Online Class: Pursuing Happiness — Successful Strategies

This course will teach you methods for eradicating self-doubt, increasing self-worth, finding your passion, tapping into your creativity, and maximizing your emotional energy.

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Course Description

There are hundreds of thousands of self-help books out there – how can you possibly tell which one is the best to read? There are so many good theories and techniques; it doesn't seem possible to read everything!

If you've ever wanted a thorough review of some of the best strategies for living a happy life, then this course is for you. Using a variety of information sources, Strategies for How to be Happy will teach you methods for eradicating self-doubt, increasing self-worth, finding your passion, tapping into your creativity, and maximizing your emotional energy. The course will also provide you with tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, as well as strategies for practicing good "self-talk" and eliminating toxic individuals and relationships from your life. You'll learn tools for increasing positive influence, such as basic body language cues, effective speaking, and utilizing vocal inflections and word choices to maximize your influence. These tools can also be used to identify and avoid toxic or "dramatic" people who wish to invade your life and sap your energy – even if the "drama queen" is you!

Also discussed are strategies for pushing past fear, getting out of your comfort zone, and celebrating your accomplishments. The importance of supportive human connections is explored as well, as is the concept of living with an attitude of gratitude and finding meaning in serving others.

This comprehensive course provides solid suggestions and references for true life improvement. Not just a list of empty mantras, this course is a wonderful resource for useable life concepts anyone can learn.

Course Motivation

What Is Self-Esteem?

At some point in life, most people will have issues with self-esteem. For some, low self-esteem is chronic; for others, it is a temporary condition.

According to many researchers, there are actually several types of self-esteem, such as intrinsic, extrinsic, stable, and fragile.

Past psychological research has focused on self-esteem as being the most essential key to loving oneself, but some researchers disagree, saying too much self-esteem can lead to either self-conceit and narcissism, or self-criticism and low self-esteem. Narcissists don't care about others and typically put their own interests above those of anyone else, including friends and family. Someone who behaves this way to the extreme may be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. Individuals experiencing self-conceit are similar to narcissists, although not quite as extreme. A self-conceited individual may exaggerate their accomplishments or abilities, but still have concern for those closest to him or her.

Too much focus on self-esteem can also lead to the opposite effect – excessive self-criticism and lower self-esteem. According to Charles Cooley, self-respect is preferable to self-esteem, since self-esteem relies on comparing oneself with external criteria, such as the success of others. Self-respect, on the other hand, is more an internal, or intrinsic belief, less subject to external circumstances.

Self-worth is a term often included as part of the definition of self-esteem, but according to a 1997 paper by Leo Bogee, Jr., self-worth is actually a separate concept and should be treated as such. As opposed to relying on external sources of validation, self-worth is an internal belief that you "matter."

The important thing to remember is, do not allow excessive self-comparison or unfair criticisms from others undermine your self-image. One way to do this is to practice self-love.

The Key to Self-Love

Many self-help and positive psychology materials advise you to "love yourself." Sounds easy, right? Well -- perhaps not. Practicing self-love is one of the most difficult things for humans to do, yet it is a true cornerstone for a positive self-image. The fact most of us aren't sure how to even begin such a task only adds to its difficulty. So how does one accomplish this seemingly insurmountable feat?

The answer is self-forgiveness. Here again is something that sounds simple, yet is difficult to grasp. How do you forgive yourself when you've done things you regret?

To begin with, acknowledge you are human, and all humans make mistakes. Come to grips with your mistakes and what you've done, honestly and forthrightly. Without making excuses, examine your action(s) and accept they occurred. Do not hide from personal responsibility, but don't take on extra culpability, either. Once you've achieved acceptance, you can honestly forgive yourself.

For example, imagine you haven't spoken to your sibling in many years, due to a fight the two of you had long ago. Chances are, both of you were partially to blame. Examine the situation honestly. For example, what was the argument about? Who began the confrontation? How did the other party (perhaps you) exacerbate the situation? Is the issue one of actual wrongdoing, or a case of misplaced pride? What portion(s) of the argument and estrangement are your doing?

Once you've determined your actual part in the argument and ensuing estrangement, accept what occurred as well as any feelings you have about the situation. (This includes your mistakes and the mistakes of your sibling as well.) Accepting your feelings and actions with honesty and without judgment will allow you to forgive yourself as well as make peace with the situation.

This brings us to the other party in the situation, in this case, your sibling. What if your sibling refuses to let go of the animosity? What if he/she blames you, or, worse yet, discounts your feelings and/or the situation as unimportant or irrelevant? This creates a difficult situation regarding personal closure, which we will discuss in this course.

Loving yourself is not a matter of false pride or overinflated ego, but a true appreciation of oneself and one's talents and value as a human being.

The Main Emotional Barriers to Happiness

According to California psychologist Dr. Melody London, the two most worthless human emotions are jealousy and regret. Neither can be resolved, and neither has any positive effect on human beings.

Jealousy is sometimes confused with envy, but there are important differences between the two. Jealousy carries components of bitterness, anger, and resentment, along with a desire to possess what another has. While feelings of mild envy can be motivating (for example, the desire for a nice car like your friend's might motivate you to save money or work harder in order to obtain a similar vehicle), jealousy only breeds animosity and actually lowers self-esteem.

Regret is the constant nagging in your mind that insists, "I should have done things differently." Most of the time, regret centers around situations that cannot be changed. For example, if you ignore an instinct to go outside and roll up your car windows, and it later rains and soaks the inside of your vehicle, ruining your upholstery, you may feel regret for failing to follow your instinct (or ignoring it due to laziness) to go outside and close the car windows. What good does it do, after the fact, to regret your decision to take a chance on leaving the windows down? The vehicle is now wet inside. Your best reaction would be to focus your energy on fixing the situation as best you can, then making an agreement with yourself to always follow that instinct (or push through your laziness) in the future. (This is a very simple example, but the process is the same for large "life" regrets, as well, such as marrying the wrong person or taking the wrong job. Larger regrets often require this exercise be repeated.)

Purpose and Mental Fortitude

One thing no one can really live without is some kind of purpose. Whether big, such as saving an endangered species, or small, such as helping friends or family with tasks, everyone needs some "reason for living."

Most people think of "purpose" in gigantic terms – fighting publicly for a cause and sacrificing personal freedom, like Nelson Mandela; leading a charitable organization; being the CEO of a successful international business. But in reality, everything has a purpose (think about a broom, for example; its purpose is to sweep dirt off the floor). So how does one acquire a purpose that matters more than "sweeping the floor?"

First, realize a purpose does not need to be enormous or life-encompassing to matter. Any purpose at all, such as ensuring that a necessary and important chore, is done each day, can give meaning to life.

An excellent example is caring for pets. Particularly for those with depression, pets can be a literal lifeline. If your cat, dog, horse, or hamster requires daily care and attention, you can't very well spend several days in bed without moving, except to use the bathroom. The dishes may go undone, your hair may go unwashed, but you have to get up to care for your pet. In return, they provide affection and companionship, which helps ease depression. (Studies have shown petting a purring cat lowers blood pressure and calms heart rate.)

Typically, depressed individuals shy away from "going out in the world," but doing so is precisely what is needed to ease depression, and service to others is an excellent way to do this. Joining a charitable organization, such as a meal delivery service for homebound seniors, is an excellent way to give one's life purpose. Those who shy away from joining groups can find purpose in providing needed service to friends, family members, neighbors, or your fellow church members. Tasks, such as running short errands, or helping with housework, may seem inconsequential, but it can make a world of difference to both giver and receiver.

Purpose is not a static thing, nor should it be. Purposes can be large or small, personal or with wider effect. All are important, and purpose changes with time.

Mental fortitude is mental strength, which allows one to face adversity with courage. Fortitude strengthens with accomplishment and overcoming grief and pain. Difficulties in one area of life, such as physical ability, can lead to success in another. The late Christopher Reeve is an excellent example of this. After suffering a near-fatal fall from a horse during competition and becoming paralyzed from the neck down, Reeve admitted he considered suicide, but chose instead to live and champion the cause of stem-cell research, which he did until his death in 2004 at age 52 from an infection related to his paralysis.

Not all examples of mental fortitude are this enormous, of course, but overcoming any adversity helps strengthen fortitude and raise self-image.

Saying "No" – The Importance of Self-care

Self-care is, quite literally, the care of oneself – taking care of one's daily needs for food, shelter, health, etc. It also means avoiding danger and ensuring one's physical, emotional, and mental "selves" are healthy.

A key component to self-care is developing the ability to say "no." The first thing which comes to mind when you think of saying "no" is probably either, "I say ‘no' all the time," or "I can't say ‘no'! I'm the only one who can [fill in the blank]!" Both of these thoughts are very likely wrong.

First, many people who routinely say "no" to certain requests do not say "no" to the important things. A parent may prevent their young child from misbehaving in public, but tolerate whining or temper tantrums at home. Parents of a teenager may say "no" to a request to stay out a half hour after curfew, but allow their teenager to smoke or drink alcohol at home. It is important to "choose your battles" – in other words, if the request made causes no danger or difficulty, it's easier to say "yes" and save the "no" argument for more dangerous requests.

Second, despite personal beliefs, one individual is not responsible for "everything." Whether it's working long hours as a community volunteer, being overburdened at work, or doing too much for your family at home, it seems hardest to say "no" to things and people we care about most and/or do not wish to disappoint. The problem is, spreading oneself over a multitude of activities not only raises the likelihood of disappointing someone, it leaves no time for "self."

The need for "self" is essential. We'll explore this concept further in future lessons, but for now, just keep in mind if you don't have energy for yourself and your own needs, eventually you will not have energy for anyone at all.

One way of practicing good self-care is to honestly assess what you're spending your time on, and rank the importance of each thing. Pay particular attention to those things you find most stressful. Are they vital to your life and well-being, or that of those you love? Can someone else ease the burden somehow? Is obtaining help merely a matter of training someone else on how to do what you do, such as teaching your older children how to do their own laundry? Is it just an unnecessary activity or obligation you're shouldering to avoid hurting someone's feelings or upsetting them?

If it is not vital to you or your loved ones, consider dropping the activity. If someone else can take over for you, allow them to, and train them, if necessary. While others may balk at first (some may even oppose you or try to "guilt" you into relenting), it is ultimately not their decision how you spend your time and energy. As you practice saying "no," it will become easier and your powers of discernment regarding requests will sharpen, allowing you to say "no" before becoming involved.

One final word: Do not discount the power of "gut intuition." If a request makes you feel uncomfortable or anxious, say no immediately. By trusting your instincts, you can avoid energy-sapping situations.

The Trap of Social Media

There is no denying social media is an integral part of our lives. Even those who abstain from sites such as Facebook or Twitter, cannot help being exposed to the effects of these sites –viral videos, for example. Not to mention the plethora of news items regarding celebrities and "reality stars" who take to social media to express their opinions (sometimes idiotic or unpopular opinions at that). Often, social media seems more like a platform for immature behavior and sniping than a communication tool!

The news is full of stories of young people who've committed suicide after being bullied on social media, and many adults suffer loss of self-esteem and depression due to unkind things "said" to them on social media.

It is very easy to say all kinds of nasty things to others without understanding (or caring about) the impact words can have. After all, you're just "talking" to a screen, right? 

In order to minimize the negative impact social media can have, it is important to remember a few things. First, the media screen creates a sense of "impersonalization," so most people feel complete freedom to say whatever they wish on the Internet without impact or consequences to themselves. For the most part, this is true, but this is changing, with some Internet bullies being held legally, if not criminally, responsible for self-harm and suicides committed by their victims as a direct result of taunts on social media.

The best way to avoid such bullies is to monitor your own posts. Do not say anything online you would not say to the person's face. If you make a mistake, apologize. If someone starts a "flame war" with you, terminate the conversation. (There is a wonderful quote by the late science fiction writer Robert Heinlein which applies here: "Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig." In other words, arguing with someone who refuses to (or is incapable of) understanding another point of view will be fruitless; it's best to just "walk away and save your breath.")

No matter what occurs, always remember the online bullies are "talking" to a flat screen, not a person. It is not necessary for you to "own" their opinions, nor need you contradict their posts or defend yourself to them. Words online from anonymous persons can only harm you if you allow them to.

If the problem is indeed much larger than a simple online spar with a faceless individual (such as a bullying situation), seek help from friends, family, or professionals.

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  • Full HD Video  
  • 6 Months to Complete
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  • Start Anytime
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  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating:
4.6 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
"Extraordinarily Helpful"
(1,774 votes)

Lesson 1: Loving Yourself

Let's begin with an exploration of what many consider one of the most basic tenets of a happy life:self-esteem. Additional lesson topics: The Science of Developing Mental Toughness in Your Health, Work, and Life; Why Self-Care is Important for Your Physical and Mental Health; How to be Happy: No Fairy Dust or Moonbeams Required 13 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete Assignment: An Introduction
  • Assessment: Exam 1

Lesson 2: Appreciate Your Life

To appreciate something is to understand or admire its true value or importance. Although the definition of appreciation does not involve any emotional attachment, many things we appreciate do indeed have emotional ties. Additional lesson topics: When You're Hurting and Healing: Give Yourself a Break; Several Ways to Appreciate Your Life A Little More; Our Hierarchy of Needs; How to Appreciate What You Have and Stop Comparing Yourself to Others 12 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 2 Assignment
  • Assessment: Exam 2

Lesson 3: Finding Your Passion

Like purpose, passion is not a static thing, nor should it be. Passions change with time, circumstance, maturity level, and life situation. Additional lesson topics: 4 Practical Ways to Find Your Life's Passion and A Career You Love; How to Make a Vision Board 16 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video
  • Complete Assignment: Find Your Passion!
  • Assessment: Exam 3

Lesson 4: Practicing Your Creativity

Creativity is a thought, an action, a process, and an attitude. With such a wide range of possibilities, you're probably already being creative on a daily basis and don't even realize it! Additional lesson topics: How to Take a Compliment; Tiny Wisdom: Why We Sometimes Don't Accept Praise; Developing Your Creative Practice 13 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 4 Assignment
  • Assessment: Exam 4

Lesson 5: A Healthy Lifestyle From the Inside Out

Being mentally healthy has a physical component, as well. After all, your central nervous system is the core physical operating system of the body, and your brain is the center of the CNS. Additional lesson topics: 10 Workout Secrets From the Pros 14 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video
  • Complete Assignment: Identify Your Current Lifestyle Choices
  • Assessment: Exam 5

Lesson 6: The Power of Resilience

Psychological resilience is the ability to adapt and overcome difficulties. Additional lesson topics: The Road to Resilience; The Difference Between Loneliness and Being Alone; Bend, Not Break: Several Powerful Traits of Resilient People 12 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video
  • Assessment: Exam 6

Lesson 7: Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

Just as we want to feel safe and comfortable in our living environments, we want to feel safe socially, as well. This includes not only relationships, but activities and situations, too. Additional lesson topics: The Science of Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone and Why You Should ; Several Reasons to Step Outside Your Comfort Zone 13 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video
  • Complete Assignment: What is your comfort zone?
  • Assessment: Exam 7

Lesson 8: More Time and Capacity in Your Life to Increase Productivity

Everyone is stressed; no one has time for "one more thing," even if it's something "important." How can anyone be expected to do everything that's on their list in the first place, let alone add to that list? Additional lesson topics: Personal Strategic Planning Tips to Increase Productivity and Start Getting Things Done; How Successful People Stay Productive and In Control; Several Ways to Increase Your Productivity 13 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 8 Assignment
  • Assessment: Exam 8

Lesson 9: Practicing Gratitude, Giving, and Celebrating Your Successes and Achievements

Gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation for something or someone, and living with an attitude of gratitude is a realistic appreciation of life. Additional lesson topics: 6 Reasons Why We Want to Achieve Success 13 Total Points
  • Lesson 9 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 9 Assignment
  • Assessment: Exam 9

Lesson 10: Human Connections, Selective Relationships and a Supportive Network

With few exceptions, human beings need contact with other human beings. Additional lesson topics: What are some strategies to be more protective of your time?; How to identify and release toxic relationships; Stress management: How to strengthen your social support network 12 Total Points
  • Lesson 10 Video
  • Assessment: Exam 10

Lesson 11: The Art of Influence, Persuasion, and Negotiation

The art of face-to-face interpersonal communication is important to understand, and knowing in-person interaction skills is incredibly valuable. 13 Total Points
  • Lesson 11 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 11 Assignment
  • Assessment: Exam 11

Lesson 12: Saying Goodbye to Stress and Anxiety, and Hello to a Happy Life

In this course, we've explored many concepts, including how to love yourself, appreciate life, live with gratitude, find your passion, and practice good self-care. For our final lesson, we'll revisit these concepts. 79 Total Points
  • Lesson 12 Video
  • Lesson discussions: How would you rate this course?; Course Comments; Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course)
  • Complete Assignment: Identifying Your Stressor
  • Assessment: Exam 12
  • Assessment: Final Exam
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Describe techniques for learning how to love yourself.
  • Describe basic methods to appreciate your life on a daily basis.
  • Determine how to find your passion.
  • Identify ways to practice your creativity.
  • Summarize a healthy lifestyle from the inside out.
  • Recognize ways of getting out of your comfort zone.
  • Identify ways to add more time and capacity in your life to increase productivity.
  • Practice gratitude, giving, and celebrating your successes and achievements.
  • Describe methods for controlling stress and anxiety.
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

Online CEU Certificate
  • Document Your Lifelong Learning Achievements
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Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
Course Title: Pursuing Happiness: Successful Strategies
Course Number: 9770418
Lessons Rating: 4.6 / 5 Stars (1,774 votes)
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Availability: This course is online and available in all 50 states including: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas.
Last Updated: May 2023
Course Type: Self-Paced, Online Class
CEU Value: 0.6 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Instructor: Dr. Dennis Mithaug
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Course Fee: $95.00 U.S. dollars

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Student Testimonials

  • "This course is very informative, each lesson brought new insights into each topic." -- Cynthia O.
  • "I enjoyed the class and was able to learn many new things." -- Sara S.
  • "I liked it. :-)" -- Christine C.
  • "This course put me in a more positive frame of mind. I recommend it to people who are trying to develop a more positive outlook on life. The lessons were easy to follow, and they gave me advice which I could follow." -- Angela G.
  • "All good." -- Kyle B.
  • "It is great course. For me, all course material was really helpful." -- Zoya M.
  • "Excellent instructor. Learning about how to triage a to do list was extremely helpful, but the most important message that the instructor conveyed to us was that with the proper tools, that he provided in this course, and with intention and motivation, we can change our lives and our relationships, and we can have a more meaningful and happier life. He delivered this most powerful message repeatedly and in different ways, in case one way didn't resonate with you the next way would. It was a great course." -- Alice F.
  • "Thanks, I learned a bunch. I am really trying to implement these tools and I have already seen a difference." -- Donna K.