Mini-Lesson Outline

man sitting in sunset practicing self awareness


Perspective 1: Happiness through self-awareness

Students will explore different ways of increasing happiness through self-awareness.

Character Strengths and Virtues
  • Essential Question: How do strengths and virtues contribute to happiness? Aristotle once claimed that virtue was THE essential ingredient to happiness.  By the end of this mini-lesson, students should have formed an opinion about Aristotle’s claim
  • Pre-Reading Assignment: introductory and intermediate content on the character strengths and virtues section of the Science of Happiness (SOH) pages.
  • Discussion Topic: watch the Interview with the Experts video on Seligman and Aristotle. How do these two experts – an ancient philosopher and contemporary Psychologist – compare in how they view the essential ingredients of happiness?
  • Practical assignment:have students take the VIA Character Strengths and Virtues online assessment (free) and discuss results in small groups. Then, students can write and present to the class (or create a class blog or YouTube video) on a topic like: in what ways do my signature strengths contribute to my happiness?
Flow Mini-Lesson
  • Essential Question: How does being in a Flow state – being so absorbed in an activity that you  completely lose track of time – contribute to happiness?
  • Pre-Reading Assignment: Introductory and intermediate content on Flow (SOH).
  • Discussion topic: Students will begin mini-lesson by watching an Interview with the Expert on Csikszentmihalyi about his beeper study. Students will break into pairs and discuss how they define the term “flow” and what they consider to be flow activities in their lives.
  • Practical assignment: Students will conduct a 1-week experiment in pairs by text messaging each other at regular intervals and writing down the level of their flow state. Pairs will present findings to the group, including suggestions for ways to increase flow in their daily lives.
Optimism Mini-Lesson
  • Essential Question: The truth is that some people are more naturally optimistic than others. How does optimism contribute to happiness? And is there hope for the pessimists of the world?
  • Pre-Reading Assignment: Introductory and intermediate content on Optimism (SOH).
  • Discussion Topic: Students will read a chapter of Seligman’s Authentic Happiness that includes a self-assessment. Students will select a current event issue and analyze the optimism/pessimism of the character using the definition provided by Seligman.
  • Practical assignment: Students will conduct an experiment for one week where they collect “evidence” of optimistic/pessimistic thinking from sources of their choice, including news media, friends, family, self, teachers, celebrities, academic characters, etc. They can either a) write an essay or daily blog entries, b) present to the class, or c) create a documentary short video that discusses trends they noticed during their data collection.

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