My friends and I have only one topic to talk about during dinner: assignments we haven’t done. We go on about how much homework we have and how much sleep we will have to sacrifice in order to make it through midterms. On top of that, we attend extracurricular activities just to produce an outstanding resume, which is even more demanding. Waking up after five hours of sleep and walking to classes like zombies is the norm for us. We thought college was supposed to be where you have fun, make new friends and discover yourselves. In reality, many of us have a buildup of stress and just hope to get through another day.
In this situation, we are subjected to stress because we hardly have time to pursue other hobbies or just an hour for self-reflection.
Undergraduate students at Yale faced the same issue as everyone else, which lead to an opening of a new course: Psychology and the Good Life by Dr. Laurie Santos. This is a class teaching students how to achieve a happier existence.
Using this as an example,colleges including University of Nebraska-Lincoln should adopt positive psychology classes and motivate students to enroll. These classes can reduce stress levels among students, improving the overall culture around campus.
In order to control the number of students with anxiety, depression and stress, university authorities should realize the amount of pressure students are going through and take this issue seriously. UNL needs to offer programs and integrate them into a curriculum that teaches students how to deal with their emotions and ultimately lead a happy life. We focus our school lives on grades, testing and future success, but what we are neglecting is the need for present happiness as well.
Having a small portion of the day dedicated to positivity would be beneficial not only for students’ mental health, but their overall productivity. By provoking novel thinking, students are able to perceive and analyze their problems in a different way. For instance,rather than feeling demotivated about a low grade and beating oneself up, one should take this as a lesson and seek ways to improve, such as meeting the lecturer or even attempting more review questions. By practicing this behavior, negativity can be reduced and students would learn to accept their mistakes and overcome them. Instead of getting stuck in a negative spiral, people would be able to get past the pessimism and show more gratitude in life.
Aside from increasing productivity, the course would be advantageous for students by allowing them to gain further knowledge about human behavior. Spending a minimum of three hours a week learning about positive psychology, characteristics that allow students to thrive and figuring out how to live by those lessons will increase happiness levels and their capabilities on thinking critically as well being open-minded. By conducting the class, students are reassured there are eventful things to look forward to.
Should the university offer classes on how to be happy? Yes. However, when the question of “should it be graded?” arises, my answer is no.
Adding grades to the class only makes it another academic element subjected to the same rigid standards. Ultimately, there is no true way to grade happiness. Doing so would be harmful for students who have a more difficult time promoting happiness within themselves. The class should solely focus on students’ ability to grasp the knowledge and improve their quality of life.
Organizing stress-free activities such as coloring, journaling and providing chair massages only during finals week is not sufficient to reduce stress. These activities are not continuous and do not teach students the basics of how to handle their emotions. Instead, students need something that educates them and is continuous in nature; hence, the psychology class will be the most appropriate prescription.
Nonetheless, adopting a new class will incur cost for the university and would lack a perfect success rate — there are no proper means to make someone happy as everyone is different. However, students are able to acquire knowledge, apply that knowledge in any way suitable for them and build flourishing futures for themselves.
Universities should focus both on academics and the well-being of students. By doing so, students could cultivate a positive approach to school and life in general. My sleep-deprived friends and I would forever be thankful.