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Happiness - Yale Online Class, Final Assignment

By: Catherine - Grit Club Member

After 10 weeks, I completed the online course at Yale: The Science of Well-Being. For the last 4 weeks my assignment was to pick one or two areas in my life that I really wanted to change and become happier by doing them. The theory being that if you put a new practice into work for 30 days, it will rewire your brain to incorporate into your daily life. The choices were:  exercise, meditation, gratitude, sleeping a minimum of 8 hours or more a night, and social connection. I choose gratitude and kindness.

To prepare for the rewirement, the course gave several strategies to help me succeed.

  • Situation support

Tell others what you are planning on doing for the next 4 weeks via Facebook, telling family members, friends or others (accountability).

  • Be specific about your goal

Write it down, how many times a week are you going to do the activity you picked, what is your goal in the task (goal setting).

  • Goal planning

A mental exercise to help in goal planning.


W – wish.  Think about your wish or what you really want

O – outcome.  Think about the BEST outcome, feel the outcome

O – obstacles.  Think about the obstacles, what is stopping me?

P – plan.  Think about the plan and how to get your wish

For my final exercise, I wrote in a gratitude journal every day and night. It definitely made me stop and think about all the people and things in my life I am grateful for as well as to think about them during the day as well. The kindness part of my rewirement exercise was a bit trickier. Still being in an isolation environment, I had to put intentional thought in how I was going to act on this. I had to look for opportunities to show acts of kindness. What I found, though, was just the thought of acting kind made me happier and made it easier to find ways to act upon it. Some days it might have just been letting a car pull out in front of me or thanking someone for waiting on me or tipping more at a take-out restaurant. One of the theories behind the happiness course is that a lot of small acts of kindness in a day adds up to more than one big act a week to make a person happier. Did it work for me?  Absolutely!  Not only did my awareness go up, but also my acts of kindness certainly did and so did my happiness level!

For the final assignment, there were 6 questions to answer about the course, and they were graded by other peers and I also had to grade my peers finals. The questions were based on the last 4 weeks and the rewirement exercise I chose. This was an exceptional way to not only summarize how this course improved my happiness level, but also how it affected others that took the course. What a great opportunity to do some rewirement on myself in areas that I needed to work on and, in the process, learn the true meaning of happiness and become a happier person.

During the Memorial Day weekend, my son and his family came to visit. My elderly Mom has been in lock down at a retirement center since early March. We surprised her with homemade signs and balloons to do a “walk by” and get a quick visit. Now that was true happiness for all of us! Have a great week!

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