Lessons in happiness for University of Bristol students | UK News
Students studying at the University of Bristol are to be offered lessons in happiness, which will count towards their degrees from next year.
The 12-week Science of Happiness course draws on the latest research in psychology and neuroscience, exploring what happiness is and how to achieve it.
It is open to students from all university disciplines and will count towards 20 of their 120 credit points for their first year.
Last year, around 400 students signed up to a pilot voluntary happiness course as part of the university’s approach to improving well-being and pastoral care.
It was introduced amid growing concerns about student mental health.
However, it did not result in academic credit.
Professor Bruce Hood, a psychologist who researches how the brain works and how humans think, is leading the course.
He said: “We’re anticipating hundreds of students taking it, right across the spectrum from not just psychology but every area of interest – engineering, chemistry, medicine and so on.
“This course will be built and established on what we’ve already learnt in the first year but of course we’re going to monitor the students much more closely because it’s for credit.
“They can’t take an easy option – they’ve really got to put in the effort and engage.”
Lectures will look at a number of issues such as whether happiness is in the genes and if it can really be changed, how our minds distort happiness and the role of culture in happiness.
Students will be asked to select and practice one of seven happiness exercises for a week: taking time to savour enjoyment; expressing gratitude for people and things; practising random acts of kindness; making social connections; increasing physical activity; sleeping more and meditating.
Prof Hood said: “Most people think that the path to happiness is success in jobs, salaries, material possessions and relationships.
“Ultimately, the aim is to give a greater understanding of what happiness is and how the human mind often sabotages happiness.”
It is hoped the course will follow the success of the Psychology and the Good Life classes offered at Yale University in the US, which one in four students signed up for and an online version of which has been accessed by more than 200,000 people.
Professor Laurie Santos, who lead the Yale classes, has also taught them to businessmen and women, schoolchildren and the elderly.
She said: “I think we all want to be a little happier, we all worry that we’re not flourishing enough.
“The science can give us some important hints about what to do better.”
Prof Hood and Prof Santos will be giving a free public lecture called Science of Happiness and The Good Life at the University of Bristol this evening.