PS 230 - Positive Psychology: The Science of a Good Life

Psychological science has made a steady progress in describing, explaining, diagnosing and treating mental illness. By curing dysregulations and maladjustments, clinical psychology aims at alleviating and/or possibly eliminating a patient/client’s suffering. Nevertheless, taking away the negative does not automatically imply promoting the positive and recovering does not necessarily mean flourishing and making life meaningful: it mostly means building up or restoring a healthy balance in mental and physical terms. So, what makes the human being flourish and life worth living? What are the individual and social strengths and virtues which make life meaningful?

In order to answer these questions, a new psychological science was born: it is Positive Psychology, a relatively new branch of psychology whose goal is the optimal functioning of the individual. Positive psychology is "the scientific study of positive human functioning and flourishing on multiple levels that include the biological, personal, relational, institutional, cultural, and global dimensions of life" (Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). This course offers the students the unique opportunity not only to learn about the science of well-being but also to understand how to increase personal strengths and virtues by applying and experiencing each week an intervention from Positive Psychology. Students will record their empirical findings in their learning journals and, while doing so, will reflect on their own well-being and how to increase it.

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