How Happiness Thinks: Fall ’14



JLI Presents an all new course, titled;

“How Happiness Thinks”

When: Monday Oct 27th


Where: 720 Lombard Street SF CA 94133


Questions? email or call 415.968.9907


How to Enhance Happiness and Human Flourishing

1. How does a healthy adult infuse happiness, meaning and purpose

into his/her life? What are the core methods of Positive Psychology that

can help them attain these goals?

How to Incorporate Positive Psychology with Cultural Sensitivity

2. Considering that religion and spirituality might be important

therapeutic factors, what are the cultural and religious values of those

whose worldview is shaped by Judaic values? How do their beliefs

affect their approach to therapy? And how might Positive Psychology

interventions help such people?

How can mental health professionals best incorporate these Positive

Psychology interventions into their treatment of these patients?


6 Lesson outline.


THE HAPPY YOU: Humility and Self Concept

If happiness comes from within, then a positive self-concept is essential

to human happiness. What is a negative self-image? Where does it stem

from and how does it hamper human happiness? What is humility? Is

humility similar to a negative self-image? Is humility just the right path or

is it also the happy path?

Based on the research of June Price Tangney (“Humility,” Oxford

Handbook of Positive Psychology p. 483ff) and Dr. Abraham Twersky (Let

Us Make Man, 1987) this lesson discusses the relationship of humility

to happiness. What are the origins of the concept of humility? What are

the psychological benefits? How do we ensure that humility does not

tailspin into a negative self-concept and self-denigration? On the other

hand, what is the psychology of arrogance, and what are the implications?

What teachings of Judaism are relevant to the discussion of self-concept,

humility, and arrogance?


JOY DESPITE LIFE’S STATIC: Patience and Optimism

Life has its hassles, stresses and hardships and this static impedes

happiness. Building patience helps one cope better with these hardships,

but what is patience and how does one nurture this virtue?

Based on the research of Sarah A. Schnitker and Justin T. Westbrook

(“Do Good Things Come to Those Who Wait?: Patience Interventions

to Improve Well-Being,” The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Positive

Psychological Interventions p. 155ff), this lesson addresses the findings of

Positive Psychology with regard to patience. What are empirically tested

interventions, and how do they compare to Jewish principles of patience?

This lesson also explores Martin Seligman’s research regarding

optimism (in his book Learned Optimism) and compares his findings to

similar concepts in Jewish thinking. How can one eliminate worries about

the future? Should we ignore our worries? Is there a way to build optimism

and trust about the future?



We live in an era of material abundance, yet many remain unhappy. Is

it possible for material plenty to contribute to happiness? Why do people

always strive to have more?

Based on the extensive research of Robert A. Emmons and Michael

E. McCullough (in their works, The Psychology of Gratitude, Thanks! How

Practicing Gratitude, Can Make You Happier, and Gratitude Works,) this

lesson will discuss gratitude and its benefits for overall wellbeing and

happiness. What are the common obstacles to enhancing gratitude?

Which gratitude exercises have been shown to be most effective, and why?

How is gratitude in Jewish religion and culture similar to the traditional

definitions and how is it different?


HUMAN IMPERFECTION: Self-Forgiveness and Change

If humans were perfect, happiness would come much easier. How does

happiness think in the context of committing a moral wrong? What about

character flaws, negative thoughts, broken resolutions? Is our conscience

supposed to undermine our happiness? If not, how is that different

from indifference?

Reviewing the research of Julie H. Hall and Frank D. Fincham (“Self-

Forgiveness: The Stepchild of Forgiveness Research,” Journal of Social

and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 24, No. 5, 2005, pp. 621-637) this lesson

examines the concept of self-forgiveness. What does “self-forgiveness”

mean? What are the similarities and differences between self-forgiveness

and interpersonal forgiveness? How does self-forgiveness impact wellbeing?

When is change more appropriate than forgiveness?

This lesson also explores James Prochaska’s Six Stages of Change

(“Stages and Processes of Self-Change of Smoking: Toward An Integrative

Model of Change,” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology [1983],

51:3, 390-395) and relates it to the Jewish model of repentance.


UNHAPPY TIMES: Post-Traumatic Growth

While Judaism endorses perennial happiness, we cannot ignore the

death of a loved one. Is happiness ever appropriate after the loss of a loved

one? How can we avoid enduring, crippling unhappiness in the face of

a tragedy?

Reviewing the research of Lawrence G. Calhoun and Richard G.

Tedeschi (in their book Posttraumatic Growth in Clinical Practice), this

lesson examines the positive change that can be experienced as a result

of a struggle with a life crisis or traumatic event. What is posttraumatic

growth, and which strategies promote and support post-traumatic growth?

How is the Jewish way in death and mourning relevant to post

traumatic growth? How does one infuse happiness in the presence of

sorrow, and what actions can be helpful to bring the mourner back to

emotional equilibrium.


TOWARD A MEANINGFUL LIFE: Spirituality, Religion and Meaning

Spirituality, religion and meaningful, purposeful living contribute to

happiness. Why, and in what context might religion add joy to life? How

might irreligious people gain from these findings? Is it proper to use

religion as a means for happiness? Is life really about our happiness? Is

happiness a religious issue?

Reviewing the research of Edward Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener

(in Happiness, Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth p. 100ff)

this lesson explores the relationship between religion, meaning, and

spirituality from the perspective of Positive Psychology and from the

perspective of Jewish writings.