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

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)


Children's book about Mike Pence's gay bunny jumps to no. 1

"Please buy it for your children, buy it for any child you know or buy it because you know it would annoy Mike Pence," [John] Oliver told his viewers. Parody aside, he assured them, "This is a real book for children." (Stack, The New York Times)


5 things to know about the post-millennial generation

Whatever you label them, USA TODAY and Ipsos polled them to explore their views on gun violence, school safety, their futures and the country's leaders. (Page & Icsman, USA Today)


Answering the Most Common Questions

Everyone wants to make a difference with their one and only life. To leave a legacy. To make a mark. What is the one thing that would make the biggest difference in people's lives that we can bring to bear? What is the "maximum impact" that a human life can make? In this four-week series, James Emery White explores how to make your life echo throughout eternity.

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