Happiness Education Course Ideas
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This page may be a bit outdated...check out the USC happiness course lab page for more
- Avoid preaching
- Keep it real and grounded
- Include alternate ideas of the good life
Topics we could cover
- First section covers the basics of how we talk about/measure happiness
- Second section covers ways we can train our minds
- Third section covers alternative ideas of happiness (Morality & Flow)
What is happiness? How is it measured?
- Talk about Seligman's 3 ideas (Affect, Flow/Engagement, Spiritual/part of something larget).
- Eudamonia vs. Hedonism - Growth vs. Pleasure
- Diener's national surveys
- Remembered Happiness vs. Experienced Happiness (Show Kahneman's studies)...experience sampling..peak/end rule.
- Is morality important? introduce Altruism and Evil....
the Hedonic Treadmill
- What do we adjust to and what do we not adjust to?
- Lottery and paraplegic study
- Money and Happiness
- Study of Calcutta Prostitutes vs. Graduate Students
- Things that are not subject to hedonic treadmill/adaptation (ie. noise)
- Importance of disposition, personality, and genes
- READING: Ch 2,5 of Happiness Hypothesis
Wanting vs. Liking
- Relative vs. Absolute goods (ie. money vs. vacation)
- Dopamine system
- Heroine users
- READING: See Nettle book chapter on Wanting vs. Liking
Basic Psychological Needs
- Self Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan) - Competence, Relatedness, Autonomy
- Meaning as a basic psychological need? (Kashdan ??)
- Self Esteem? Security?
- EXERCISE: Have students take the basic psychological needs surveys for domains and correlate with domain satisfaction -> http://www.psych.rochester.edu/SDT/measures/word/needsful.doc
- Elderly as a control group
- MEDIA: Show pioneer network video re: loneliness, helplessness, and boredom in the elderly. relate to stats on elderly depression and suicide
- Talk about experiment with elderly and plants
Training one's focus (ie. Gratitude, Altruism)
- Explore the idea of shifting a person's focus.
- Talk about Amygdala and ancient structures which make us focus on negative too much.
- Luck (Wiseman)
- LAB: Try classroom exercise of trying not to think of an elephant.
- The mind is like an animal that must be trained rather than a car that must be driven (Haidt).
- READING: Ch. 1 of Happiness Hypothesis
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Applying signature strengths
- EXERCISE: Find your signature strengths and apply them
- LAB: Talk about application of strengths?
- EXERCISE: Keep gratitude journal
- EXERCISE: Do something altruistic and report on it
- Maximizers vs. Satisficers
- Meditation exercise
- Explore ancient ideas about the world being a product of one's opinions.
- EXERCISE: Take the scale
- LAB: Try meditation, report on results
Relationships & Emotional Intelligence
- Altruism and Gratitude in relationships (SPSP presentation research)
- one of the few things that does cause lasting happiness
- Maximizing and satisficing in relationships
- Companion vs. passionate love
- EXERCISE: Take emotional intelligence test -> (Brackett, M. A., & Mayer, J. D. 2003). Convergent, discriminant, and incremental validity of competing measures of emotional intelligence. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 9, 1147-1158.
- EXERCISE: Do Iowa Gambling Task
- Relate emotional intelligence to Phineas Gage & neuroanatomy
- READING: ch. 6 of Happiness Hypothesis
The relationship between physical and emotional health
- Positive Illusions? - (Taylor, S. E., Kemeny, M. E., Reed, G. M., Bower, J. E., & Gruenewald, T. L. 2000). Psychological resources, positive illusions, and health. American Psychologist, 55, 1, 99-109.**
Self Regulation, Habits vs. Discipline, Belief
- Radish/chocolate experiement...depletion
- Tal Ben Shahar's examples (ie. 4 minute mile)
- Belief and self esteem as self fulfilling prophecies
Adversity and Resilience
- READING: ch.7 of Happiness Hypothesis
- Challenge vs. Ability
- Intrinsic motivation
- Music, Sports
- Quotes from people who are in flow
- A different kind of happiness
- READING: (Nakamura, J., & Csikszentmiyalyi, M. 2002). The concept of flow. In C. R Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of Positive Psychology, 89-105.
Morality and Evil
- Talk about theoretical moral foundations and values (Schwartz, Shweder, and Haidt)
- Talk about how opposing groups view other people's morals
- How self serving biases lead to the idea of "pure evil" (Baumeister, Haidt)
- Morality's relation to happiness see Happiness and Values
- Have students visit YourMorals.org?
- Use moral dilemmas such as....
- Killing 5 vs. 1 person using a switch or pushing a man
- Smothering your baby to save everyone from enemy soldiers
- Brother and sister in France incest
- Outcome influencing intentionality evaluations of CEO decisions
- Moral elevation
- READING: Ch.8 of Happiness Hypothesis, something on Myth of pure evil?
- Class project on self improvement graded on thoughtfulness and effort rather than content...any kind of happiness is ok...
- READING: Ch. 10 of Happiness Hypothesis
Multimedia we could use
Books to buy/check out
- Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman
- Happiness - Nettle
- Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life (Masterminds Series) by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
- Seligman, M. E. P. (2002). Authentic happiness. New York: Free Press.
- The Social Psychology of Altruism - Dovidio
- The Myth of Evil - Phillip Cole
- Evil: Inside Human Violence and Cruelty by Roy F. Baumeister
- Mind Wide Open - Steven Johnson
- Happiness Hypothesis - Jonathan Haidt
- The Question of Happiness: On Finding Meaning, Pleasure, and the Ultimate Currency by Tal Ben-Shahar (Paperback - Aug 2002)
- Happier - Tal Ben Shahar (pre-order for May 2007)
- The Luck Factor - Richard Wiseman
- Keyes, C. L. M., & Haidt, J. (Eds.). (2003). Flourishing: Positive psychology and the life well lived. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.
- Buddha (1993). Dhammapada. Thomas Byrom (trans.) Boston: Shambhala (Other editions acceptable, but not as beautiful)
- Handbook of Positive Psychology
- Paradox of choice- Schwartz, Barry
- Stumbling on happiness, Gilbert
- Emotional Intelligence, Goleman, Daniel