This Popular Happiness Course has Been Revamped for Teens

Teaching the strategies that teenagers can use to feel happier.

Teens that have self esteem and empathy for others feel happie.r

(Monkey Business Images /

Everyone wants to feel happier. But sometimes happiness can be elusive. That’s why Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, created a course about happiness. The cause was conceived and taught by professor of psychology and head of Silliman College at Yale University, Laurie Santos PhD. It was originally named  “Psychology and the Good Life” and it soon became the university’s most popular course ever!

In 2020, the happiness course went online through the learning site Coursera. Now it has been revamped for teens, reported The Washington Post. The six-week free course launched on January 16, 2023 and consists of short Tik-Tok length videos that talk about happiness misconceptions, mental wellbeing, and has the goal of achieving both.

In a  few days more than 13,000 teens had applied and to date more than 292,152 people viewed the course information on the Coursera website. The response shows just how necessary this course is.

Teenage mental health
Today’s teens are experiencing a mental health crisis that began shortly before the pandemic but was worsened by lockdowns and online classes. Feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety continued to rise and more than 37 percent of high school students said they experienced poor mental health during the pandemic, according to a survey from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  Almost half of the students said that they felt continually sad.

“We’re not taking care of our young people today if we’re not giving them strategies to navigate all the complex societal pressures that they face,” Santos told The Washington Post. “We’re really letting our young people down.”

What makes the course for teens differant?
While the original course that was meant for college students talks about happiness in terms of work satisfaction and salary, the teen course reframes it to happiness from grades and other real-life experiences that high schoolers deal with, reprted The New Haven Register

“I got lots of feedback on the class [the college course] when I offered it but people were saying this is great but we need this kind of course for younger learners, too,” Santos told the NH Register. “We need to get the students these strategies even younger.”

According to Santos, teenagers are trying to be happy but are going about it in the wrong ways. The course focuses on the things that these young adults can do and gives them the tools to do so.

Some of these, reported The Washington Post, are to become other oriented as away to make social connections. This includes volunteering or doing random acts of kindness for others.  

Other strategies include how to silence your inner-critic and how to foster self-compassion. But one of the most important tools for adolescents is teaching them how to regulate their emotions.

“If we can teach children and teens and adults to try to make changes to things they can control, they feel more empowered,” Santos told the Washington Post. “If they feel more empowered, they feel more in control of their life. And if they feel more in control of their life, they’re not feeling helpless. Then they don’t tend to be as depressed.”

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