[MUSIC] Hello, I'm really pleased that you've joined us for this course on the theory, research and practice of positive interventions. My name is James Pawelski, and I am the director of the Master of Applied Positive Psychology program, or as we like to call it, the MAPP program, at the University of Pennsylvania. Marty Seligman and I created this program back in 2005. And since then, we've had hundreds of graduates from dozens of countries who are now applying the research in positive psychology to a wide variety of professional domains. Now in the MAPP program, every year I teach a course on the foundations of positive interventions. And in that course, we examine the philosophical underpinnings, the research dimensions, and the applications of positive interventions. We'll look at some of the science behind them, some of the methodologies that scientists use to investigate them, and some of the results that studies have indicated. And we'll actually practice together some of the positive psychology interventions as well. Before we get started though, I'd like to ask you two questions. The first question is, what do you value most in life? What do you value most in life? Well you might say, I value relationships, or a particular relationship that's especially meaningful to me. Or you might say, I value learning and that's why I'm taking this class. Or you might say, I value adventure. Always looking for something new, always looking to grow. It can be more than one thing, but whatever it is, I invite you to write that down now. What do you value most in life? Okay, great. My second question then is, how is this course connected to what you value most in life? How is this course connected to what you just identified as the thing or things that you value most in life? So again, if it's relationships, how does this course relate to them? What might you learn from this course that could help you in relationships, or that could help you to expand your learning, or perhaps enjoy adventure all the more? Again we'll pause here, take a moment to write this down, and make sure that you hold on to these answers because we're going to be coming back to them at the end of the course. So why are human beings interested in positive interventions anyway? Well I think one reason is because we live in a world of change, don't we? We live in the world where our internal lives are in continual change. Our moods, our feelings, what we're observing, who we're talking with, all of those things make these deep changes inside of us. We're continually growing, developing. William James, one of the founders of the field of psychology, and someone I like to think of as perhaps a grandfather of positive psychology, observed that we are continually becoming something we never were before. We're continually becoming something we never were before. As much as it may seem like we're going to the same job that we had yesterday, we've never been to that job today, and we're different in large or small ways from the way we were yesterday. Not only our internal worlds are changing, but our external worlds are changing as well. Sometimes we have new responsibilities in our work environment. Sometimes we change jobs and take on an entirely new a position at a new company, or maybe even change careers. And those changes are big changes in our family relationships or our close friendships. Those again are continually changing it, maybe the same person that were having dinner with tonight, that we've had dinner with on multiple occasions in the past. But we've never had this food in this context with this experience that we've just had over the course of this day. And of course, our societies are continually changing. There are continually new things being brought into the collective consciousness, and we're always evolving and moving forward. So we live in a world of change. A second reason why we're interested in positive interventions, I think, is because we want to know how to influence that change. It's not enough that things are different, but we want them to be different in certain ways. My wife Susie and I have a kindergartner named Liam, and he sometimes lets us know that he would like change to be more rapid. He was looking forward to the time when he'll be able to drive a car or make his own decisions about where he's going to go this afternoon without necessarily mommy and daddy having to be there with him all the time. So whether we're young or old, we can sometimes feel like we're kind of stuck in a rut and we want to make change more quickly. Other times, we may want to slow change down. It may seem that things are just happening too quickly, or our agendas are just too full, and we always have something that we should be doing, and we just like to be able to take a breath and relax, and connect, and have a little bit of downtime. So regardless of whether we want to make the change more rapid, or to slow it down, or other kinds of change, what we want to do is maximize the effects of our efforts. We want to know that if we take action to try to change our internal states or perspectives, that that change is actually going to be effective. If we're feeling bored and we want to be interested in something, we want to know that the activity we turn to will indeed interest us. Externally also, we want to make sure that the effects of our efforts actually take hold. And so if we change our job or career, we want to make sure that we change to a new environment that's actually better for us and a better fit. In short, we want to be able to influence the change in our lives so that we can be happy. And by happy, I don't just mean momentary moods, although those are very important as well. But also, we want to have this sense of reaching our potential, of doing what we can with our lives, of doing something good and meaningful in the world, of living our lives well, or just of flourishing. Now where can we turn to find advice on how to live our lives well? Well, from early on, our parents are available to us to help us negotiate the new adventures of life. Our teachers then take over as well, and give us lots of advice on all kinds of different matters. And then if we're fortunate, we'll have mentors who can also give us their wisdom from the experience that they've had. Sometimes we rely on this advice. Sometimes we'd rather rely on our own experience, and we learn as we go through trial and error. And then as we advance through our lives, we make decisions based on things that we ourselves have experienced in the past. On a collective level, there are many religious traditions that have developed in large measure to try to help us know how to live our lives well. Both at the ethical level, the kinds of things that we should do or shouldn't do in our lives, in terms of our mental life, what should we be focusing on, in terms of our relational life, how should we negotiate relationships with others? Another area of advice is the area of philosophy. So for thousands of years, philosophers have been asking questions about what is the good life, and what actions can we take to achieve it? And not only philosophers, but also poets, and playwrights, and novelists have written works of literature exploring different aspects of human experience and how to improve it. Musicians and artists similarly examined these questions in our lives. And more recently in our collective development as human beings, we've been able to rely on movies and TV shows. Sometimes they examine experiences of people that are very different from ourselves. And yet, we can learn from them ways in which we can take action to improve our lives. In addition, there are many popular magazines on newsstands that we can purchase, and they have lists, the 13 things that you need to do to improve this area of your life, or the 7 things you need to do improve that area of your life. There are self help books and seminars, and in this day of the Internet, there are all kinds of resources, blogs and websites, all these voices out there giving us ideas about what we can do to live our lives well. So how do we know which advice to trust? Some people are motivated very differently than others. Our parents probably have different motivations from somebody who is trying to get us to buy a magazine. Now part of the adventure of life is that we don't come with a user's manual. And so, it's hard to know sometimes how to sort through all of these voices. We don't always wind up listening to the right voice, or sometimes, the right voice was there but we should have followed it, right? Or we don't always know how best to live our lives, and we do often make mistakes sometimes, because we know what we should do, but it's hard to discipline ourselves to follow through on that. So this is where positive psychology comes in. It focuses on using the best scientific methods of empirical psychology to inform us about how we can live our lives well. And in the next section, I will share with you a fun thought experiment as a way of understanding more deeply the perspectives of positive psychology and the approaches to positive interventions.