Happiness Lab and the Science of Well-Being

Hi All!

With the winter months looming and teacher morale plummeting (as a previous forum post reports) I thought there might be interest in talking about happiness! :grinning:

I have recently stumbled into a new podcast entitled The Happiness Lab, hosted by Dr. Laurie Santos, which covers the modern science of happiness and how to incorporate positive habits of mind into our daily lives. The podcast itself sprung up out of a very popular Yale seminar entitled The Science of Well-being which has been turned into a free Coursera course of the same name.

I wanted to share these resources for two reasons:

A) Happiness is reportedly something people enjoy and pursue.

B) I am curious if any frequenters of the forum would be interested in engaging in a podcast listening club in which we would listen to an episode and then share our responses? Another option would be working through the Coursera course as a cohort and sharing our progress. It could be a totally private group similar to how book clubs have been handled in the past (Thanks to @HLeslieGrebe for the model).

I think it would be massively beneficial for personal reasons but also to mine the content for classroom use!

There are different options and ways of moving forward if there is interest, please post below if you have other ideas!

A few individuals at my site are interested in the both the podcast and the Coursera class and I would love to build a community throughout the district. If you are interested in joining me either post below or email–I don’t want to pursue happiness alone :wink:


I have signed up for the Coursera! The first week looks like it will only take about an hour. This is exciting as it appears to be less of a time commitment when it comes to the reading/watching time than some similar courses in which I have participated.
Let’s do this!

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Would you say you are more interested in the class than the podcast?

I am more of a class person than a podcast person, so yes. That is just my preference.

I’m up for both, Jake! I’ve subscribed to the podcast and enrolled in the course. Course looks really good, very interesting!

Awesome! It is sounding like most people are interested in the course as it isn’t too demanding in terms of time and offers more practical applications/homework. I might even start it this weekend!

Thanks for the shout out - I’m in, though I think I’d do better with the podcast. If you could post some sort of pacing, I’ll do my best to keep up. If there’s a “week one” in the course, maybe a date by which we’re trying to get that done?

Over a month ago SECA did an SEL lesson in advisory about negativity bias, how evolutionarily our brains’ emphasis on the scary or dangerous things helps keep us safe and alive. But if we know this, we can consciously look for more positives.

Since then, at least weekly during our circle time, I ask “What is one thing in the last 24 hours that you found pleasant or enjoyable?” We do lots of modeling: something pleasant we ate, a good nights sleep, something that made us laugh,… A majority of students regularly answer “Nothing.” Not idk, I can’t think of anything, or “pass.” Their answer is often nothing. Even after I keep asking this question and they know I keep asking it.

After watching the introductory video “Why this course exists” with one of the answers being “because we all really need it,” I heartily agree! I think today’s youth may desperately need it.

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As of now I have: @MikeSmart @HLeslieGrebe @Samantha_Thompson and @Kenna_Shearman (and myself) as interested parties.

I will try to get a private group set up (I may request the help of @MikeSmart in setting up a private group) and then we can set our plan from there!

I know that Mike Smart guy. I can get him to do anything you want. Just let me know.

One thing about a private group is that no one outside the group can see their threads, which makes it mostly impossible for people outside the group to know about its existence. If we don’t care that other people see what we write about, it might be better to simply set up a new public category in case others want to read along, or so that others can stumble onto our scintillating discussions and say, “Wow, I want to be like those people!!! How do I join this cool group?”

The downside of public is that anyone can join in, but with this type of topic that might be fine/good?

Technically speaking, it’s super easy to set up either way, so we can do whatever you want. :slight_smile:

I am in on the happiness lab…
How should we begin? I am so grateful it is a podcast and not something else to read… I am inundated with reading… (I love to read … but there are only so many hours in a day!)

I’m in on The Happiness Lab podcast, too! (I would love to do the course, but don’t think I have the bandwidth to commit to that right now.) I’ve subscribed to the podcast, so just let me know the next step. :slight_smile:

Alright, it seems we have a quorum to move forward with!

The main reason I wanted the group to go private was just to not flood the forum but I think we could start public and then transition later if people want to go that route. That way we can give the public a taste of the bliss that we are all experiencing as we dive into happiness.

There are a total of 10 weeks worth of course material and currently a total of 10 episodes of the podcast. I am not entirely sure if the content of the podcast episodes match up with the weeks of the course, but I am sure we can find connections.

I think what I can do as the leader of this group is at the start of each new week post a recap of course material and the podcast. One of the most obvious takeaways I have gathered so far is that the homework (“rewirements”, as the course calls it) is more important than learning the content (requirements). I think we could use the forum to share connections we found in teaching or in our lives and how we are able to implement these practices.

This week the goal will be to either listen to episode 1 of the podcast or work through the first week of material and next week I will start a new thread for discussion.

Does that sound agreeable?


I’m in! :slight_smile:

Sounds like a fine plan to me.

Shall I create a category tag for the conversations, say “Happiness Lab” or something like that?

Yea, that would be great. I was looking for a SEL tag when I first posted this as it seemed most relevant to that but didn’t see one, I bet our SEL coordinators would appreciate one of those as well! Or maybe even self-care?

All set! We have two new categories:

I’ve tagged this conversation “Self-Care.”

Sounds good! Looking forward to Episode 1. :grinning:
Thanks, Jason, for leading, and Mike for taking care of the technicalities!

It is Jake but I appreciate the gratitude! Looking forward to hearing from you all next week!

Oops! Sorry Jake! :blush:

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For those following, week one notes are listed here: Happiness Club: Week 1