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Can you teach happiness?

New course provides strategies for boosting emotional well-being

There is a rise in happiness-focused courses at universities across the country — think Stanford, Yale and Harvard. Shauna Tominey, parenting education specialist and assistant professor of practice, thinks the concept can be taken a step further.  

In her course offered each spring, Life Hacks for Emotional Intelligence and Well-Being, Shauna helps students explore happiness, but also the value of other emotions.  

“Students do learn and practice strategies that boost happiness,” Shauna says. “But they also learn real-world skills and tools that help them manage all of the emotions they might experience in a typical day, including stress, frustration, anxiety, sadness, disappointment, excitement and more.  

“All emotions serve a purpose. They tell us something about ourselves and the situations we are in.”  

Shauna, PhD ’10, launched the course in spring 2019. “The goal is to provide students with hands-on learning to give them tools to more effectively manage their emotions to promote positive social, emotional and mental health,” she says. 

So how do you teach happiness, well-being and emotional intelligence? First, Shauna creates a welcoming and inclusive environment that gives students the permission to explore the value of their emotions.  

Class discussion and activities — such as well-being breaks — are evidence-based and supplemented by books, videos, podcasts and more. 

This course is offered every spring term. Search for CRN 57862 to register. And yes, this course is ON for spring term 2020. Shauna is teaching the course over Zoom and is making it as interactive as possible.