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University Of Bristol's 'happiness' Course Shows Positive Mental Health Results

The University of Bristol’s Science of Happiness course uses peer-reviewed studies in psychology and neuroscience to teach its students how to be happy.

University of Bristol

Bristol University’s breakthrough course ‘Science of Happiness’ that aims to “teach happiness” to the students in its latest data has found that there has been discernable enhancement in the mental health of the students enrolled in the programme. The first of a kind course was introduced to the students to impart ‘techniques’ to be happy. While the “scientific pursuit” of contentment is subject to arguments, there have been theories proposed by psychologists about tricking the human brain into processing certain emotions in the real-time world which can alter a bad mood or behaviour. 

On similar lines, The University of Bristol’s Science of Happiness course uses peer-reviewed studies in psychology and neuroscience to teach its students how to be happy, and surprisingly the data analysis about the impact of the course introduced in 2018 shows promising results on the lives of the learners. UK’s one of the most acclaimed universities, Bristol launched the course to address the surge in the cases related to the mental health of adolescents all across the UK. “Based on the most successful course in the history of Yale University, the Science of Happiness sought to combine cutting-edge research with practical advice for students,” the university explained in a release. 

 “I knew the students would enjoy the lectures as the content is so fascinating, but I was truly astounded to discover the positive impact on their mental well-being. Initially, I thought all the benefits of the course would be washed away by the stress of the pandemic and the lack of social interaction. This definitely happened to other students, but those who took the online version of the course still benefitted even though the lectures and happiness hubs were virtual,” Professor Bruce Hood, who runs the infamous course said. 

In a recent survey that it conducted, the university found that its course did not have credits allocated to examinations or tests but students’ engagement in social activities and “happiness hubs”, really worked. “Survey showed that three cohorts of students ended the course with markedly better mental health than control groups,” Bristol said. This proves that the science of happiness can actually be taught and learning about happiness can improve the mental well being of the students, the study claimed. 

“Many previous studies on psychoeducation – an umbrella term from courses like the Science of Happiness - lacked a proper control group or surveyed only a small number of students,” the university alleged, adding that the modified course benefited nearly 1000 students in ways never speculated previously.  University of Bristol’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience, Sarah Purdy, said in a release that not grading students on a course and giving them knowledge good for mental health was a “new approach”. 

Takeaways from the course

  • Talking to strangers makes one happier, the course focused, despite a majority of us shying away from such encounters
  • Social media is not bad for everyone, but it can be bad for those who focus on their reputation
  • Loneliness impacts health by impairing the immune systems
  • Optimism increases life expectancy
  • Giving gifts to others activates our own reward centres in the brain – often providing more of a happiness boost than spending money on yourself
  • Sleep deprivation impacts how well we are liked by others
  • Walking in the countryside deactivates part of the brain related to negative ruminations, which are associated with depression
  • Kindness and happiness are correlated
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