Learning happiness from the teaching of positive psychology

Learning happiness from the teaching of positive psychology

Although most of you reading this aren’t positive psychology teachers I’m sure, nevertheless, that this article will be of interest and relevance to many…

Chris Peterson is one of the world’s leading positive psychology experts and he writes regularly for Psychology Today on topics including (obviously) positive psychology, happiness and living a good life. In this article he relates how he teaches with examples and I thought many of you might find it of interest. Here’s a sample…

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It’s the only thing.
– Albert Schweitzer

In one of my very first blog entries for “The Good Life,” I wrote about the interest of people in compelling case examples of actual people who live life well, who embody the assets and strengths that positive psychologists have been studying with quantitative methods. Case examples bring abstract concepts to life and as a result are memorable and perhaps inspiring.

During the past few years, I have tried to heed this wish in my own teaching of positive psychology. Good examples are featured in my course in stories that I tell in lecture as well as in wonderful documentary films that I show.

Before I taught positive psychology, I conducted a large enrollment course in psychology research methods – important to be sure but not all that exciting for my students or for me. Maybe I was not imaginative enough, but I could never find compelling films on the beauty of the t-test or the power of multi-method research strategies. Be that as it may, positive psychology is much easier to teach vis-ê_-vis film support.

The films that I show in my positive psychology class include the following:

Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams – I have already written here about the 2007 last lecture of Carnegie-Mellon professor Randy Pausch. I show the film of his last lecture as part of the first lecture in my positive psychology course. This is the subject matter for the semester. Living is what we do until we die, and living well is the way to do it.

The Wizard of Oz [excerpt] – When I discuss character strengths, I show my students the scene at the end of this 1939 film where the Wizard gives the Cowardly Lion a medal, the Scarecrow a diploma, and the Tinman a testimonial, and ends with Dorothy concluding “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with!” There’s no place like home…

…if you’re enjoying this and want to read more about happiness and the taeching of positive psychology then JUST CLICK HERE for the full and original article.