PositivePsychologyHappiness101 - Happiness 101 New York...

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Unformatted text preview: Happiness 101 - New York Times - (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/07/magazine/ 07happiness.t.html?pagewanted=print) 2007/01/07 10:47:25---------------------------------- The New York Times Printer Friendly Format Sponsored By January 7, 2007 Happiness 101 By D.T. MAX One Tuesday last fall I sat in on a positive-psychology class called the Science of Well-Being — essentially a class in how to make yourself happier — at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. George Mason is a challenge for positive psychologists because it is one of the 15 unhappiest campuses in America, at least per The Princeton Review. Many students are married and already working and commute to school. It’s a place where you go to move your career forward, not to ¡nd yourself. The class was taught by Todd Kashdan, a 32-year-old psychology professor whose area of research is “curiosity and well-being.” Kashdan bobbed around the room or sat, legs dangling, on his desk beneath a big PowerPoint slide that said “The Scienti¡c Pursuit of Happiness” as he took the students, a few older than he, through the various building blocks of positive psychology: optimism, gratitude, mindfulness, hope, spirituality. Though the syllabus promised to “approach every topic in this class as scientists” and the assigned readings were academic, the classroom discussion was Oprah-ish. The students seemed intrigued by the research Kashdan presented mostly in relation to their own lives. The focus of Kashdan’s class that day was the distinction between feeling good, which according to positive psychologists only creates a hunger for more pleasure — they call this syndrome the hedonic treadmill — and doing good, which can lead to lasting happiness. The students had been asked ¡rst to do something that gave them pleasure and then to perform an act of sel¢ess kindness. They approached the ¡rst part of the assignment eagerly. One student recounted having sex with her boyfriend 30 feet underwater while scuba diving. Another said he “went to Coastal Flats and got hammered.” A third attended a Nascar race in North Carolina, smoked, drank and had sex. Some also watched favorite TV shows; others chatted with friends. When it came time to talk about the second part of the assignment, the students were excited, too. The Nascar attendee, who was afraid of needles, gave blood. Another collected clothes from family members and donated them to a shelter for battered women. The boy who had gotten hammered bought a homeless person a 12-pack of “Natty Ice” at a 7-Eleven, wondering if it was the right thing to do. A fourth gave her waiter at Denny’s a $50 tip. At times, Kashdan, who ran the class in the nonjudgmental manner of a ’70s rap-session leader — he used the word “cool” a lot — would compliment them on their behavior and pull out a moral. In this case, as one student wrote in a summary she submitted to Kashdan, comparing “a day at the spa covered in really expensive French” stuff and “a day of community improvement covered in horse” manure, the...
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This note was uploaded on 04/02/2010 for the course EE EE taught by Professor Tai during the Fall '10 term at Punjab Engineering College.

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PositivePsychologyHappiness101 - Happiness 101 New York...

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