They say that money can't buy happiness. That may be true, but a New Jersey University has figured out a way to put a price tag on it. Centenary University has announced it will now offer a “Master of Arts in Happiness Studies." And it will only set students back a cool $17,700 to earn the degree.
Imagine being able to earn a master's degree in Happiness. Wouldn't that be something? It will look great on the wall, next to all the ribbons you collected in elementary school just for showing up for things. It will be particularly cogent if a person earns this while studying with an emphasis on Moronic Decisions. That would be a perfect pairing.
Obviously, this sounds like a ridiculous idea. The only thing I see coming out of this program are a bunch of student-debt-laden malcontents pissed that they can't find a job. Well, I suppose they could work at Chuck E. Cheese if that chain hadn't declared bankruptcy during the pandemic. That's a bummer. The good news is lots of other restaurants are in need of quality servers, and I can't think of anyone better than a person who has a master's degree in happiness. The skills learned from that will really help generate some good gratuities.
The entire “happiness” craze is just overblown. The word is even now making its way into corporate titles. A social media management firm we use has a “Chief Happiness Officer.” She sent me an excessively perky email a few years back, extolling the benefits of their services. It was not something a grumpy and jaded boomer like me responds to well. I am not a violent person, but if I ever want to slap someone, I suspect it will be someone with a title like “Chief Happiness Officer.”
It is as if Romper Room has come to America's board rooms.
Of course, this trend has produced a multitude of ridiculous job titles. A site I found lists a number of them, and they include Director of Sandbags, Hairologist, Ranch Dressing Expert, Head of Potatoes, and my personal favorite, Pornography Historian. But I digress…
And if happiness isn't your bag, other equally useful programs are out there for the taking (of your money). The University of Houston offers an “MS in Foresight for prospective professional futurists,” and the University of New Hampshire offers a Bachelor's in “Ecogastronomy – the study of how food and environment intersect and influence each other.” If a full-blown degree isn't your thing, then Columbia University offers a “Strategic Storytelling Seminar” which “gives students all they need to start using compelling storytelling in every aspect of their career.” Or you could go to Evergreen State College and earn a bachelor's degree in Somatic Studies, which “seeks to connect the mind and the body to bring about full, holistic intelligence.”
Those last two could be quite useful, as someone could use the BA in Somatic Studies to figure out why they wasted $17,700 on a Master's of Happiness Degree, and then use the Columbia Strategic Storytelling skills they develop to explain why they are still living in their parent's basement at the age of 37.
Perhaps we are being too judgmental here. There have been other degree programs that I have mocked as essentially useless in the past that now seem to be quite necessary. I used to think that a degree in gender studies was a waste of time and resources. But that was before there were so many genders. Nowadays it has become an extraordinarily complex field of study; so much so that even Supreme Court nominees seem unable to figure it out. (Too soon?) Good thing we have experts in that to guide the way. Someone should call their parents and tell them to get those kids out of the basement. It is time for them to go to work.
Perhaps we should look at the Happiness Master's program for the workers' compensation industry. After all, nothing would turn that injured worker's frown upside down like hearing from someone who has a professional certification in being happy. That idea has success written all over it. What could go wrong? Or we could hire a clown. That might work too.
It may be true that money can't buy happiness. But it is nice to know that it can buy a degree in it, even if that doesn't necessarily give you a degree of it.
Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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