An entire industry has been built up around the pursuit of happiness. A stroll past any bookstore window demonstrates the explosive popularity of the feel-good, self-help movements of recent years. And whether these products are genuine paths to ultimate happiness or just pleasure-peddling scams, the trend seems likely to hold.
Now, even the Ivy League is getting in on the act, layering serious academic research onto the pop-psychology phenomenon to develop a “science of happiness.” Known as “positive psychology,” the field was pioneered at the University of Pennsylvania and came to Harvard a decade ago when an elective course on the topic was first taught.
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Woo hoo! Tal Ben-Shahar made it into BusinessWeek! You do know that Butter Bee Happy’s “write 5 happy thoughts a day” idea came from Ben-Shahar’s book Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment, right? Well, if you didn’t, you do now. We BBHers LOVE Ben-Shahar!
I think it’s very interesting that Ben-Shahar’s class became so popular at Harvard. I wonder if it would have had as much or more success at another university that was less academically stressful? I don’t know anyone currently enrolled at Harvard, but I have had friends who attended Yale, Princeton, and MIT, and they often mentioned how much stress their classes caused them. I know they were learning a lot and being very productive, but they didn’t seem as happy as some of my other friends who attended more relaxed, less competitive universities. Maybe students at Harvard needed a class on happiness more than students at other universities needed one. What do you think?