Positive Psychology* [CRN 17866]

Discipline: Psychology
Instructor: Jay
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1110
End: 1230
Field Work: Day 1 | January 24, 2020 | Japan
Prerequisites: One (1) general psychology course OR by permission of the instructor Download Syllabus

Where Does Happiness Come From?

“Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to ‘be happy’,” wrote psychoanalyst Victor 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? The interplay between “inner” and “outer” sources of subjective well-being will be emphasized as we focus on five areas that contribute to feeling good: cultivating positive emotions, engagement in activities, relationships with others, finding meaning or purpose, pursuing accomplishments. Given our journey around the globe, special attention will be paid to Eastern and Western notions of the good life. Drawing on memoir, neuroscience, and self-help techniques, we will learn about the relationship between Eastern religions, emotion regulation and brain science, and we will incorporate Taoist teachings (such as acceptance) and Buddhist practices (such as mindfulness) into class meetings as tools for decreasing stress and increasing calm. We will also experiment with more stereotypically Western methods of feeling good (such as exercise, pleasure-seeking and achievement). Along the way, we will emphasize engaging with and finding meaning in the larger world around.

*Note: This class is delivered when lunch is served.


Field Work

Country: Japan
Day: 1
Date: January 24, 2020

The class, “Mindfulness and Zen Buddhism,” will give insight into and experience with Zen Buddhism through a visit with Reverend Takafumi Kawakami of the Shunkoin Temple & Zen Center in Kyoto. The visit will include four components, of which the first two are the most important and will take up much of our time. First, we will take a meditation class with Reverend Kawakami, in which we will have the opportunity to engage in guided meditation and also learn about Zen Buddhism. Second, we will have an opportunity to talk to Reverend Kawakami about how people attain life satisfaction and daily contentment — and how they learn to control temptation and desire — from a Zen Buddhist perspective. Third, we will have an opportunity to tour the temple to see what the experience is like for visitors as well as for priests. Finally, there will be an opportunity at the end of the visit for student discussion and reflection.

Learning objectives:
1. Learn the basic principles of Zen Buddhism
2. Gain direct experience with Buddhist meditation
3. Understand Buddhist principles can be used to enhance well-being