How to Write and Think and Meditate Yourself Into Being Happier: The HAPPINESS CLASS!

ERDG 491Z -- University at Albany, SUNY

Professor Claudia Ricci, Ph.D.


Reading and writing transform the way we think, and how we see ourselves in the world. Neurological research now shows that changing the way we think can produce positive physiological changes in the brain. At a time when an epidemic of mental health issues plagues our nation, and threatens to paralyze students in the academy, this class presents a set of cognitive tools and practical skills that will help students refine and enhance their educational goals while examining a broad range of life issues. Beginning with philosophical ideas set forth by Aristotle, the class will rely on texts from psychology, neuroscience, literature and narrative theory, to open up discussions about the patterns of human behavior and thinking that tend to produce lasting fulfillment and deep reward. In keeping with research by psychologist James Pennebaker and others who have demonstrated the value of expressive writing, students will engage in extensive journaling and other self-reflective writing assignments as they seek to define what it means, and what it takes, to find happiness. Part of the work in the classroom will be to help students identify their individual “signature strengths” that can produce what positive psychologist Martin Seligman defines as “authentic happiness and abundant gratification.” In addition to classroom work, a special two-hour laboratory session, with attendant readings and writing exercises, will be required each week; students will work with experts in mindfulness, meditation, yoga, spirituality and stress reduction, and will document how these techniques can help the student better cope with the inherently stressful nature of University life.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

This Is Happiness, says the Scottish photographer Who Took the Photo!


Paul Brett, of Edinburgh, Scotland, is a photographer and member of the photo-a-day blog journal called Blipfoto.

A few days ago, he published the photo below under the title "Things That Make Me Happy."

The photo brought tears to my eyes as it made me think back to my own babies, who are now 26, 24 and 21!

The baby pictured here is Daisy Joy Ann Coughlin, named after three generations of grandmothers!

Born on January 25, 2011, at 9 pounds, 5 ounces, Daisy Joy has a grandma named Carole Ann, a great grandma named Joy, and a great great grandma named Daisy.

Congratulations to the whole family. And to Paul, best of luck with your wonderful photography!

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