When I think of classes at Yale University, I imagine things like organic chemistry and 19th-century literature. I don’t picture Happiness 101.

As it turns out, the class Psychology and the Good Life, colloquially dubbed Happiness 101, is Yale’s most popular course offering — ever. Approximately 1 in 4 undergrads enrolled in the class for spring semester. That’s nearly 1,200 students — the largest enrollment reported for a single class in Yale’s 317-year history.

Spring on the Yale campus. Photo via Christopher Capozzielo/Getty Images.


Psychology professor Laurie Santos offers the twice-weekly lecture to teach students how to live more fulfilling, satisfying lives. The class focuses on positive psychology, exploring the characteristics that help people flourish. It also taps into behavior — the habits and actions that lead to real happiness.

Students take quizzes on all of this, including a midterm exam. As a final assessment, they have to complete a self-improvement project, that Santos refers to as a “Hack Yo’Self Project.”

It may sound simple, and some students undoubtedly take the class because they think it’ll be easy credits. But according to The New York Times, Santos calls her course the “hardest class at Yale.” Success in the class means a real life change in habits, which requires a great deal of personal accountability, she says.

Santos even encourages students to take the class as a pass-fail to avoid the tendency to place too much importance on grades, which she says is not conducive to happiness.

Students at prestigious schools often put their personal happiness on hold. Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images.

College students report struggling with mental health at unprecedented rates.

One might assume that kids in the prime of their lives, who've been accepted into one of the world’s most prestigious colleges wouldn’t struggle so much with happiness. But Santos says many driven, successful students put their personal happiness on hold, often adopting habits that are detrimental to their mental well-being in the long run.

College students in general are reporting record levels of anxiety and depression. And a 2013 report from the Yale College Council found that half of undergraduate students at Yale seek help with mental health.

Those numbers are actually good, if you ask me. Far too many people suffer in silence, so I'm happy to see that students at Yale aren’t afraid to ask for help.  

Photo via Maddie Meyer/Getty Images.

The popularity of a college class on happiness speaks to a larger quest most of us find ourselves on at some point.

It’s the eternal human question, isn’t it? How do we live a happy and fulfilled life? For decades, self-help gurus have written book after book about the subject, but somehow a class at Yale feels way more legit, doesn’t it? We’re talking actual scientific research and evidence-based recommendations.

I mean, if Yale can’t teach us to be happy, who can? (Harvard, maybe... )

The best news is that we can all access this course online — for free. The course is called "The Science of Well-Being" on Coursera, which anyone with internet can access. Here’s a description of the course:

“The purpose of the course is to not only learn what psychological research says about what makes us happy but also to put those strategies into practice. The first half of the course reveals misconceptions we have about happiness and the annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do. The second half of the course focuses on activities that have been proven to increase happiness along with strategies to build better habits.”

Photo via Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.

The free Coursera option does not include all class assignments and materials, but you can access the lectures. And there is an option to pay for the full class and earn a certificate if you wish.

Bottom line: Yale is offering the scientific keys to happiness for free. What a time to be alive.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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It can be hard to find hope in hard times, but we have examples of humanity all around us.

I almost didn't create this post this week.

As the U.S. reels from yet another horrendous school massacre, barely on the heels of the Buffalo grocery store shooting and the Laguna Woods church shooting reminding us that gun violence follows us everywhere in this country, I find myself in a familiar state of anger and grief and frustration. One time would be too much. Every time, it's too much. And yet it keeps happening over and over and over again.

I've written article after article about gun violence. I've engaged in every debate under the sun. I've joined advocacy groups, written to lawmakers, donated to organizations trying to stop the carnage, and here we are again. Round and round we go.

It's hard not to lose hope. It would be easy to let the fuming rage consume every bit of joy and calm and light that we so desperately want and need. But we have to find a balance.

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