Tal told us why his classes in Positive Psychology were the most popular in the history of Harvard University. He said that the enthusiasm observed by his students is not down to the charisma of the teacher but rather it is due to the content of the classes. Positive Psychology aims to take scientific findings and translate them into how they can be applied in everyday life to make peoples lives happier, productive and more fulfilling: it bridges the ivory tower with the main street.
Unlike pop psychology, which over promises and under delivers, many of the messages from Positive Psychology are simple, varied and backed up by scientific evidence. Tal gave four examples: don?t try to control or suppress negative emotions ? they are normal and the only people who don?t feel them are psychopaths and dead people. Take three deep breathes when you get up, or when you are sitting at the traffic lights ? we often forget to breathe deeply. Express gratitude for the things in your life by regularly writing about 5 things that went well in your day ? it is too easy to take things in life for granted. And exercise, research has shown that exercise can reduce major depression and is more effective than medication in preventing people from relapsing.
These are just some of the findings emerging from Positive Psychology which can help people to make changes. At the Centre we are less interested in the individual happiness and more with the collective happiness. If more of us can apply positive psychology then we would be more likely to engage in the big social issues.