Thursday, April 05, 2007

Ph.D in Happiness

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a leading expert on well-being, is establishing what he calls the world's first Ph.D program focusing on positive psychology and the analysis of happiness, at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, Calif.

His program, co-founded by assistant professor Jeanne Nakamura, an expert on creativity and mentoring, isn't about quick fixes. Rather than teaching people how to be happy or educating happiness coaches, the school will train graduate students first in statistical methodology and then in specific research techniques. A small group of graduate students, about 10 at first, will use those tools to survey and analyze the variables that affect people's satisfaction. The first group will enroll this fall, and the program has already started receiving inquiries. Candidates from a variety of academic backgrounds will be considered for admission.
And his advice on how to be happy?
�Be attuned to what gives you genuine satisfaction. Although many people assume that popular activities like watching TV are enjoyable, their own reports generally indicate that they feel more engaged, energetic, satisfied and happy when doing other things.

� Study yourself. To better understand their own happiness, Csikszentmihalyi says, people should systematically record their activities and feelings every few hours for a week or two. In recording your observations, try to focus on how you actually feel, rather than what you think you ought to be feeling or what you expect to feel. Afterwards, note the high points, particularly, and the low ones. Then try to adjust how you spend time according to your findings.

� Take control. Repairing unhappy conditions requires active effort. People often assume external conditions will change for the better or let chance determine their response. That's a mistake. "Get control," Csikszentmihalyi says. When things aren't right, "you have to put in the same effort you would if your business were in trouble. Just as markets move, life changes too."
via Time via Happiness and Public Policy

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