Self-Directed Online Course

This 5-week module begins by defining happiness as the overall experience of meaning and pleasure. Students are then introduced to the theory and practice of leading a happy life, one that combines positive emotions and a sense of purpose. Topics covered include finding flow, identifying our purpose, dealing with stress and procrastination, and the happiness revolution.

Objectives and Outcomes
  • Understand the nature of a happy life, distinguishing it from the life of the rat-racer, the hedonist, and the resigned individual.
  • Learn how to increase the likelihood of flow in one’s life—the state of peak performance and peak experience.
  • Go through a four-stage process of identifying and realizing one’s purpose.
  • Discover how to overcome some of the most significant barriers to happiness by effectively dealing with stress and procrastination.
  • Recognize how a change in perception can bring about a quiet revolution that will lead to an abundance of the ultimate currency—happiness.

Program Faculty

Dr. Tal Ben-ShaharTal Ben-Shahar, PhD, is an author and lecturer who is dedicated to helping people be the change they want to see in the world. He taught the largest course at Harvard on “Positive Psychology” and the third largest on “The Psychology of Leadership”—with a total of over 1,400 students. In his mindfulness lectures and workshops, Tal integrates theory and practice, East and West, philosophy and psychology.

Over a five-week period, students participate in a completely online curriculum that features one new class every week. Lessons in each class consist of watching approximately 60-90 minutes of a prerecorded video lecture with Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, class assessments and assignments, and practice applications.

The course is completely asynchronous, which means you can start at any time and participate whenever it is convenient for you during the five-week window.

This is a self-directed curriculum. No homework is submitted and no grades are given. You will receive a certificate of completion when all lessons are completed.

The Certificate in Positive Psychology course uses the same video lectures with the added bonus of two onsite immersions, small peer work groups, live conference calls with faculty, and ongoing support for the full 11 months. Please note refunds are not provided if you decide to take the certificate course at a later date.


No prerequisites are required for this course. Technology requirements include an Internet connection.


Class 1: Defining Happiness
This class introduces the definition of happiness as the overall experience of meaning and pleasure. Four archetypes are described—the rat-racer, hedonist, resigned, and happy—each capturing a different approach to, and experience of, life.

Class 2: Flow
Flow describes the state in which we’re fully engaged in an activity, losing track of time and place. The class explores how we can increase the likelihood of entering the flow state—by setting compelling goals and challenging ourselves—and as a result enjoy peak experience and peak performance.

Class 3: Meaning and Purpose
We’re living in an age of nihilism—and we’re paying the price for this lack of meaning in our lives. This class takes us through the four stages of finding and realizing our purpose—stages that mirror the process of Appreciative Inquiry.

Class 4: Stress and Procrastination
Stress and procrastination are two of the most significant barriers to a happy life. This class provides useful techniques for reducing procrastination (such as the “five-minute takeoff”) and for dealing with stress (introducing regular recovery periods). In the long term, applying these techniques can help a person become happier and more successful.

Class 5: The Happiness Revolution
The shift from material perception (seeing money or goods as the highest value) to happiness perception (seeing happiness as the highest on the hierarchy of values) leads to a radically different approach to life. This class looks at the implications of the shift in perception for our personal relationships and international relationships, for our system of education and our business organizations.

Please note refunds are not provided if you decide to take the certificate course at a later date.

Tuition for this course is $295.

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