Overview of Course
“Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to ‘be happy’,” wrote psychoanalyst Viktor Frankl. In this course, students will learn current research and theory pertaining to the science of positive psychology. What does it mean to be happy anyway, and where exactly does happiness come from? In class meetings and readings, we will draw on memoir, neuroscience, videos, music and self-help techniques; and, given our journey around the globe, special attention will be paid to Eastern and Western notions of the good life. We will learn about the relationship between Eastern religions, emotion regulation and brain science, and we will incorporate Taoist teachings (such as nondoing), Islamic perspectives on happiness (from the Quran), and Buddhist practices (such as mindfulness) into class meetings as tools for decreasing anxiety and stress and increasing peace and calm. We will also experiment with more Western methods of feeling good such as exercise, engagement, pleasure-seeking, relationships, achievement and purpose. Along the way, we will emphasize engaging with, and finding meaning in, the larger world around.