The Unhappy State of America

Two bits of news recently caught my eye. The first was a New York Times article on Yale University's most popular class ever (in its 316-year history). It's PSYC 157: Psychology and the Good Life. Nearly one-fourth of Yale undergraduates registered for it. Laurie Santos, a psychology professor and the head of one of Yale's residential colleges, who teaches the course, "tries to teach students how to lead a happier, more satisfying life in the twice-weekly lectures." Interestingly, a 2013 report by the Yale College Council found that "more than half of undergraduates sought mental health care from the university" while enrolled.

"In reality, a lot of us are anxious, stressed, unhappy, numb," said Alannah Maynez, 19, a freshman taking the course. "The fact that a class like this has such large interest speaks to how tired students are of numbing their emotions – both positive and negative – so they can focus on their work, the next step, the next accomplishment."

One of Santos' principle lessons is that the things Yale undergraduates most associate with achieving happiness – a high grade, a prestigious internship, a good-paying job – do not increase happiness at all. "Scientists didn't realize this in the same way 10 or so years ago," Santos says, "that our intuitions about what will make us happy, like winning the lottery and getting a good grade – are totally wrong."

This correlates with the second bit of news that caught my eye. Click here to continue reading this post and to view the blog archive.

Daily Headline News

Christianity as default is gone: the rise of a non-Christian Europe

Europe's march towards a post-Christian society has been starkly illustrated by research showing a majority of young people in a dozen countries do not follow a religion. (Sherwood, The Guardian)


Loyola Chicago, on a "Mission from God"

A sign in the first few rows of a section filled with Loyola Chicago faithful — and that's the precise word Ramblers fans use to refer to themselves, with good reason — told the story of the No. 11 seed that continued to defy the odds in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. (Wang, The Washington Post)


Survey: Protestant church diversity 'heading in the right direction'

The LifeWay data does not include the actual racial and ethnic makeup of churches — only how pastors responded to the statement, "My church is predominantly one racial or ethnic group." (Religion News Service)


China gives Communist Party more control over policy and media

China issued a blueprint for shaking up its bureaucracy that will sharpen the Communist Party's power over films, books and newspapers, while raising the profile of hitherto secretive party groups that steer policy on the economy, the internet and foreign affairs. (Buckley, The New York Times)


Answering the Most Common Questions

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