The course “Science of Happiness” is filled with wholistic information on factors that influence mental wellbeing, resources and practices that to improve wellness. There moments during the course when I have asked myself “what does this have to do with happiness or its study”. It was unclear to me why translational sciences or the genetics of mental illness would be needed in order to study or understand happiness. While pondering each class and their correlation to one another I realized that each topic is carefully structured.
The course begins with introducing genetics and predisposition to certain disorders. This introduces the question if certain people are more likely to “be happy” or live a more fulfilling life than others. Although genetics does play a great role on mental inflictions, they can be managed or even counteracted by life each person chooses to live.
Next happiness was introduced using Keyes’ Model of Complete Mental Health. This model explains, much to my surprise, that anyone can reach the level of “flourishing”. It is possible to be happy, to flourish and live a fulfilling life in spite of mental illness. In this model flourishing isn’t simply financial or academic. It encompasses self-worth and actualization.
After a clear idea of happiness and its factors was presented, science and translation science was introduced. As aforementioned, I did not really understand why this necessary for this course. Through this course I realized that, some of my fellow classmates and myself included, had a very bleak and biased image of what “science” is. As a biology student, my definition of science is long boring lectures discussing scientific theories and findings, posters, lab coats, goggles, test tubes and chemicals. Now I understand that it’s even more broad than I thought. The topics discussed in this course truly is based on “systematic and structured study” of genetics, social behavior and happiness itself.
One of the most important aspect of studying science or becoming a science is communicating your findings to diverse audiences. This is when I understood why translation science of included in this course. To be able to write scientific papers, conduct presentations or even discuss findings with a colleague requires being able to understand your target listener. This means generalizing information, making it more specific and even eliminating scientific jargon based on whom the information is directed.
Overall, this is a course that any and every one can appreciate. Each topic discussed will influence each student differently based on their experiences.