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Starting today, IIT-Kharagpur to offer courses on happiness

“We are looking to the next level... First, it was physical sciences... Now, it’s the study of consciousness,” says Partha Pratim Chakrabarti, Director, IIT-Kharagpur.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata | Updated: September 24, 2016 7:01:51 am
IIT, IIT-Kharagpur, IIT happiness courses, Rekhi Centre of Excellence, IIT news, Kolkata news, India news, latest news, Indian express IIT Kharagpur campus. Express photo by Partha Paul

In a first, the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur will start offering courses on happiness on Saturday.  The institute, which has set up a ‘Rekhi Centre of Excellence’ to offer micro-credit courses on ‘Science of Happiness’, will enroll 60 to 70 students annually. Director Partha Pratim Chakrabarti said on Friday that while the courses would be available to only IIT students in the first year, the institute will consider opening up the programme to non-IITians from 2017.

The courses, to be offered at both undergraduate and post graduate levels, will teach science of happiness, stress management, coping with loss and positive psychology. At the MS and PhD level, the IIT will provide programmes on positive psychology, creative arts and positivity, pedagogy, signals and technology for positivity and meditation.

“Science and technology has two basic aims. First is to understand nature and the second is to create an easier and better life. At IIT-Kharagpur, we are constantly looking at treading on the path to the next level — the next generation of science and technology. This is a constant endeavor. First, it was physical sciences and then deep quantum and mechanical sciences. Now, it’s the study of consciousness,” said Chakrabarti at an event held at the IIT on Friday.

IIT-Kharagpur will also develop technologies and apps to “measure happiness” and “calmness”, he added.

Speaking at the event, author of bestsellers The How of Happiness and The Myths of Happiness and professor of psychology at University of California, Sonja Lyubomirsky, said extensive research has found that “happier people not only stay healthier but their immunity levels are also higher”.
She added that research has shown that “happier employees” are also more productive. “As part of a study conducted by a private company, we had measured the happiness level 45-year-old male workers. After three-and-a-half years, their supervisors were asked evaluate them. According to the supervisors, those we had found to be happier, were more productive than others. Even in this room, the happiest people are likely to be the most successful,” said Lyubomirsky.

Speaking about the studies that have shown the economic benefits of being happy, Lyubomirsky said researchers found that even when happiness was induced temporarily, for example by giving candy and chocolates to participants, their creativity spiked as opposed to others.

“So, short-term happiness is also incredibly important for long-term productivity,” she added.
“In the US, when an employee suffers from conditions like depression and anxiety, his company suffers. Losses expected from such conditions have been estimated to reach $116 billion by 2023.

When employees are unhappy, they are disengaged from their company. This employee disengagement in US accounts for a loss of $300 billion. So, happiness is no longer a million, but a billion dollar question,” said Lyubomirsky.

She also pointed out that happiness has a genetic quotient. “Genes accounts for approximately 50 per cent of whether a person will be happy or unhappy. While 10 per cent depends on circumstances such as beauty, wealth, where the person is living and whether the person is successful among others, 40 per cent of our happiness is entirely controlled by us,” she said.

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