Little Life Changes Inspired by the Science of Happiness

By Kira M. Newman | September 28, 2015 | 0 comments

Students share what they've gained from taking our free online happiness course.

“How have you changed your life since starting The Science of Happiness?”

That’s the question we posed to over 50,000 students taking the free online course, conducted by the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center—and the answers were inspiring.

UC Berkeley professor and Greater Good Science Center director Dacher Keltner co-teaches GG101x. UC Berkeley professor and Greater Good Science Center director Dacher Keltner co-teaches GG101x.

Meredith, for example, has been battling cancer. “I am working so hard to keep my mind happy and focused so I can return to work happy, not bitter or angry,” she said. The course inspired her to start taking morning power walks—rain or shine—that give her a sense of control and peace. She signed up for a painting course and is thinking of learning guitar and studying mindfulness.

“The importance of being aware is more key than the happiness itself,” she has learned.

Meanwhile, Geraldine was feeling down and unmotivated, but our wonderful community of GG101xers on Facebook showed up to offer support. One day later, she wrote, “What a difference 24 hours makes. I feel like a completely different person to yesterday.” Some of the course material inspired her to seek out small positive moments: feeling the sun shining in the park, seeing a seal at the beach.

“It made me feel happy and privileged to be in that place at that time and I would have missed it all if I hadn’t made that choice to do something positive,” she said.

Other students have taken the happiness practices to heart, and are working on exercises like Three Good Things and Active Listening. Marge tried both with her partner, and was pleased with the results:

“I was surprised how much [Three Good Things] did upturn my mood in general. I’d talk about it with my partner, and he would suggest things for me, then he’d verbally say three things for himself. It has lifted his mood. I also did the Active Listening practice with him [and] we had a very positive experience: What he said wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before, but the way I listened and responded was different, and it was a good moment between us.”

Sounds like a great habit to keep up!

Geraldine found support in the GG101x community, and many other students love the experience of interacting with other happiness enthusiasts from the far corners of the world—or right in their hometown. Leslie was ushering an event at her community center in San Francisco when she mentioned the course to a fellow usher…who already knew about it!

Mazen shared on our Facebook group. “It’s just simply amazing seeing all this positivity shining around this group,” he said. “This is definitely one of my three good things today.”

Are you taking GG101x? How is it affecting you? Keep sending us your personal experiences at

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About The Author

Kira M. Newman is an editor and web producer at the Greater Good Science Center. She is also the creator of The Year of Happy, a year-long course in the science of happiness, and CaféHappy, a Toronto-based meetup. Follow her on Twitter!


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