The Profile Dossier: Laurie Santos, the Happiness Scientist
Want to learn to be happier? Read this.
Laurie Santos teaches the most popular course at Yale University. It’s called “PSYC 157: Psychology and the Good Life,” a course on science-based strategies to lead happier and more fulfilled lives.
Santos began teaching the class in 2018, and it’s only skyrocketed in popularity.
So far, more than 3.7 million people have enrolled in the class, which is available in person at Yale or for free online through Coursera.
Santos believes that its popularity points to the notion that many of us are yearning for meaning, connection, and happiness. After two years of pandemic anxiety and an ever-changing world, we’re looking for ways to take care of our mental health.
The discovery most students make after taking her course is that the mind plays tricks on us. We all want to be happier, Santos explains, but the problem is that we have a lot of misconceptions about what will actually make us happy.
Happiness isn’t this grand feeling of euphoria that you think you’ll get after you buy an expensive car or go on an extravagant vacation. It’s about finding joy in the most mundane moments in your everyday life.
In a Q&A with The New York Times, Santos is asked: “What’s the purpose of life?”
“It’s smelling your coffee in the morning,” she answers with a laugh. “Loving your kids. Having sex and daisies and springtime. It’s all the good things in life. That’s what it is.”
In this Dossier, you’ll find practical, research-backed strategies on how to find little pockets of happiness in each day, understand what will not make you happy, and rewire your brain to see the light in moments of darkness.