Science of Well Being

Science of Well Being

Science of wellbeing – a course on Coursera taught by Professor Laurie Santos – professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale University). It has become one of the most popular courses on Coursera – in April 2020 2ith 1 million plus enrollments in the online course (till March 2020). The course was initially taught in Yale as “Psychology and the Good Life,” and became the most popular course in the three hundred years of history of Yale, attracting more than 1,200 undergraduate student enrollments.

In Spring 2018, Laurie Santos taught “Psychology and the Good Life” for the first time as depression, anxiety, and stress were evident in the students of Yale University. And the idea behind the course was to help students deal better with anxiety, stress, and depression during their studies and in their practical lives.

The course takes you in the direction of applying the learnings from psychology about personal happiness. Psychology about happiness is being applied in public policy and implementing public policy. The idea is that when it comes to changing people’s behavior these implementations have been quite successful.


Faisal Chohan

Faisal Chohan


Time and Location

Wednesday 9:30AM-11:20AM

Why the course was developed

In 2013 on ABC News, Americans were declared most unhappy People In The World. Also in the United states antidepressants are prescribed 400 times more than what used to be in early 2000. The research shows that recent graduates are more unhappy than others.

Field of positive psychology

The Yale course is an attempt at synthesising work in positive psychology along with the science of behaviour change. The pioneering work in the field of positive psychology is done by scientists like Martin Seligman, Ed Diener, Barbara Fredrickson, Sonja Lyubomirsky, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Daniel Gilbert, Robert Emmons, and others.

This course is for anyone who wants to understand the con

What is well-being

Word happiness and well-being are often in research used interchangeably.

‘Happiness’ is often used, in ordinary life, to refer to a short-lived state of a person and can be understood as an emotional state that is characterised by feelings of joy, satisfaction, contentment, positive emotions, engagement, meaning, accomplishment and fulfilment

In positive psychology domain happiness is usually understood in terms of contentment or ‘life-satisfaction’.

‘Well-being’ amounts to the notion of how well (though wellbeing covers both positive and negative aspects) a person’s life is going for that person.

In the world of Psychological literature well-being is understood as a combination of “feeling good and functioning effectively.”

When discussing the notion of what makes life good for the individual living that life, it is preferable to use the term ‘well-being’ instead of ‘happiness’. Well-being is a kind of value, sometimes called ‘prudential value’, to be distinguished from, for example, aesthetic value or moral value.

Recent research has begun to distinguish two aspects of subjective well-being.

  • Emotional well being. Emotional well-being refers to the emotional quality of an individual’s everyday experience—the frequency and intensity of experiences of joy, stress, sadness, anger, and affection that make one’s life pleasant or unpleasant.
  • Life evaluation refers to the thoughts that people have about their life when they think about it.

In short the term happiness coalesces around three areas.

  • A person’s own assessment of their satisfaction with life.
  • How much positive emotion (such as enjoyment, enthusiasm, inspiration, or pride) they experience.
  • How little negative emotion (such as hostility, irritability, fear, or nervousness) they experience.