On today’s No Stupid Questions podcast, there was mention of a study on the value of psychotherapy where the study authors (not the podcasters), stated psychotherapy had no value, and arrogantly added, therefore, all the studies that showed psychotherapy had value were now in question. I’ll address that arrogance later, but in the meanwhile, I’ll address the problem with that study’s bias that the podcasters, economist Stephen Dubner and psychologist, Angela Duckworth, didn’t fully reconcile, to my surprise.
I recently completed two courses on the science of happiness. The first was the Science of Well-being course from Yale, on Coursera, offered by Professor Laurie Santos. The second was the Science of Happiness offered by the UC Berkeley on their edX platform. From those two courses that were fairly complementary, I have put together a presentation not just on the science of happiness, but what it says to help you become happier, that summarizes the content of the courses, for which there was plenty! Links on the side of each slide lets you access much more information than the practical aspects I touch upon for this to be useful. While the courses are about the science of happiness, their content is geared towards making the learner happier, and that is lens through which I am presenting it. The science on its own isn’t terribly great if you don’t or can’t use it for something good, right?
Below is the presentation in 3 formats, pending how you want to view them.
The final assignment for the Science of Well-being course required students to try and develop a week long rewirement assignment into a habit over 4 weeks, then write about it. This need not be a daily habit, as that might take about 3 months from other research, but something done at least periodically each week. The quest for habit development is so that it becomes second nature. Consciously pursuing happiness all the time will drive you crazy, or at least neurotic, as other research has shown that was not mentioned in this course. I confirmed my thoughts on this from content in the free, 10-week course on the Science of Happiness offered by the UC Berkeley on their edX platform that is much more in-depth than this one, but may not as good as this Science of Well-being course for those just wanting a practical overview of the subject matter.
Below is the assignment I submitted. The Bed Time Alarm idea was described briefly in a previous post that talked about the handful of other rewirements I have actually embraced into my life as habits. I had been doing some of them already, or didn’t find them hard to embrace. However, there is a lot more details here, including rationale and measurements, which all good goals should contain to determine progress and/or success.
With this assignment, I have finally completed the course… and happier for it! Yay!
I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND this course to anybody who cares about their happiness and wants to become happier. A slightly more detailed review is here, plus you can view my posts about the course to see what else was done and how it impacted me, along with other thoughts.
The Science of Well-being course’s Week 1 Rewirements also recommended, but not required, other tests in the greater Authentic Happiness Inventory. The course especially recommended the PERMA™ (an acronym for Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment— the basic dimensions of psychological flourishing). Since they asked those who take it to keep score, I took it to get the most out of the course.
But first, I had to find out what psychological flourishing was. From Wikipedia, flourishing is described as “a state where people experience positive emotions, positive psychological functioning and positive social functioning, most of the time,” living “within an optimal range of human functioning.” If I were to describe it in plain language, it’s how positive someone is in a general lifestyle range (rather than in distress or euphoria moments or spans of time). Further from Wikipedia, flourising is a descriptor and measure of positive mental health and overall life well-being, and includes multiple components and concepts, such as cultivating strengths, subjective well-being, “goodness, generativity, growth, and resilience.” Flourishing is the opposite of both pathology and languishing, which are described as living a life that feels hollow and empty. It is a central concept in positive psychology, developed by Corey Keyes and Barabara Fredrickson.
If you want to know more about the dimensions, which I will cover with my PERMA results, I found a more comprehensive description on the Positive Psychology Program site.
Starting into the Science of Well-being course, after a little introduction, there was an optional survey, probably more for Yale’s metrics than anything else. To be helpful, I filled it out. FYI, being helpful makes most people happy. 🙂
Most of the questions aren’t what people would care to read about, but two I thought were good for me to note, and to share for commentary.