Why This Course Exists

دوره: The Science of Well-Being / فصل: Introduction / درس 3

Why This Course Exists

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There's tons of successes of applying this stuff to changing people's behavior in real time. So never before have we really had so many insights that I could actually teach you about and kind of time is right to start applying this stuff in our own lives. I'll give you an article, this is from 2013 on ABC News, Americans Most Unhappy People In The World, right?

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So that’s the set of topics, and we’re going to start with this idea of misconceptions. But I though since this is the first of these lectures, it might be useful to kind of give an introduction of why I wanted to do this class, because I think that sort of shows off the point of why I think this is so important. Like why teach this class now? Some of you know I teach a class here on campus, that’s a class on evolutionary psychology, I think some of you even took that class. And I didn’t need to start teaching a new psychology class, in fact it’s a lot of work to come up with this stuff, still working on the lectures, it takes a lot of time. But I decided to do this for a couple of reasons, and I decided to do it now for a couple of reasons. The first, and there’s going to be three reasons why I decided to do this. The first of those three reasons is that this is the time that is ripe for thinking about applying the science of psychology, in part because, we are learning a ton about how to apply like these kind of concepts about how we can make ourselves happier. We actually have lots of insights into the kinds of things that make us happier, that make us laugh, that make our life more fulfilling. And we know this, in part because, not only are scientists coming up with good ways to study this stuff, good ways to measure this stuff, but folks that really think about applying science to public policy, to practice, are using this stuff a ton. So these are a couple of different articles about different programs in government, both in the UK and here in the states to apply the science of psychology to kind of nudge people’s behavior in the right directions, nudge people to save more, nudge people to eat healthier, and so on. And the amazing thing is that these programs, even when they’re implemented in large government scales, actually seem to work amazingly well. There’s tons of successes of applying this stuff to changing people’s behavior in real time. So never before have we really had so many insights that I could actually teach you about and kind of time is right to start applying this stuff in our own lives. So that’s kind of Reason #1, lots of insights there to teach you guys about. Second reason though is that we kind of really need these insights pretty badly, because the fact is that we’re not as happy or as kind of increased in our well-being as we sort of need to be. I’ll give you an article, this is from 2013 on ABC News, Americans Most Unhappy People In The World, right? And this is 2013, this is before our divisive election, this is a little bit before kind of the recession, we’re just kind of unhappy. Couple of quick statistics, we prescribe antidepressants at 400 times the rate that we did 20 years ago, 400 times the rate than 20 years ago. Most surveys show that Americans and a lot of people in general are not getting happier. And if you look at some subsets of the population, surveys like the Harris Survey and so on, have shown that certain groups are actually getting more unhappy, and one of those groups is recent graduates, like a lot of you guys are about to be soon. Like getting more unhappy than they’ve ever been and more unhappy than they were before. So this is like not cool, like people kind of need this stuff. Like we’re just this society, like kind of walk around, like not being as happy as we could be, so we kind of need this. But I think, one of the reasons I chose to teach this here, and then I’m talking to you guys and not only doing the online course, is the we, is a kind of broad we, it’s like society at large, but I think the we here on campus, is like even more needy, that like you Yale students need this stuff. And so, that was reason number two, I decided to teach this course now is that you guys, you guys broadly as a society, and you guys as Yale students really need this stuff. But the third reason is actually the most personal one of why I wanted to teach this, which is that it’s not just Yale students that need these insights, I actually need these insights too. So I’m kind of like below average on my own happiness. So you might have the thought that like the professor teaching this course is like this smiley, happy, and I go through life around all these Yale students who are sad, and I’m like “I’m going to make you guys as happy as I am”. But in fact that is not true, if anything it’s like I’m sad. [INAUDIBLE]

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