Harvard Positive Psychology Lectures by Professor Tal Ben-Shahar
10 out of 10
A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
These lectures are life changing, literally.
They are the most popular in the history of Harvard and that says a lot, given that this is where the crème de la crème studies.
You can find one and then the rest of the lectures starting from here:
As the professor makes clear, a tremendous change took place when Martin Seligman decided to change the emphasis in psychology.
Up to about 2000, psychology was solely concentrated on taking people from minus six to zero whereas positive psychology is interested, does research and a lot of studies in order to find out how to take us from an average point to becoming Happier.
As you can learn from these astounding lectures and the books by Tal Ben-Shahar, there are exercises that you can do to become happier.
From the gratitude exercises that you could engage in for a few weeks, expressing, writing things you are grateful for to physical exercise.
As the professor emphasizes in his twenty-second lecture, exercise works like a wonder drug, offering the runner’s high and all sorts of positive effects, for we have been programmed for much more activity that we engage- mostly we do not- in this day and age.
Tal Ben-Shahar uses examples from folklore, other luminaries like Martin Seligman, Nathaniel Brendan, John Gottman and many others and even films like Pay It Forward, The Dead Poets Society, Woody Allen works.
Ellen de Generes is a comedian that appears in these courses, with her views on procrastination, rat race and lack of exercise in today’s world, when we do not even need to move in order to open the windows of the cars.
Learn to Fail or Fail to Learn is one of the leitmotifs of these lessons, with the professor encouraging students to try and fail more, for those who do not fail are people who did not try, examples like Edison are used as proof.
Two lectures are dedicated to love and relationships, with educational insight gained from those who have the happiest marriages or relationships.
John Gottman is used here as one of the ultimate authorities on marriage and love and his reference to the ideal 1 to 5 ratio.
For every five positive exchanges, the happiest couples have a negative inter change, which shows that they learn to fail or fail to learn- for if there were no negative (but not violent or aggressive clashes) moments that would mean that those involved do not inter act…
Words create Worlds and Be a Merit Finder not a Fault Finder are other quotes that Tal Ben-Shahar likes to repeat in classes.
Those who are Merit Finders live longer happier lives than the rest, much like the positive, optimistic people enjoy the same, with better professional and private lives when compared with negative or neutral people.
One aspect that I appreciate a lot in these lessons, apart from their incredible accessibility, is the fact that tests and research are at the basis of all the propositions, rules and exercises that are recommended in them.
From the Pygmalion Effect study, to the Stanford Prison Experiment, through to The Notre Dame nuns research and on to the amazing Ellen Langer experiment with seventy years old people that became younger and then also the study on maids that work in the Hospitality Industry and lost weight when they were made aware of the amount of calories they burn during their daily intense activity.
There are also stories that I loved, including the one with the man who goes to the rabbi for advice on becoming happier and the rabbi tells him to get the horse in the house and then the poultry, the cow and at the end of this “trial period” take them all out only to experience a Flow moment or learn the lesson: Be Grateful for what you have.
Self Esteem has a lecture dedicated to it, with repeated references to Nathaniel Branden, apparently a friend of Tal Ben-Shahar and a former mentor.
If you do not love and appreciate yourself, who will? This is part of the message, with the phony, false appearance of the arrogant explained.
An attitude like that of the Donald- to which the professor makes no reference, for these are courses recorded in 2007- is not one reflecting self-esteem, but on the contrary, someone who is insolent, narcissistic does not have self-esteem.
Beliefs become self-fulfilling prophecies and Behavior shapes attitude are two other mantras that are repeated, together with the insistence upon the special effect that meditation has, tests are mentioned in which lamas have demonstrated incredible capabilities of controlling the mind, reactions to gunshots and in other circumstances.
These lectures offer solutions, exercises that will help you become happier and not just you, but also those around you…