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This is a self-directed, 4-week online course that dives deeply into the question of “What makes you happy?”

You begin by learning the deeper definition of happiness as the overall experience of meaning, strengths, and pleasure, in the context of a larger systems dynamic. You’re then introduced to the theory and practice of a growth vs. a fixed mindset, and the related concept of a growth heartset. Topics covered include systems thinking, full-body engagement, finding flow, detecting meaning (even in the mundane), wholebeing, and appreciative inquiry.

This is an especially helpful course when you want to cultivate happiness in times of transition or trouble … or if it’s time to move towards a happier, more flourishing time of life. For coaches, leaders, parents, and those that work in teams, this course gives you tools to engage yourself and others more fully.


Lesson 1: Happiness as an Emotion begins by defining the big picture of happiness as the overall experience of meaning, life satisfaction, and pleasure. Then we explore the concept of pleasure more deeply through “emotional granularity,” a model of understanding emotions on two dimensions—as pleasant or unpleasant and high or low energy. Lastly, we make the connection between a larger vocabulary for emotions and our subsequent actions.


Lesson 2: Happiness as Life Satisfaction makes the case for identifying and using strengths as a key lever for life satisfaction. We discuss the difference between character strengths and skills or talents, and practice the Reflected Best Self exercise, expanding our view of strengths by seeing them through the eyes of another.


In Lesson 3: Happiness as Meaning, students learns about happiness in the most enduring way—as meaning in life. The definition of meaning is laid out, as well as the latest evidence on meaning as more commonplace and accessible, differentiating the BIG meaning in life with everyday meaning. We explore personal meaning through an image-based exercise developed by one of the leading researchers on meaning in life.


Lesson 4: Integrating Happiness pulls all three aspects of happiness together into one integrated model. Seeing the overlap of all three, students get a multidimensional view of happiness, so they can concentrate efforts at the intersection of pleasure, strengths, and meaning.


Lesson 5: The System of Wholebeing Happiness explores the possibility of dissension between pleasure and meaning, and the paradox of holding the whole of it from a systems-thinking view. We discuss the concept of a growth mindset, and how we can use the “genius of the AND” to acknowledge the challenges of aspirational meaning and being mindful of present pleasure. The lesson closes with an invitation to hold a “growth heartset.”


Lesson 6: The Relational Network of Happiness dives into the impact of social connections in our well-being. We review the work of Christakis and Fowler, pointing to how connections spread constructive and destructive norms. Students are introduced to emergent properties—the characteristics an entity gains when it becomes part of a bigger system. The lesson ends with a mapping process of connections, looking for the ecosystem that supports well-being.


Lesson 7: The Happiness Biofeedback System examines the dynamic interplay between body and mind. Emotions are not all physical (just in your body), nor all cognitive (just in your head). It’s a complete mind/body experience. Students practice using physical sensations as a biofeedback tool for emotional regulation, self-understanding, and deliberately cultivating positive emotions.


Lesson 8: Inspiring Flow ties SPIRE together with the definition of happiness as pleasure, strengths, and meaning. We review the concept of flow, along with the six factors that define the state. Students examine when flow arises in their own life, and the circumstances that help facilitate it.


Free Mini-Course

Dip your feet into Wholebeing Institute’s SPIRE model, the backbone of the Certificate in Wholebeing Positive Psychology in this free two-part video training and e-book.

Explore how to

  • Reach for your best and move towards happiness
  • Focus on what’s working in your life
  • Track small yet powerful changes as you increase your well-being.


Course Flow

In the weekly video lessons and homework, you’ll get stories, science, and personal examples, plus worksheets and exercises so you can apply what you’re learning. You’ll have time to reflect, to inquire within through writing and journaling with the aid of prompts—going deeper into what each aspect of wholebeing happiness means to you personally or professionally.

Along with the video lessons, you’ll be invited to our Facebook Live events, a chance to come together as a community to review key concepts for a thriving life. You can ask questions, connect with faculty and peers, and dive deeper into the material.

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Megan McDonough, is the CEO and co-founder of Wholebeing Institute. She is the lead faculty in the course, responsible for your weekly video lessons. As a CEO, teacher, and mom, Megan uses divergent thinking and creative perspectives to lead, harnessing the best in people for the greatest good. She is the award-winning author of three books on mindfulness, and has been teaching well-being for more than two decades.

Along with the lead teacher, your lessons include interviews from various voices from the field. You’ll hear from people who do research on the nature of emotions, such as Dr. Barbara Fredrickson and Dr. Kristen Lindquist, helping define what emotions are, how they are created, and how we experience and perceive them in daily life.



Your course material is housed in the virtual classroom, a password-protected area where students watch the videos, download the worksheets, and get information on all course-related material.

Need help navigating the online educational experience? Our Student Support Manager and technology team are here to foster your positive learning environment.


Registration Information

Registration open!

Tuition for this self-directed course is $395 USD

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