Self-Directed Online Course

This 5-week module introduces the emerging field of positive psychology—the scientific study of optimal human functioning. Students are exposed to the theoretical and practical implications of a positive focus; the positivity ratio; dealing with painful emotions through acceptance, gratitude and appreciation; and attaining lasting change.

Objectives and Outcomes
  • Understand the fundamental ideas of positive psychology—and how changing our mindset can change the way we relate to ourselves and others.
  • Increase the “positivity ratio” as a means toward higher levels of creativity, motivation, health, and overall success—in individuals, groups, and organizations.
  • Understand the role of acceptance—of one’s own and others’ emotions—for leading a full and fulfilling life.
  • Recognize the importance of regularly expressing gratitude and maintaining a positive focus by being a “benefit finder.”
  • Learn about the roles of rituals and habits in bringing about lasting change.

Program Faculty

Dr. Tal 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.


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


Class 1: Introduction
This class introduces positive psychology and its relationship to the rest of the field of psychology. It illustrates the importance of positive questions and how these can change the way we research, intervene in organizations, and experience ourselves and our relationships.

Class 2: Positive Transformation
The class explores recent research on the causal relationship between success and happiness, and then addresses how increasing the positivity ratio can lead to a tipping point that radically transforms the way we think, feel, and act.

Class 3: Permission to Be Human
This class introduces the idea of active acceptance, showing its implications for parenting, leadership, morality, and overall well-being. Accepting our emotions—painful and pleasurable—is the foundation of a healthy and happy life.

Class 4: Appreciating Appreciation
In this class, students are exposed to studies on gratitude and benefit-finding. Research on the psychological and physiological benefits of a positive focus is explored.

Class 5: Change that Lasts
Most individual and organizational change-efforts fail. Drawing on research on habits and rituals, this class looks at how a person and an organization can introduce change that lasts.

Tuition for this course is $295.

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