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Happiness Lessons.

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Happiness Lessons.

What? Lessons in Happiness? Happiness is an emotion, how do I have lessons in it? I watched an online session the other day and it was a great reflection on how we need to put in the work to learn to be more happy, so wanted to share with you.

It was broadcast by Action for Happiness, who I have referenced before in these blogs. The video was a discussion with Laurie Santos, a Professor of Psychology from Yale University, whose course “Psychology and the Good Life” is hugely popular. She researches the science of happiness and talks enthusiastically in this video about how we can live a happier life, and also has some great reflections on the particular challenges of this Covid period.

I shared the video on my Facebook feed, encouraging my friends to find the 45 minutes needed to watch. I had a tongue in cheek (I hope!) response from a friend asking for the bullet point version to save him the time. I rolled my eyes, took a breath, and refused. The absolute point is that you watch the video, get absorbed in her words and world and feel energised and motivated to make your own individual changes. You won’t learn that from a generic bullet pointed list.

What I am prepared to share, however, are my personal take-aways:

  • Happiness doesn’t just happen, it takes work and effort.
  • Time affluence is a lever for happiness. When you have it, do things that are nutritious for your wellbeing.
  • Notice and nurture your emotions, even the yucky ones.
  • Social behaviour and relationships are key. These, too, need effort.
  • Our intuitions about what will help our wellbeing are often not right!
  • Focus your energy on the things you can change.
  • Baby steps!

Yours will inevitably be different. Watch and find out.

Today is the Learning and Teaching Summer Conference, with the theme of Wellbeing and a great programme of talks. As Laurie says, how we focus on our own happiness, how we role model positive behaviours, and how we look out for the happiness and wellbeing of others, all have an impact on society. This applies to our University society – our colleagues and our students – and I hope the conference gives us more opportunity to reflect on how we make that a priority.

If you enjoyed that video and want to explore more, Laurie has a “Science of Happiness” online course that is worth checking out, and a regular Happiness Lab podcast.

Juliet Flynn, Organisational and People Development

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