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The Science of Well-Being

Coursera · Yale University · 8 HN points · 15 HN comments

HN Academy has aggregated all Hacker News stories and comments that mention Coursera's "The Science of Well-Being" from Yale University.
Course Description

In this course you will engage in a series of challenges designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits. As preparation for these tasks, Professor Laurie Santos reveals misconceptions about happiness, annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do, and the research that can help us change. You will ultimately be prepared to successfully incorporate a specific wellness activity into your life.


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Dec 27, 2021 · 1 points, 0 comments · submitted by pps
Dec 27, 2021 · pps on Ten Years of Logging My Life
You can try with gratitude instead (not tracking, but writing), it has serious scientific backing:



> science of happiness

Yeah I'm not sure, I think it's natural to have ups and downs. But for me personally there's always something worrying me. I don't know if once I escape being poor "for good" eg. have money invested/don't have to work. If I will lose this constant anxiety.

I still struggle with the whole "altruism" thing like I help people but I also in the back of my mind have this feeling of "mine". "I'd be further in life if I was an asshole" etc...

I think productivity is also subjective... if you setup businesses/have passive income/don't have to work. If you don't do anything are you not productive? Anyway I know what productivity means for me (getting things done) but that's because I can't stop yet. Not that I want to stop but yeah. It's like I don't want to wake up/sleep 9-5 but I need to because I have a job.

You can research happiness while still believing in a life with ups and downs.
Not sure what you mean by "believing in a life with ups and downs" is that not reality?

Happiness seems simple to achieve to me, do the opposite of what makes you unhappy unless you need something like medication.

I'm sorry, it sounded like you were averse to studying happiness because it would remove the ups and downs. I don't know what you wanted to say if not that.
haha, my soundtrack in life is the Lego song "Everything is awesome"

idk, this whole 'studying happiness' sounds like you're trying to trick yourself to be happy, but that's an ignorant take without looking for myself.

I know can really get down in the weeds, hierarchy of needs, Buddhism, philosophy, etc...

I think that as a sentient/alive being, your mind will always be on/running. And actually having problems like being broke distracts you from the fact that time counts down and you exist regardless of what you do. Mainly to stay alive and avoid pain.

Even if you have money and didn't have to work/have freedom, how long till you're bored. Anyway I have plenty of reasons to be happy you know like I have family in a third world country with parasites, barely have access to water, here I am paid to write code, running water, hot shower everyday, etc... I used to stack biscuits into a box for a job and hated myself, I changed it.

Life is not so bad (but it can be better, Wonder woman meme).

Anyway I'm just rambling here

I spent much of my life without money, and I was altogether fairly satisfied and curious. I would often wonder, will I feel the same forms of loneliness, inadequacy, aimlessness, when I have money, as I do now without it?

Yes, I have.

Emotions are their own realm, and the time you spend observing and reflecting on them, as we are doing in this thread, is valuable.

I share with you a bit about what I have learned. I've struggled a lot. Everything is like broken. I'm still struggling right now. However, I'm still working on something to make our situation better. I do several research and experiments on Happiness, psychology, neuroscience and here are something I'm want to share.

+ Hedonic adaption: Hedonic adaption is special psychological effects that explains about how we perceive about happiness. Even after a big happy moment, our level of happiness do down quickly. We adapt our perception to our current situations. So it's like nothing will last forever. Hedonic adaption is both good and bad. It makes us adapt quickly with any situations. It keeps us safe. So we should appreciate it and learn how to make use of this effect rather than blaming it. Learns to attend with everything you do even it's bad, explore something news. It will help you deal with bad effects of hedonic adaptation.

+ Mindfulness: Do some mindfulness exercise. We feel stress because our mind think we're having problems. Our mind made up our feelings to keep us safe [7]. It's good for us. Mindfulness help us understand more about feeling and more enjoy the moment.

+ Mind body connection: Your health affects your mental, and your mental will affect your health. To me, it's not because some spiritual belief, but it's how systems work [3] [4]. Our body, our mind are systems. They are part of bigger system. They connect each others and interact with each other, sending some feedback. So try to improve both your health and your mental. Try to improve your health diet, do exercises and taking care of our thoughts and feelings.

+ We aren't rational. Our thinking system is optimal but it has limitations [3]. It has a lot of problems (cognitive biases). Learn to appreciate and find a way to make it better. For example, we can adapt. We update our belief overtime. Try to make new better habits[5]. Make small steps.

+ There isn't perfect things. Every systems aren't perfect. Our immune system, our cognitive system, organizations, data structures, design patterns,... Appreciate what works, what not and improve it.

Some interesting books, articles you might interest:








What does the word "teaching" mean in the context of this post?

Writing blog posts?

If you want to learn about moral/life philosophy, then there are some great free courses on Coursera

If someone else wants to read Paul Graham's blog I do not see the issue...

Attention. PG gets attention, which is itself a valuable and scarce (individually) commodity. Why does he get to have his thoughts out there, taking up attention and other resources, and another doesn't?

"I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops." ― Stephen Jay Gould, The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History

Hey all, sometime last year I took The Science of Wellbeing Course at Yale (online)[1]. One of the proven ways that course taught to increase your wellbeing and happiness is to do gratitude journaling each day.

I didn't like any of the existing Chrome "gratitude" extensions because they simply suggested you log what you were grateful for, instead of actually making you log what you're grateful for each day. Three Gratitudes attempts to address this by forcibly locking your browser each day for 1 minute until you've logged what you're grateful for. After you log your gratitudes, your browser behaves like normal.

The extension is heavily inspired by the Momentum[2] extension. Hopefully people find it valuable.

[1] [2]


The Science of Well Being. A great course about how psychologists research human happiness and what the current state of the art suggests are the best strategies for leading a fulfilling life.

Sep 18, 2020 · 1 points, 0 comments · submitted by jv22222
I really liked all of the MIT philosophy courses[1] I've taken. Introduction to Philosophy of Language in particular was really interesting. I also took Yale's "The Science of Wellbeing"[2] after reading about it on HN. It's great, but not exactly a traditional class where you learn some piece of information and then move on. It's more like going to the gym where you're meant to continuously put what you've learned into practice. Now that I think about it perhaps I should take it again!



There is an amazing course on happiness from Yale:
The podcast presented by the professor of that course is also excellent. It's called The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos.
The Science of Wellbeing[1] taught by Yale’s Dr. Laurie Santos lives up to the hype. It’s been discussed on HN a few times[2] which is how I stumbled upon it.

If you don’t mind my asking, did your school give you access to coursera to earn credit while the campus is shut down? Or is it just something interesting and fun for students who might be inclined to learn something new while they’re stuck at home? Either way, props to your school! And enjoy whatever classes you decide to take!



Coursera for Campus for the time being is free. You need to ask your school to apply:

EdX also has something similar.

NYU's Tandon School Engineering is doing the same with edX (since it is part of the organization), but students won't earn credits.
Thanks for the recommendation, sounds great!

As mentioned above, I think the credit is due to Coursera more than my university; either way, at least they've let me know that something like this is possible.

It's just for fun; most of our courses are now taught over Zoom or similar services, assignments are handled digitally and if it wasn't for the low-quality webcams, you'd almost forget something is out of the ordinary.

The link to the course is in the article, but I will post it here too: .
It looks like it's also available on YouTube (if you don't want to register on Coursera):

Correction: This YouTube link is just the first lecture of the course.
Mar 28, 2020 · 5 points, 0 comments · submitted by ValentineC
Mar 25, 2020 · 1 points, 0 comments · submitted by simonpure
I'm currently in week 4 of the most popular course in Yale [0], but was made available online on Coursera[1].

I think for the most part I've learnt I've learnt that much of what we think about happiness is consistently shown not to work. And that many of our expectations of what we think will make us happy, simply won't. If we want genuine happiness, it takes an honest self-assessment of what we're doing, what's stopping us from being happy and what would be the best way to map the parts of our life we can control to actually make us happy.

Anyway, the course seems well respected and highly recommended [2]. But I hope you're doing ok, and whatever you choose to do next, you find what you're looking for. Best of luck.




I wish I had the time to watch this. What are the biggest ideas that you've learned?
Highly reccomend this course. Free on coursera

The Science of Well-Being

In this course you will engage in a series of challenges designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits. As preparation for these tasks, Professor Laurie Santos reveals misconceptions about happiness, annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do, and the research that can help us change. You will ultimately be prepared to successfully incorporate a specific wellness activity into your life.

The class starts today if anyone is interested in enrolling:
Going to recommend the most widely taken course at Yale at the moment, which fortunately is now available as a MOOC on coursera, "The Science of Well Being":

This is a positive psychology course based on work by Seligman et al.

Would this be Seligman of "none of my positive psychology results replicate" fame?
Does this mean you're not signing up for the course? :D
Could you provide more information or sources about that?
Do Positive Psychology Exercises Work? A Replication of Seligman et al. (2005)

Results: Repeated measures analyses showed that the PPEs led to lasting increases in happiness, as did the positive placebo. The PPEs did not exceed the control condition in producing changes in depression over time.

Conclusions: Brief, positive psychology interventions may boost happiness through a common factor involving the activation of positive, self-relevant information rather than through other specific mechanisms. Finally, the effects of PPEs on depression may be more modest than previously assumed.

My point exactly.
Thanks for the link. The four treatment conditions look REALLY similar to me (see pages 384-285). They're all exercises that make you think about good things in your life:

Expectancy control (early memories): “[...]Every night over the next week, set aside about 10 minutes before bed [...] to log on to this website to write about an early memory.”

Positive placebo (positive early memories, in addition to rationale above): “[...] Every night over the next week, set aside about 10 minutes before bed [...] to log on to this website to write about an early positive memory.”

Three good things (Seligman et al., 2005): “[...] log on to the website daily for seven days to list three things that went well on that day and why they happened.”

Using signature strengths in a new way (Seligman et al., 2005): “This exercise consists of two parts. You will take a questionnaire that gives you feedback about your strengths. This will take about 45 minutes. The next day you will be asked to use these strengths in new ways every day for one week [...]”

So regardless of whether the specific exercises are uniquely useful, it seems like it's valuable to make yourself focus on the positive stuff.

I just listened to a podcast with Laurie Santos, all about her course on happiness research, which quickly became the most popular course ever taught at Yale.

A shortened version of the course is available on Coursera:

It's surprising how much the research validates things we all intuitively know or suspect about happiness, but routinely fail to put into practice. Exercise. Sleep. Mindfulness. Human interactions. Have some free time. "Avoid news" seems like it might fit too.

Thanks for this. Watched the course intro and I'm definitely enrolling for April 9th.
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