Dr Tal Ben-Shahar – Harvard Open Courses 1504 – Positive Psychology 1

I like Dr Tal Ben-Shahar‘s open courses 1504 about Positive Psychology very much and recommend it too.

Like a favorable book, I watch it from time to time. It helps me to understand things in my life, or I should say it helps me to understand myself a lot. I have watched 12 sessions three years ago and recently, I started to watch the full 23 sessions again. We often hear people’s conversations about becoming rich, promotion, organisation management, communication and relationships, stress and happiness etc., the answers are all in the sessions.

I think I’m a positive person in general. I enjoy doing things more than talking about things. I’m curious about differences and want to know what make me see things differently from or similarly to others. I want to know how can I become well-being. That’s how I started to watch the online courses.

The first session introduces what is positive psychology.

Tal first taught the class in 2002. In 1999 Prof. Phillip Stone taught the first positive psychology class at Harvard. As Tal stated, the class is to bring the rigor, the substance, the empirical foundation, the science from academia and merge it with the accessibility of the self-help or the New Age movement. The science that works… Academic and Apply.

Subject knowledge:

  • Positive psychology is the grandchild of humanistic psychology
  • The first force of psychology – behaviorism (the work of Skinner, Watson, Thorndike)
  • The second force of psychology – psychoanalysis (the work of Freud, Jung, Adler)
  • The third force of psychology – positive psychology (the work of Rollo May, Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, Karen Horney, Aaron Antonovsky, Martin Seligman, Ellen Langer, Phillip Stone)
  • The ABC – Affect, Behaviour, and Cognition

Interesting research findings:

  • The average academic journal article is read by 7 people.
  • Silence is something that’s missing from our culture.
  • Knowledge is about information, wisdom is about transformation.
  • Questions make difference.
  • The biggest mistake in research and application is not asking the right questions.
  • Happiness is not binary, either-or, 0-1. Happiness resides on a continuum.

People and their work:

  • David Foster and Matthew Wilson – experienced embraced stillness
  • Parker Palmer’s book The Courage Teach
  • Robert M. Pirsig’s books Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Lila
  • Abraham Maslow’s chapter Towards A Positive Psychology in 1954
  • Aaron Antonovsky – the concept of ‘salutogenesis‘ in 1970s
  • Martin Seligman’s contribution to positive psychology in 1998
  • Robert Kagan – the destination between information and transformation
  • Michelangelo’s masterpiece Davidto chip away the excess stone
  • Henry David Thoreau – “Soul grows more by subtraction than by addition”
  • Lao Tzu – “In pursuit of knowledge, every day something is acquired, in pursuit of wisdom, every day something is dropped”
  • Voltaire – “Common sense is not that common”
  • Archibald Macleish – information is not enough
  • Peter Drucker (management scholar of 20th century) – “The most common source of mistake in management decisions is the emphasis on finding the right answer rather than the right question.”
  • Jerry Seinfeld – children’s curiosity
  • John Carter – the distinction between extraordinarily successful MBA students and the successful MBA students on two things: (1) really believe themselves and having the sense of confidence (2) always asking questions and keep the state of curiosity.
  • Daniel Goleman and Dalai Lama – culturally insensitive
  • Carl Rogers – “What is most personal is most general.”
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes – simplicity on the other side of the complexity
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