Coronavirus blues? Yale’s popular happiness course is now free online

WATCH: Professor Laurie Santos describes her "science of well-being course."

Yale University is offering people a reprieve from the existential dread of the coronavirus pandemic: free online access to its most popular course, “The science of well-being.”

The school is accepting new students for its highly touted online course through Coursera until March 24. Students who are just looking to audit the course can do so for free, or they can pay $65 to get a certificate at the end of it.

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The course helps students engage in challenges that are designed to increase happiness and build more productive habits, the description says.

“Professor Laurie Santos reveals misconceptions about happiness, annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do, and the research that can help us change,” it reads. “You will ultimately be prepared to successfully incorporate a specific wellness activity into your life.”

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More than one million people have enrolled in the spring course and nearly eight million have at least checked it out, according to the site.

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“We’re in a particularly challenging time not just for this health crisis, this physical health crisis, but also a potential mental health crisis as well,” Santos told CNN.

“Our minds lie to us all the time. We miswant things. We think we need to change our life circumstances to become happier.

“What plays a much bigger role are our simple practices, simple acts like making a social connection, or taking time for gratitude, or taking time to be in the present moment.”

READ MORE: Make time to take care of your mental health during COVID-19 pandemic

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Santos started teaching a version of the course in spring 2018, and it quickly became the most popular class in Yale’s history, the New York Times reported. Santos said that one in every four students enrolled in her course after it launched, so she eventually created an online version to go with it.

She’s also launched a podcast, called Happiness Lab, in which she discusses various ways to stay upbeat, even in face of COVID-19.

Santos’ web course is broken down into 10 weeks. Most lessons are about two hours long, although a few weeks are shortened to 30 minutes and one lesson lasts over three hours.

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Lesson plans include a blend of videos, reading, quizzes and practical exercises, and the final classes focus on rewiring yourself to be happier.

The course has over 1,300 positive reviews on Coursera.

“Loved the practical ‘rewiring’ assignments that helped me understand what really makes us happy,” one five-star review says.

“It helped me understand how and why I feel and behave the way I do,” another user wrote. “Grounded in science, evidence based, no faith required!”

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