In the spring of 2018, the Yale psychology professor Laurie Santos unveiled a new course, Psychology and the Good Life. The subject was happiness.
Santos’ course was a blend of abstract and concrete. It combined positive psychology with the real-life applications of behavioral science. It debunked popular notions of what makes people happy (like the luxury Mercedes-Benz status symbol) and helped students understand the habits they should build to lead truly happier, more fulfilled lives.
The course was launched in the US — home to supposedly only the 19th-happiest population in the world, according to the 2019 World Happiness Report — at one of the nation’s most elite and high-pressure colleges.