“The Happiness Course” – Can we teach people how to be happy?


“The Science of Happiness”

“David is the chair of Dorset Humanists, and an Honorary Member of Humanists UK. He has made a special study of “happiness”, and together with colleagues he has developed a short course which aims to help people to lead happier lives. This course is of particular interest to Farnham Humanists in case we should wish to run it in Farnham, and David offered us every encouragement!

The talk, supported by a slide show, addressed the following points: What has happiness got to do with Humanism; what do we know about happiness; how can we be happier. He commented on the historical work of others in this field, including: Aristotle, Bertrand Russell, A C Grayling, Stephen Pinker, Matthieu Ricard, Sonya Lyubomirsky. He talked about what we know about happiness and conversely what causes unhappiness. He also discussed 12 happiness-boosting strategies, which included expressing gratitude, increasing ‘flow’ experiences, cultivating optimism, practising kindness and savouring life’s pleasures. There was lots of other information and anecdotes.

The Happiness Course is based on the scientific work of Sonya Lyubomirsky into what actually makes people happy. (Sonya is Professor of Psychology at the University of California and an associate editor of the Journal of Positive Psychology). Her book “The How of Happiness (2007)” is the course manual (£3 on Amazon). She has also published “The Myths of Happiness” (2013). The Dorset course is one evening per week for 6 weeks, and needs around 10 participants. They charge £15 for the whole course, with a discount for paid up Dorset Humanist members.