23 Dec 2016 13:57 IST

The path to happiness leads through an ISB portal

The b-school teaches more than management mantra; an online course on happiness has proved a big hit

The pursuit of happiness inspires people to do some pretty offbeat things. Some go to Tibetan monasteries to find contentment; others live it up on Ibiza’s beaches.

Then there are about 1.75 lakh people, from across the globe, who come knocking on the (virtual) doors of the Indian School of Business to learn how to be happy!

A six-week course in happiness launched by the ISB (which traditionally doles out management mantra), in association with the online learning platform Coursera in June last year , has attracted many.

The US accounts for the highest number of ‘happiness seekers’. According to ISB data, 39,212 people from the US had undergone the course till date, followed by 20,000 from India, about 6,000 each from Mexico and Canada, and 5,500 people from China, among others.

A sample profile of learners reveals that 53 per cent of them are women. Those in the 25-34 age group make up the majority, followed by those in the 35-44 group. And more than half of those who enrolled are employed.

Read ISB’s first MOOC on happiness brings much joy to B-school

“The response for the Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) has been far better than expected. There has been at least one candidate in the course from each of the world’s 196 countries,” Raj Raghunathan, Professor of Marketing at UT Austin and a visiting professor at ISB, who teaches the course, told BusinessLine .

The course, ‘A Life of Happiness and Fulfilment’, runs for six weeks and takes in established themes in psychology and behavioural economics. The course fee is $40, but some modules are available for free.

It introduces concepts such as ‘happiness sins’ (the things that people do that diminishes happiness, such as chasing superiority), ‘happiness habits’ and ‘happiness exercises’.

Interest in the course is driven by existential questions. “What are the determinants of a happy and fulfilling life is surely one of life’s biggest questions,” says Raghunathan.

That exploration has been undertaken by many down the ages, from the Buddha to Greek philosophers. In the 21st century, the ISB is showing seekers a distinctive path to happiness.