The Many Sides of Happiness (CBL)
As a society, Americans have embraced the idea that happiness is an important goal in life. But what does it really mean to be happy? And what makes people happy? In this course, we will examine several historical and modern perspectives on what influences happiness, flourishing, and psychological well-being. By examining the relationship between happiness and such topics as the conflicted mind, reciprocity, social groups, money, trauma, virtues, and spirituality, we will understand how to enhance happiness. However, some believe that focusing too much on increasing happiness undermines the importance of negative emotions. Are we as a society overly focused on happiness? What would happen if sadness and melancholy were eliminated entirely, whether through medication or other techniques? We will consider the positive functions that melancholy, depression, and sorrow serve. By the end of the semester, students will complete a research project that involves examining the scholarly theory and research on specific techniques to enhance happiness. They will also put those techniques into practice both inside and outside of the classroom, in part through required weekly community service sustained throughout the semester.