New course paves way to happy life


People with a happy disposition seem to drift through life unfazed, able to gracefully handle what life throws at them. When life gives them lemons, they naturally make lemonade.

But for others, life can feel like a hurricane with each challenge approaching like a 10-foot-tall wave. To help people find the silver lining, the St. Albert and Sturgeon Primary Care Network is offering a new course: Happiness Basics.

The course, which starts Jan. 11, is a four-week workshop teaching basic skills to live a happy life.

“It’s based on positive psychology and it’s a course for people who are wanting to be a little happier in life,” said Natasha Hilchie, health facilitator at the Primary Care Network.

She said the course is open for people who are languishing or flourishing in life. While some may need a major pick-me-up, others may just need a slight boost to help get back on track.

Hilchie said the course began at the Red Deer Primary Care Network in 2009. Around 40 per cent of all referrals to the Primary Care Network were for mental health, with depression being the main reason. The Primary Care Network reported a 22 to 25 per cent increase in happiness in those who took the course.

Shelley Porter, clinical lead for mental health and social work at the Primary Care Network, will be co-leading the course with Hilchie. She said the course was developed based on a study that found commonalities among happy people.

“The study looked at naturally happy people, looking for the strategies they use in life,” she said. “They were able to come up with evidence-based research showing how to be happier.”

She said that when asked, “what makes you happy?” most people answer that life events, such as having a baby, getting married or a special occasion, was where they derived their happiness.

Those characterized as “happy people”, however, have a different answer. Rather than latching onto a significant moment in life, they find joy in the little, seemingly insignificant, moments.

“If you look at those big things, yes they make you happy, but they don’t happen that often,” she said. “So this course teaches that happy people tend to find their cup of coffee in the morning gives them happiness, the sunshine gives them happiness.”

“It’s stopping and really appreciating those little things, rather than waiting for those big one-in-a-lifetime things.”

The course will teach participants skills to change their perspective in life. People will practice happiness tools in class as well as at home.

It costs $15 to attend, with costs covering classroom materials. For more information visit


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Dayla Lahring

Dayla Lahring joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2017. She writes about business, health, general news and features. She also contributes photographs.