Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Teaching happiness

D.T. Max has a longish article in the NYTimes Magazine about courses on positive psychology offered in many colleges and fewer schools in the US (as well as in the UK, Australia ...). While he reviews key findings of positive psychology (aka happiness research), he also gives ample space to critics of evangelization of positive psychology. Highly recommended.

... [P]ositive psychologists have developed “interventions,” or practices, designed to maximize positive emotions and have tested them on thousands of people. One such intervention is to think every night about the good things that happened to you that day. Another is to make sure in any given day that you either work or play in a new area that draws on what positive psychologists call your “signature strengths” to create a sense of well-being. Gratitude visits — looking up someone who has taught or mentored you and thanking him or her — are important in positive psychology, too; this last intervention, studies show, gives the biggest increase in happiness of all.

If you wish to explore happiness research further, check out Martin Seligman's site: Authentic Happiness.