you like and as many times as you like.) All that is required is internet access and rudimentary knowledge of operating a computer/electronic device.

“It struck me that the ultimate purpose of education ought to be to offer students the skill sets required to lead a happy and meaningful life. If not, what’s the purpose of education? That’s when I started teaching the class on happiness. It’s been five years since I started the class (in 2009) and I am happy to say that it’s gone from strength to strength and is now one of the most popular electives, both at McCombs and at the Indian School of Business, where I am currently visiting,” says Professor Raghunathan.

The course is quite low on effort (two to three hours a week), since it’s designed keeping the busy student/executive/home-maker in mind. You just need to watch all the videos (which Prof Ragunathan has “tried to make fun!”), and complete one exercise per week. The course is also self-paced, so you can choose to watch all the videos for the week in one go (it will take you about two hours to get through them all) or spread them over all seven days, he says. The course is structured around the seven deadly happiness sins. These are devaluing happiness (not giving it as much priority as one should if one wants to be happy; or, put differently, prioritising other goals – like value-for-money or “ego”– over happiness), chasing superiority, being “needy” (which leads to feeling incomplete or unworthy in relationships), being overly controlling, distrusting others, distrusting life, ignoring the ‘source within.’

The lectures are conducted through videos that have already been uploaded. Grading will be done via peer evaluation (everyone will evaluate the deliverables of five other “peers”– other students – and the average of these five evaluations will be calculated to arrive at the final grade), adds Professor Raghunathan.

And finally – this is the best part – the course is totally free, unless you want to get a certificate of completion, which will put you back by US$49.