I’m about to embark on another learning journey. Surprised? Me too. But if you have been following me for some time you’ll know that, not too long ago I attended Harvard where I completed a course that explored the rather esoteric concept of justice. Ok, to be fair, I didn’t actually attend Harvard. I took that course online with maybe a hundred thousand or so other people, give or take a few. But I passed and now my Harvard certificate is proudly displayed in a most prominent spot on my office wall. Don’t believe me? Then you haven’t been reading this blog carefully enough. Shallow people know there’s no shame in exploitation when no one gets hurt. And honestly, is there any harm in people expecting you to be just a little smarter than you really are? Or happier? Because you see, for my next foray into the world of academe I will become immersed in the exploration of the “science of happiness”. You heard me right. I’m going to learn how to be happy.
The funny thing is most of the time I am happy. Which doesn’t mean I’m never grumpy or sad or temperamental or just plain ornery. There are times when I am all of those things. Like when I’m driving, minding my own business and some lunatic decides the speed limit is slightly more than double what I am doing. And passes me. On the inside. Or squirrels eat my car, which, if I can be so bold to say, hasn’t happened since we have managed to successfully evict them from the garage. Which has actually made me quite happy. Unless they come back. Which will make me all of the above. Or my hair goes curly in the rain. Yeah, that’s probably the proverbial straw. Yet all of these aside, I’m usually pretty happy. So you may be wondering why exactly I would devote the better part of the next three months learning about happiness.
First things first. I’m taking the course from Berkeley and, besides Harvard, who doesn’t want to go to Berkeley? Let’s face it. Anyone who grew up in the 60s, and I know quite a few people who did, feels a little tinge of nostalgia at the mention of the name. I mean Berkeley. Man, that’s where it was at. Berkeley. The epicenter of the cultural revolution. Who doesn’t want to groove to that beat? And what better place to go to learn how to be happy? Although, if this were the sixties, I suspect that you wouldn’t have to take a course to figure out how to get happy at Berkeley.
And I gotta say, after seeing the course syllabus I’m pretty excited about what’s to come. Because not only is this course about learning how to be happy, it’s also about discovering how to live a meaningful life. Now that I’m thinking about it, maybe it would have been better to have taken this in the sixties but since there’s no age limit on enrollment I’m guessing it’s not too late. Besides, there are readings and lectures, quizzes and practice exercises so surely something’s going to stick. But to be totally honest, my excitement for what’s to come is coupled with just a little bit of skepticism as I consider the implications of taking a course that talks about “measuring happiness” and provides a list (and you know what I think about lists) of “eight essentials when forgiving”. Do we really need to take a course that instructs us on how to forgive? I’m starting to wonder if the course about being happy could already be making me a little sad.
But despite my reservations I do think this course will be worth my time. As you know, every once in a while I have some trouble coming up with ideas for this blog. The truth of it is, I have an inkling that, if nothing else, I won’t find myself with that problem over the next few months. And you know what? That’s making me happier already!