Unit 1: Happiness

 

Subject: Ethics/Psychological Wellbeing – Sessions 1, 2, and 3

 

Duration of Unit: 3 classes (45 min)

 

Central Message: Conflicting definitions of happiness exist. Happiness is difficult to define and even more difficult to measure.

 

LEARNING GOALS
 

Enduring Understandings:

 

Several different theories exist about the definition of happiness; the science is not yet conclusive.

 

In order to understand what makes us happy, it helps if we can distinguish between our intrinsic and extrinsic motivations.

 

 

Essential Questions:

 

What are key philosophical and scientific perspectives on happiness?

 

How do we choose to define happiness in our own lives?

 

 

Learning Outcomes:

 

Students will:

 

  • Learn about several different ways that scientists and philosophers define happiness.

 

  • Create their own definitions of happiness, incorporating the ideas of philosophers and scientists.

 

  • Learn about the seven habits of happy people.

 

 

 

 

Unit 2: Relationships

 

Subject: Ethics/Psychological Wellbeing – Sessions 4 and 5

 

Duration of Unit: 2 classes (45 min each)

 

Central Message: People who have one or more close friendships are happier than those who have superficial relationships.

 

LEARNING GOALS
 

Enduring Understandings:

 

Quality of friendships is more important than quantity of friendships.

 

What seems to make a difference is cooperation in activities and sharing of personal feelings (“successive disclosure”).

 

 

Essential Questions:

 

How do close relationships contribute to happiness?

 

What are some ways to foster closer relationships?

 

Learning Outcomes:

 

Students will:

 

  • Understand Confucius’ concept of friendship and Aristotle’s concept of virtue and friendship and how they contribute to happiness.

 

  • Familiarize themselves with key scientific discoveries about friendship and happiness including the concepts of shared activities and successive disclosure.

 

  • Develop their own critical understanding of the links between the science and the philosophy of how relationships impact happiness.

 

  • Develop ideas and strategies for how to foster close relationships in their lives.

 

 

 

 

Unit 3: Caring

 

Subject: Ethics/Psychological Wellbeing – Sessions 6 and 7

 

Duration of Unit: 2 classes (45 min each)

 

Central Message: People who care for others and/or who volunteer on a consistent basis become happier and less depressed.

 

LEARNING GOALS
 

Enduring Understanding:

 

Our own happiness is inseparably linked to the happiness we create for others.

 

 

 

Essential Questions:

 

Why does caring or volunteering make us happier?

 

How are those for whom we care or volunteer affected by our kindness?

 

 

 

Learning Outcomes:

 

Students will:

 

  • Be able to identify the various modes of caring for others, and why they lead to happiness.

 

  • Understand Confucian and Buddhist conceptions of humanity and compassion.

 

  • Understand the links between the philosophy and science of caring and happiness.

 

 

 

 

Unit 4: Physiological Factors

 

Subject: Ethics/Psychological Wellbeing – Session 8

 

Duration of Unit: 1 class (45 min)

 

Central Message: Regular aerobic exercise, exposure to sunlight, and certain nutrients (Vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acids) have recently been shown to have a positive impact on mood and wellbeing.

 

LEARNING GOALS
 

Enduring Understandings:

 

Regular aerobic exercise is strongly associated with improved mental well-being and a lower incidence of depression. Incorporating activity into everyday life (i.e., walking instead of taking the bus) can be beneficial as well.

 

Exposure to sunlight in the early morning, Vitamin D, and Omega 3 fatty acids elevate mood in many people.

 

The ancient martial art of Taiji improves mental as well as physical well-being.

 

 

Essential Questions:

 

Why does aerobic exercise affect our mood?

 

What is the relationship between Taiji, Chinese values, and happiness?

 

 

 

Learning Outcomes:

 

Students will:

 

  • Understand the importance of engaging in aerobic exercise at least three times per week and incorporating activity into everyday life as much as possible.

 

  • Learn about the impact of light exposure and diet on mental well-being.

 

  • Develop an appreciation of the beneficial psychological impacts of Taiji for youth as well as the elderly.

 

 

 

 

Unit 5: Flow

 

Subject: Ethics/Psychological Wellbeing – Sessions 9 and 10

 

Duration of Unit: 2 classes (45 min each)

 

Central Message: If we are deeply involved in trying to reach a goal, or an activity that is challenging but well suited to our skills, we experience a joyful state called “flow.”

 

LEARNING GOALS
 

Enduring Understandings:

 

In order for a Flow state to occur, it must be voluntary, enjoyable, require skill and be challenging with clear markers towards success.

 

Flow is an important component in Seligman’s concept of the Good Life.

 

 

Essential Questions:

 

Why do flow experiences make us happy?

 

What are the main conditions of flow?

 

Learning Outcomes:

 

Students will:

 

  • Be able to describe the main conditions of flow.

 

  • Identify personal experiences of flow, especially favorite pastimes that generate flow (i.e., playing instruments or sports).

 

  • Be able to articulate why those activities foster greater happiness.

 

  • Identify the remarkable parallels between Csikszentmihalyi’s and Zhuangzi’s description of the “blue collar sages.”

 

 

 

 

Unit 6: Strengths & Virtues

 

Subject: Ethics/Psychological Wellbeing – Sessions 11 and 12

 

Duration of Unit: 2 classes (45 min each)

 

Central Message: The happiest people are those that have discovered their unique strengths and virtues and use those gifts for a purpose that is greater than their own personal goals.

 

LEARNING GOALS
 

Enduring Understandings:

 

If we are to move beyond the “pleasant life” and into experiencing the Good Life and the Meaningful Life, we must first discover our unique strengths and virtues.

 

To boost long-term happiness, we must find ways to use our unique strengths in new ways and situations rather than trying to fix our weaknesses.

 

 

Essential Questions:

 

What is the difference between a strength and virtue?

 

Why are strengths and virtues related to long-term happiness?

 

 

Learning Outcomes:

 

Students will:

 

  • Be able to distinguish between the Pleasant Life, the Good Life, and the Meaningful Life.

 

  • Understand why Aristotle regards virtue as the foundation of happiness.

 

  • Familiarize themselves with the four “beginnings” or “sprouts” of Mencius, and how they can be cultivated to become the four virtues.

 

  • Be able to identify their unique strengths and virtues.

 

 

 

 

Unit 7: Spirituality & Meaning

 

Subject: Ethics/Psychological Wellbeing – Sessions 13 and 14

 

Duration of Unit: 2 classes (45 min each)

 

Central Message: People who regularly attend spiritual or religious meetings, or see their lives as endowed with meaning and purpose, experience greater happiness.

 

LEARNING GOALS
 

Enduring Understandings:

 

We are not yet sure of the reasons why, but involvement in spiritual activities has a clear impact on well-being, aside from its social component.

 

In addition to spiritual activities, people who have a larger sense or purpose (or “calling”) appear to be happier than those who do not.

 

 

Essential Questions:

 

Why is a sense of meaning and purpose in life associated with happiness?

 

Why do spiritual activities foster a greater sense of happiness?

 

 

Learning Outcomes:

 

Students will:

 

  • Be able to articulate various reasons why religiosity and spirituality is conducive to happiness.

 

  • Be able to define and distinguish between religiosity and spirituality.

 

  • Identify linkages between philosophical and scientific perspectives on spirituality and meaning.

 

  • Understand the concept of a “calling” or sense of purpose and how this can have a positive impact on one’s life.

 

 

 

 

Unit 8: Gratitude, Mindfulness,

and Hope

 

Subject: Ethics/Psychological Wellbeing – Sessions 15, 16, and 17

 

Duration of Unit: 3 classes (45 min each)

 

Central Message: Habits of thinking, including gratitude, mindfulness, and optimism, are strongly correlated with happiness.

 

LEARNING GOALS
 

Enduring Understandings:

 

We can experience the Pleasant Life when we feel gratitude about the past, are mindful about the present, and feel hope and optimism about the future.

 

Mindfulness is a powerful way to reduce anxiety and improve mental wellness and ability to cope with stress.

 

 

Essential Questions:

 

What are some of the ways we can express gratitude towards others?

 

How is mindfulness related to happiness?

 

Are we born optimistic or pessimistic? Can optimism be learned?

 

 

Learning Outcomes:

 

Students will:

 

  • Be able to identify how they can orient themselves to the past, present, and the future in ways that cultivate positive emotions and well-being.

 

  • Make connections between Seligman’s description of the Pleasant Life, Confucian “rectification of the mind,” and Buddhist mindfulness.

 

  • Appreciate the linkage between gratitude and happiness through a practical assignment.

 

 

 

 

 

Unit 9: Bringing it All Together

 

Subject: Ethics/Psychological Wellbeing – Session 18

 

Duration of Unit: 1 class (45 min each)

 

Central Message: By cultivating the seven habits regularly in our lives, we can achieve greater happiness and well-being.

 

 

LEARNING GOALS
 

Enduring Understandings:

 

We can all experience greater happiness and well-being when we cultivate the happiness habits in our lives.

 

Each of us can choose to focus on the happiness habits that work best for us.

 

 

 

Essential Questions:

 

How can we cultivate the seven habits of happiness in our lives?

 

What happiness habits are most important to cultivate and why?

 

 

Learning Outcomes:

 

Students will:

 

  • Summarize their understanding of the seven habits of happiness, based in science and philosophy.

 

  • Create a portfolio that captures their key insights and enduring understandings about happiness.

 

  • Create a plan for how they will continue to cultivate these happiness habits in their lives.