By Jared Shuff
Students are often overwhelmed by numerous assignments, campus activities, and work throughout the week. All this can make a student fall down in the dumps.
However, one course at Hutchinson Community College aims to help with all that existential dread.
At HutchCC, students can take a course that teaches them the meaning of happiness. Psychology of Happiness (ED126) puts the emotion under a microscope, picking apart its meaning throughout many cultures and religions.
Christopher Lau, the Coordinator of Advising for the college, also happens to be the instructor for the course.
Lau said that the course started a few years ago in the spring of either 2015 or 2016. However, it was not originally thought of as a college course. In fact, it was initially aimed at a much younger generation of students.
“An honors student at that time, for her honors project, wanted to create a happiness curriculum for junior high kids,” Lau said.
Lau said the difficulties behind implementing this course for younger students, as there are many restrictions and requirements for parental consent. So, he suggested that the course should be directed toward college students.
“We worked out the details, she agreed, and so essentially she wrote the curriculum for the course that first semester and I taught it,” Lau said.
As expected from any new course, enrollment numbers started out low. There were around eight students in the course for the first semester. Those numbers didn’t stop the course from being a success.
Lau met up with Honors Coordinator Ryan Diehl and together they worked out a way to make it a 2 credit hour course for the next Fall semester.
“It’s been full or almost full every time it’s offered. I think we have 24 in the current class,” Lau said.
The course is split into two major parts. Part of the course is a focus on what happiness is, specifically how it is defined by other cultures and religions. There is also an emphasis on positive psychology taught in the course.
As for part two, a new theme is brought up and discussed each week. These themes work to cultivate habits to increase happiness.
“Think of it like happiness is the umbrella, and each of those themed weeks are items that support happiness,” Lau said.
Themes such as gratitude, kindness, and mindfulness are taught in the class each week, with happiness practices to follow. By the end of a semester, a student will have completed 20 to 25 happiness practices.
Out of everything the course has to offer, Lau wants students to walk away with the following lessons.
“I hope that (students) understand at the end of the class how important happiness is, that is something we can affect through intentional activity, and that they feel better equipped to understand themselves,” Lau said.
According said that students who have taken the course end up spreading the knowledge they learned to friends, creating a chain reaction of happiness. Just another amazing reason to take this course.
The main point of this article is to spread the word about unique courses, as they are often underappreciated. Katherine Sheldon, a freshman at HutchCC, had no idea this course even existed.
“I haven’t heard of the class, but I would love to take it,” Sheldon said.
This was without any context on what the course was even about. It goes to show how much students feel the need for happiness. Before being told what the course covers, Sheldon was asked what she believed the overall goal of the course was.
“The overall goal would be to achieve an understanding of how the brain makes a person happy and how surroundings affect being happy,” Sheldon said.
Sheldon hopes to become a Criminal Psychologist, which is why understanding happiness from a scientific view interests her. While the class has less to do with why people are happy and more to do with what happiness is, she still finds it interesting.
“I do think I would consider the class. I’d just want to know more about how happiness is triggered in the brain,” Sheldon said.
Fair enough, but the course still has so much to offer students. Everybody needs happiness in their lives, and this course understands that like no other.
So, if you’re unhappy and you know it, and your grades surely show it, maybe Psychology of Happiness is the class for you.