Positive Psychology Syllabus (Spring 1999)

Psychology 262-301-709 Syllabus
Positive Psychology
Martin Seligman
Spring 1999 

We will meet every Tuesday from 12 noon until 2 p.m. Each student will co-lead one of the classes. Each student will write a short weekly paper about their best thought or questions about the readings and prepare a final portfolio. There are no examinations. Grades will be based on the complete portfolio and class participation, plus any extra papers you choose to write, as well as listserv participation. See Exercises below.


Date Topic Primary Source
#s refer to chapters)
1/12/99 Introduction  
1/19/99 Well-Being PH 1-5
1/26/99 Traits PH 6-10
2/2/99 Optimism LO 1-5
2/16/99 In the Realms LO 6-11
2/23/99 Changing Pessimism LO 12-15
3/2/99 Heritability H 1-9
3/16/99 Techniques through time H 10-16
3/23/99 Flow F first half
3/30/99 Flow F second half
4/6/99 Emotional Intelligence EI 1-6
4/13/99 Emotional Intelligence EI 7-13
4/20/99 Reprise  

Primary Source Reading

The Pursuit of Happiness (PH)
David G. Myers. Avon (originally Aquarian)

Learned Optimism (LO)
Martin Seligman. Pocket Books, 1991

Flow (F)
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Harper and Row, 1991

Happiness (H)
David Lykken. Golden Books, 1999

Working With Emotional Intelligence (WEI)
Daniel Goleman. Bantam. 1998

Homework Exercises Accompanying Positive Psychology Seminar

Write up one page each week on each exercise.

1. Introduction. Each student (starting with the professor) introduces self by telling a story about a strength. 3 minutes each. Other students respond – issue is how to listen well and sympathetically to bragging. Write story up.

2. Next week. Re-introduce yourself. Enhance ability to tell, interpret, and listen to strength stories. Ask a friend to tell you a story about their greatest strength or virtue.

3. Well-being and Moral well-being. Do something entertaining. Do something philanthropic, calling on skill. Write up feelings, during and after.

4.Traits. Create a module on how to build a particular moral trait in a child.

5. Help-seeking and help giving. Take an area in which you need someone’s help. Ask someone from the class to help you.

6. Optimism. What was the most creative thing you ever did?

7. Gallup like questions. Write a Gallup Poll question for each of the 17 Cayman Traits (e.g., Intimacy, I feel loved. Future-mindedness, I set goals, and I reach them.)

8.The National Research Council Grand Challenge. Present your vision of a scientific development, which will greatly contribute to a positive human future.

9. You are named Minister of Play for the Positive Psychology Network. Design a meeting that maximizes positive well-being and therefore creative thinking during the meeting.

10. Design and live a beautiful day.

11. Your single best thought during the semester