Get Happy: Positive Psychology Course Comes to Valencia

In the spring 2013 semester, Harvard University’s most popular course, positive psychology, will be offered at Valencia. Linda Freeman, psychology instructor, is teaching this course, which  incorporates ways for students to create and implement projects around topics such as love, friendship, compassion, creativity, courage, and gratitude.

“With such an emphasis on human weakness and damage, positive psychology reminds our discipline of its forgotten mission,” Linda explained. This mission, she said, is to “amplify strengths, in addition to repairing weaknesses.”

Positive psychology is a new area in the psychology discipline that focuses on the scientific study of happiness. Unlike traditional psychology, which studies distress, anxiety, depression and other forms of mental illness, positive psychology looks into the aspects of what cultivates long-lasting positive emotions and the obstacles that block happiness.

“Many believe achieving something such as; a career, family, money, or fame will provide us with enduring happiness,” Linda said. “Positive psychology tells us that these things rarely work.” Linda lists some examples below.

  • Rich people are not appreciably happier than middle class folks.
  • Money makes an ever-diminishing contribution to wellbeing, but money can buy happiness if it is spent on other people.
  • Another myth: “If I could have a family, then I would be happy.” In sampling people’s moods throughout the day, most people are not happier when they are taking care of their children than when they are doing other things.
  • Lottery winners are no happier than lottery losers, one year after winning the lottery.
  • People who spend their time and money on doing things together, whether taking a vacation or going on an all-day outing to the local zoo, report higher levels of happiness than those who buy a bigger house, a more expensive car, or more stuff.

“Researchers in the field of positive psychology have already laid the groundwork for increasing and sustaining happiness,” Linda said. “If their research is right, then we have discovered the means by which we can achieve happiness. Now, all we have to do is learn.”

The positive psychology course (PSY 2930) will be offered on East Campus in the Spring of 2013 (CRN 26315). If you have any questions about the course, please contact Linda at

1 Comment

  • lisa Gray said:

    This is a wonderful course to offer our students. Learning about happiness and what brings it will help them have truly fufilling lives! It will help them through periods of personal struggle and challege! Kudos for offering something that will help students develop this valuable life skill to students!!

    AMSun, 02 Dec 2012 10:28:43 +0000Sun, 02 Dec 2012 10:28:43 +0000am12,10:28 am

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