Soup for the Soul
The Happiness Project class learns while serving others.
Winter can be a lonely time for housebound individuals, seniors, and those facing food insecurity. To ease these feelings, students in Pomfret's The Happiness Project class are making community members' days a little brighter; and in turn, they become even happier themselves.
The Happiness Project is a Wellbeing elective course created more than five years ago, which was inspired by the most popular class in Yale’s history, Psychology and the Good Life, taught by Dr. Laurie Santos. Students discover what happiness means and how to achieve it through researching the lived experiences of others and exploring the various dimensions of wellbeing.
This winter, The Happiness Project includes a service-learning component that offers students opportunities to see and experience how the course content is evident in communities and individual lives.
About thirty minutes southwest of the Hilltop, in Willimantic, students have stocked pantry shelves and served lunch at the Covenant Soup Kitchen to residents in the Windham County area. Closer to campus, students make and deliver soup to seniors and other homebound residents through a soup project in partnership with Thompson Ecumenical Empowerment Group, Inc. (TEEG). Through these experiences, students come to better understand and genuinely appreciate how intentional acts of generosity, kindness, and service for others have profound impacts on the quality of our lives, wellbeing, and happiness.
“At Covenant, we learned how people with less are happier. We watched them find joy in such little things. Now, with the soup project at TEEG, we are doing our best to give people a little bit of joy because knowing that someone cares about you is a very powerful thing,” shared Layla Miller ’25. “All of the small and big practices we have been doing in The Happiness Project class have given me a sense of fulfillment. I have learned so much about perspective, investing in myself, and doing the dirty work. Our learning in class has inspired me to explore other aspects of wellbeing.”
The class will continue to spread and learn about happiness by visiting and interviewing residents at the local senior congregate care facility. In the spring term, students in the Becoming Kinder: The Science of Generosity and Gratitude elective will continue The Happiness Project’s work of serving soup and happiness.